Friday, 24 March 2017

5 Surrealistic Films to Watch

There's something about surrealism that just keeps your eyes glued to the screen, don't you think? To me, it's the most magical genre—is it a genre?—in the cinematic industry. When that line between imaginary and reality blurs, I can't help but to feel intrigued and, frankly, a little bit excited. Some of these films will offer the perfect escape from our own mundane reality, introducing us to more festive and adventurous lives. Some will lead us to ask questions about reality as we know it. Either way, they will all offer a different version of space and time. Here are the top 5 that I adore.

Directed by Tim Burton & written by Daniel Wallace and John August
Probably the most well-known title on this list—especially with such a renowned director, Big Fish offers the most heartwarming story of love and adventure, in such a way that is suitable for the whole family. The story starts when, on what seems to be his last days on earth, Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) tells his son's wife (Marion Cotillard) of his adventurous youthful days. In his teenage years, young Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor) seems to have met a giant, joined the circus, robbed a bank without fail and met a witch, who showed him his death—among other things. It is his adventures as a young man that we will see as a piece of surreal fantasy. It's as if he lives in an entirely different world from us. The aesthetics is very quirky, typical of Tim Burton, with a lot more colours and cheer than we're probably used to in his other works. I love the romance of the story—not just in love, but also in life—and the lack of need for explanation. Spoiler alert: Ed dies in the end—but the funeral was absolutely lovely and reminds me of a much more cheerful version of my Mom's.

Directed by Tarsem Singh & written by Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis and Valeri Petrov
Probably my number one favourite on this list! The Fall is such a tremendous film with great transitions between frames. It uses the term and function of surreal visuals incredibly well, using symbols at every turn and conveying a story within a story exceptionally. Set in the 1920s, The Fall follows Roy Walker (Lee Pace), an injured stuntman, when he begins telling a story to Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a little girl with a broken arm, of five mythical heroes on a journey together. It was Roy's story, but the image we see of them in the film is evidently conjured up by Alexandria's imaginations. As the story progresses on, it reveals more of Roy's state of mind in the current predicament of his life. I absolutely adore the fluidity of form through each frame, creating symbolic meaning throughout the whole film. The story itself is very, very simple too—just a guy storytelling to a kid—but apparently contains much more depth than anticipated.

Directed by Julie Taymor & written by Julie Taymor, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Paying tributes to The Beatles, Across the Universe creates a realm and story to fit their top tracks into. It is done beautifully, complete with the perfect choreography and set design—without making the whole film look awfully theatrical. The songs are also not seem forced to fit the puzzle, instead seeming to complete the scenes amazingly well. Set in the 60s, the story follows Jude (Jim Sturgess), a young man from Liverpool, as he moves to the US to seek his estranged father in New Jersey. There he meets the Carrigan siblings, Max (Joe Anderson) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). Thus, Jude and Lucy's love begins to bloom. The film takes you on a ride through all the significant events of the decade, including various The Beatles' references—definitely more fun to watch if you're a fan but I'm not and enjoyed the movie greatly nonetheless. The story is definitely rife with meaningful symbolic messages and political elements—what with the Vietnam War background and all—so it's still recommended even for those who don't particularly fancy a romantic film.

Directed by Michel Gondry & written by Gondry, Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth
If you're into indie films and somewhat bleak romance, you might even have heard of this film. First off, Eternal Sunshine is definitely not everyone's cup of tea—Firu couldn't watch it to the end—but once you like it, you might never forget it. As far as surreal goes, this one doesn't really offer too much—it's not exactly fantasy-like, but definitely putting things out of place to make you question reality. The film doesn't open as straight forward as the rest of the films in this list, which already catches you off guard. Basically, the story is about Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) who were once lovers but underwent a procedure where they arranged to have the other erased from their minds. However, after a while, they meet in real life and fall for each other all over again—only to learn later on that they've met before. The memories that Joel tries so hard to hold on to are the ones we often see as surreal fragments of a separate realm from reality. Though subtle, ridden with emotions, these fragments create a deep impression on me.

Directed by Satoshi Kon & Written by Satoshi Kon, Yasutaka Tsutsui and Seishi Minakami
Saving the best for last, I present to you the most surreal film on this list. It's so surreal, in fact, that I'm not entirely sure which one is the real world. Okay, you may notice that this one is animated—which probably seems like cheating—but I've never seen a film as surreal as Paprika before, even in animated form. In what is probably a distant future, a device that allows people to record and watch their dreams is created—and it gets stolen. The thief uses it to enter people's minds and distract them with their own dreams—thus erasing the lines between reality and dreams almost completely. All hell breaks loose. With the help of a cyber sprite named Paprika (Megumi Hayashibara), the scientists and the police try to identify the thief as they ward off his/her attacks on their own psyches. With such a tremendous storyline—and concept—this film is assisted with amazing graphics, allowing the characters and objects to have such fluid movements to confuse to viewers even more. The plot is quite face-paced to convey the exact chaos the situation has caused. Now you tell me if you wouldn't be confused about reality afterwards too.

Have you watched any from this list? Or maybe other recommendations from this genre?

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Monday, 20 March 2017

Urban Concrete Jungle

Currently reading: The Adventures of Tintin

The other day a couple middle school buddies of mine—and a couple of their high school mates—and I went out after around 8 years of not seeing each other. It felt kind of surreal, that it made me absolutely nervous to see them again. And it was almost 10 years ago that we last hung out together too—wow, can't believe middle school was so long ago! But then we met up and, it turns out, they hadn't changed one bit—at least in all the ways that mattered—and I was quickly put at ease. It went amazingly well, until I overthought—as always—and accidentally left early. It's less frustrating and more humiliatingly funny, to be honest. It's just an instant reminder that I've become much more serious and deliberate then when I was 14. And, God, did I do so many more embarrassing deeds back then! But it's like I didn't even bat an eyelash. Ah, youth—a time when you're completely free and innocent, so thoughtless it's charming. In the end, my friends told me to just loosen up next time, it's not like we haven't known each other for over a decade. Well, I'm just happy to know there's a "next time."

Hand-me-down shirt + backpack + pants // thrifted vest // unethical boots // photos by Cafa

So, uhh, yeah, these photos were obviously—or not so obviously—not taken during that hangout I mentioned earlier. They were taken by my brother, who turns out to be a pretty awesome photographer—in case you missed it on my instagram. The crazy thing is he doesn't actually know anything about photography but has a great eye for composition—just like Galuh, to be honest. Now, a little story about the outfit: yes, I made an unethical purchase recently. In fact, it was during the last post. After the photos were taken, the soles of the shoes came off and, well, I didn't have any spare ones, so I bought a pair. It's actually from a brand that I used to like back in high school—but because it's unethical, I won't mention it. Hopefully, this pair will last me a good decade before it deteriorates. Aside from those, the rest of this outfit are, thankfully, ethically acquired. Do you guys even remember this vest? It's been a good 2 years since the last time I wore it. Thought I'd never wear it again, but lo and behold.

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Vegan Blueberry & Apple Pancakes

Okay, crazy thing: my apple sauce is still there. I thought I'd use it all up for this recipe as well as come up with something that I can potentially enjoy on Meatless Monday—for me, it's basically Vegan Monday. As I was going through pinterest, looking for some kind of dessert-style food using apple sauce, I stumbled upon this recipe. This was, as usual, a last minute decision, so I had to somehow use whatever I already have at home—substituting some ingredients that I lack. The recipe was simple enough, the taste was marvellous but it was definitely stuffy, so keep that in mind before making this. Lastly, I used the blueberry jam because my Stepmom suggested using the blueberry jam my sister bought months ago but never finished. Now on to the recipe!

Yep, I burnt it all
(original recipe from Feasting on Fruit; makes 3-4)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (recipe here)
  • 2 tbsp. blueberry jam
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (the original recipe recommends oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used multigrain milk)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until combined. Do not over blend.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet/frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. Since it's quite thick, spread/smooth into a circle.
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes on both sides. When you can easily slide a spatula under, it's time to flip.
  6. Repeat until all the batter is gone.
  7. Top with fruit, vegan butter and/or maple syrup, your choice.
  8. Serve while hot, bon appétit!
Tips:  Make sure all the ingredients are in room temperature to ease the mixing process. It turns out, the dough will be incredibly thick, so if you have a mixer, you can use that instead. Oat flour is gluten-free, so if you're avoiding gluten, use it instead. In effect, I believe it won't be as thick and sticky, as is the case with all-purpose flour. The milk I used here was multi-grain milk, which consists of soy bean, purple brown rice, black sesame, malt extract and barley—but a regular soy milk would work just the same. If you can, boil the apple sauce from my previous recipe with a bit of water, to make it less thick. Be careful when frying the pancakes, as the dough is really sticky and may stick to the spoon you use to scoop it. Spread it carefully and evenly. Lass es euch schmecken!

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Monday, 13 March 2017

Homemate 家族

It's actually funny to see so many food bloggers there at once

Currently reading: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Last week Uli, Mimin and I met up for some Mexican food at Taco Local. While Uli had introduced this place to Mimin and she became a regular, this was my first time coming here. The place actually consists of a plethora of cafés. It was one building connecting a total of 3-4 eateries. The first time I saw this area was from Oriza's blog, Belle Riso. The best part is, we got to just sit in one place and order a food from the other places as well. We started off with a selection of Mexican food—Uli ordered tacos, Mimin ordered quesadilla, I ordered burrito and nachos for the table. For someone who'd never eaten proper Mexican food before, I had no idea how filling a burrito could be—and could only finish one half of it. Nevertheless, we moved on to giant servings of kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) from Homemate. Mimin ordered the strawberry with—I want to say—caramel sauce adorned with small raisins, while Uli and I shared the green tea option—with green tea syrup. The ice was super smooth and the green tea was remarkably delicious.

old batik dress + cut-out shoes // batik ribbon (from this dress) // Sis's skirt // hand-me-down purse // outfit photos by Uli

Aside from the great food, the architecture and interior of the eatery was also very, very lovely. I fell in love with it at first sight. I guess I wasn't the only one, because there were a lot of food bloggers around then too—constantly moving around the food to get the best shot. At first, I thought they were taking photos for the new menu, but it soon became clear to me that they were bloggers. In fact, Hans from Eat and Treats—whom I follow on instagram—came a bit later. For a second there, our eyes met and lingered, and I thought: "Does he recognise me?" but I guess he was staring only because I was, ha! It's too bad that I was super stuffed before I could eat everything the place had to offer, because I really would love to try But First Coffee's canele and cakes. Rest assured, I will definitely come back here sometime!

P.S: Wave goodbye to these shoes because you ain't going to see them on the blog no more!

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Third-World Feminism

Since it's International Women's Day, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about this issue, which has been bugging me for years. I feel like this is a topic that not many people delve into—despite the fact that it's so in tune with feminism, which has gained some popularity in the past decade or so. However, feminism is definitely a controversial and sensitive topic to a lot of people, so if you're not interested in that or feel like you would be easily offended by it, feel free to click away. Be warned, that if you stay, you would need to respect the opinions laid out on this page—either by me or any (possible) commenters.

In the past couple decades or so, there seems to be a rise in feminism throughout the globe. More and more women are speaking out against bigotry and sexism, starting up conversations that will dive into topics, which might be unthinkable in the previous centuries. Activists, public figures and pretty much any woman in the world, through social media and other means, have started to take a stand and making a point of not bowing down to the stereotypes and conservative views of women in any roles of their lives. Topics, such as body positivity, female empowerment and non-gender-based fields, seem to be the hot trend of the masses. With these conversations, people start to develop ideas and actions which would make the world a better place for women. They won't stand down  to sexual discriminations anymore. The world is slowly changing.

That being said, the development and growth the world is taking in that regard seem to be focused on some topics more than others. Articles, movements and online contents on body positivity, for instance, seem to be in abundance, whereas fair trade and ethical fashion, for example, fall to the wayside, rendered less popular and less interesting than the previous topic. When talking about female empowerment, people rarely think about slavery in the fashion industry. Often public figures open a discussion on feminism one minute and record themselves purchasing from unethical brands the next. This makes no sense to me, as if feminism is a jest only for the elites.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought feminism was about equality—okay, gender equality, but equality nonetheless. Does that mean if certain groups of people are treated like garbage, so long as both the men and women are equally treated as such, it's okay to keep treating them that way? Is social equality not part of feminism as well? Hence, are we actually empowering all women, or just the privileged ones—the ones with so many opportunities already awaiting them for the rest of their lives?

Here are some facts (source): According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, in the Cambodian garment industry over 80% of workers are women, aged 18-35. In Guangdong in China young women face 150 hours of overtime each month—60% have no contract, 90% no access to social insurance. In Bangladesh garment workers—most of whom are women—earn £44 per month; just ¼ of a living wage. What's more, these workers will be heavily affected by the toxic waste produced in the manufacturing process of clothing afterwards. Now, while girls' education in other countries may not have a direct line to our lives, this modern slavery does. There is something very simple we can do to fight it and empower these women. Shouldn't their livelihood and well-being matter as much as ours? Shouldn't we hear their plea, which has been shut down time and time again, and come to their rescue?

You can start simple: just ask a question. Inquire your favourite retail brand of their code of ethics, demand that they pay their workers fair wages, and push them to be more environmentally responsible. We as a consumer have the right and privilege to give out our opinions about the way a brand conducts their business. They as a business need to listen to us, lest they want to lose customers and, potentially, money. If we take a stand and start to question the way they run their business, demanding a better way to manufacture and deliver their products to us, they will start to question their methods and make changes in how they conduct their business. Yes, we have more power than we realise.

If you want to find more information on how to support them and how to spread the word, you can always check out the Fashion Revolution homepage. There are also numerous awesome organisations that can help you find information on this topic, such as Anti-Slavery International, Clean Clothes Campaign, Ethical Fashion Forum, Fairtrade International and many more. If you choose to stop supporting unethical businesses and opt for slow fashion, there are clothing brands, whose sole purpose is to empower women, such as Naja, Mata Traders and Tiralahilacha, among others.

This Women's Day, let us speak for those whose voices cannot be heard!

P.S: the sources are linked on the pictures

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

A Desperate Attempt

Sometime last week Tasha and I met up again for another photoshoot...kind of thing. I don't really have many local influencer friends, so it's always a pleasure to catch up with her and take photos of each other. You can hop on over to her instagram to see her outfit, by the way. Thankfully, this time we didn't have to wait a year to do this again. We visited the site we met up in last time too, since Tasha said she spotted some great new areas for photoshoots there. The place was gorgeous, but a security guard forbid us from taking photos. So we moved to another location, where another security guard told us off again. Man! What the hell? In the end, we decided to just stick to the deserted locations, where no security guard would care to even notice us. It was kind of exhausting. Next time, we'll make sure to go somewhere camera-friendly. Hopefully, it will be sometime this year.

vintage shirt + loafers // old socks // Oh My Bows hairbow (giveaway!) // Book of Deer skirt // hand-me-down purse // 

photos by Tasha

Finally another styling of this quirky Book of Deer skirt. It's just such an easy skirt to wear, that I'm not sure how to style it for the blog. For me, this skirt falls under the casual category—I love wearing it around the house and to classes, with a simple graphic t-shirt on top. But, of course, for the blog one needs more effort than that. This look was really quickly put together, though—a desperate attempt to wear more items that I rarely showcase on the blog. Wish I spared more time to think about it, because this look is absolutely all over the place. Exhibit A: my hairbow. I can't believe how lopsided and disorderly it was the whole day. It would have been better to let my hair loose perhaps. Plus, I felt like the outfit was so out of place in the location. Ugh. Don't even start with my physical attributes. I'm not in the most confident state at the moment. Have you ever felt like that about an outfit? How did you overcome it?

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