Images from Dressing Downton at the Driehaus Museum

My husband and I recently visited the exquisitely built Driehaus Museum to attend their Downton Abbey costume exhibit, Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times

As any Downton fan can tell you, a major part of the show’s charm lies in its impressive array of early 1900’s costuming.While some items are genuinely vintage pieces others had to be constructed from scratch to help the designers convey the intended look for a specific character.

Dressing Downton showcased both vintage and newly created pieces in what is arguably the most perfect setting. The Driehaus Museum is an intricately and lavishly designed 19th century Chicago mansion and it becomes quickly evident from the first steps into the museum why it and Downton make such a fantastic match.

Below are just a few of the images from my visit.

Enjoy!

In Memory of Prince: A Chicago Tribute

 

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Chicago remembers Prince

On Thursday, April 21, 2016 it was reported that the legendary music icon known to most as Prince, passed away.

While details surrounding his death are still unclear, Chicagoans of the city’s North Center neighborhood gathered together to reminiscence, commiserate and dance in honor to the late musician’s memory.

It was of little surprise to me that the North Center Square was host to the event. Through the last few years during the holiday season, I noticed a festive illuminated sign in an area apartment window featuring the artist’s iconic symbol along with the text “Merry Princemas.”

In response to the joy brought on by the unique decoration, a group of Prince themed carolers were formed to help spread some fabulous holiday cheer in the neighborhood.

The group, which seemed to largely organize the vigil, were in attendance in full regalia.

Below are a few images I took during the evening’s festivities.

 

Images from C2E2 2016

Here are just a few images taken during my time at C2E2. I attended for all three days so my feet felt sufficiently murdered by the end of it all. That being said, C2E2, like last year, was a lot of fun.

This year, I cosplayed as Agent Carter (pretty please get renewed!) and ran into a few other Peggys including one Mr. Carter (as you’ll see below).

Review: Supergirl Television Premiere

Supergirl Photo: CBS

Supergirl. Photo Credit: CBS

When I first saw the trailer for CBS’ Supergirl, I, like many others, couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the similarities it shared with SNL’s Black Widow Rom-Com Parody sketch. Despite this, I still had high hopes for the show.

First off, when I was a wee little youngin’, I spent a LOT of time reading Supergirl comics. That is until DC killed her off. Something I’m still angry at my brother for since he was the messenger of this heartbreaking news. Second, being that Captain Marvel keeps getting pushed back and Wonder Woman still seems quite awhile away, the idea of seeing an iconic super-powered woman on the small screen was exciting (I’ll be watching you too, Jessica Jones!).

I’m happy to say that after watching the pilot, I’m pretty pleased with the overall result. There are, however, a few aspects I could have done without.

Image from Supergirl Pilot. Photo Credit: CBS

Image from Supergirl Pilot. Photo Credit: CBS

The good:

Supergirl was fun!

Don’t get me wrong. Generally, I like my moody-broody-angst-ridden heroes who walk the dangerous line between darkness and light as they navigate the painful internal struggle of right vs. wrong! Supergirl, though, was very much in line with the reasons why my childhood self first gravitated towards the comics.  Kara was enthusiastic, longing to embrace her abilities and share the excitement with those nearest and dearest to her. She didn’t waste time letting friends, both old and new, in on her secret and beamed with joy as she finally got to flex her superhero muscles. Even when the battle was hard, she rose to the occasion quickly and with gusto, doubting herself only for a brief moment.

Supergirl‘s support system consists of adoptive big sister Alex, pining co-worker Winn and the sexy new incarnation of Jimmy James Olsen. The original Supergirl, Helen Slater and former Superman Dean Cain are also perfectly nostalgically cast as Kara’s adoptive parents. The opening episode also quickly establishes that Supergirl will have her own various rouges gallery to face in the coming weeks including a big bad that is sure to hit close to home.

The bad:

While I have nothing against Calista Flockhart as an actor, much of the dialogue out of Kara’s Devil Wears Prada-esque boss Cat Grant was a bit cringe-worthy. For example, I did not need the psuedo feminist rant on why the term “girl” is empowering.

At Kara’s expressed dislike for the term, Grant responds, “What do you think is so bad about “girl?” I’m a girl, and your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot, and smart. So if you perceive “Supergirl” as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”

Um, no. It isn’t.

I have absolutely zero problems with the show being called Supergirl. That is, after-all, how the character has been referred to since 1959. While I do think the problem with the term “girl” is anchored to idea of maturity more than gender, the show really didn’t need to defend its title so much. If Grant had said, “‘Girl’ has more pep! It pops! Easier to use in a hastag!”, I would have thought that much more believable rather than a sophisticated adult business woman launching into a diatribe referring to herself as a girl.

I also couldn’t help but sigh when co-worker Winn Schott reinforces the tired old She’s-All-That trope as he comments how pretty Kara is without her glasses. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that one person can’t compliment the appearance of another. Not at all. I’d just like to see the “glasses as beauty’s camouflage” idea in regards to women, fade away.

Being that this was the pilot, I expect the show to have a few growing pains, but overall, I think Supergirl is off to a strong, fun and exciting start.

Up Up and Away!

Up Up and Away!

iZombie Premiere Recap: “Grumpy Old Liv”

“Grumpy Old Liv” Photo Credit: The CW

Season 2 of iZombie is FINALLY here!

When we last left our heroes and villains, things were in a state of disarray for just about everyone.

After months of hiding the truth from her ex-fiance Major, the truth finally comes out as Blaine points out what’s been in front of Major all along. Things, however, take a turn for the seemingly on top Blaine as Liv injects him with Ravi’s untested cure turning him human. He is, of course, royally pissed as this puts a damper in his gourmet brain business (but shortly thereafter is seen blissfully enjoying non-brain burrito).

Before returning to the land of the living, Blaine mortally wounds Major leaving Liv with only one option other than letting him die and infects him with the zombie virus with the lightest of scratches. Liv later tells Major that they “can be together”. Not in the way they wanted, but it’s what fate dealt them. Major reminds Liv that it wasn’t fate, it was her and her secrets that got them where they are. So Liv decides to give Major the remainder of the zombie cure (without asking!).

Liv’s brother Evan, is unaware of the epic Meat Cute shoot out, and shows up for his first day at work only to blown away by the explosion that zombie Lt. Suzuki sets off while still inside.

Liv rushes to the hospital and when is told by the doctor that her blood type is needed to save her brother’s life, she solemnly replies, “No.”

David Anders returns as Blaine Photo credit: The CW

David Anders returns as Blaine Photo credit: The CW

Season two picks up three months later.

Evan’s managed to survive after having had multiple surgeries and blood donated from another doctor. Liv’s Mom is royally pissed and accuses her of being on drugs. Even Evan tells Liv to “Go away” and “Don’t come back.” So while we can breathe easy that Liv doesn’t have to carry on the weight of her brother’s death on her shoulders, things are less than sunny in the Moore family.

I like the fact the the show didn’t pick up directly where it left off and gave some time to the grief, turmoil and aftermath of the season finale. In life, people don’t get over things super quickly. Since it’s understandable that a show that consists of watching people wallow in misery isn’t exactly must see tv, a time jump is a good way of acknowledging that people need time to forgive, forget and move on.

Clive, while still not aware of the current Seattle zombie population, definitely thinks something is off about Lt. Suzuki’s supposedly heroic death and he has his sights sets on Major. Liv and Major haven’t been on great terms either after her string of secrets and bad decisions but manages to pick up the phone to take heed to Liv’s warning of Clive’s suspicions.

We also learn that with the absence of Peyton, Liv is learning to live with, as she describes, an exceedingly dull new roommate.

iZombie --

iZombie — “Grumpy Old Liv” Pictured (L-R): Malcolm Goodwin as Clive Babineaux, Rahul Kohil as Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti and Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore –Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW Network, LLC.

Liv, Clive and Ravi investigate the death of a curmudgeonly semi-racist old man who died after being crushed underneath a car. Of course his brains become Liv’s next meal as we watch her respond to the world around her accordingly. She moans and groans to Clive about a young man’s apparel “His pants are hanging so low they looks like a bra for his ass!”

While I generally enjoy the banter between Clive and Liv,  the awkwardly uncomfortable moment when her old man brain causes her to racially refer to Clive as “one of the good ones”, made me feel that maybe that line might have gone a tad too far, considering Clive is unaware of Liv’s condition. While his “I’m just gonna try and forget you just said that” retort was amusing, in the long term I don’t see how he can keep looking past her behavior. Especially when it takes a somewhat racist turn.  Hopefully his detective skills will help him to start asking the right questions soon so we can move on from the case of the week plot points.

Speaking of plots! Freshly human sophisti-Blaine “consoles” a couple in mourning as owner of the appropriately named, Shady Plots Funerary. “Let’s take this journey together”, he says, with his trademark charismatic smirk.

Liv soon pays him a visit telling him that she needs a vial of Utopium because both him and Major may not be as fully cured as they thought. While that remains to be seen we learn that the cure does have some interesting side effects as we see the hair on Blaine’s neck literally stand on end as Liv enters the room. His zombie sense is tingling!

Blaine enthusiastically enjoys some chocolate, seemingly agrees to make inquiries as he swears he is going legit in his current business ventures and amusingly mocks Liv’s ex-fiance’s name, Somewhere out there, Major Lilywhite, the most presciently named zombie of all time, roams the Earth. Liv is not buying into his sass or his supposedly legit story and retorts, “Oh, and you can save your respectable businessman jiggery-pokery for someone who might buy it.”

Speaking of Major, I find it interesting that he holds very little in the way of animosity toward his roommate considering Ravi has been aiding Liv in her secret. I guess that’s “Bros before hooo….ex-fiances” as Ravi says.

Shortly after Liv’s visit to Shady Plots, we watch as Blaine looks over his freshly delivered Utopium supply, housed in a casket of course, as well as pay a visit to Don E, the late Scott E.’s brother, for information on who cut the supply of Utopium with the zombie virus.

We also learn that Major experiences hair-raising tingling zombie sensations too as he meets up with a client in his personal training business. After-all, Major doesn’t have a great resume after the year he’s had. This seems like a good job for him. Put those abs to use buddy!

Steven Weber is back as Vaughn, the evil face of Max Rager. He now has a red headed femme fatale named Gilda, aiding him in his dastardly purposes as they blackmail Major into becoming their personal zombie slayer using a recording of his conversation with Liv, completely outing him as the Meat Cute assassin.

Oh, and how did Vaughn obtain access to Liv’s private phone conversations you ask? Liv’s new “boring” roommate is none other than Vaughn’s villainous partner in crime, Gilda.

WHAT A TWIST!

Overall verdict on this episode?

“Grumpy Old Liv” was a solid opener.

By allowing the passage of time we are able to see a change in some of our characters while also seeing where they are likely headed next. While I enjoyed the guest spot of Adam Rose as the accidental murderer, I think allowing Clive to be in on the big secret, rather than just around for the case of the week, might make for more interesting scenarios. Let’s hope we get there by mid-season. There’s only so many personality shifts Liv can have around him before he’s had enough.

Also, this episode only feeds into my obsession with David Anders and his ability to chew scenery like nobodies business. He just oozes charisma and I hope to see more interaction with him along with Liv and her group.

Also, Peyton, come home!

Looking forward to next week!

Enjoy the goodness!

Five vampire films that deserve your attention

I realize that many folks at this point have declared that the land of the vampire movies has been a little over saturated as of late, likely leaving people to wave a hand and sigh, “Another vampire movie? Ugh”.

Possibly for that very reason, some high quality stories have been told that unfortunately, but not surprisingly, have flown under the radar.

So in honor of it being October 1st,  I would like to share with you several vampire films that, in my humble opinion, are worthy of your time.

Gemma Arterton as Clara in Byzantium

Gemma Arterton as Clara and Sam Riley as Darvell (on the right)  in Byzantium

Byzantium

Byzantium focuses on the story of Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronin), a vampiric mother and daughter duo who have spent most of their long lives on the run from those who wish their kind extinguished. This isn’t your typical vampire vs. vampire hunter story though as Byzantium does something unique in how it deals with both gender and class disparity as well as doing some fresh and visually arresting in its take on the vampire transformation process.

While Byzantium has some great performances by Arterton and Ronin, it also has the added weight of a wonderful supporting cast in the way of the immensely talented Caleb Landry Jones as well as the intensely nuanced Johnny Lee Miller and the reserved yet charismatic Sam Riley.

With a June 2013 limited release in the U.S., it’s not surprising this film didn’t garner much in the way of box office success. It’s almost as if the studio said, “yeah, it’s a vampire movie, why even bother promoting it, people are tired of vampires”. Or maybe they just didn’t think American audiences would gravitate towards it. Whatever the reason was, it’s disappointing that this film didn’t receive the coverage and attention it deserved.

At the time of this post, the film is currently available on Netflix streaming in the U.S.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one of those very simple yet effective films. Shot entirely in black and white, we follow the residents of a ghostly Iranian town called Bad City where a young female vampire resides. A little bit Noir, a little bit spaghetti western and a whole lot of atmosphere makes this an intriguingly melancholic ride. A quiet movie in terms of dialogue;it is enhanced by its atmospheric and haunting soundtrack, with a little bit of Iranian New Wave sprinkled in.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the debut film by Ana Lily Amirpour, who both writes and directs. Amirpoir’s style is such that nearly every frame seems to be shot so thoughtfully that they could inhabit the walls of any reputable art gallery. Or at the very least, I’d put them up in my living room.

At the time of this post, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available on Netflix streaming.

tangier-morocco-in-only-lovers-left-alive Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive centers around two long separated vampire lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) . When we meet up with the pair, we watch as Eve spends her nights wandering the streets of Tangier as well as procure blood and conversation with long time vampire buddy Christopher Marlowe. Adam, being a bit of a recluse, stays inside his beautiful yet decaying Detroit home to work on his music with only the occasional visit from his assistant/rare item procurer, Ian (Anton Yelchin).

While Eve finds joy in almost every aspect of the world; Adam is consistently pained by the progress of human life. So Eve reunites with Adam in “his wilderness.” All seems good with the pair as we watch the two lovers reconnect until Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) crashes the party.

If you’re looking for violence and flash, this isn’t your movie. What Only Lovers Left Alive is, is a beautifully brooding story about life and the never-ending struggles of change. Lovers is filled with rich atmosphere and just the right touch of cynicism with help from its masterful soundtrack.

Ethan Hawke in Daybreakers

Ethan Hawke in Daybreakers

Daybreakers

Of all the films on this list, Daybreakers likely has the highest production budget of the bunch. Despite its financial heft it received very little in the way of promotion and was released nearly two years after its initial completion.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Willen Dafoe, Daybreakers takes place in the not-to-distance future where vampires are the dominate species. All is not well for those who are higher on the food chain as food supplies, i.e. healthy humans, are low in numbers leaving the world with a very hungry and irritable populace.

One of the most remarkable things about Daybreakers is the very beautiful and pain staking efforts of its cinematography. Spanning from city-scapes to the serene countryside, the film makes the effort to capture some extraordinarily striking scenery along with an eye-grabbing color palette. This is evident early on in the film’s opening scene.

What We Do in Shadows

What We Do in Shadows – Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Jonathan Brugh

What We Do in the Shadows

I’ve written about this film in a previous post but thought, as one of the few truly funny laugh out loud vampire comedies in recent memory, it deserved to be mentioned again.

Shadows centers around three centuries old vampires, Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav as they deal with the struggles of practicality in the modern world in their New Zealand home. The film features Flight of the Conchords star Jermaine Clement along with Boy director Taika Waititi and Tangwai actor Jonathan Brugh.

As I’ve previously stated, “What We Do in the Shadows kept me, along with my fellow movie goers, in an almost constant state of laughter. Much of the film’s success is owed to its ability to blend classic horror tropes with modern day pragmatism. We watch as vampire Viago is frustrated with his flatmates’ refusal to “lay down some newspaper and towels” before drinking of their victims after ruining his couch. “The red one?”, they ask. “Well, NOW it’s red!” he replies. Later, Viago inadvertently displays why this seemingly practical approach doesn’t do much to enhance the ambiance of an evening’s blood-lust as he awkwardly attempts to woo his unwitting victim.”

Simply put, if you like your horror mixed with humor (or vice versa) this is a must see film.

Images from Wizard World Chicago 2015

Hello again!

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Wizard World Chicago 2015. A great time was had overall (except for the jerk that triggered the alarm at the Hyatt causing an evacuation.)

As usual there were lots of great cosplays to be seen. If you see yourself in one of these images and would like to be named/tagged/referenced, please share your name in the comment section and I’ll be sure to update the image title. Also, if anyone out there has photo recaps of their own, please leave a link to it the comment section as well.

While I did take quite a few photos of other peoples cosplay, I didn’t get many of myself in my Loki costume. Since a few folks did stop and ask to take my picture, I’d appreciate a link to shots that may have been posted.

Here are a few photos I took throughout the weekend.

Enjoy!