‘I Get Ideas’ – ‘Girls’ Season 2, Episode 2

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So this week Girls delved a bit deeper into some serious issues, in two scenes particularly. The first was the bathroom scene where Hannah is brushing her teeth alongside her white, gay roommate and her black, Republican boyfriend – their awkward conversation certainly made for entertaining viewing.

However, these issues were perhaps more seriously addressed in the scene between Hannah and Sandy in which they discuss: gay marriage, NRA and gun legislation, death row, race, and political parties – impressively, all in about a three minute conversation.

With the introduction of Sandy – a black republican – Girls is starting to raise these controversial issues, which are all pertinent in society today. But, importantly, it does it with humour, and not in a ‘preachy’ kind of way. To reaffirm this, the somewhat serious discussion scene ends with Hannah casually asking if Sandy still wants to have sex, which he declines – provoking Hannah’s hilarious response which wraps up the scene: ‘I didn’t feel like it either, I just didn’t want you to have blue balls, because that’s another thing I don’t believe in.’

I love the writing in Girls because it’s realistic and relatable – I’m aware this might sound a bit cringey, but there’s so many lines which make me think: I have said that/I would say that/I wish I’d said that. Hannah’s use of ‘et al’ in conversation reminded me of how a friend and I have adopted the ridiculous habit of using ‘circa’ in everyday conversation – the more irrelevant the context it’s used in, the better.

Anyway, I digress – my favourite line of the episode came from Marnie this week, hitting the nail on the head with this one liner: ‘I just don’t wanna be around people who don’t hate everything in their life right now’ – over the top perhaps, but also very true when you are having one of those days.

As I said in my last post, Shoshanna is becoming one of my favourite characters, but I she didn’t have enough airtime in this episode in my opinion. Although, I did enjoy her ridiculously in-depth conversation with Ray about bathing a pig – it seems they are both equally bizarre and therefore a match made in heaven.

Now, as much as I love the show, I’m starting to find Jessa really grates on me – I’m not sure if this is the effect she’s meant to have or..? Maybe it’s her accent – a bit too Kelly Osbourne-esque if you ask me. Equally, it could be the fact that I still don’t see the point behind her current storyline, but then again…that accent is pretty annoying.

All in all, another great episode from Girls. It’s good to see a show like this being used as a platform to look at issues in society like race, politics, and sexuality, but it’s even better that it does so without losing its humour.

Haim: a new type of girl group?

Remember when I said I loved a bit of good pop music? Well in my opinion this is it.

I’ve been meaning to write about Haim for ages, but got a bit waylaid with the return of Girls and various comebacks in the music industry…

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Haim is made up of three sisters from California. Their parents are musicians too, and they formed a cover band as a family, which performed at county fairs in California. Such a musical upbringing meant that the girls developed a sense of intuition when it comes to music and their instruments. Alana Haim tells the Guardian: “To learn songs, we’d have to record them off the radio to cassette tape and then press pause and play for hours to learn all the chords and lyrics by ear. By the end we knew every chord progression out there.”

Without getting on my high horse about it, it’s refreshing to see a girl band who play their own instruments: Este plays both bass and guitar; Danielle plays lead guitar; and Alana plays rhythm guitar, keyboard, and percussion. It makes a nice change from the usual ‘girl band’ set up of a group of girls who can barely sing a note between them, let alone play an instrument (maybe I did get on my high horse a bit…but it’s true).

They’ve released an EP, Forever, as well as a follow up single, Don’t Save Me.
The EP includes three original tracks, plus a remix. It begins with Better Off – a powerful opening with close vocal harmonies, sung a capella. The song showcases their use of vocal harmonies throughout. This is followed with the infectiously catchy Forever, which is more upbeat. The girls bring the tempo down again with Go Slow, which is laidback and again shows off how they interact with their vocals.  The EP is rounded off with a Dan Lissvik remix of Forever.

As for their single, Don’t Save Me has a 90s pop kind of vibe that makes you just want to get up and dance around (just me or…?)

Haim plan to release their debut album this year, and were recently announced as the winners of the BBC Sound of 2013 award. Previous winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding, and Michael Kiwanuka – so it’s safe to say we can expect big things from the Haim girls.

Personally, I’d love to see more girl bands with an attitude like this:

`We want girls to feel like they can pick up an instrument, practice the shit out of it and make some good music’ – Danielle Haim

‘It’s About Time’ – ‘Girls’ Season 2, Episode 1

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Having watched the entire first season Girls in two days, I have been ridiculously excited about the arrival of season 2. From speaking to people about Girls, I’ve heard mixed reactions, although most of my 20 something friends love it, as do I, so I was counting down the hours until I could watch the first new episode of season 2. I was not disappointed.

My previous post on Girls, season 1, highlighted a few issues that the finale had raised, and how these might progress in season 2:

Will Marnie stop being so boring and uptight and go a bit crazy?

One thing I’d hoped was that Marnie might loosen up a bit. Her having sex with Elijah – an openly gay man – was not really what I had expected, but it certainly made for entertainingly awkward viewing. Although, the episode ended with Marnie going back to her ex-boyfriend’s house because she needed company – I really hope she doesn’t go back to him because, let’s face it – he’s boring.

Will anything develop between Shoshanna and Ray?

Shoshanna is fast becoming one of my favourite characters, essentially because she’s hilarious. I loved the scene between her and Ray while she looked for her bag –  ‘it’s pretty shiny so I’ll probably find it soon.’ I’ll admit, Shoshanna is kind of crazy, but she did defend herself against Ray. Yes, did it involve the slightly petty ‘unfriending’ him on Facebook, but she also came out with some great lines – my favourite being: ‘I only wanna date people who wanna date me because that is called self respect.’ That being said, it seems Ray can’t resist the crazy/empowered side of Shoshanna as they end up kissing, and I get the feeling this may develop into a relationship.

Why on earth did Jessa marry creepy old threesome man?

Jessa and Thomas-John had minimal airtime in this episode, except a scene where they hop in a cab and she cracks up as she doesn’t even know where they live. I really hope this plot line is going to go somewhere good, because it’s not doing much for me at the moment.

Do Hannah and Adam have any sort of future?

Hannah’s life seems to be increasingly complicated as she is now torn between the affections of three men: Adam, Elijah, and Sandy. We can already see evidence of this clash putting a strain on Hannah, for example when Elijah needs her help getting rid of his drunk boyfriend, while a bedridden Adam demands she brings him painkillers. When it comes to the guy she is actually supposed to be seeing – Sandy, she is apparently taking a sensible approach: ‘I’m going to make logical, responsible decisions when it comes to you.’

Dunham has been criticised for presenting a very ‘white’ perspective in Girls. So some people have questioned her inclusion of Sandy – a black Republican, played by African-American Donald Glover – as a way of silencing those criticisms. But Dunham tells Vulture magazine: ‘We always wanted to work with Donald…But I think that when we shot that scene, there was both a feeling that it was the appropriate place for the character to be and a sense that it would, for people who had been paying attention to the backlash, at least evoke some sense that we were in a dialogue with our audience. It definitely wasn’t a “Fuck you, haters!” That’s not really how I tend to roll my game. But at the same time, it was a pretty clear statement that we are comfortable, that there isn’t a political agenda against having black characters in the show.’ I think she can’t really win on this one. But the development of his character will be key.

As Hannah tries to keep her relationship with Sandy casual, we didn’t see much of him in this episode, but I am intrigued to see how this will progress. As for the whether Hannah and Adam have a future, I kind of hope she sticks to her guns and keeps her distance from him. Although, I have a feeling this may be short lived.

So Girls is back, and as entertaining as ever – here’s a few personal highlights of the episode:

– Hannah’s hilarious attempt at ‘sexy talk’ which consisted of simply repeating everything Sandy said.

– The exchange between Ray and Shoshanna on Emoticons:

Ray: “You know, when I’m not around you, when you just send me a text full of emojis, it is so easy to dismiss you.”
Shoshanna: “What is wrong with emojis?”
Ray: “A panda next to a gun next to a wrapped gift? It makes no sense.”

– Marnie’s mum’s comment about being ‘between jobs’ – ‘Don’t say fired, you’re transitioning.’ Wish I’d thought to say that when people kept asking me what I was doing with my life during the post-uni/not-quite-found-a-job-yet stage…

2013: The year of the comeback

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So it seems it’s the time for musical comebacks, from the iconic David Bowie last week, this week sees new material from Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake after a musical hiatus from both. I can kind of take or leave the new JT song, but I’m a big Destiny’s Child fan so I was pretty excited about the prospect of new material.

It might seem a bit weird to follow a post about David Bowie with one about Destiny’s Child – I’m aware they are completely different categories of music and calibres of artists – but what can I say, my taste in music is pretty broad, I like to refer to it as eclectic…

Anyway, I’m a big fan of both David Bowie and Destiny’s child, for different reasons. Essentially, what I want from Destiny’s Child is a song I can dance round my bedroom to/put on my running list/sing at the top of my voice whilst driving – I’m talking: Bills, Bills, Bills, Survivor, Independent Women – you get what I mean.

So after such a long hiatus I was all geared up for an amazing upbeat track, but when I listened to Nuclear I was kind of underwhelmed. To me it just seemed way too chilled out – a kind of filler track on an album as opposed to a new single after an 8 year hiatus. I realise not every song on their albums was always upbeat, but considering their last album was released in 2004, I was expecting them to come back with a bang.

I can safely say that Nuclear won’t have me dancing around my room anytime soon, but hopefully it’s a grower.

David Bowie – Where Are We Now?

Just the other day I was watching The Prestige (2006) with some friends, and noticed that one of the minor characters bore a striking resemblance to David Bowie, but we thought it couldn’t possibly be him. We went to the ever-reliable IMDB to clear this up and realised it was in fact him – as my friend pointed out ‘Bowie loves a cameo.’ This is all a very tenuous link to the fact that Bowie is now back in public consciousness in a big way (as opposed to simply on my TV screen watching a film from 2006…)

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After a 10-year hiatus, David Bowie surprised everyone yesterday – on his 66th birthday – by releasing a new single, Where Are We Now? A new album – The Next Day – will follow, and is due to be released in March. The song has caused quite a stir, particularly as, in an age of social media; 24-hour news; and gossip websites, it is seemingly impossible to keep something like this a secret. Yet somehow, Bowie has managed to keep it under wraps that he has been working on this album for 2 years, making his return even more impactful.

Twitter exploded with reactions to the news, including a whole host of gushing celebrity fans:

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However, my personal favourite came from Rob Brydon:

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The single itself is quite emotional, as Bowie looks back at his time in Berlin, where he recorded Low, Heroes, and Lodger – or the Berlin Trilogy, as they are often collectively referred to. Despite the song being quite melancholy, producer Tony Visconti tells the BBC that Where Are We Now? is the most reflective song on the album – “It’s quite a rock album for him, the rest of the songs.”

Visconti says he initially had doubts about Bowie’s choice of single, but admits: “David is a master of his own life and, actually, I think this is a very wise move: to link up his past with his future. The next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different.”

I often feel kind of envious of my parents’ generation who experienced a time when music was really exciting and new – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan…etc. I’m not saying that no one does anything new in music anymore, but it’s a lot harder to be original. As a result, I always jump at the chance to see an iconic artist in concert, and I’ve been lucky enough to see Blondie, The Rolling Stones and James Brown live. Whether or not the return of David Bowie will result in a tour as well as an album remains to be seen, but either way it’s an exciting moment to be around for.

Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour – Somerset House

I heard about this exhibition a while ago, and finally found time in the post-Christmas/pre-New Year lull to go and see it. I’ve been an admirer of Cartier-Bresson’s work since I did photography A Level, and was captured by the idea of the ‘decisive moment,’ which Cartier-Bresson is so associated with. Although, apparently Cartier-Bresson himself took issue with this term, preferring the more fluid ‘images on the fly.’ Either way, the concept to me means capturing a moment in part of a larger narrative where something happens of such significance that the moment seems to imply the greater story – as if, past, present and future can be glimpsed or imagined from a single image. This seems to me the essence of good photography, so I was keen to explore the exhibition.

The concept behind A Question of Colour is that despite being the master of the ‘decisive moment,’ Cartier-Bresson remained firmly in the domain of black and white photography, seeing colour photography as somewhat inferior, or less effective. This exhibition displays the work of Cartier-Bresson alongside other photographers who have been inspired by the ‘decisive moment’ ethos, but have sought to defy Cartier-Bresson’s disparaging attitude towards colour, and demonstrate its value in their own way.

The exhibition’s curator, William E. Ewing, explains the concept in his own words: “In effect, his criticisms of colour spurred on a new generation, determined to overcome the obstacles and prove him wrong. A Question of Colour simultaneously pays homage to a master who felt that black and white photography was the ideal medium, and could not be bettered, and to a group of photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries who chose the path of colour and made, and continue to make, great strides.”

The exhibition worked well, incorporating both Cartier-Bresson’s images with the various colour photographers. I discovered a few new photographers, such as Karl Baden’s series of photographs taken through the car window, which works to frame each image.

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 2009 - Karl Baden

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 2009 – Karl Baden

 

Brighton, Massachusetts, 2009 - Karl Baden

Brighton, Massachusetts, 2009 – Karl Baden

 

I particularly liked the above image (Brighton, Massachusetts, 2009), as it’s both humorous and pertinent, in a country where the fast food drive-through is so dominant. In fact, make that drive-through anything – when I was studying in America I came across a drive-through ATM, where your deposited money just got whizzed up this plastic tube thing – it was madness!

These images also caught my eye…

Man vomiting, Gerald #1, 2006 - Trent Parke

Man vomiting, Gerald #1, 2006 – Trent Parke

 

9/11 - Melanie Einzig

9/11 – Melanie Einzig

 

Reflection, 1958 - Saul Leiter

Reflection, 1958 – Saul Leiter

 

And finally – one from the man himself:

San Francisco, 1960 - Henri Cartier-Bresson

San Francisco, 1960 – Henri Cartier-Bresson

 

I love this image because of the way it captures only a fragment of the visual moment, yet implies so much more in terms of narrative.

The exhibition is on at Somerset House until 27 January 2013 – it’s definitely worth a visit, and it’s free!

HBO’s Girls: the story so far

Warning: contains Season 1 spoilers

I was a bit late to the party with Girls, what with it being on Sky Atlantic (a channel which no one I know seems to own – just saying). However, having been meaning to watch it for weeks I made up for it by watching all 10 episodes in two days (a testament to how addictive it is but also a sign I was er…without job at the time). I was instantly obsessed with the show after the first episode. Mainly for the fact that its humour lies in it’s realistic depiction of life for young people post university – endless unpaid internships, no money, and still no sign of a normal prospective partner in sight…the list goes on. Essentially: student life without the student loan, and essay writing replaced with making tea and photocopying. With that in mind it sounds like a highly depressing show, however Girls finds the humour in this – let’s be honest, in the current economic climate you have to laugh about it or you will cry/have a breakdown/never propel yourself to write another bloody cover letter again.

Having sung the show’s praises I must admit I have some criticisms. Firstly, the whole Hannah and Adam storyline started off a very realistic portrayal of guys, girls, and relationships today. I mean this in the sense that Adam has no desire to commit, not that all guys are as utterly insane as Adam. The appeal of Girls is its realism – it is not a Hollywood picture perfect view of life where the guy and girl live happily ever after without a hitch. So rather than feeling the frustration of when two characters just won’t get it together, (circa Ross and Rachel) I felt disappointed when all it takes for Hannah and Adam to become boyfriend and girlfriend is for Adam to manically shout at her in the street: ‘Do you want me to be your fucking boyfriend?’ For me it all seemed way too straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete cynic, but I found it an unrealistic jump from such a casual relationship.

Similarly, in the season finale, I didn’t really buy Adam’s declaration of love for Hannah, simply because it seems too much of a quick turnaround from his earlier behaviour of ignoring her for weeks on end. Also is it just me who finds it a bit unnerving that Adam seems incapable of having an intimate conversation without shouting? Despite this supposed turn around in character from Adam, based on the trailer for Season 2, he is only due to get more insane, perhaps crossing the line into stalker-ville, so we shall see how that plays out.

My other main criticism was the wedding between Jessa and Thomas-John, I was completely baffled as to where this had sprung from – I mean I know Jessa is a bit kooky and what have you but still. Having said this I am intrigued as to how this storyline will progress in season 2, and I have to assume that creator Lena Dunham has a valid reason for this bizarre plot.

Despite these criticisms I eagerly await season 2. The season finale set up many things to be resolved in the following season:

–    Will anything develop between Shoshanna and Ray?
–    Why on earth did Jessa marry creepy old threesome man? (I’ve heard some suggestion that she may be still be pregnant so perhaps married for stability etc…)
–    Do Hannah and Adam have any sort of future?
–    Will Marnie stop being so boring and uptight and go a bit crazy? (I hope so)

For now I’ll leave you with one of my favourite moments of season 1:

Oh, and this: