Mao Jiao Li
When you think, act like a wise man; but when you speak, act like a common man.
Christian Louboutin – king of the killer stiletto
A new exhibition about shoe and fashion accessories designer Christian Louboutin showcases his key creations – including more than 400 shoe designs – and opens a window on to his unusual upbringing and a broad spectrum of inspirations crucial to an understanding of his work.
How African fashion has conquered film
It's hard to overstate Ruth E Carter's achievement in costume design on Black Panther, even now, three years after the film's release. She did, after all, win an Oscar for it. Not only did a massive movie franchise like Marvel finally put a leading black superhero on screen, but he was regally dressed too. As many pundits noted, the film marked a defining moment for black America. But it was a moment that also reverberated throughout the world, not least on the African continent itself, where the Basotho blankets and Ndebele neck-rings were instantly recognised for the items of rich heritage they are. It was a moment of pride that for so long had been denied to Africans portrayed on screen in Hollywood productions.
Why the 'ugly' clog is the style statement of our times
he clog has long ranked among the world's most divisive footwear. Beau Brummell, the original dandy and arbiter of men's fashion in Regency England, is said to have had "a perfect abhorrence" of the protruding and protective wooden-soled shoe, according to his biographer, while 1970s Swedish pop sensations ABBA were such fervent fans that they started their own clog line.
How Better Call Saul bettered Breaking Bad
In the height of summer 2013, Vince Gilligan, the creator of "prestige TV" phenomenon Breaking Bad, and fellow screenwriter Peter Gould, took a long walk around their offices in Burbank, California. The end was nigh for Breaking Bad, and they had just recently signed a deal to make Better Call Saul, a spin-off prequel series set around Bob Odenkirk's popular shyster Saul Goodman, a criminal lawyer more criminal than lawyer, more cartoon than man. The only problem? Neither Gilligan or Gould had any idea what the show was about. "We had a very high concept without a lot of follow-through," Gilligan tells BBC Culture. "We would walk around, just cogitate, and say 'okay, so what is this exactly?!'"
Film review: Dumbo
Some of us are counting the days until Disney stops churning out live-action / CGI remakes of its cartoons – Aladdin and The Lion King are next – but the live-action Dumbo promised to be something special. For one thing, the original 1941 cartoon was only an hour long, so there was plenty of scope for it to be expanded and developed. For another thing, the person in charge of expanding and developing it was Tim Burton, who loves classic animation almost as much as he loves magical tales of persecuted outsiders. With its retro circus setting and with a roll call of fine actors including Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green, Dumbo might well have been one of Disney’s best films – and one of Burton’s best films as well.
Film review: Booksmart
Booksmart is actress Olivia Wilde’s first film as director, and it’s no surprise that she gets vibrant performances from her cast. Plenty of actors-turned-film-makers do that. Unlike most of them, she does a lot more, breathing hilarious new life into two tired genres. A female buddy film in the guise of a high-school partying movie, Booksmart is endlessly funny and outrageous, yet always grounded by its realistic central relationship.
Film review: The Lion King
With its mythic story of life and death, not to mention a cast of lions and hyenas, The Lion King was an unlikely candidate for a photo-realistic treatment. But the new film leaps into naturalism, with dazzling authenticity as computer-generated herds of zebras, elephants and antelope stride across the screen against a wide African vista, toward Pride Rock, where King Mufasa stands waiting to hold up his cub, Simba. With The Circle of Life soaring in the background, this majestic scene draws us into the film’s enthralling world before a word is spoken. It may all be CGI, but The Lion King feels more life-like than Disney’s many recent live-action remakes of its animated classics.
Two stars for Soderbergh’s disappointing The Laundromat
The award for this year’s best opening scene should go to The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh’s star-studded, non-fiction comedy about the Panama Papers. Shot in what appears to be one long, unbroken take, it’s a walk-and-talk lecture on the history of money delivered by Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, two notorious lawyers played with irresistible swagger by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas respectively. Oldman, especially, revels in his role as the self-righteous, preening Mossack, pushing his German accent to Herzog-ian extremes, and emphasising his hissing s-es like a villainous snake in a Disney cartoon.
TIFF review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
nyone even slightly aware of who Fred Rogers was – the soft-spoken, beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, the children’s television program that taught values like kindness and forgiveness – can understand the response of Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a hard-nosed reporter assigned to interview him. “The hokey kid show guy?” he asks, incredulous and insulted. His reaction is a perfect expression of the dread some of us brought to the idea of a film about Mr Rogers, a fear enhanced by what seemed the too-neat casting of Tom Hanks in the lead, one impossibly good guy playing another. But Marielle Heller’s wise, sophisticated A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood turns out to be something rare – a warm-hearted film that even cynics can love.
Why is Judy Garland the ultimate gay icon?
On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”
Doctor Sleep review: A ‘horror-tinged superhero movie’
Not many people will have come away from Stanley Kubrick’s classic Stephen King adaptation, The Shining, with a burning desire to know what happened to the boy in the story. He was one of the film’s least engaging characters, ranking somewhere between the ghostly twins and the withered hag in the bathtub. But Doctor Sleep, a belated sequel to The Shining, wants viewers to care about the boy’s fate – and, surprisingly, it succeeds. Credible in its characterisation, rich in mythological detail, and touchingly sincere in its treatment of alcoholism and trauma, the film is impressive in all sorts of ways. But its greatest achievement is that it makes The Shining seem like a prequel – a tantalising glimpse of a richer and more substantial narrative.
Is The Irishman the end of the gangster movie as we know it?
or Martin Scorsese – a filmmaker whose work has so often been characterised by a rollicking, nervous vitality – The Irishman is as sedate a gangster movie as they come. His glacial three-and-a-half-hour epic sprawls to cover the Kennedy assassination and the creeping corruption of the American labour movement, and all within a loose framework that brings together the great actors of the US crime-thriller genre: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, and for the first time, Al Pacino.