A Brief Rant about Film Noir.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today’s topic is not so much a review, as it is a rant. Please allow me to indulge as I strive to vent all my thoughts on the matter.

For those not familiar with classic Film Noir, here’s a quick primer:

tumblr_lnxjqqvvuw1qzehxco1_500

That’s a good basic overview of what elements go into creating the unique atmosphere and themes of classic Film Noir. And of course, there is the obvious cross-over into the Hard-Boiled Detective, but for the sake of this rant, let us set that aside as an overlapping but separate subcategory.

I just finished watching a movie that described itself as “neo-Noir”. Now, I’m not sure exactly what it is they’re trying to do with that genre, but one thing I CAN tell you: It Was Not Noir.

I went through a phase in my teenage years where I was deeply captivated by the imagery and emotions which could be evoked with skillfully mastered black-and-white film. I (briefly, off and on) wanted to be a cinematographer almost solely due to classic Film Noir imagery. It was powerful, each frame deliberate, full of symbolism and art. It showed care and skill not seen in modern Hollywood — not often, anyway.

Those filmmakers didn’t have a lot of resources around with which to tell the story. But what they had, they used to great effect. Every shadow and interplay was a reflection of morality and emotion, the inner world of the character playing out around them with parallels and mirroring. The silences and pauses, the beats between words and scenes, were laden with tension and meaning.

In contrast, this “neo-Noir” film held NONE of that. Yes, it had a lot of silent scenes, but they added nothing to the ambiance. They lacked a feeling of deliberate meaning. They were instead like empty space without significant edges to define it. The characters were disconnected, flat, and their moral ambiguity was neither sympathetic nor tense. There was no meaning in the locations, no interplay at work to enrich the story, no journey into a dark night of the soul to give weight and credence to the protagonist’s struggle. Every aspect felt boring and familiar; a story we’ve already seen, with nothing new to add.

This is not unique to the film I just watched. This is problem I’ve been seeing again and again in various subcategories of the supposed “action/thriller” genre, as it’s been trying to reinvent itself in recent years. This “neo-Noir” sub-genre in particular seems to go hand-in-hand with the Hollywood tradition of remaking successful foreign films; I’ve found the trend especially prevalent with stories originating from Sweden, Finland, etc.

The problem then becomes cultural translation. I’m not an expert, just a geek, but I have noticed a lot of meaningful silent imagery in a lot of Scandinavian films. It works there, at least for me, because it’s part of the culture and part of the dialogue between filmmaker and audience. It works in the same way classic Film Noir does, because in both cases the filmmakers know what they’re doing, and are using a silent visual language as part of their storytelling.

Some contemporary American filmmakers can do this, but for the most part it seems a skill that we’ve lost over the years as films became more focused on other aspects. Tastes change, and that’s fine. People experiment, and that’s fine, too. People remake things they admire, and that’s a great way to learn to be more, sometimes.

But sometimes, you need to take a step back and really consider what it is you’re trying to say, and what it is you’re trying to emulate. It is really a lack of dialogue between characters and a lot of scenery shots that you’re after, or is there maybe suppose to be a deeper meaning in those pauses and landscapes? Are you actually telling the story you want to tell, and evoking the atmosphere you want to evoke? Or are you just making a not-so-hot mess of everything?

Let’s return to the subject of the Hard-Boiled Detective again. It, too, has had several remakes and reinventions in modern Hollywood — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Brick both spring to mind right away — as well as on TV — Veronica Mars, anyone? These examples all show a far more successful pilfering of the past for inspiration. And it’s not just because of the snappy dialogue, either, although it certain helps.

These films (and TV show) all have successful use of theme and reoccurring imagery throughout. Watch repeatedly, and you catch more hints and clues to the outcomes, more reflections and parallels to the inner landscapes and moral turmoils. Watch with a friend, and they catch even more that you missed.

This, then, is a key to what creates the genre. And this creates even more possibilities as to films that might actually qualify. Think about Fight Club, and go look at the Film Noir list again up at the top of this post. How many of those boxes does it check off? Heck, even The Boondock Saints had water imagery when the boys receive their divine inspiration to go kill everyone evil! (Yes, that was a slight spoiler; but honestly, it doesn’t ruin the film or anything. If you haven’t seen it yet, go do so after you finish reading this post. I promise it will be just as good.)

Obviously, we have some talented filmmakers still capable of creating good Noir films with a modern twist. I completely love that. But I also really wish the ones who aren’t — the ones who don’t understand the language of visual symbolism, who can’t paint with light and shadow, who think silence is the same as a lack of dialogue, who think landscape and set dressing only exists as scenery rather than part of the story, who fail to grasp the importance and role of foreshadowing, who had never even heard of what makes classic Film Noir worth watching — I wish those people would leave the genre alone.

What are you thoughts on the matter? Seen other movies that fit the genre, or ones that sucked? Interested in hearing my opinion on other genres? Leave a message in the comments below! And please, always remember to play nice with the other geeks.

Love,

GeGi.

Advertisements

For The Lips: Perfectly Pretty and Practical.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Happy DIY Friday!

Today’s original recipe can be found here, where a fellow blogger talks about coming up with a copy-cat recipe for Burt’s Bees lip balm and gives step-by-step directions. I’ve experimented twice with it now, and today’s post will be about the second attempt: using it as a base for a mica-powder-tinted lip balm.

WARNING: THIS PROJECT WAS SUPER MESSY.

How messy, you wonder? Let me show you some (slightly blurry) aftermath…

IMG_5855

This stuff hardens REALLY fast when you take it away from the heat of the double boiler, especially if you make it in small scaled-down batches like I did. Combine that with keeping multiple colors and containers separate, and you get, well, the picture above.

Below is the “before” picture of that counter…

IMG_5849

As you can see, the base ingredients from the recipe are being used:

  • Beeswax
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Lanolin
  • Essential Oils

Differences: I switched up the “flavors” of the essential oils to have a little variety; I skipped the E oil because I didn’t have any around; I added several different shades of mica powder (all of which had been labeled as “safe for lips”); I scaled down the recipe to make exactly the right amount for the number of containers I wanted.

As messy as this was, they turned out really pretty…

IMG_5868

The mica powder adds a TON of shimmer in the container, but once it’s on your lips it basically looks like regular tinted lip balm. The pink one on the left doubles as a “hint of lip gloss” look without the stickiness of actual lip gloss, because it’s light enough you can’t see the color — just the shimmer.

If I want more of a traditional lipstick look, I just add a couple extra layers and maybe some lip liner. Because I love the shiny and the 3-d lip look, I also add a light coat of loose mica powder (it can even be the matching color!) as a highlight.

The moisturizing factor is amazing; they last even longer than regular lip balm for keeping my lips feeling soft and smooth. Plus, they come out really solid, so I’ve never had a problem with them melting in the containers when it gets hot. Definitely a win in a tropical climate…

I don’t have any demo type pictures this post because I’ve yet to take a picture of my lips that I don’t feel is awkward and weird. Eyes, yes, but not lips. If you have any tips on how to do it, please leave them in a comment!

Tomorrow may or may not have a make-up look. I haven’t taken one, and I don’t know if I’ll get around to it.

I’ll be posting a post about posting soon, too; this month will have some alterations to the schedule, and I’m going to talk about why that is and what they’ll be.

Thanks for reading!

Love,

GeGi.

Hawaiian Sunrise.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Time for mica makeup!

I’m calling this look “Hawaiian Sunrise” because the color combo reminds me of a yummy tropical drink — the kind with fruit and a paper umbrella, perhaps…

First, I use a pointed blender brush to apply the semi-matte mica powder mixed with arrowroot powder as a primer around my eyes. To show the difference, I took a photo when only one eye was done (it’s the one I’m pointing to):

IMG_6060

It’s very subtle, but it evens out the skin tone a little and adds some brightness to the shadow areas (like under my eye). It also helps the mica powder spread more evenly and stick around when used as a primer.

When used as a finishing powder — which I highly recommend trying — it evens out different shimmer levels so the makeup has a more uniform, polished look. It also helps keep the mica from traveling to the creases of the lid quite as quickly.

Once my eyes were primed, here’s the powders and brushes I used:

IMG_6061

  • Copper mica 
  • Blue Claret Pearl mica
  • A domed blending brush
  • A domed smudge brush

All were bought from Coastal Scents.

And here’s the Hawaiian Sunrise eyeshadow look!

IMG_6064

IMG_6073

So pretty!

As you can see, I used the pink on the medial edge of my lid which blends into the copper on the lateral edge. Nothing else was used to get this look.

Be sure to come back for my Monday Media review!

Love,

GeGi.

Three-In-One: Black Eyeliner Looks.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

It’s DIY Friday! This time, I’m going to show off my homemade black eyeliner.

Today’s post will be a little different from previous some DIY, because I’m not going to do a step-by-step how-to. This is partly because (amazingly) I can actually give you the link to the original recipe I modified, and partly because I ended up taking a lot of pictures showing off several the ways this eyeliner can be used, and thought that might be more interesting.

I was specifically looking to make an eyeliner that didn’t use activated charcoal for the color — very common in DIY recipes, I’ve found. I have nothing against using it, I just never have and didn’t have any around.

However, I did have black iron oxide. I found this original recipe if you’re interested in trying it yourself. I basically just modified it for what ingredients I happened to actually have at the time.

IMG_5820

Those ingredients happened to be sunflower oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, clay, and of course, black iron oxide.

Obviously, this means my eyeliner came out a little different than the original… But I still followed the same basic steps, melting and adding in the double-boiler.

Here’s what it looked like when I was done:

IMG_5827

Very solid, and very black.

I was a little worried about how well I could use it with my small detail brush (stolen from my oil painting brushes before it ever got used), since it was so very solid. But I was worried for nothing!

Running the brush over the eyeliner several times quickly turns the bristles black, and it easily transfers to my skin. It looks like nothing is getting used because it takes very little to be effective — basically it means this tiny jar will last approximately forever.

Now, onto the looks!

First up is my eye with nothing on, for comparison purposes.

IMG_6119

And then with a simple thin line, very basic.

IMG_6118

I LOVE how much control and precision the brush gives me, and the homemade eyeliner is very cooperative.

IMG_6120

You can see there is just a little smudging onto the crease above my eye.

I’ve yet to use ANY eyeliner that doesn’t do this if I put it on too thick (I put on quite a few layers to make sure it’d show up on the camera). With the homemade stuff, though, mistakes come off super easily and cleanly, while still lasting quite a while where I want it. I can’t say as much for every store-bought eyeliner!

My second look really demonstrates how much fun you can have with homemade eyeliner and a good detail brush:

IMG_6122

Fairy makeup! I can’t resist it…

As mentioned, this cleans up very nicely! The beeswax base means it slides off super cleanly, with just a little warmth and/or oil to help if it gives you trouble.

I got look number three when removing the fairy makeup…

IMG_6130

The classic, ever-popular, smudgy smokey eye.

So there you have it: three quick and easy looks using only homemade eyeliner!

Be sure to come back for tomorrow’s post when I show off a little more of the mica powder looks…

Love,

GeGi.

Daytime friendly.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Time for another home-made make-up look!

Today’s eye makeup is daytime-friendly, that can easily transition to evening.

Image

Image

For this look, I started with a base of arrowroot/mica powder, applied with a blending brush.

Then I took the darker shadow mix I created (from this post) and used a dome smudge brush to apply along the upper lid and slightly into the outer crease.

I took a clean blending brush to smooth out the edges, and then used it to apply arrowroot/mica as a finishing powder along the underside of the eyebrows and the lower lid, blending it into the edges of the shadow.

I took a detail liner brush, and applied a cream eyeshadow I made out of a dark purple mica powder (look for a future DYI Friday post on making that!) along and slightly beyond the outer edge of the lash line, top and bottom.

This makeup wears well. I didn’t noticed the color migrating — like it did in last week’s look — until I teared up during a particularly feels-filled scene of a movie later in the evening. After that, the shadow was definitely heavier in the creases of the eyelid. But I find that an acceptable exception. We’ll see how much that happens with the powder base verses a cream base in future looks.

Also, on the rest of my face, I’m wearing a homemade face cream, concealer, and finishing powder! Those will all get future blog posts as well.

Love,

GeGi.

Subtle Enough For Work.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

As promised, here is my all-homemade make-up look!

For the first official post, I went with something completely different: subtlety. This is because I needed an eye make-up look I could wear to work, something very neutral. So I figured I’d share it with you all!

Image

Image

My eyes:

I used a tinted cream as a base (keep your eye out for that future DIY post: tinted chapstick).

Over this, I used a dome smudge brush and a pointed blending brush to apply two mica powder eye shadow mixes:

A lighter one for my lid,

And a darker one (from this post last week) for the outer edge and crease.

Then I used a detail brush to apply a thin coat of my black iron oxide eyeliner (also in a future post!) along the upper lash line.

I used my arrowroot and mica mix — and another blending brush — to finish off under the eyebrows and the lower lid with some translucent brightness!

I also used a not-homemade mascara on the outer upper lashes, after I curled them (shh, don’t tell!).

Pro Tip for naturally-long-lashed people who wear glasses: even if you don’t wear mascara, try curling your lashes anyway. It helps keep them from brushing against your lenses! I went WAY too long before figuring that out for myself…

This look lasted through my work-day without any big issues. The color migrated a little bit to the folds of skin on the upper lids, but it was only noticeable when I closed my eyes, and the overall appearance was still good.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Love,

GeGi.

Mixing Micas!

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Last week I reviewed the new mica powders I just bought. This week, I’ll show how I used them to come up with a new eyeshadow! If you use mica powders at home, remember this Pro Tip: breathing those tiny particles are bad for lungs — so please take proper precautions, and have fun!

Since I don’t have a lot of extra money, instead of spending more on a make-up pallet for mixing colors, I re-purposed a plastic artist pallet I had around for painting and never used. I cleaned it thoroughly before using, of course.

Image

On the pallet, you can see I have nearly even proportions of four powders: Metallic Pearl Honey Tan (left), Cosmetic Iron Oxide Red (right), Blue Claret Pearl (bottom), and Semi-Matte plain mica (in the middle).

This is what they looked like after careful mixing with the metal spoon — I recommend a lot of “chopping” style mixing to help de-clump the powders without stirring them up into the air much.

Image

I wanted to see what it looked like with a little more of the matte red, and also added some Copper. I mixed the result with arrowroot powder (which you can find in most health food stores — I recommend checking the bulk section).

I’m using arrowroot as a filler for a number of reasons; I have it on hand, I know my skin doesn’t react to it, it’s fairly translucent on the skin so it won’t change the resulting color much, and it helps the mica powder go on smooth and stay longer. I made a primer with the Semi-Matte and arrowroot (half and half). For premixed shadows I use a little less; experiment and see how much you like!

I put the finished product in one of the ten oz jars with a sifter. Pro Tip #2: Make sure you ALWAYS label everything!

Image

When applied, it makes a nice half-matte orange-brown that works for a more subdued daytime look. Here it is with no other make-up on my face, applied with a dome smudge brush:

Image

Pretty, isn’t it!

Image

I’ve got a lot more make-up and skin-care DIY projects to share with you, so come back every Friday for the latest product photos. As a bonus, I’m going to try and add a new make-up look created entirely from my homemade products each week as well, so keep your eye out for that on Saturdays!

Also, I’m going to try and do a media review post (movies, tv, book, etc) every Monday, and a food (cooking, baking, whatever!) post every Wednesday. Check those out too, and enjoy!

Love,

GeGi.