Category: Pop culture addict

Mmmh. Shipper Candy*

Girl With a Pen Obsessions™ presents: The beginning of the greatest love story ever seen on television. In pretty, pretty pictures. And with music.

Just because it’s Friday, and because I just watched the X Files pilot for the eleventeenthousandth time. I actually might have watched it eleventeenthousand-and-two times by now if you count the two screen-capping runs I did for this slide show. And in the process it struck me once again how amazing the chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny and their characters is from the first second. Especially when you go back to this one after putting yourself through seasons eight and nine (I still watch it all in original airing order – no fast-forwarding, no skips, like the tough X Phile nut I am) it’s absolutely refreshing and heartwarming to see how it was all there from the start. And to be reminded how good this show once was. Well, not exactly the first couple of episodes. In retrospect, Mulder’s emotional outbursts and Scully’s fearful face are just comic. I mean the cult kind of comic. The Twin Peaks kind, if you like. Which is good after all. And, no, this point is not up for discussion.

I know there’s been X Files stuff posted all over the web for years and years and, as you will see, this is certainly not aiming to be the best fan vid ever made – it’s just a sort of mental note to self about why it is perfectly legitimate to be obsessed with this show.

The song is I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles. I was gonna go for something Mark Snow-y, but this one just kept popping back into my head as I threw the pix together. It might be the result of reading too much fan fic, but to me thist song perfectly brings out the undertones in the episode. Yeah, I know, I know. Our favourite duo are only investigating alien abductions and trying to outnerd each other in physics. But isn’t it oh-so-obvious at least when you’re watching for the eleventeenthousandth time how they keep checking each other out? Intellectually, of course. Like the total geeks they are.

* If this headline mainly reads ‘WTF’ to you, go stand in the corner for one hour, then look it up or, better even, do your homework. Extra work is available for those who like to collect nerd points (nerd level onenerd level two.)

Picture of the Week: Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

One thing I love about journalism – no, make that the thing I love most about journalism – is that you learn about new things all the time. At the moment I’m doing work experience at the British Journal of Photography and this past week I had the chance to write a review about a photography exhibition. (Going to a gallery during working hours – there’s just no end to the list of advantages of being a journalist except for the part where you don’t get a job.) So I picked Ellen von Unwerth‘s exhibition Fräulein, which is currently on show at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London. And then I had a bit of an “OMG” moment when it turned out that she is the artist behind loads of photos I’ve come across and absolutely adored in the past.

Ellen von Unwerth’s story is a really cool one. She used to be a supermodel, but after about ten years it occurred to her that taking pictures is actually much more fun than posing for them. And in no time she became super-famous for getting pretty much much every female icon in fashion, music and film to take off their clothes and pose naughty. The advertising world and all sorts of super-glossy magazines love her, too. And she’s living proof that you don’t need to be a trained photographer to take fantastic photos.

I love the kind of femininity captured in her work. All of her photos I’ve seen so far have one thing in common: The women seem to have a lot of fun with the identity they chose for the shoot. They’ve got this incredibly bold, in-your-face confidence, in a very playful way. Kind of like back in the days when you’d get all glammed up to take fancy snapshots with your girldriends. (Well that’s what her pix remind me of anyway.)

It took me three days to decide which of Ellen von Unwerth’s photos to choose. Even if you limit it down to the celebrities, there are just too many stunning ones. I decided to go for a more recent shoot with Emma Watson. Mostly because she’s been in magazines quite a lot lately, and editorial photos (and features) are somewhat annoyingly pushing the fact that she’s all grown up now. (Okay, so she is. But we got that the first time you told us, dear press. At some point that angle just gets old. And boring.) What I like about this shoot is how it plays with that media obsession with the little Harry Potter girl growing up.

Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

One moment, she’s all innocent little girl, with barely-there make-up and cuddling her retro doll. Then we watch the little girl play dress-up in the bathroom, and she comes out of it as this untouchably confident young lady. And then again, she’s just a dreamy teenager, with tear-smeared mascara, her fragile body almost getting crushed under the load of feminine accessories.

Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

IMHO the best attempt ever to capture Emma Watson’s transformation without annoying everybody with the oh-look-she’s-grown-up angle.

I also strongly recommend checking out more of Ellen von Unwerth’s work. There’s a new monograph, Fräulein, coming out later this month. But that’s 450 quid, so a Google image search might be the better option.

Also, my apologies for once again failing to keep it short. But at least I didn’t mention Gillian Anderson.

Picture of the Week: Gillian Anderson for Esquire, by Rankin

It just occurred to me, while I was cleaning my kitchen, that we generally don’t do a lot of pictures on here except for the rare occason where my mind runs wild with a 60-picture movie re:View. Which is a shame really, especially because my hard drives are stuffed to the last byte with images I adore. So, I thought from now on I’ll make an effort to share one of them every week.

All right, let’s bring on the pretty pictures.

Picture of the Week #1:
Gillian Anderson, shot by Rankin for the Esquire Augst 2008 issue.

Gillian Anderson by Rankin, Esquire August 2008

(View the full set in HQ)

Why this picture?
Well, first of all, because IMHO Gillian Anderson is one of the most beautiful people on the planet. And I love what they did with this shoot with regard to her, uhm, intense efforts to distance herself from her legendary X Files character Dana Scully. (She tends to be a bit funny about her most famous of roles and won’t even sign X Files stuff at times.) But clearly, as Esquire ran these pictures along with an interview to coincide with the release of the second X Files movie in August 2008, they had to do *something* X Files-related.

I think Rankin’s photos are fabulously playful about Gillian’s X Files history – they’re a sweet little parody of her obsession with avoiding being typecast as Dana Scully for the rest of her life. I love how they captured her nature in this shoot – which, away from the X Files set, is all contagious laughs and goofing around. The woman in the pictures, with the mischievous smile and the wild curly hair, couldn’t be further from the character on the show. And then they give her all those wonderfully cheesy props, kind of like a geeky inside joke – et voilà, we’ve got some of the most stylish and yet comic X Files promo pictures ever made.

Chosing a favourite from the shoot is almost impossible. I went for the Tentacles from Outer Space picture because it was the first that made me gasp when I opened the magazine and that wasn’t even because of the side boob…well, not only. But the picture had to fight off some tough competition from the Alien Facelift and the Naughty E.T. Nailbite!

Check back next week for picture #2. I promise it won’t be about Gillian Anderson and I will keep the rambling bit short.

re:View – How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (even without wearing Prada)

So, I mainly watched this one because it’s got Gillian Anderson and she gets to be a gorgeous, glamorous, total bitch. But by the time her character popped up on screen, I was already so thoroughly entertained by the UK’s answer to The Devil Wears Prada that I had nearly forgotten I was waiting for her appearance.

The story is, uhm, let’s say, charmingly predictable. Sidney, a young, talented British journo with a whole bunch of ideals and an even bigger ego, who specialises in pissing everybody off (hence the title), somehow gets himself hired by American’s most famous celebrity magazine. Roll on the cheesy, painfully over-used establishing shots of N-Y-C. The glitzy world of celebrity journalism, of course, isn’t at all what Sidney expected and he duly falls flat on his face. Multiply. His collection of Shoulda Known Betta experiences include pissing off all his superiors, pissing off his only well-meaning colleague (and true love-to-be), pissing off the city’s most powerful publicist, and pissing off all the celebrities. Oh, and making a complete fool of himself believing Megan Fox would actually let him get anywhere near her pants. However, in due course, he sells his soul for a trip all the way to the top (and a little closer to Ms Fox’s pants.) But just as he’s about to have it all, of course, he becomes disgusted with himself and turns his back on the corrupt world of glamour magazines in favour of his great ideals and (yawn!) true love.

So, the story certainly doesn’t win a prize (at least I hope it didn’t, or I’m gonna look really dumb), and you totally keep waiting for Miranda Priestly to come marching into the office and start ripping up throats any second. Sidney is pretty much a male version of The Devil Wears Prada‘s wide-eyed Andy, but while Anne Hathaway’s Nice Journalist Girl faded a little next to Meryl Streep’s all-eclipsing evilness, Simon Pegg’s underdog charm and hilarious comic timing allow his character to take absolute command of the the somewhat lame plot.

From the remaining repertoire of adorably stereotypical characters, Megan Fox stands out with an altogether fabulous parody of herself, and Gillian Anderson almost fills Meryl Streep’s Prada heels as the ‘Queen of New York’ – the über-dominating publicist who decides which of her clients the magazines will ‘want’ to put on their next cover.

Gillian Anderson in How to Lose Friends And Alienate People
BTW: Gillian Anderson with a red pen, editing copy. Cue major obsession.

So, yeah, it’s another of those Virtuous Journalist vs The Rotten Magazine Industry films, and it’s another one based on a journalist’s memoir (Toby Young’s, in this case). But this one’s fun, fun, fun from the first minute until the credits roll, and it doesn’t make you hate yourself for still wanting to be part of that infamous magazines world by the end of it.

Verdict: It’s got all you need for 110 minutes of marvellous, lighthearted entertainment. And it’s got Gillian Anderson. And she does the Scully Eyebrow™. What more could you want?

Totally Worthless Comment: If you google Scully Eyebrow, the image search turns up two pictures from my The X Files: I Want to Believe re:View. Win!

re:View – The X Files: I Want to Believe (that this is not the film I’ve waited for for six years!)

The story
Some FBI agent goes missing. Some psychic creep goes all psychic about it. Let’s call Agent Mulder. Much stalking through the snow sans plot ensues. Oh, and there’s some dodgy Modern-Day-Dr-Frankenstein-Thing going on. And dog tranquilizer. For the sake of this re:View, however, we’ll focus on the aspects of the film you’ll actually (possibly) be bothered about.

Act One
No-Longer-Special-Agent Dr Scully works in a Catholic hospital and has a bit of a faith crisis because The Church Folks won’t let her do some Really Totally Radical Risky Brain Surgery to save a little boy’s life. Xzibit Special Agent Mosley Drummy shows up, somewhat inappropriately, asking for Mulder.

Scully tells him to go screw himself cause, ya know, they’re no longer FBI and all. She also kind of annoyingly stresses the point, throughout the film, that she’s a DOCTOR now.

Also, The Creator tries to shock us for a sec by making Scully talk about Mulder like he’s History. But then she totally goes home to convince Mulder to get on the case. With the F-B-I. And the audience goes

“I’m happy as a clam hiding away from the world and cutting out newspaper articles all day”-Mulder says the FBI can go screw themselves. Also, he’s got a beard. Well, not any kind of beard. Maximum eeew!-level kind of beard. He tries an eyebrow wiggle that used to be sexy in pre-beard times on Scully–

and they both go all awkward and you can tell they’re WAY beyond frustrated. And just in case we still don’t get that point, there’s THE PENCILS™!

The audience goes

(The Pencils™ = Universal X Files Symbolism for Frustrated!Mulder – and consequently Frustrated!Scully – since February 8, 1998.)

But somehow The Pencils™ work their magic and Mulder agrees to be airlifted to DC.

Continue reading