Thursday, 22 November 2012

Blonde Ambition

I guess you could say when it comes to my hair, over the last two years I have gone through an identity crisis.  I like any girl love to play around with fashion and makeup but my hair is a different story.  I was never great at styling it or taking very good care of it.  Naturally, I have mousey blondish hair and always resented the fact that no matter how vibrant my clothes or meticulous my makeup, I could never get past the fact that my hair was, well, boring.  So, one day I made the drastic decision to dye it blonde, and I mean really blonde!  The type of blonde that seemed like a great idea at first but ended up taking so much time and effort between the root touch ups and the constant full face of makeup required so that I didn't looked washed out.  It wasn't before long that I grew tired of all the work involved in keeping up this look (each time I touched up my roots, my hair got even blonder!) I then decided I wanted my old hair back after a year of root touch ups and endless hair extension dying.  This turned out to be a disaster, as my hair was so weak and porous from all it had gone through, it turned grey..actual grey!  It had finally given up and lost all pigment to which gave me the pleasure of seeing  what I had to look forward to in sixty years time.  This left me with no choice but to go dark, not by choice but so I could leave the house! I hadn't imaged that I would ever have brown hair as my skin is so fair that I just decided it wouldn't suit me and really, I was right.  I decided to make the most of it, however and found I now had the ability to pull off darker eye makeup.  But old habits die hard and each time I would touch up the colour it got darker and darker until it was almost black! Then I went on a working Visa trip to America for three months and that all changed.  The weather was great and I was having too much fun to care about maintaining the colour of my hair and I just let it grow out.  luckily it wasn't too obvious and I soon regained a somewhat more natural hair colour by the time I got home.
 
 
It wasn't before long that being back in cloudy old Ireland rehashed my desire for more glamourous and exciting hair.  But I had learned my lesson and resisted the urge to drastically dye it a rainbow of colours.  Instead I opted for a more low key and understated look which would add a hint of blonde without all the fuss. Using the L'Oreal Wild Ombre kit I dye the ends of my hair and I couldn't be happier with the result! Not only is it low maintenance and healthier, it's the blonde hair I always wanted but a lot less damaged. I would definitley recommend this as opposed to dying all of your hair as it's so easy to do and it will just grow out naturally.
 

 
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Monday, 12 November 2012

Review of Cleopatra (1963)




Directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz. Running time: 248 minutes. Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. 

Hollywood’s Golden Age heralded new cinematic techniques unheard of prior to the early twentieth century. Movies were profusely fabricated by up-and-coming Hollywood studios, and gave a platform to actors who would benefit from the advent of sound into motion pictures. 20th Century Fox, one of the “Big Five” Hollywood Studios distributed Cleopatra, which in turn, almost bankrupted the studio. Talk about a quid pro quo! Budgeted at a modest $2 million, it went on to cost the studio $44 million, making Cleopatra one of the most expensive films to produce. Cleopatra has been considered a moderate box office failure. The film won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for five. It modestly falls into the “epic drama” genre. Taylor was the first actress to earn $1,000,000 for a movie role. Was it all worth it?

The film chronicles the life of Cleopatra. Married to her brother Ptolemy (which, I am happy to report, was a political rather than romantic alliance!) Cleopatra must consolidate her reign within the imperialistic hegemony of the Roman Empire. You may be wondering why I’m reviewing Cleopatra now. Well, not only is the film reaching its 50th anniversary next year, Elizabeth Taylor herself is having a moment in Hollywood at present. A new documentary called “Liz & Dick”, which chronicles Taylor’s tumultuous relationship with her twice-husband Richard Burton, is set to appear on American television screens later this month. I have always admired Elizabeth Taylor. Her beauty, poise, nonchalant attitude (and not to mention her colourful personal life) kept audiences enthralled for decades. 

With regard to the characterisation, Taylor’s Cleopatra matches the wit of Harrison’s Caesar quite well; however there was a lack of chemistry. Caesar’s embrace of Cleopatra and their kiss was wooden and banal. Caesar appears to be too austere and insipid for the tantalizing Cleopatra, resulting in more of a teacher-student relationship rather than husband and wife, which they eventually become. However unlike her other marriage, Cleopatra does love Caesar. It is a pity that this romance is lost in the lack of chemistry between Taylor’s melodramatic proclamations of love and Harrison’s apparent lack of interest in her. Ironically, Harrison was the only actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. I personally cannot see why he was even nominated. His delivery of his lines is too synthetic, and not organic enough to convince me of his political competency and sincere love for Cleopatra. After their son Caesarion is born, Cleopatra does not become peripatetic or lazy. She is politically motivated to act as a patriotic bulwark for Egypt against the incoming threat of Octavian. Art imitates life when Cleopatra meets Mark Antony (Burton). It may have been the real life romance between Taylor and Burton that made their scenes together as Cleopatra and Mark Antony more palpable, but their romance seems more sincere and veritable than Cleopatra’s romance with Caesar. I say, good on Cleo for bagging a man who’s one third of the powerful triumvirate who own the Roman Empire! There’s more romantic embracing and intimacy evident between Cleopatra and Mark Antony than there was with Caesar. The meticulous narrative provides an immense volume of history for the audience to digest. I enjoyed the historical accuracy the people, the battles and of course the dates. A very long drawn-out film at 4 hours and 11 minutes, I wouldn’t jump back on the couch to watch it again anytime soon!

Shot in widescreen format, for the most part it felt like I was watching a play that was caught on film. The melodramatic acting coupled with the wide spaces left between the actors who were attempting to converse with one another. Most scenes show long or medium shots of Cleopatra and Caesar, providing the audience with no sense of affection between them. There were close up shots to convey the physical, intimate romance between Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. The film could have done with a few more of these shots. 

I can most certainly see why this film won the Academy Award for Best Costume DesignThe film earned Taylor a Guinness World Record title, "Most costume changes in a film" – she had 65 costume changes. All the costumes are commendable. There are many to comment on, and were all exquisitely created. Each one was meticulously designed for a specific purpose – whether it’s a gown for her coronation, or a blue dress with a fur trimmed coat, all her costumes add connotations to Cleopatra’s emotions, decisions and romances. My top three most memorable dresses were the following: The mandarin-red dress. This is the first outfit we seen when Cleopatra rolls out from the rug that she gives to Caesar on their first meeting. It’s a very simple mandarin-red colour, split both sides with white fabric showing. Cleopatra teams it with a thin gold belt and gold cuffs with two snakes on them (introducing us to the theme of snakes). This is one of the rare occasions we see Cleopatra without one of her headdresses. This dress appeals to me because it is simple, sublime, and would be something that you would have seen Elizabeth Taylor wear on the red carpet in the 1960s. Thus, this dress introduces us to Elizabeth and Cleopatra; all rolled into one (excuse the pun). 


My second favourite dress is the white and purple court dress. Here Cleopatra is demanding one third of the Roman Empire from Mark Antony (and pissed off that he married another woman!). Her dress conveys her political astuteness with the red headdress showing she means business, and it also implies that she is still his lover, even though Mark Antony was coerced into a “marriage of state” with Octavia. The stars going down the purple part of the dress (reminds me of the European Union stars). You certainly wouldn’t want to mess with Cleo. 

My favourite dress is the green dress. Here we witness Cleopatra at one of her most vulnerable moments. She’s speaking about her tomb to Mark Antony, and they share a tender moment where they express their love for one another. I like how this dress has gold snakes embroidered into it, as well as her gold headdress with a snake draping down the middle of her hair. It is a foreboding message sent out to the audience’s advantage. Snakes appear here and there in Cleopatra’s jewellery and dresses. It is no surprise that Cleopatra later dies of snake poisoning.


On a whole, this “epic drama” is on a grandiose scale. It is quite enjoyable once you witness Taylor acting with Burton in their beautifully crafted scenes. The opulent sets and exquisite costume changes take you on a journey with Cleopatra, from her reign as Queen of Egypt, to her impetuous romances with Caesar and Mark Antony, to her premature death. A must-see for all Elizabeth Taylor fans.



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Friday, 9 November 2012

The Beauty of Bérénice


Since I loved the Bond theme of our last posts so much, I thought I would do another tutorial inspired by the lovely Bérénice Marlohe.  This look is dark and smouldering look.  It is very different look to Adele’s which was more classic, this has an edgier and more gothic feel to it.  Here I have taken a different approach and tried to show my techniques for this look step by step (apologies for the poor camera quality but hopefully will inspire and help you to try it yourself!


I first started with MAC Studio sculpt in NW20 foundation using a duo fibre foundation brush. Then with a small concealer brush, I applied Benefit Eraser paste below my eyes and wherever else it was needed. Bérénice has slightly rosy cheeks so I used MAC cream blush in Ladyblush on the apples of my cheeks. I used Sephora eyebrow pencil in dark brown and also Benefit's Confessions of a Concealaholic concealer under and above my eyebrows for definition. I then applied MAC's Paintpot in Barestudy to my eyelids.


It may not be visible in this picture but in the film you can see that Bérénice has a gold eyeshadow on her eyelids which works as a great contrast to the black smoky look around the eye.  To create this, I firstly applied Urban Decay Primer potion then Urban Decays Half Baked eyeshadow to my eyelids.  Then Urban Decay Sellout just under my eyebrows.


To create the smoky look I first lined along my upper lash line with Rimmel Glamorous liquid eyeliner. I also flicked it out each end to create a wing.


I then continued the liner to form a point in towards my nose.  Using MAC gel liner in Blacktrack, I lined my waterline and connected the wings with the liner under my eyes.  This process does not have to be neat as it won’t be visible once you start to blend it out.


Using the gel liner and a small blending brush, I applied it in the outer crease of my eye.  This is where it will look the darkest.  I also smudged the eyeliner under my eyes.


Then using a large blending brush, I blended the liner outside the crease and kept blending in circular motion until there were no sharp edges.


I applied L’Oreal Collagen mascara and false lashes.  Using a lipstick brush I applied a dark burgundy/purple lipstick from my Nyx Lip Palette.  To complete the look I used Barbra Daly shimmer pot along my cheekbones, above my cupids bow and along the bridge of my nose.




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Monday, 5 November 2012

Review of Skyfall

                                 
Directed by Sam Mendes. Running Time: 143 minutes. Cert: 12. Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris and Ralph Fiennes.

It’s official. Bond is back. I will try not to let the fact that I am a huge fan of the iconic English spy cloud my judgement of the latest espionage venture, titled Skyfall. As Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond, we see him travel to Istanbul to recover a stolen hard drive which contains the identities of undercover NATO operatives. When MI6 comes under attack, Bond must confront Raoul Silva (Bardem), a global criminal mastermind hell bent on revenge.

Bond has always come across as the suave, virile womaniser who’s nothing short of perfect. While I’m not the biggest fan of Craig as Bond (it’s the hair, really!) Skyfall does provide us with a susceptible, weaker and more humane James Bond that has seldom been explored in previous films. After a mishap leaves Bond missing-in-action, presumed dead, he ekes out a living in Turkey indulging in alcohol and sexual encounters. Craig’s Bond is devoid of any emotion, offering only a single smouldering look which leaves the audience reeling for more of the bravado composure we are so used to seeing in Bond. While it is pleasant to see this fragility, I never thought that it would pour into the obligatory less-than-impressive love scene. A quick kiss in the shower and it’s all over. Gone are the days when Bond slept with the antagonistic Bond girl to whom he’d disclose all his secrets to! I was left feeling disappointed and wondered how Sam Mendes would make up for this awful blunder. Then along came Raoul Silva. We meet the main antagonist about half way through the film. A bit long to wait for the main action to commence, but it is worth it. Bardem’s portrayal of Silva is the perfect blend of corruption, charm and downright creepiness.  A previous MI6 agent, Silva now seeks redemption and revenge on M. Silva is the Bond villain that leaves that lasting impression on the observer long after they leave the cinema. This is not done through any type of gadget or henchmen, but through his own light, camp humour he manages to steal the show. As humour appears to be deficient in Craig’s Bond (and other sort of puns), this light humour is manifested in Silva, which makes him all the more impendent, rather than just being a camp man attempting to emasculate Bond.

Although Bond girl Sévérine (Berenice Marlohe) seems to be marketed as the main femme fatale, it is Judi Dench as M who steals the show. M’s relationship with Bond is scrutinised and put to the ultimate test in this film. Dench is remarkable as M (as usual) but digs deeper into her psyche so the audience sees M as woman in this incredible position of power, unwilling to accede to the demands of the patriarchal authority that surrounds her. Mendes’ triad of Bond, M and Silva seems ineluctable, and something that should have been examined in a Bond film decades ago. Here for the first time the film dissects the loyalty bound by one MI6 agent to the duty of one’s country versus the perfidy by another, making M the chief perpetrator and victim of both agent’s actions. Suffice to say, Sévérine cannot match the ultimate Bond girl M. The only other Bond girl who threatens M’s position is Eve, brilliantly portrayed by Naomie Harris. Harris brings a fresh new outlook to the role of the Bond girl. Unlike previous Bond girls, Eve has personality, guts and the wit to match Bond (well there wasn’t much wit to compete with in Craig!)

Introducing a new Q was risky: would he match the sheer brilliance brought to the role by Desmond Llewelyn? The answer is…yes and no. At the end of the day, it’s not fair to compare two very contrasting actors who both bring something different to the role. Who can forget Q barking “Don’t touch that! That’s my lunch!” The Q we have here today is a young computer geek trying to establish some sort of relationship with Bond. Although Bond has been around since before he was born (and he knows it!), Ben Whishaw’s portrayal of Q is satirical but truthful. He’s tech savvy and presents Bond with one single gadget. If no gadgets were itroduced, Skyfall would have failed as a Bond film. The same can be said with Bond’s car. The infamous Aston Martin DB5 appears immediately followed by the James Bond theme song. The opening credits were superb.  The eagerly anticipated song Skyfall is remarkably perfect for this film. It sounds like a pastiche of past Bond songs yet it’s refreshingly new with Adele belting through the chorus.

Although there were some missed opportunities for some “Bondesque” humour, the screenplay was well written and the characters developed to their full potential under Mendes’ direction. Skyfall most certainly sets the scene for the next installment. It is safe to say that James Bond will return.


 
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Bond Girl for a Day


 




Although she is not a Bond girl, Adele’s stunning look for the promotion of the new James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ was so stunning I felt compelled to try to recreate it.

She may not star in the film herself but this classic winged liner with full red lips look would not look out of place next to James in a casino at a roulette table.

In creating a similar look I noticed that three things stood out to me in this image of her; red lips, contoured cheeks and thick eyeliner with lashes.  So to begin this look it was simple, conceal everything else!

I used MAC Studio Fix NW20 and with a duo fibre foundation brush applied to my face.  The key to this look is concealer.   To cover the darkness around my eyes I used Benefits Confessions of a Concelaholic light concealer.  I also applied it further down than usual just above my cheeks.  I used this around the eyebrows to make them more defined also.

I applied MAC Paintpot in Painterly to my eyelids to cover any redness then Urban Decay Primer Potion to set the eyeshadow.  I used light brown like a mushroom colour from my 28 neutral eyeshadow palette but any similar colour would do.  For the winged eyeliner I used Glamorous liquid eyeliner by Rimmel.  I used L’oreal mascara and fake lashes to complete the eyes.

I then used Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in white and drew a thin white line lightly under my eyebrows and around my lips, then smudged it with my finger so it would look less harsh.  I also applied this under each eye liner wing for emphasis.

As this look does not permit blush, I chose to contour my cheeks to make them more defined.  I would usually use bronzer for this but used a light beige almost purple eyeshadow from the same palette which suited my skin tone and looked just like shading.  This colour would be different for any skin type so choose according to what shade suits you.  I used the same colour and a slightly smaller blending brush to contour down either side of the bridge of my nose.

For the lips I used a dark red from my Nyx lip palette and firstly lined just outside my natural lips with the lipstick on a lipstick brush then filled in the rest of my lips.  If you have small lips like me, it is easy to fake larger lips with red lipstick but don’t overdo it and line to far away from the lips as it could look obvious.  To complete the lips I dabbed some translucent powder on them to make them less shiny as Adele’s lips look almost velvet in this image.

To finish off the look I used Barbara Daly shimmer pot and applied some above my cupids bow, along the bridge of my nose along the tops of my cheeks.

This look is so versatile and easily adaptable to a more easy to wear daytime look with a more subtle lipstick.
 
Products I used:
 
MAC Studio Fix NW20
Benefit Confessions of a Concealaholic Palette
MAC Paintpot in Painterly
Sephora eyebrow pencil (dark brown)
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Light brown/mushroom eyeshadow
Rimmel Glamorous liquid eye liner
Nyx Jumbo Pencil in white
Browny purple eyeshadow
Barbara Daly Shimmer Pot
 
 
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