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  • New Jersey natives Chayse Schutter (vocals), Justin Flores (guitar), Don Scherr (drums) and Dan Hernandez (bass) make up New Jersey’s newest metalcore punk band Pocketsand. While juggling jobs and touring, the guys have managed to begin recording an EP and drum up a small following despite having only formed earlier this year. Listen to their song “Blinding” below and check out what Chayse and Don have to say about their latest musical endeavor:

    Read More

  • Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    A documentary that presents one of the most preposterous true-life scenarios ever connected with the movie business (or any business), Rob Cannan and Ross Adam’s The Lovers and The Despot also provides yet more evidence of North Korea’s bizarre sociopolitical culture and the oddity that was Kim Jong-il.

    In 1978, Kim—then heir apparent to North Korea’s leadership and a major film buff—arranged for the kidnap of South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and his ex-wife, actress Choi Eun-hee. Kim was envious of South Korean cinema’s originality, unlike the stilted fare that was coming out of his artistically backwards nation, and he wanted the renowned couple to be his personal filmmakers. The Lovers and the Despot uses interviews, footage from Shin’s movies, propaganda film clips, and reenactments, underscored by Nathan Halpern’s dramatically ominous music, to show the couple’s plight and their eventual escape. The resulting documentary unfolds like an artsy international crime thriller, albeit one with a few plot holes. It’s a striking and effective approach, though just about any film covering this material would be fascinating for the story alone.

    The Lovers and the Despot begins with a press conference given by Shin and Choi after their escape. It then travels back to the beginning of their relationship, as Choi recalls their initial meeting on the set of one of his films. (She provides much of the narrative; Shin died in 2006.) Scenes of the couple’s subsequent success as a top director and leading actress, respectively, are intercut with familiar, but no less jaw-dropping footage of the massive, intricately choreographed political rallies taking place in North Korea, along with the rise of Kim Jong-il in the shadow of his revered father, Kim Il-sung. Shin and Choi’s now-grown adopted children talk about their parents’ careers, including Shin’s obsession with filmmaking and his overspending on production. Eventually he would take up with a younger actress, after which he and Choi divorced.

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Soon after, Choi disappears from her hotel in Hong Kong, where she has traveled to meet with prospective film producers. Later, while searching for her, Shin also vanishes. His career having been in decline, there are rumors that he defected to North Korea.

    Though their abductions and captivity are traumatic—he is kept at a detention center for years—Kim treats them both with respect and good humor, as we hear in conversations that they somehow recorded (one wonders how they managed this). These tapes, once they reached the West, would be the first time that anyone in the U.S. heard the supreme leader’s voice, according to one State Department operative. Declaring their loyalty to North Korea, both Choi and Shin gain Kim’s trust and are allowed to attend film festivals in Russia and Europe, albeit under heavy guard. Eventually the couple, who have been held separately, are reunited.

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Shin would make 17 films for Kim, including the first love story ever seen on North Korean screens; smiling photos of the couple with the despot appeared in South Korean newspapers, cementing the idea that they defected. Just as The Lovers and the Despot uses clips from Shin’s feature films to illustrate aspects of the couple’s life and ordeal, Shin relies on a wealth of famous movie scenes to plot their eventual getaway. This life-imitating-art motif is one of The Lovers’ most interesting—and sometimes, amusing—aspects. Though various fascinating facets of Choi and Shin’s story are unfortunately skimmed over, the film still packs a considerable punch.

    A mix of crime thriller, love story and movie biz doc, The Lovers and the Despot is an amazing story that begs to be made into a feature narrative or even a mini-series. Too bad Shin isn’t around to do the honors.

    The Lovers and the Despot opens on Friday, September 23, at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, and will also be available On Demand and through Amazon Video.

    Marina Zogbi

  • New York Fashion Week officially ended today.

    If you’ve been following any news from this week’s past events:

    *You would know that Hood By Air made weird fashion magic with PornHub

    **Kayne West’s Yeezy Show was considered a hot mess

    ***Fashion insider Eva Chen was everywhere you wish you were.

    😽😽 from @toryburch with the lovely @prayalundberg

    A video posted by Eva Chen (@evachen212) on

    Former editor-in-chief for Lucky Magazine, Chen is Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, as well as CEO of Trend Micro. (She’s also my hero)

    Over 600,000 fans keep track of the fashion maven via IG. And if you are an Instagram stalker like me, you’d know that she’s pregnant with her second child to Tom Bannister, and loves to show off  her shoes from the backseat of car services. I especially love her #ootd shots, featuring designer Rosetta Getty and Tanya Taylor.

    Chen is also a brilliant digital strategist. In an interview with Business of Fashion, Chen lays out five basic principles for clothing brands big and small.

    Paraphrased from Business of Fashion:

    1. Seek real conversational engagement online. “It’s not a numbers game,” Chen says. “You can have millions of followers, but more important is whether people are commenting and tagging their friends. That means you’ve created something that people are talking about and that’s what makes a good post.”
    2. Possess a strong visual identity. “ust as when you pick up a magazine, whether it’s Self Service or Vogue, and you could remove the title from the cover, but you would still know which magazine it was just from the image, the typography, the talent they’re using, the tone of voice — that logic extends to Instagram as well. “
    3. Be authentic! “The accounts I love following most all have the sense that there are real people behind them.”
    4. Develop and grow a community. “The Instagram audience wants to feel like they’re a part of something. The conversation is really important — talking back to your followers, asking questions of them. It’s not something that every brand does. But I think Valentino, for example, does this very, very well.”
    5. Collaborate with active IGers.Gucci is a great example. They do something called #GucciGram, where they collaborate with artists on Instagram. They have a collaboration with a painter named Unskilled Worker. “

    What are you doing to cultivate a strong voice for your brand? What tools do you think you need in order to take your vision to the next level? Share with us @afpnyc!

  • Courtesy: The Orchard

    Courtesy: The Orchard

    Demon, Polish director Marcin Wrona’s third feature, is an unlikely but entertaining hybrid between a raucous wedding comedy and a brooding horror film. That he managed to pull it off at all is a testament to his talent and unique artistic sensibility. (Sadly, Wrona died of an apparent suicide at age 42 just before the film was set to premiere in Poland last fall.) Those who like their movie genres rigidly defined may be confused by Demon, which isn’t all that scary (or hilarious, for that matter), but the rest of us can appreciate its gorgeously morose ambience; dark, absurdist humor and strong performances.

    Based on Piotr Rowicki’s play Adherence, Demon concerns the laid-back Piotr (Itay Tiran), who has traveled from England to the rural Polish hometown of his fiancée Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska), for their wedding. The couple have only known each other for a few weeks, so the groom is meeting her parents for the first time. Piotr already has an easy rapport with Zaneta’s bro-like brother and initially gets along well enough with her jocular father (Andrzej Grabowski). When he begins renovations on the family’s rundown country house where the couple will live, Piotr unearths a pile of human bones and is immediately spooked, especially when he later glimpses what appears to be a female spirit wandering around outside. Soon his sunny personality gives way to sudden dark moods, and his body begins to react (via nosebleeds) to something or someone who is slowly taking him over. The overcast sky erupts and torrential rain begins to fall.

    Courtesy: The Orchard

    Courtesy: The Orchard

    “You seem different,” notes his future brother-in-law right before the wedding, a classic understatement. The ceremony is Catholic, as seem to be most of the guests, except for a Jewish professor who knew Zaneta’s now-deceased grandfather. At the reception, which takes place in a shabby-chic barn, the professor toasts the couple at length, quoting Aristotle. The party-happy guests barely listen to him and heckle another guest who attempts to sing a song. Fueled by alcohol, the music and dancing become wild and celebratory, though a tense atonal soundtrack punctuates the festivities, as Piotr – obsessed with the bones he found – swings back and forth between his genial normal self and a haunted vessel.  As his actions become violent and alarming (Tiran does a great job with the physical manifestations of his character’s state), a humorously philosophical doctor (Adam Woronowicz) and the somewhat detached priest (Cezary Kosiński) are called upon to help figure out the problem. Though various diagnoses are thrown around (food poisoning, drug-induced psychosis), it is the professor who recognizes in Piotr the machinations of a dybbuk, the classic malevolent spirit of Jewish folklore. Zaneta’s mood goes from delirious happiness to pained acceptance.

    Courtesy: The Orchard

    Courtesy: The Orchard

    Even as Piotr’s condition – and the wedding – get out of hand, Zaneta’s perversely cheerful father and steely mother emphatically choose to deny the obvious, and instead concentrate on the continued entertainment of their guests with ramped-up alcohol service. There are equal amounts humor and horror in the contrast between the drunken revelry of the wedding and Piotr’s increasingly volatile state, which eventually comes to a head, as we find out what’s literally gotten into him.

    The wedding was a mass hallucination, declares Piotr’s father-in-law at one point near the end of the movie, and it feels that way for the viewer as well. In this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Demon opens on Friday at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine Cinema.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Hello, September! This fall, get ready for Kate Moss, patent leather, platform boots, Ally McBeal-inspired mini-skirts, and “Pretty Woman” style references!

    From Alexander Wang’s Fall/Winter 2016 looks to Thierry Mugler’s 2017 Resort collection, various nods to the 90s are currently trending. Heck, even leggings are back, with Céline creative director Phoebe Philo styling stretchy pants under the label’s latest set of skirts and dresses!

    Here’s a stunning example from Céline Photo: Monica Feudi / Courtesy of Céline

    18-celine-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

    Gorgeous 90s inspired outerwear to look out for include Isabel Marant’s red, Rock n’ Roll patent leather trench, and Vivenne Westwood’s puffer coat (below).

    But in the world of womenswear, expect lots of style references this upcoming season from that memorable decade. Just this week, we saw the return of Kate Moss as the face of Charlotte Tilbury’s fragrance “Scent of a Dream” (video at bottom), as well as Kenzo World’s send-up to Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video, directed by Spike Jonze, featuring actress Margaret Qualley.

    Check out this insane video below! 

    And just when you’ve thought you’ve seen enough genuflects to the 90s, there are mini-skirt suits from Alexander Wang à la “Ally McBeal,” and cut-out looks from Thierry Mugler, harkening back to the Julia Roberts classic “Pretty Woman.”  Smells like Teen Sprit? Oh yeah!

    A look from Alexander Wang, Fall/Winter 2016.
    Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

    _WAN0037
    Thierry Mugler’s 2017 Resort collection Photo: Courtesy of Mugler

    24-mugler-resort-17

     

    Puffer Coat by Vivenne Westwood Photo: Getty

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