All posts for the month February, 2014

Face Off: Season 6 Episode 7: Wonderous Wizards

Published February 27, 2014 by vfdpixie

The 3 remaining women, Corrine, Cat and Chloe, talked about their standing in the competition.  Cat wanted a female finale winner, and Chloe did too, in fact, her competitive streak came out and revealed that she really wanted the win.

For the Spotlight Challenge, the gang went to The Magic Castle-an exclusive members only, world-famous magic club in Hollywood that has hosted famous magicians for 50 years.  Their challenge was to create an original wizard inspired by a selection of wands  that McKenzie presented to them on the main stage of the Magic Castle.

Corrine picked a tribal wand.  She designed a tribal dark shaman witch doctor and once again went for a minimal makeup.  She knew that her paint job had to be great, or else she would be slayed by the judges.  Luckily for her, she did just that.  They liked how simple, clean and asymmetrical the shaman’s Peruvian styled skull was.  Ve loved the paint job that looked like mud, and they all thought it was a perfect interpretation of her wand.  She was in top looks.

Tyler chose a tree branch wand.  He was really psyched to do this makeup.  I love that nerdy Tyler!  He created a wizard that protects the forest.  When Mr. Westmore did his rounds, he cautioned Tyler about his design looking too human.  Taking that cue, he smoked through the challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I loved this makeup, and so did the judges.  It looked like a living tree.  They liked the transition of charred to burned wood, and thought it was well designed and tremendously successful.  They said the character had an unorthodox chin and mouth that worked.  His “potent” and graceful wizard put Tyler in the top looks.

Niko had a futuristic wand.  He went for a robot wizard but had trouble with his design and struggled with his ideas.  Mr. Westmore told him to be careful of the design looking too Neanderthal.  He advised him to square off the sculpture.  Niko ended up changing the design, but was short on time.  During last looks, he had problems gluing the final details to the makeup, ending up with a lopsided looking design.  The judges called it “a wreck”, and unbearable to look at.  They felt his skill set was stretched and he didn’t have proper knowledge of the subject matter.  Glenn also pointed out that in order to do a successful metal design, it either has to be super smooth or textured.  Niko was in the bottom looks.

George got a mechanical wand.  He designed a wizard who was possessed by, and became, his wand.  The only blip for him was when his model ended up being allergic to the glue he was using, but always being prepared, he had another face appliance and changed the glue.  I loved this design.  It looked like a bronzed statue with a futuristic, steam punk/art deco look.  Neville thought the ridges on the cowl just “felt right”, and they loved what they called a sophisticated concept and design.  Ve thought the paint job was stunning, focusing on the transition  from metal to flesh tone.  George was in top looks.

Cat chose a floral vine wand and decided on a forest wizard as well.  She focused on the flower aspect.  Mr. Westmore told her to avoid using vines and fruit to sculpt the nose, but she kept that idea.  She also fabricated a giant flower for the character’s back, and used an orange colour scheme.  I did not like the almost matte orange paint job.  Neither did the judges.  Glenn loved the flower petals on her back, but that was it.  Ve thought it looked like a refugee from a craft store, and Neville thought her face looked diseased, and the sculpt detracted from the beauty of her face.  I guess it pays to listen to a Westmore because Cat ended up in bottom looks.

Rashaad got a spiky wand and decided to go more minimal.  He knew he had to focus on the details, but unfortunately, the details were negative.  This was definitely not his best work.  His seams were showing all over the makeup, and the judges noticed.  His spiky, horned face wizard didn’t quite work for them, but they did appreciate that he tried to cover the seams with his paint job.  Lucky for him, he was safe this week.

Daran had a wand with an eye in the centre.  He wanted to use the wand as the wizard’s eye and created a really cool design.  This wizard had a mystical looking mask, creepy face and hands, and the judges liked it enough to keep him safe as well.

Chloe’s wand had a crystal and lots of filigree on it.  She made the filigree the focal point of the makeup, but didn’t realize how much work that involved.  She was not happy with her design, and had to scale back on the detail in order to finish.  The judges weren’t thrilled with the end result.  They liked the overall concept but thought it was heavy-handed.  They wanted to see filigree detail on the model’s forehead to compliment the chin, and they also felt she took the wrong element of the wand to focus on.  She was in the bottom looks.

Graham picked a skeleton wand.  He created a wizard that kept himself alive by collecting skulls and went for a voodoo look.  Mr. Westmore liked his design and had never seen piercings on the lip like that before, which the judges also noticed and loved.  They also liked the character’s teeth.  That kept him safe.

Out of the top looks, George won.  The judges thought his design transcended the challenge and left them in awe.  Going home this episode was Cat.  They thought her wizard was too artsy/crafty and disliked her conceptual choices.  The judges did say she was a great makeup artist, and advised her to focus on her designs more.  She was glad that it was her going home and not her boyfriend Niko, who was very upset by her elimination, but Cat left feeling inspired.  As an interesting twist to the end of the show, McKenzie came backstage to let the contestants know they were going to…Japan!!!  How freaking exciting is that?  What an incredible surprise, and I am looking forward to see what Japan has in store for them!!

Robocop VS Robocop

Published February 22, 2014 by vfdpixie

robocop 2014

Robocop (2014, 1 hr 57 mins)

I find a lot of remakes, or the rumours of them, unsettling.  With the exception of a few, like We Are What We Are, Let The Right One In, and Tron, all of which kept the essence of the original films and were either visually appealing or well acted, I often wonder what the point is.  I see remakes as cash grabs for Hollywood executives wanting to capitalize on the new wave of movie-going youth who are always looking for bigger and better, or to bank on the English version of foreign films since, as rumour has it, they think the general public don’t like subtitles.  Meanwhile, the original films also make money due to curiosity and comparison, so I guess everyone is happy because money trumps an original idea any day.

I wanted to check out the new V.I.P. theatre that opened nearby, and the only film of interest was the Robocop remake.   After making the above comments, I have to say I actually liked the reboot.  I watched the original Robocop recently, and remembered why I loved it.  Director Paul Verhoeven found a good balance of action, camp and heart in the 1987 classic sci-fi action film that made Peter Weller a fan favourite.  Peppered with catch phrases like, “I’ll buy that for a dollar!”, “Your move, creep!”, and cheesy commercials for games like Nuke ‘Em, the original Robocop was an ’80’s tongue in cheek look at the near future that can’t be reproduced.  The focus on Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) as she tries to connect with her refurbished ex-partner Murphy, as well as his quest for retribution and justice for his assailants melded well with the corrupt bureaucracy of big business.

The 2014 version was a more straight-laced story.  This time, Officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) gets too close to a gun running operation with police ties.  He is blown up and left for dead by these criminals, and with the blessing of  his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish), is chosen as a guinea pig for a new prototype robot.  Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), CEO of technology giant OmniCorp, is behind this initiative and bent on winning over the U.S. public by humanizing robots already in use for peace keeping efforts overseas.  When Murphy comes back as Robocop, he struggles with what he has become, the loss of his life as he knew it and his estrangement from his family.

This version is a sleeker, more emotional take on the original, and focuses on morality and Murphy’s struggle with his humanity.  The seamless special effects made up for the lack of campy goodness, and the cast made watching worthwhile.  Keaton really does a bad guy well.  His portrayal of Sellars illustrated the heartless side of progress, and Gary Oldman was great as Robocop’s creator, the conflicted Dr. Dennett Norton who battled with his duty and his conscience.  Michael K. Williams as Murphy’s partner Jack Lewis was also a great choice.  I love him as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, and he does a stand up job here too.  Joel Kinnaman was a decent leading man, exhibiting the right amount of weary cop on the beat and a machine with waning humanity.

The sleek glass settings of the offices, labs and landscape paid homage to the original film, while still giving us a believable vision of a near future.  I also liked the modern take on Robocop’s suit and the addition of his high-tech motorcycle.  The gun battles and training scenes were good, but reminded me of those shooter video games which lacked originality.  They also butchered the “I’ll buy that for a dollar!” line, and while the news show “The Novak Element” worked well for the story, I am a little over Samuel L. Jackson who played the show’s host, Pat Novak.  I will probably be hunted down for saying that, but so be it.  Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but try as he might, the old Tarantino tough guy trickles out here and there.  Too bad he was typecast so much.  The only time I thought he stepped out of the “tough guy” box was in Star Wars Episode III:  Revenge of the Sith, and Unbreakable.

To sum it up, both films do the dirty corporation story well.  Both do the tragic half-human half robot well.  Both have a great supporting cast, but the original resonates with a nostalgia that is hard to rival.   While I enjoyed Robocop 2014 and found it visually stylish and generally entertaining, it still bothers me that this remake trend hasn’t slowed down.  The only positive outcome of this is that perhaps the industry will pay attention to director José Padilha’s keen eye and finance one of his own projects.  Until then, I guess I just have to get with the times and embrace the newer, shinier versions of classic films, and forget about original movies and ideas from fresh new talent.

Face Off Season 6 Episode 6: Orcs and Creepy Cryptids!

Published February 20, 2014 by vfdpixie

This episode, Cat congratulated her sweetheart Niko on his win.  She was worried about being on the bottom and wanted to prove that she had what it took to succeed in this competition.

For the next Foundation Challenge for immunity, the gang had to create a lead Orc and 9 of its warriors.  I love Orcs!  They are nasty, short-tempered and lots of scary fun.  BAFTA and Emmy award-winning makeup artist Howard Berger was the guest judge and he wanted to see great detail, attention to design, application and to make sure that the orcs were nasty looking.

In teams of two the artists got to work.  Chloe and George, Matt and Corrine, Graham and Tyler, Rashaad and Cat, and Niko and Daran all worked quickly to get their orcs finished.  Berger really like what Chloe and George did, as well as Matt and Corrine.  In the end, he chose Matt and Corrine as the top team because he thought they worked well together and the looks were film ready.  Corrine won immunity because of her paint scheme which lead the way for the entire concept.  After, the Orc clans charged the lot of them!

For the Spotlight Challenge, mysterious creatures, or cryptids, like Big Foot and the Loch Ness were the topic.  Once again in teams of 2, the artists had to choose location coordinates where a cryptid has been sighted, and bring it to life.  Their guest judge for this challenge was Doug Jones, creature actor extraordinaire! With films like Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth under his belt, his advice was to make sure the makeup was organic, felt natural, and easy to move and perform in.

Graham and Rashaad picked Australia’s Bunyip.  With tusks, feathers, flippers and a man’s body, they had a mixed bag of parts to work with.  They worked well together and did well with their time.  Doug thought that the concept worked.  With so many elements, the judges thought it came together cohesively and they exhibited great sculpting, as well as a great paint job and profile.  Glenn liked that they chose their elements well, calling it a “cool exercise in picking and choosing everything”.   They also liked the creature’s multiple rows of teeth and this put them in the top looks.

George and Niko picked Russia’s Vodyanoy.  With frog-like features and a fish body, the guys went aquatic all the way.  They scrambled to finish, battling a tough mold that everyone helped them open.  I still think this is one of the best bunch of artists for courtesy and good nature.  The guys incorporated Barracuda teeth for a cool, vintage looking creature.  The judges liked that there were details that had a reason, like the finned forearms.  Doug liked how the fins were consistent and the whole makeup looked balanced, and they all loved the “gorgeous” shapes on the head.

Chloe and Tyler created my favourite creature.  Hailing from the Amazon, the Mapinguari is an ape-like creature with one eye, red fur, and, wait for it, a mouth in its stomach.  Tyler had some fun and took a picture of Rashaad’s tongue for reference.  They really went for it and created something cool!  Glenn said he wanted to see Captain Kirk fight this monster.  He was so right!  This makeup also had a vintage feel that just worked.  The judges liked that they took ridiculous elements and made them believable. Doug loved the mouth and though it would perform well and Neville liked that the creature’s nipples implied eyes in relation to the stomach mouth.  Ve liked that the fun fur was matted, and they all loved the paint job in the mouth and tongue, in fact, Glenn thought it was the best ever paint job period.  They were in the top looks.

Daran and Cat worked on Mexico’s Chupacabra.  This dog-like creature has a snake tongue and leathery skin.  This paring was a mistake.  From the get-go, they had problems seeing eye-to-eye.  Cat had trouble getting her point across as Daran basically ignored her input and treated her like his assistant.  I had a little crush on him, but now he’s out in my books. He was borderline offensive, and Cat regretted not speaking up more.  Their makeup was not so great.  The judges thought it was sloppy and the spine was off-center.  The proportions were off, and the facial structure looked bad.  Doug also said there was limited mobility for the actor, and Glenn thought it was profoundly uninteresting and not creative. They were in the bottom looks.

Corrine and Matt got New Jersey’s Jersey Devil.  I’m not sure what happened, but it seemed like Corrine took it easy because she had immunity.  I think it was unintentional sabotage as Matt isn’t the strongest artist in the bunch.  He had trouble sculpting the animal features of the dog-like, part-man, part-kangaroo, winged creature.  She ended up taking over the sculpting, and while Matt wanted to do more with the makeup, Corrine decided to go more minimal, but she did manage to make a large set of fabric wings.  She hoped they would be safe, but the judges were not pleased with the results.  They thought there was too little done compared to the other designs, and that the wings looked like drapery, creating an unscary,”curtain winged demon”.  It also didn’t read dog-like to them.  They found themselves in the bottom looks.

The winning team was Chloe and Tyler.  The judges loved that the makeup was funny but believable and that all the elements came together to create something balanced.  Tyler won for his fantastic belly mouth.

In the end, Matt and Corrine were the ones in the hot seat.  Matt went home because he didn’t step up to create a signature element in the makeup.  The judges liked how he thought and wished him the best.  I couldn’t help feeling bad for him even though I wasn’t a huge fan of his.  I felt that he was left to flounder while Corrine took over with a half-hearted attempt that sent him home.  Oh well, I’m sure he learned a lot from the show and that he is fueled to carry on in the industry.

Cineplex V.I.P: Movie Time Wonderland

Published February 17, 2014 by vfdpixie

This pixie loves movies, but hates going to the theatre.  A few years back, I have an almost knock-down, drag out fight with a moron who decided to have a loud conversation on his cell phone during most of The Village.  Yes, I admit I actually went to the theatre to see that movie.  I complained to the manager about the offense (unfortunately not the film as well), and the jackass was spoken to twice.  Afterwards, myself, my friends and 3 other strangers cornered him, letting him know he owed us the cost of our tickets because he was so disruptive.  The theatre manager gave us free passes as a result of the mishap, but it still gets my goat every time I think about the incident.  And these days, with people getting shot up or assaulted at the movies, times are a changin’.

You would never know it in my day-to-day life, but I suffer from mild anxiety.  I don’t like crowds and after the above incident, my dislike for the general public has grown enormously.  Going to the movie theatre is therefore a chore for me, so when I heard that my local Cineplex Odeon opened a fresh, new V.I.P. section, I was game.  I had been to one of these theatre before and enjoyed it, but always had to travel to the heart of downtown.  Now I would have this option 10 minutes away from me, and with my sister in tow, away we went!

Touted as “a luxurious movie-going experience” with valet parking and 10% off of food and ticket prices for Scene card holders, the first thing that jumped out at me was the 19 years or older sign at the front entrance.  Heaven!  When I went to see Machete, there was a group with toddlers in the audience.  Go figure.  I wouldn’t have to deal with that here!  The neatly dressed, friendly staff took our payment ($19.99 with taxes included per person) at the sleek front desk, and we walked into a nice bar/lounge/restaurant area.  A streamline fireplace sat in the center of the space, as well as a bar stocked with neat rows of Bombay Sapphire (yes!) and Grey Goose, huge flat screen T.V.s, and huge picture windows facing the expansive parking lot.  The décor was modern with muted greys, black and turquoise accents, and beautiful black and white stills of celebrities graced the walls in classy mirrored frames.

We went to our theatre and found our reserved seats that we were able to choose when we purchased our tickets.  Cushy, lazy boy type chairs with a table attached to each seat and ample leg room made us feel all fancy-like.  Down in the front row, the adorable server informed us that those seats reclined.  The in-seat service was available until the trailers started, so of course I made use of it, ordering a Caesar (tasty but weak) and calamari from their average priced Specialty Food Menu, while my sister stuck to popcorn and a soda.  Aside from them forgetting my dip for the calamari which they promptly remedied, the service was great.

My delicious and spicy Caesar!  (needed a bit more booze though) Note the comfy seating in the background.

My delicious and spicy Caesar! (needed a bit more booze though) Note the comfy seating in the background.

The screen was massive, the picture crisp and the sound was on point for the Robocop screening.  I had someone sitting next to me, but there was enough space between us for me to feel comfortable.  We also went to a Sunday afternoon show which was not as busy as a Friday or Saturday night, when the server said the V.I.P. section was the busiest because of date nights. Please note:  this pixie will not settle for a regular movie night date anymore.  If there is an attractive, non-broke, honest man who looks like Don Cheadle, Keanu Reeves, Dwayne Johnson, Willem Dafoe, Derek Luke, Mekhi Phifer, or Hiroyuki Sanada who would like to take me on a date, it’s V.I.P. all the way, baby!  It’s ingenious, really.  You can have a drink, appetizers, see a movie and maybe a light dinner afterwards all in one place, for maybe $20 more per person, and quite frankly, I’m worth it!

Oh yes, I must mention the washrooms.  They were great.  Instead of a ladies and men’s separate washroom with stalls, here you had several unisex rooms, or water closets.  Each were very clean and private.  As I returned from the modern w.c.’s, I could see the regular movie theatre through frosted glass doors with the “regular” ticket holders teeming just beyond.  For a moment, I forgot all the debt, worries and crap of my daily life; forgot the sticky floors of the regular theatres and the optional flask I might or might not have normally tucked into my purse, feeling for a moment that I had arrived.  Yeah, that moment didn’t last for long.  I took the bus to the V.I.P. theatre, but at least I had a good time!

Summing this experience all up, I have to say my number one choice would be to stay home in my p.j.’s, with my cats and lots of snacks to watch a movie.  If I want to see something first run, my only choice is to go to the theatre which is already expensive.  I personally don’t mind the extra cost of the V.I.P. experience if it gets me the peace of mind because I am a little agoraphobic.  It’s the price you pay for being slightly reclusive and you know what?  I would definitely do it again!

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