DTSFT Men’s Column #16 – Perfect Gift

I certainly hope you all got your coats sorted out from last week’s post.  I know that I misunderstood the question and only realised it too late, but you can’t say my advice wasn’t sound.  Anyhoo, it’s time for this week’s question, which comes from Henry C in Hollywood (hey, I happen to be in love with a certain Henry C from Hollywood, how strange is that?), who writes:

“I want to confess my feelings to the woman I love.  We have never met, and yet I know she is perfect for me, and so I want to give her a gift that would show her how wonderful and special she is.  What gift do you suggest for a London-based aspiring writer who is so brilliant and smart and funny and beautiful and amazing and perfect?”

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It’s a very valid question, Henry C, and I’m glad that you asked me for help in finding a gift for this anonymous yet familiar-sounding woman. You could go for some book vouchers, because if she’s as wonderful and smart as you say she is, then she’d surely appreciate some of those.  Or chocolate – I mean, chocolate can never be a bad thing. What about some lovely jewellery? I reckon she likes big clunky cartoonish stuff, like the items you get in Galibardy.  Don’t ask how I know th-

Oh Henry, who are we kidding?  I know you mean me, and I accept your undying love and return it.

Henry+Cavill+GQ+UK+June+2013+2

You are the only gift I need.  Together, we’ll be unstoppable.

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Reel People: Character, Costume and Cinema [Another Talk with Deborah Nadoolman Landis]

At this stage I think I’m getting fairly close to stalker stages with Deborah Nadoolman Landis. The minute that she recognises me is when we’re really in trouble…

Costume2-GregDavies1

This talk took place at the London Film School (“hidden” in Covent Garden) and there didn’t seem to be many costume related people there. This talk was aimed at students at the LFS, so mainly directing and screenwriting students. Landis mentioned that she had been speaking at the Glasgow School of Art and at World Stage Design in Cardiff in the previous few days and was feeling nearly talked out! I think that also explains the presentation she showed – it was definitely aimed at some beginners to costume.

Costume is not about the clothes. Fashion and costume have very little in common. They run in parallel… Fashion is a commodity. Our commodity is the movie… We’re helping to sell the movie.

The Bourne Ultimatum movie image Matt Damon

I’m always a fan of statements that Landis makes regarding costume and its importance within the film industry so much of this will probably just be statements that I scrabbily wrote down.

[Costume designers] Make an audience believe that everyone in the cast had a life before the movie… If you don’t believe the people are real, you don’t care what happens to them, you’re not interested in the movie.

Landis started with the thoughts behind that statement asking questions (rhetorical) about people’s clothing choices. (This is something she said that she does at USC but pulling people up and fully questioning everything they’re wearing.) Where did you get it? Why are you wearing it? (There was a guy wearing a beanie and it wasn’t particularly cold at – why? Landis was particularly fixated on this!) How much did it cost? When did you get it? These are all the questions that a costume designer has to ask of a character. This section also showed clips from the Hollywood Costume exhibition where members of the public were asked these same question

Your closet at home is made up of your history… There’s no reason to believe that the people in your movie are less complicated than you.

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel, as Clark Kent, left, and as Superm

Landis then went into the two key aspects to be considered for costume design:

  1. Narrative Context
  2. Rectangle (looking at the composition of the frame)

Movies are about the people.

Much of the rest of the talk focused on aspects of costume design that I’ve already referenced in past posts whether to do with Deborah Landis, Anthony PowellSandy Powell, Jenny Beavan or Susannah Buxton but brief bullet points:

  • Costume design helps to shape the identity of a character – just as it does for you
  • Costume design isn’t just limited to the obvious Oscar winners. Michael Wilkinson designed the costume for Superman and for Clark Kent in Man of Steel; Lindy Hemming designed Batman and Bruce Wayne (Landis’ favourite).
  • The primary function of costume design is storytelling.
  • Costumes are sourced from different areas; the same as clothing. (For example, Mad Men uses vintage pieces and specially made pieces.)
  • Every choice in the frame is telegraphing or explaining.
  • Colour is the easiest and quickest way to tell the story.
  • Colour affects the entire frame; from lead actors to extras. One clear example for this was The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason Bourne was dressed in costumes to allow him to authentically hide in a crowd but the audience never looses sight of him.
  • Think about point perspective – if the audience can’t see the actor they won’t be able to hear him.

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These were the main points to be taken from the talk but any time to be in the presence of Deborah Landis is worthwhile! If you’re interested in Landis and her personal history within the film industry then I thoroughly recommend you check out her interview on The Costume Cafe Podcast – a great podcast with great interviews!

My final “thought” on the talk comes from a question I heard from a fellow attendee before we went into the talk:

Is this where the fashion talk is?

Shock. Actual shock that someone in this environment asked that question and that I was interrupted before I could answer “the COSTUME talk?” indignantly. Still fuming.

S x

Saturday Special: Bitter Sweet

dtsft bitter sweet

This week we’re getting our drank on!

Last Friday Sarah and myself hit the town for fellow DTSFT-er Sophia’s birthday (which was great fun – we missed you Helen!). We went to a magical place called Bitter Sweet, a very stylish, boutique (small) cocktail bar in Soho. It was beautifully designed with a great atmosphere and, most importantly great music (the DJ was crammed in a tight corner, but as soon as the lights went off it was a raaaaave!).

But as I previously mentioned, it was a cocktail bar, and their cocktails were nothing short of glamourous (if not a tad bit expensive!). There were plenty to choose from, but here were the ones that we went for:

1. Basilicious

dtsft basilicious

This was a fruity and earthy mix of strawberry, basil, Cachaca (a sugarcane liquor), Aperol (an Italian aperitif) and pomegranate. The taste was very unusual but delicious. I couldn’t taste much of the pomegranate, but there was a nice balance of strawberry and basil. A very refreshing and enjoyable cocktail.

2. Vanilla Monk

dtsft vanilla monk

If you’re looking for something on the slightly sweeter, richer side, then the Vanilla Monk is a must-try. It’s made with vanilla vodka, Frangelico (a hazelnut and herb flavour liqueur), Kahlua (a coffee and rum liqueur) and fresh cream topped with chocolate shavings. It’s decadent and creamy with a nice bitterness from the chocolate. Think of it as an adult milkshake. Heavenly.

3. Lychee & Ginger Mule (couldn’t find a picture for this one)

Again, this is another unusual mix, but it works. It’s a warm and slightly sharp blend of fresh ginger, lychee liqueur, lychee juice, lemon juice, Plymouth Gin, ginger beer and Angostura bitters (concentrated bitters made with herbs and spices). Although the Basilicious was my favourite, this one came a close second, and I think that if I went back there this would be my first drink of the night.

4. The Pinstripe

dtsft the pinstripe

Sleek, sophisticated and sexy, this drink should be drunk in a dimly lit corner of the bar with a gentleman friend dressed in a fitted designer suit (with a pocket square). It contains fresh raspberries, Absolut Vodka, Chambord liqueur (a black raspberry liqueur), honey, fresh mint, lime and apple juice. It’s very fruity and a gorgeous colour, and it kind of reminds me of something people would drink in the 50s.

So check out Bitter Sweet when you get the chance, it’s a great night out and the cocktails are divine!

Hannah

DTSFT Men’s Column #15 – Transition

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Good day to you, DTSFT readers, on this fine, grey English afternoon.  It seems like only a couple of weeks ago that we had the beautiful summer weather, but the seasons are turning once more in that ever spinning circle of life, and autumn is upon us.  Damn, that was some poetic shit, man.  This week’s question comes from Barry in Belgravia, who writes:

“Hi DTSFT, I need your advice.”

That’s what I’m here for, Barry, ask away.

“Every summer, I see everyone walking around in their skimpy summer clothes, basking in the hot weather with their flesh on show, and each year I can’t help thinking of how much I want a female body. I mean, I really want a female body, if you catch my drift.  Now that the weather is changing and the leaves are shedding their trees, I think it is time for me to embrace the season of change and accept what I really want deep down, to find myself, and hopefully by spring, people will see me in a new light as the woman I was supposed to be.  So do you have any tips for getting through this transition?”

Barry, say no more.  What you’re looking for is a good quality transitional coat that will get you through those awkward periods between summer and autumn, and autumn and winter.  Firstly, I’d recommend checking out ‘FashionBeans.com’ and their article on the subject.  I mean, there are loads of styles you could try for your transitional coat, and if you really want to (as you put it) ‘find yourself’, you can’t go with something like this:

fay-metropolitan-jacket

But there are options for the more sporty gent, you could try something like this:

BOLBL

Thanks for your question this week, Barry. I’m not really DTSFT’s resident style expert, but I feel satisfied with the answer I’ve given you, and I’m so excited that someone actually wanted my advice on a style-related query.  Hopefully people will start seeing you as the woman you were meant to be!

sudden+realization+_dc5a14c7f4a13b8035a317f32beeaf61

I have just realised that the ‘transition’ you were referring to isn’t the seasonal kind.

Saturday Special: Chocolate Crackles

We’ve had proper meals for a few weeks now so I thought I’d go back to a key food group: cookies.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I decided to make cookies for part of some birthday presents and discovered that I had two recipes for Chocolate Crackles/Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. The first recipe from Perfect Cupcakes, Cookies & Muffins required four eggs and two hours in the fridge. Whereas the one from The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake was much quicker and cheaper. Easy decision. (Plus, never doubt GBBO.)

Ingredients:

100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

100g softened unsalted butter

150g light brown muscovado sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2tsp vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

1/2tsp bicarbonate soda

2-3 tblsps icing sugar

 

Method:

Put the chopped chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and set over a pan of steaming hot but not boiling water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the hot water). Leave to melt gently. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the butter. When the mixture is completely smooth stir in the muscovado sugar. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the egg with the vanilla just until combined, then add to the bowl. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill for about one hour until firm.

Preheat the oven to 200degC/400degF/gas 6. Divide the chocolate dough into 30 even-ish shaped pieces and roll into neat balls. Spoon the icing sugar into a shallow dish. Roll the balls, one at a time, in the sugar to coat thickly. Set the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing well apart to allow for spreading (bake the biscuits in batches, if necessary).

Bake for 10 minutes for a softer biscuit, or 12 minutes for a crisp result. Remove from the oven and leave on the sheets for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. The biscuits will continue to firm up as they cool. Store in an airtight container and eat within five days.

 

The cookies worked pretty well and lasted much longer than  five days – but they became more like biscuits than cookies at that stage so I don’t recommend leaving them!

S x

DTSFT Men’s Column #14 – Fantasies

 Oh it’s about to get X-rated up in DTSFT today.  Yeah, this week’s topic is a little bit racy, so if you are a child who has clicked on this link, please close your eyes while you read this.

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I received a letter from Curtis in Peterborough, who asked:

Hi DTSFT, my girlfriend and I have been together for 6 months and it’s so great but last night she told me she wanted to spice things up in the bedroom. She handed me a note with her fantasy on it and I was too scared to open it so I sent it to you. What should I do?

Thank you for contacting me, Curtis, and I am flattered that you would think to ask my advice at a time like this.  Firstly, you shouldn’t be ‘scared’ of finding out what your girlfriend’s fantasy is, you should embrace the fact that she is now comfortable enough with you to be open about these things.  And why do you assume that her fantasy is going to be something worth getting scared about?  Maybe your little lady just wants to play a little dress up, you know – she’s the french maid, you’re the pizza delivery man.  Or maybe her fantasy is more specific, like you’re both characters from a TV show or film, say, I dunno, she’s a Disney princess and and you’re a combination of all the animal sidekicks, together you frolic in the darkest, kinkiest depths of each other’s psyches.  You’d be as limber as a lion, as honourable as a horse, as Jamaican as a crab.  She beckons you to her with her beautiful singing voice, and your duet gradually becomes more and more depraved and syncopated as you –

You know what, I’m going to stop there.

HCGI

HCGI

But look, if you want, I’ll read the note you sent – oh wow okay if you’re going to do this, you’ll need to be double jointed, have no allergies, and be able to take at least 3 weeks off from work.  I would not advise  spending any more time with that psychopath. Get out of there, Curtis. Get out of there now. And may god have mercy on your soul.

Emmys 2013: 5 US TV Shows That I’m Addicted To

Yes folks, that time of year is almost upon us again…it’s the Emmys!

The nominations have already been revealed, and to be honest most of them are predictable (well deserved, but predictable nonetheless) and others were a nice surprise. If you want to see the full list, you can check it out here.

Since last year’s awards there has been a wave of new and exciting shows, and I’m just as impressed as I was last year. TV seems to be getting cleverer and more interesting. Of course there are some shows that are just ridiculous (Do No Harm? I mean really?!) but they’re easy to overlook when there are so many fantastic ones around right now, and to come.

Here are 5 of my favourites (this year!):

N.B. Some of these posts do contain potential spoilers so if you haven’t seen any of these shows and would like to, I recommend you don’t read on…AND JUST WATCH THEM ALREADY.

Hannibal

dtsft hannibal

What’s it about? Based on the novel ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris, crazy-genius FBI investigator and college professor Will Graham is asked to work with the FBI on their most grizzly cases, particularly the crimes of the Chesapeake Ripper, but to make sure that he doesn’t lose himself in his work, psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter is asked to join him, unaware to Graham that he is indeed the serial killer that the FBI are after.

LOVE this show. I didn’t think it was going to work at first, but when I watched the first episode it left me feeling intrigued. It’s very, very dark, very, very gory, and in a way artistic, especially with the crime scenes and the way they find the victims (one that sticks out for me in particular is a killer who peeled back the skin on his victims’ backs to make them look like wings – sheesh) so if you’re not very good with gore then I recommend you don’t watch it. But it’s very well written and very well acted, and the ‘bromance’ between Graham and Hannibal (whom I find strangely alluring with his pleasant manners and soft voice) definitely stands out. Oh yeah, and Mads Mikkelsen is straight stuntin’ in all those suits he wears. DTSFT indeed.

Hannibal - Season 1

The Following

dtsft the following

What’s it about? Famous serial killer Joe Carroll escapes from prison after Agent Ryan Hardy put him there a few years ago, and he has started up his own cult who he has brainwashed to commit murders in his name. Hardy is brought back in to work for the FBI and bring him and his ‘followers’ down (I’m surprised they didn’t call themselves ‘Carollers’ or something, what with all these names fans give themselves these days).

The concept had me interested right away, and it was good to see Kevin Bacon back on our screens (right, Helen? ;)). Again, it’s quite gory, but not on the same level as Hannibal.

Both Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy are great as Hardy and Carroll respectively, but for me it was the secondary characters that stood out. The twisted love triangle between Emma, Jacob and Paul was refreshing, and I love the character of Emma – it’s very interesting to see a woman play that type of role, which isn’t done very often. I also really, really liked faux-sheriff and legit fruit and nut cake Roderick (played by the lovely Warren Kole – bit more about him later). It was such a shame that he got killed off in the first season, I felt that so much more could’ve been done with his character, like backstory and relationships etc.

dtsft the following roderick

The finale of the first season was completely unexpected, and it did make me wonder where they could possibly go from there (maybe it would have been good to end it there?) but since there’s going to be a second season, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

Fringe

dtsft fringe

What’s it about? When Detective Olivia Dunham’s partner/lover John goes into a sort of coma, she tracks down mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop and his sardonic son Peter to help her solve the closed cases that John was working on, all of which involve experiments that are on ‘the fringes of science’ and all lead back to a shady organisation called ‘Massive Dynamic’.

Yes, I know it ended, like, a year ago, but my fellow DTSFT-er Sophia highly recommended the show and I decided to give it a try. It’s typically JJ Abrams with the whole ‘unexplained mysteries’ kind of thing, but the quirky humour (i.e. the cow) and Peter’s sharp tongue is reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s style (in my opinion). At first I didn’t find the characters very likeable: Olivia was a try-hard tough chick and Peter was just being bitchy for the sake of it, but a few episodes and I grew to love them. I’ve still got about four seasons to get through, but the show is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

White Collar

White Collar

What’s it about? In exchange for his ‘freedom’, professional art thief and con artist Neal Caffrey works as a consultant for FBI Agent Peter Burke and his team to take out the city’s biggest criminals.

I’ve only just got into this show after I came across it while looking for something to watch in the morning before work (I used to watch Regular Show but then it got moved to a later time). It’s a lot of fun with some great characters (although in my opinion most of their female characters are two-dimensional i.e. ridiculously pretty and skinny and don’t seem to mind being screwed over by men – Neal in particular), but it’s the relationship/bromance between Neal and Peter (played by the b-e-a-utiful Matt Bomer and the equally handsome and hilarious Tim DeKay respectively) that I love the most. They both know what they are (a cop and a criminal) and that they’re on opposite sides of the law, but they still care about each other and are almost like brothers. Every scene they’re in is both funny and touching.

I’m trying to watch all four seasons so that I’m up to speed in time for the fifth (coming this October in the US, not sure about the UK, but seeing as we’re on Season 3 here it’ll be quite a while) – in which Neal gets a new handler in the form of Agent David Seigal, who is played by…Warren Kole! I’m really excited about his character and how he fits into (or possibly disrupts?) the Caffrey-Burke partnership. And check Warren Kole’s Twitter account: he’s got a picture of the three of them on set and they all look HOT AS in those suits. It’s all about the SUITS baby!

dtsft white collar suits

Hell’s Kitchen USA

hell's kitchen

I’ve never watched this show before, but when I saw an advert for the most recent series I thought it looked hilarious – and it really was. Every episode was so OTT, with unnecessary cliffhangers and music so dramatic you thought someone was about to commit murder, and all of the contestants (with their 90s boyband bandanas) were so desperate to work with Ramsay that they were even swearing just as much as him. And speaking of the contestants, there were a few of them who stood out: there was Mary, a doe-eyed butcher with a voice that could crack glass, Zach, the sneaky underhanded one who deliberately set out to mess everything up during service, and lastly, but most definitely not least… NEDRA.

nedra

NEDRA.

GIRL.

I LOVE YOU.

She was straight-talking and didn’t take any BS from aaannnyyyooone. She also couldn’t cook very well, but she hyped herself up so much and cussed everyone else out so badly you started to believe she actually should win Hell’s Kitchen and that everyone else was just little bitchasses fo’ real doe. I tried to find a video of all of her best bits and couldn’t find one (but there really, really should be) but this clip is just as great:

Hannah