July 2013 archive

The Great Gatsby Film Review

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I’m very late to the party with this review. Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby must have been one of the most hyped, and most dreaded film of recent years. There’s nothing like tackling the literary love, and school text, of millions for risk taking. The critics were sniffy. I had low expectations (and a high hemline – oh yes, I’m geeky enough to have gone to the cinema in 1920s garb). I love Fitzgerald’s writing and couldn’t help but fear a Come What May, Moulin Rouge style number. Perhaps Daisy breaking into a jazz version of Madonna’s Material Girl? Oh the horror.

So I was more than relieved when I found myself enjoying the film. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby is a mesmerisingly intense cross between a psychotic stalker and a lovesick puppy. I swear you could see his blood pulse with desire for Carrie Mulligan’s Daisy, and pure hatred for Joel Edgerton’s supercilious brute Tom Buchannan. Carrie Mulligan didn’t do it for me as Daisy, but after hours of thought the only alternatives I could conjure were women who are now too old for the part, or dead. It’s a shame a new unknown gem could not have been unearthed. Tobey Maguire is pleasing as Nick Carraway, and I appreciated the film’s angle of him narrating the tale to a psychiatrist, before eventually typing up ‘his’ story in a fit of sleepless mania. There were echoes of Fitzgerald’s own life in there that reassured me Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, who jointly wrote the screenplay, were genuine fans. The ‘typing’ of the story by Nick also allowed for the famous opening and closing lines of the novel to appear like text, across the screen. A wise way to deal with, and a fitting reverence to, such deft iconic sentences.

The film was a good interpretation, in that it nailed various themes of the book: decadence, the power and carelessness of the rich, the unhealthy obsession with the past, the summation of so many icons of the Jazz age. But it could only look in the single direction the camera was pointed in at any one time. A film, in my opinion, can never have the same nuances as a book. A film speaks to your eyes and your ears, and sometimes even your heart, but never your soul. Having said that, I am a bibliophile.

Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby delivered fizzes, and sparks, and the delicious pleasure of a slow burn pace often missing from mainstream megabucks movies. I’m guessing not many big time Hollywood directors would either be allowed, or brave enough, to gamble on a slower storyline when today’s audiences are more used to quick fire, plot-racing CGI blockbusters. Fair play, Baz.

And after my earlier musical based fears, I loved the soundtrack. If anything, Luhrmann was too cautious and miserly with his contemporary tracks – as if he were frightened Jay-Z would be too much for lit lovers.

For me the film is an agreeable success, but I shall leave the final word to the two teen girls I overheard afterwards: “Wow. That wasn’t romantic. She wasn’t very nice. What’s the name of the guy who wrote it again? Nick Carraway.” Luhrmann sends his apologies, Fitzgerald.


Image belongs to Warner Bros.

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The Lulu Guinness Paint Project

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It’s been a while, and several months of ill-health-induced immobility, since I’ve been to a fash bash. So it was with a mixture of delirious excitement and nerves that I received my invite to the Lulu Guinness Paint Project – a fusion art and fashion event where Lulu Guinness and uber cool Beautiful Crime artist Joseph Steele decorated bags with controlled paint explosions (yes, really!) What’s a girl to do when she has to stand next to fountain of youth nymphs (the fash pack) with a walking stick? Style it out with yellow high tops, a two tone Lulu Guinness clutch and a hot friend to take photos of against the giant backdrop screens.


Held in the Old Sorting Office, New Oxford Street, the cavernous warehouse space was filled with Lulu’s iconic hanging neon lips, a stage upon which Lulu James performed, and retro camper vans serving Lobster rolls and artisan chocolates. Topped off with a neon bar offering a plethora of Red Bull based cocktails and a thumping DJ soundtrack from Jameela Jamil, I soon found I no longer cared about my walking stick. The vibrant energetic space was intoxicating (so were the drinks).


Joseph Steele, Lulu Guinness – holding one of the limited edition bags – and guest.

As we gathered round the roped off area to watch the high-pressured cylinders fire paint at clutches fixed to a round target, I revelled in the creative rush cutting edge fashion can deliver. Where else would you find a street artist and a fashion icon exploding paint across gorgeous bags for charity? The party definitely went with a bang.


Celeb spots: Lauren Laverne, Laura Whitmore, Olivia Lee.

To bid on one of the limited edition paint splattered clutches please visit Ebay here. All proceeds to The Art Room charity.

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Why it is NOT okay to use your phone at a supermarket checkout

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Newspapers have reported that a customer in a south London Sainsbury’s was “stunned” when a checkout assistant requested she hang up her mobile before she would serve her. The customer complained and received an apology from Sainsbury’s, who confirmed it is not their policy to refuse to serve customers using mobile phones. I think the supermarket is wrong. I think you shouldn’t talk on your phone when someone else is serving you.

I’ve been guilty of yacking into my phone when paying for things in the past, despite spending four of my formative years working in retail. I’d pathetically mouth “sorry” to the checkout assistant as I assured myself I was SO busy I had to multi-task. It was all about me. It took a genuinely urgent call to change my ways.

I was on the way home from the office when a relative called, in great distress, to tell me how her husband had been rushed into hospital. On autopilot I popped into Marks and Spencer to get my ready meal dinner. As usual I grimaced and mimed my way through the transaction with the checkout assistant. It was only afterwards I realised I was concerned enough by the call not to hang up, but not concerned enough to forgo my garlic dough balls. My self-important, self-focussed mantra of “I’m so busy” excused me not stopping for a moment and absorbing the bad news. I didn’t give either my family member or the checkout assistant my full attention. I was disgusted with myself, and resolved never to talk on my mobile while being served in a shop again.

When I worked in retail I witnessed some extreme customer behaviour, like the couple that spent over twenty grand on baby clothes and accessories in one go. Spending more than many people earn in a year, when people are visiting food banks, may be morally ambiguous, but they did said please, thank you, looked me in the eye and didn’t talk on their phones during the (long) transaction.

That was only a decade ago. Have we grown so used to self-service checkouts we’ve forgotten how to interact with fellow human beings? Our society is increasingly polarised by the ‘strivers and skivers’ rhetoric. Are we now creating hierarchies of importance based on whether we earn more, or believe we have a more hectic lifestyle than the person serving us? Your time and concerns are no greater than anyone else’s. A person’s worth is not determined by their job title. It’s not just a question of manners it’s a question of humanity and respect. Hang up your phone, guys.



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The Italian edition of Confessions of a Fashionista: I Love Fashion!

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Hungover, I cursed the courier who rang my doorbell early this morning, waking me up. I cursed my husband who’s order of printer paper was no doubt the cause of this disturbance to my (much, much, much needed) beauty sleep. Oh how wrong I was! Instead of dull stationary I was the joyful recipient of a copy of the gorgeous Italian edtion of Confessions of a Fashionista titled, I Love Fashion. Like the sexiest Italian sports cars I went from grumpy to gleeful in 0.2 seconds. I could have kissed the courier. Luckily for him I resisted, nobody wants to be embraced by an old t-shirt wearing walking hair ball with morning breath. Now the super stylish Italians are on the case I’ll have to buck up my ideas. Shopping trip to Milan, anyone?

Italian Book

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