Monday, February 11, 2019

Movie: Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

The experimental idea of making a horror movie surrounding the art world makes sense to me. I lived it~ the art part of it anyway. In my other life, I worked in three different art galleries over 8 years. So seeing the preview for Velvet Buzzsaw made me thoroughly excited.

The story throws you head first into a high art trade show, where you meet the main characters. The character dynamics portrayed in Velvet Buzzsaw are accurate. These are stereotypical, but very close to the real thing.

You have an art handler/ installer that is an artist in his own right, but is never given enough credit at his own gallery. There's a larger than life museum director/ broker that manages everything. There's the art critic that is pretentious, wordy, and smug. The art critics truly have the power to make or break an artist. (I can say this because I have a Masters in Modern Art History. Art History is studying art work, interpreting it, looking at it's historical context and being judge-y, very judge-y). Then there's the curators. They meet with artists, learn what makes them tick and they try to showcase artists in the best light while taking care to be on top of the next trend in art and educating the public. And finally, the assistants, or secretaries, or researchers, or interns that are behind the scenes. They see and hear a lot more than anyone thinks they do. They are often taken for granted and thought of as naive. All of these people are represented in Velvet Buzzsaw.

Just look at him being all Judge-y McJudge-erson.

 ***Warning Spoilers***

The story gets rolling when Josephina, the gallery assistant finds her elderly neighbor, named Dease, dead. A bug is put in her ear that he was an artist, but wanted his works destroyed. An adorable fluffy white kitty, presumably Deases leads her to his apartment, where she discovers stacks upon stacks of paintings. The opportunity to take them falls into her lap, and she pounces on a cat! She takes all the paintings because she thinks they are worth money.

There's something about getting valuable things for free that makes me wary of them. (Side note: just the other day a friend messaged me about a piece of vintage jewelry. I dabble in vintage things and sometimes I know what things are and what they are worth, but not this piece. She thought it might be a piece of Victorian mourning jewelry.  She was given a box of jewelry that spanned decades and this was in it. My response "sage wash that shit." You don't know what spirit is attached to what thing, especially if it's that old.)

Ok back to the story, Josephina's not sure if the paintings she stole are valuable so she talks to her art critic friend, Morf, about them. He says that the artist is a visionary and wants in on the money grab. The art broker, Rhodora, sniffs their deal out and wants to showcase them at her gallery while taking over the storage and sales. There's a thousand plus paintings, so to catalog all of them would be a lot of work. Josephina agrees. Rhodora even makes a scarcity of the paintings, by putting some in storage....or trying to. The delivery truck doesn't make it and the paintings go missing. Here's where the paintings come to life and people st-ART dying. (See what I did there?)

 This was an artsy death.

We find out that Dease was abused, he tortured and killed his own father, he was institutionalized and experimented on like a human guinea pig, and used his own blood in the paintings, possibly in blood rituals. His spirit in the paintings makes them come alive!

Overall the movie is satire about art commerce and the greed behind it. Anyone that tried to profit from Dease's paintings died. I thought the killings were fun although I wished there was a flashback to Velvet Buzzsaw. The name comes from the punk band that Rhodora was in. She has a tattoo of it on her shoulder. She also has a Sphinx cat named Stella. Two kitties in one movie?! YES!

I enjoyed Coco, the gal that ends up being everyone's assistant because she's the one that knows everything that's going on, isn't greedy and lives. The outfits were creative and exactly what I experienced in the museum world along with the dialog. The acting was great, and styled like a black comedy, the paintings even gave me Night Gallery vibes. The ending was left open, as the missing paintings are found and shown being sold on a street corner for $5. So the spirit of Dease can live on. I'd give this movie 4 out of 5 bloody mirrored spheres. (and I'm NOT talking Phantasm.)

Here's the trailer ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Shining Pinup

My friend Shannon ~ the talented seamstress and tailor ~ owns Krampus Cuties hair ties. (Cats Like Us sells a lot of them and you can see exclusive designs here). She chooses really fun prints including cats and horror! I've collected several and what's nice is that they are reversible and adjustable. (I mentioned her in a past blog.)

I'm wearing the "You've got to be kitten" me hair tie 
in this picture, but on the solid side.

Here's my small collection... so far.

When she started making The Shining rug print hair ties I knew I needed a dress. (You might know I'm a fan from this blog post.) The pattern of the rug lends itself to a 1960s design. I just so happen to have a collection of vintage sewing patterns. I always thought I would learn to sew. My mom tried to teach me, I took sewing classes, and yet I have zero percent sewing skills. I asked Shannon ~ if I gave her the pattern ~ if she could make me a dress out of The Shining print? She said, "Yes!". (I made the buttons. At least I'm good for something. lol.)

The Shining print rug is the last one pictured above.
For reference, here's what it looks like in the movie...

Here's the fabric and my dress pattern.

So now I have this amazing reproduction 1960s dress and matching hair tie made of The Shining print rug. What's the best way to show it off? A photo shoot of course! I asked Destiny my friend and neighbor from Sweet Heart Pin Up if she could help me. If you ever want a full pinup experience she is the person to see! She made me feel like a queen on a throne while she applied my makeup. It was so relaxing. I just told her I wanted it to be heavy 1960s makeup and boy did she deliver! Eyelashes here, eyelashes there, eyelashes everywhere!

We watched the movie for inspiration beforehand and Destiny was able to pull props from other sets to fit the theme of The Shining. She has lots of sets in the basement of her studio already set up for pinup shoots. She put a room together just for me! I have to say I was impressed. I'm so lucky to have such talented friends.

Here are some quick behind the scene shots she took with attention to detail.

Key ring is from the Overlook Creeper Crate.

Now for the Photo Shoot...

Here's Ginger and I.

 Here's Vicktor and I.

Kitty paw prints.

Twin Kitties.

Mirror Kitty.

I wanted to keep it kitschy with a 1960s Shining theme and she made my vision a reality. I'm so happy I could make the photo shoot my own. I highly recommend booking with Sweet Heart Pin Up if you are near Buffalo, NY. Destiny is empowering, and fun and real. She made me feel like a million bucks. I'm flattered she said I have the skin of a twenty something. (Little does she know I have the skin of a twenty something in a box on my dresser...muhahaha.....just kidding....or am I?)

Thanks for reading!

~Julie Ann

Photos: Sweet Heart Pin Up
Makeup: Sweet Heart Pin Up
Hair provided by: Sheila "She-Devil" Hellinski
Dress: Krampus Cuties/ Kramp Kouture
Accessories: Cats Like Us
Cats added by: Miranda Knight Creative

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Movie: Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

This past week I've been under-the-weather and hermit-ing with it being in the single digits outside. Yay. Buffalo, NY. So I snuggled in the couch with Ginger and watched Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018). It's a documentary on Netflix about a friendly rivalry between two cat owners. To most it probably sounds boring, but it was just what I needed to feel a little better.

I've never been to a cat show. I have mixed feelings about pure-bred cats. I've heard so many horror stories about health problems among pure-bred cats, as opposed to all the mixed breed kitties that need FURever homes. I don't think I would ever have a need to get a pure-bred, that being said I love all cats.

Cat shows are primarily beauty contests for pedigree cats and the prize you would want to win is the "Best of Breed" black ribbon. At each show the cats earn points and at the end of the season the cat with the most points is the winner .

Catwalk follows Kim the owner of Bobby a white Turkish Angora Cat and Shirley the owner of Oh La La a orange Persian Cat. Both ladies love their cats, enjoy what they do and are surprisingly supportive of each other throughout the competitions. Their cats go neck and neck the whole season with a few upsets along the way. New cats get introduced like Colin the Norwegian Forest Cat or Mr. Sandman a Himalayan or the one time Bobby coughed up a messy hairball on the judge. As an outsider, it's suspenseful because you want to see who the winner will be.
Kim with Bobby & Shirley with Oh La La.

The documentary introduces you to some of the judges, breeders, and other competitors. I'm surprised at how many cats some of the owners have. We once had four cats and that was a lot. You see where they live, all the cat prize ribbons, and just what goes into caring for a show cat. Shirley washes Oh La La once a week and they include it in the movie. It's so cute!!!

 Oh La La getting a bath.

***Warning Spoiler***

Oh La La ends up being the overall winner for the season at the Canadian Cat Association. They even have a little retirement party for her since Shirley decided her show days were over!

It IS a feel good movie. The only thing that seemed out of place is that they spent a lot of time showing Kim's other hobby ~ scuba diving. In the end I give it 4.5 out of 5 show ribbons.
Here's the trailer...

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Movie: Bird Box (2018)

With the hype surrounding Bird Box on Netflix, I thought I'd check it out. I know some of my friends and horror fans don't like Sandra Bullock so they won't watch it, but I have to say she stepped up and out of the rom-com "box" (see what I did there?) in this movie. It really showcased her dramatic acting. Also, she's either had a lot of plastic surgery, or she's aging and doesn't even look like the Sandra Bullock I remember.

***Warning Spoilers***

The movie timeline flashes back and forth five years. We start at the end where Malorie ~ played by Bullock ~ forcibly warns two kids ~ a boy and girl ~ that they must keep their blindfolds on because they are leaving the house. If they don't they will die. The three of them hop in a row boat, with three birds in a shoe box, and start a two day journey down the river.

Flashback to five years ago when Malorie is a pregnant painter living alone in her rustic studio and her sister ~ Jessica ~ visits with groceries and tells her about the news. There's "mass suicides" in Russia and the UK. Malorie dismisses it to focus on her OBGYN appointment. She's a reluctant mother, and it's assumed that her old roommate is the father.

Jessica drives Malorie to the appointment where she thinks about putting her child up for adoption. As Malorie leaves the hospital, she sees a woman smashing her head against a window. Then all hell breaks loose! Malorie gets in the car with her sister. Jessica starts driving avoiding cars that are running red lights and purposefully getting into accidents. Total chaos in the streets. Then Jessica sees something and runs her car off the road. It flips over. Both women get out and Jessica stands in traffic to get hit by a truck. It's disturbing imagery since they show the impact as it happens.

Malorie  is left wandering the road, getting pushed over by mobs of people running until a woman from a house notices she's pregnant and goes outside to meet her. The woman from the house sees her dead mother in a vision (we assume) and commits suicide by going to sit in a burning car. Malorie gets inside the safe house and is taken in by a bunch of panicked strangers with all different backgrounds presumably in the same situation ~ avoiding looking outside.

At this point I'm intrigued. It has religious connotations with the world being "cleansed" by other worldly beings? The victims see incredible sadness before they kill themselves. Are they visions? Are the monster just reflecting a person's inner turmoil? It seems there's a darkness and swooping sound along with whispering voices when the monsters are near. 

Flash forward to Malorie and the kids on the river for 8 hours. She's still rowing. She hears the voice of a man telling her she's safe and can take her blindfold off. He's in the water without a blindfold. She doesn't trust him, never takes hers off and stabs him. So now we know there are people that can still "see" and live.

Back at the safe house it's been three days and they are running out of food. Another pregnant woman ends up on their doorstep. It's revealed that one of the people works in a supermarket and has keys to get inside. They divide up, black out the windows in the car and use the GPS to guide them. They stock up on everything and Malorie rescues three caged birds. (Not sure why they are in a supermarket? Seems odd and unsanitary.) There's one casualty and they get back to the house, only to have the car stolen later by a couple in the house.

24 hours on the river (Malorie must have really prepped with a lot of sleep beforehand to keep rowing by herself and to be up for so long!) She hears wind chimes, docks the boat with the kids and goes exploring for supplies. 

Then 28 hours on the river, then 38 hours...

Flashback to the house where they take in Gary who they think is sane but ends up being able "to see it's beautiful, so shall cleanse the world" and kills half of the people staying in the house while both women are having babies at the same time. The survivors are Malorie, the two kids, and Tom. They all become scavengers, Malorie and Tom become lovers and raise the kids for five years.

Now the timeline is caught up. We find out there are people outside that don't use blindfolds and encourage everyone they meet to take them off and see "it's a beautiful thing". 

While stealing from a house, the family encounters the un-blindfolded and they shoot Tom who then shoots them and himself.

Malorie, the kids, and the three birds get away and take the rowboat to a place they hear of on the radio. Two days down the river, through the rapids to a place where you follow the sound of the birds. They surprisingly make it through the rapids, the forest, and the supernatural monsters to this sanctuary in the woods. Ta-da it's a school for the blind! The school takes them in, the birds get set free, Malorie meets up with her obgyn there and everyone is happy now.

You never see the monsters. They are never shown or fleshed out, which was the whole reason I was watching AND you never find out why some people need blindfolds and others don't. Are the visions demons to some and angels to others? Not sure.

Acting was really good considering the dialog was just ok, the story line was similar to A Quiet Place, the hearing impaired/ blind people come to the rescue of a mom who had to give birth either silently or without looking outside. It has similarities to The Happening, but even then the mass suicides are explained by a natural plague. Not explained here. Overall I'd give it 3.5 birds in a box out of 5....and Ginger was disappointed there weren't more birds in it.