The Top 5 Underrated Films Within the Last 10 Years and Color Block Yourself-ie: Cheat Your Own Self Portrait Article

Hello!  So here are bits and pieces of something I wrote for an assignment involving pitching ideas for an online magazine.  I had a lot of fun writing these and I thought it was relevant to my blog because of the list of underrated movies.  I hope people agree with and appreciate my recommendations!  The DIY article is a bonus for the blog!!

 

Author: Bianca Piazza

me

Pitch:

For Movie Friday

The Top 5 Underrated Films Within the Last 10 Years: The Sleepers that Deserve More Attention in the World of Cinema

Hard Candy (2005): Ellen Page plays a relentless teenage girl who meets an older man online in this thriller with an interesting twist

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011): A thrilling dive into the psychological debate about nature versus nurture

Megan is Missing (2011): A realistic found footage horror/drama that will make you aware of whom you talk to online, and reconsider the true definition of a stranger

Wetlands (2013): This German “dramedy”, based on the novel with the same name, delivers a heavy dose of graphic humor as well as intense emotion and fantastical imagery

It Follows (2015): The indie horror of the year brings a new and exciting idea, reminiscent of The Ring (2002), to the horror genre that will shake you to the core

Pitch and Article:

For DIY Thursday and Art and Design

Color Block Yourself-ie: Cheat Your Own Self Portrait

While discussing the style of color blocking and the selfie trend with a friend, we came up with the new DIY idea of an easier way to create an artistic self-portrait, for both the artsy enthusiasts and the not-so Picassos.

The idea is to take a photo of yourself and print it out, the photo being the “blank” canvas for you to go crazy and paint/draw over using any medium of your choice. The photo provides guidelines for you to either follow for a more realistic portrait, or to break for a more Cubic take on the idea. I have painted a self-portrait before, and the medium I used was makeup. Makeup may not have strong pigmentation to paint over a photo, but makeup mixed with a medium of higher pigmentation, such as acrylic paint, will deliver a beautiful array of texture and depth! Although the idea sparked from color blocking, there are no rules; blended watercolors, soft pastel tones, or the elegance of realism can be applied to this fun and glamorous project. Materials such as makeup, nail polish, acrylic/oil/watercolor paint, crayons, pastels, colored pencils, you name it, can be applied to your creation. I decided to do this fun DIY activity myself. Here are my results.

Before:

Bianca selfie

 

Here’s my selfie, also known as my blank canvas!

Work in Progress:

wip selfie

The Final Product:

final selfie

I slightly enhanced the photo of the final artwork with a filter to enhance the bright colors the camera and lighting were not capturing.

For my color-blocked selfie portrait, I used acrylic paint and watercolors, which made up a large majority of the piece, but I also used a tiny bit of pen and eye shadow. Here at Redesign Revolution, we want to see what you create, so go on Instagram and hashtag your work using #colorblockyourselfie and #redesignrevolution!!!

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Wetlands (2013) Film Review and Brief Summary/Analysis: 3.5/5 Stars

Wetlands

Where did I first hear about Wetlands?

I saw Wetlands on Netflix while browsing for a movie to watch.  The girl with the crazy hair and the vibrant poster caught my eye, so I decided to look into it.  It seemed like a strange and crazy movie, with a rather bizarre plot description I might add, which is right up my alley.  I had no idea what I was in for…

Review:

Alright, right off the bat, I have to say that this movie is definitely not for everyone, especially people with weak stomachs, and is extremely NSFW.  But do not leave my blog just yet!!!!  Do not worry, I will keep the brief summary, and review tame.  But for real, I cannot stress this enough, this movie shows some deeply grotesque images that are not for the faint of heart.  If you are planning on eating some candy and popcorn during this movie, do yourself a favor and just don’t.  Under all of the raunchy and shocking material is the honest story of a lost and unique girl.

Wetlands is a German film based on the partially autobiographical novel by Charlotte Roche and was the world’s best selling novel in March 2008.  It is a bold, bawdy, drama directed by David Wnendt, produced by Peter Rommel, and written by David Wnendt and Claus Falkenberg.  Helen, our leading lady and narrator, played by Carla Juri, is an eighteen-year-old girl who chooses to stray from the typical social norms.  The first words out of her mouth are telling the audience that she has had hemorrhoids ever since she can remember and that she never thought she could tell anyone about it.  She then begins to talk about how her mother had always stressed bathroom and genital hygiene, ever since she was little.  Shortly after that there is a flashback to when Helen was just eight years old.  Young Helen, played by Clara Wunsch, was standing on some sort of ledge, short enough to jump from, and her mother, played by Meret Becker, held her arms out to catch her.  Of course little Helen tried to jump into her mother’s arms, expecting her to catch her, but her mother purposely let her fall to the concrete.  Poor little scraped up Helen looks at her mother in confusion, and her mother tells her “Don’t trust anybody.  Not even your parents.  Better a scraped up knee now than a broken heart later.”  Helen now says that she experiments with hygiene, also known as choosing not to have good hygiene at all whatsoever in any environment ever.  Whether it is rubbing her, um, lady parts on a dirty public toilet seat, trading freshly used tampons with one of her only close friends and “blood sister” Corinna, played by Marlen Kruse, or taking a razor to her body hair roughly on her dry skin, Helen does not seem to be fazed even a little bit when it comes to poor hygiene habits.  To me, the opening to the movie is quite brilliant because at just six minutes into the movie we understand that Helen was raised unconventionally and how she decides to go against everything her mother taught her as a form of resentment and rebellion.  This sets the basis for the rest of the movie and allows the audience to better understand her emotional pain, extremely atypical behaviors, and just why she stands out from the crowd so much.

wetlands bathroom

We begin to learn that her depressed mother is not the only one who raised her questionably.  While visiting her father, Alex Milberg, she mentions that he often hurts her without realizing it.  The movie then pans to a flashback exhibiting Helen’s father accidentally slamming the trunk of his car on her hand.  This scene was obviously a literal version of her father causing her pain, but it was also a metaphor for her feelings of neglect caused by her father her whole life.  Helen does not seem to care about many people, but she very much cares about the broken relationship of her parents.  They divorced when she was young, and ever since then she has desperately wanted them to get back together.  While shaving with a slightly damp razor one day, Helen quickly, and rather violently, starts shaving the dry skin on her legs and her pubic region, when she accidentally slices open the skin where her hemorrhoids remain.  After a scream of bloody murder and a failed attempt at going to school with blood dripping down her legs and peering out from under her skirt, this act lands her in the hospital, which is the setting for the majority of the movie.  She sees this as the perfect seed for a plan to get her parents to visit her in the hospital at the exact same time and magically fall back in love under the dreamy florescent hospital lights.  She uses her charm and cherub-like face to get what she wants, persuading her naive nurse, Robin, played by Christoph Letkowski, to make the arrangements.  She later says in the movie that she has always wanted to have a child of her own, but she has had herself sterilized in order to stop the vicious cycle of her family.  She says that from her great grandmother, to her grandmother, to her mother, to her, all of the first born daughters of the family have been “neurotic, deranged, and miserable.”  This is incredibly sad because she must have gotten herself sterilized in a rage of anger and emotional pain.  Aside from her active sex life and casual drug habits, Helen’s hobby is growing avocado plants which she considers to be her own little family.  I believe that caring for these little avocado seeds is her way of nurturing new life.  I think she translates her feelings of neglect and emptiness from her lack of a loving childhood into love for the plants.  Although she cannot give birth to a child of her own, she tries to find ways to express her motherly nature, while still holding onto her tough and wild exterior.  Helen even has a hallucination in the hospital where she gives birth to an avocado plant, which was strongly a symbolic representation of her inner turmoil about wanting a family of her own in comparison to her growing avocados.  Helen’s little brother, Toni, played by Ludger Bökelmann, also exhibits this crave to nurture as a result of an empty childhood; he is a quiet little boy who will become furious if anyone dares to touch his precious teddy bear.  We do not know much about Toni, but I see the similarities between Helen and him in that respect.  Although Helen does not let much of her soft side show on the outside, the audience gets an inside look into her shocking memories and thoughts as her narration guides us through her life.

wetlands helen

After watching this movie, while I was still in complete and utter shock, I looked up some other people’s opinions.  Some thought it was brilliant, some were repulsed by the vulgar scenes.  Someone was so completely disgusted that he/she cut up the Netflix DVD with a pair of scissors, completely willing to pay the twenty dollar fee for damages (that is a bit extreme in my opinion).  I think Wetlands is a film that does contain a load of shock value, but also has an immense amount of substance.  I believe that her extremely appalling and distasteful language and behaviors are all a cry for attention, relating back to her parents.  So people who think there is absolutely no reason for the gross content, should look a bit deeper .  Although I will admit, some scenes were quite unnecessary and objectionable simply for the sake of being objectionable, leaving me annoyed at Helen to be completely honest.  It is filmed beautifully, portraying a dreamlike and fantastical aura at times, while also emitting a quirky and comical vibe paired with alternative sounding music that fits Helen’s personality perfectly.  Her flashbacks to her childhood, and scenes portraying her daydreams are saturated with deeply traumatic emotion and bright colors which entice the audience and allow people to sympathize for her and appreciate her as well.  Carla Juri does an exquisite job of effortlessly portraying the tortured, yet free, soul of Helen, forcing the audience to feel things for her.  I think Helen is one of those characters I could not picture being portrayed by anyone else.  Overall, Wetlands is completely unforgiving, disquieting, and an intense movie-watching experience.

Is Wetlands worth watching?

If you are easily offended, and are not into crazy arthouse films, maybe you should skip this one.  If you are like me and are a person who enjoys all kinds of movies, including foreign films, and does not mind a little shock value here and there, I say go for it; overall it is a totally fun movie!!

You can watch the trailer here (mildly NSFW):

Ask Me Anything (2014) Film Review: 3.5/5 Stars

ask me anything

Where did I first hear about Ask Me Anything?

The other day I went on Netflix to browse and see if there was anything new and interesting to watch, and this was literally the first thing I saw on the home page.  I thought this would be a cute comedy/Rom. Com. to watch.  I figured it would have a light and whimsical vibe, which was what I was in the mood for at the time; I was sort of wrong.

Review:

Ask Me Anything was not exactly what I thought it would be.  You know that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” well that is exactly what I did.  The short plot description Netflix provides compared to the movie poster led me to believe that this was going to be a comedy filled with fluff.  I literally thought I was about to watch a movie that resembled Love Actually, especially considering the poster reminded me of the poster for Love Actually.  And don’t get me wrong, Ask Me Anything has several comedic and snarky moments, but this movie has a deeper meaning and darker aura than I was expecting.

Ask Me Anything is a somewhat amusing, and quite bleak, drama directed by, written by, and also based on the novel, Undiscovered Gyrl, by Allison Burnett.  Britt Robertson plays Katie Kampenfelt, a troubled, recent high school graduate who, while taking a gap year between high school and college, writes a blog about her life as suggested by a school advisor.  She decides to change a few details from her life in the blog so that no one can figure out her true identity.  At the beginning of the movie, Katie announces through her blog that she is currently involved with a 32-year-old community college film professor, named Dan, also known as the ever so charming, Justin Long.  Oh yeah, and both of them are already in relationships.  By this point, we are about five minutes into the movie, and the audience already has a taste of what her character is like: selfish and careless.  I believe her sassy and reckless behaviors are a result of her own insecurities and loneliness from a complicated home life and lack of many friends.   She lives with her mother and her mother’s snide but caring boyfriend, while also visiting her former sports writer, current demotivating, borderline alcoholic father and his mousy girlfriend throughout the movie.  Blowing off calls from people here and there, and cheating on her high tempered boyfriend are just a few examples that demonstrate Katie’s little respect or value for the people she encounters in her life.  Although to Katie, Dan is special and she believes she has a true emotional connection with him.  Katie puts up a front that she is tough and doesn’t need anyone, but in reality she unhealthily craves attention from Dan.  She uses her sexuality to keep him around, showing her desperation to be with him even when he subtly attempts to end their affair.  He even moves without saying goodbye to her; if that isn’t a hint, I don’t know what is.

ask-me-anything-movie

Before Dan moved, Katie got a job working at a book store, but when her loving mother and her mother’s snarky, mustached boyfriend tell Katie that her boss, played by Martin Sheen, is a convicted sex offender, they force her to quit.  She soon after gets a phone call from Paul Spooner, an admissions officer, played by Christian Slater (Heathers nostalgia), from the college which she deferred a year from, coincidentally asking her if she needs a job.  Katie takes the job as a nanny for his and his wife’s newborn son.  Katie is given access to a car, a Volvo to be specific, for her nanny duties.  A very excited Katie calls Dan telling him that she can now come visit him, which causes him to be taken off guard considering he thought moving would be the obvious end of their relationship.  Although Dan stays on her mind throughout most of the movie, she eventually partakes in a new scandal…you guessed it, an affair with Paul.  Katie’s slight obsession with these men distract her from her own true priorities and self esteem issues.

What is truly wonderful about Ask Me Anything is the fact that almost every character is very important to the plot and only enhance the core reasons as to why Katie is so troubled and has issues chasing after (mostly older) men who will only hurt her in the end.  From her school advisor who is only in the movie for a few minutes, to her only female, mischievous, and carefree friend, Jade, to the depressed voice of reason, Joel, every person in Katie’s life plays a role in either helping her or hurting her.  The varying  people that impact her life allow her to grow and eventually make mature decisions that will alter her life forever.  Although I did not read the novel, I have read that the movie stays true to the book, which is always a plus.  The film mostly relies on character development to keep the structure in tact, which, for a movie of this genre, is perfectly okay.  It’s not necessarily filmed in a unique way or anything, but the script and variation of personalities the audience experiences throughout the film are impressive.  Britt Robertson’s performance may warm and break your heart all at the same time.  Robertson genuinely becomes Katie as she portrays her haunted soul, sarcastic attitude, and carefree exterior beautifully.

christian slater

One of my complaints is that there is not really a climax in the plot.  The audience is kind of just along for the ride as Katie makes mistakes from beginning to end; there is not necessarily one moment that explodes with shock or action.  Although, there is a small twist ending which in my opinion, sort of came out of left field.  Twist endings are something that really captivate me as a lover of film; some are mind blowing and have me screaming at the screen in pure excitement, and some are duds that make absolutely no sense and also have me screaming at the screen, but in anger (cue Enemy).  To me, a good twist ending is crafted so there are clues the audience could have picked up on throughout the movie that come together like a perfect puzzle in the end and have you saying “OHHHHHHHHHH.”  This one did not really do that for me.  The twist is nothing compared to that of The Sixth Sense or anything; it is not completely shocking, and I did not quite see the reason for it, but overall it was interesting.  There are a few hints throughout the movie, but after I watched it, I thought to myself “well okay then.”  Overall, Ask Me Anything is a delightfully gloomy and sarcastic coming of age drama that will make you feel as though you deeply understand and relate to Katie Kampenfelt and the endeavors of growing up.

Is Ask Me Anything worth a watch?

If you appreciate quirky indie dramas and/or coming of age films, then you will most likely enjoy Ask Me Anything.  

You can watch the trailer here:

If you are a movie buff and are interested in my reviews and in talking to me, please feel free to comment, follow, and express your opinions!!  It would mean a great deal to me.  Let’s get a discussion going!