30 May 2016

Reviews: Miss Peregrine's, The VVITCH, Crimson Peak and more...

Here are some of the things that I've read and watched in the last couple of months. Do you know any of those? Share your thoughts in the comments!

1. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children / Ranson Riggs

          Source                &                 Source

I was very excited to get my hands on this book because it looked very macabre and dark, and features a bunch of old eerie photographs inside! I have to say that the idea of putting a story through forgotten pictures of the past is very charming, and I think the process of writing this was exciting for the author.
Sadly, I got disappointed. Why? Because I kind of wanted it to be more depressing and less "childish". It is in the end a children's/ young adult book, and I kind of felt it. I guess the Tumblr holy grail provided by the pictures in this book got my hopes up in reading something truly painful and depressing, but this book is just another fairy tail. I wouldn't buy the trilogy, and I would probably sell the book soon. The pictures are worth it and I would love to see the film (Eva Green!!!). 
I mean, it has a lot of beautiful ideas and thoughts, but I've expected a bit more.

2.  Zootopia


You guys - I watched this movie a few days ago and I completely fell in love with it! The thing is, talking animals in movies was a huge part of my childhood so whenever comes yet another one, it's pretty hard to disappoint me.
What I like a lot about this kind of movies is the "universe" the producers have created: Zootopia is this city where all animals live and behave like human beings (my 5 years old self is screaming!). A huge animal metropolis, made very NYC-wise, of course. The animation rocks!
Another really cool thing was the themes the movie dealt with: we have a young female bunny who wants to be a cop, a job only suitable for big animals - feminism; we have the small animals who fear and don't trust big animals, mostly predators, despite everyone in the city acting "civil" - racism, prejudice.
This movie is one clever allegory, and I know the trailer caught a lot of attention with the slots scene, but I personally think the trailer sucks! There are so many cool moments in the film, and the best part are shrews!

3. The Taxidermist's Daughter / Kate Mosse

Raise your hand if you like And Also The Trees! Good, because this book is for you!
I am not familiar with English romanticism, but this book is exactly that: English countryside, bad weather, moody main character, untrustworthy residents and of course:
a mysterious d e a t h...
I enjoyed this book immensely, because I wanted to read something gloomy and romantic, and I got it, and I was satisfied! (unlike with Miss Peregrine's)
I swear I could hear And Also The Trees playing in the background, because everything I knew to be associated with them I could feel through the pages. Needless to say, I would die for it to become a film! And I want to read more stuff by Kate Mosse now.
All in all this is a beautiful gothic (but not cheesy!) tale and I highly recommend it, especially if the weather allows it (I read this when it was 25C degress outside and it really didn't fit the mood XD ).

4. Crimson Peak 

Moving along the gothic category, I watched this also recently and found this film to be very "normal" for a gothic film. The director made Pan's Labyrinth which is one of my favorite movies ever, but this one was a bit weak. I don't like the actress playing the main character, and the plot was a bit questionable. This is a ghost-story film, but not only. It has horror elements that are quite good.
Personally, these sort of films don't scare me as much as they just upset me - I watched it as a romantic drama film and I liked it I guess. It's visually stunning but I would say that's all there is to it. Still worth a shot though if you still wear your Victorian skirt and lace corset to parties from time to time.
Warning/ Spoiler alert: it has the most lifeless sex scene I have ever seen.


          Source                &                           Source

Alright, this is probably the best witch movie I have ever seen. First things first, it was marketed as a horror film. and it is SO not! 
Again, I tend to watch potentially scary movies as a huge metaphor, so my review will be very subjective, but I watched it as a historical and a religious film, as a family-story, and above all: as a coming of age film.
It kept me thinking about many things not concerning witchcraft after I watched it, and that's why I like this move - because it has so much to offer.
On another note, the language in the film is a bit difficult to understand because they speak in old English there, but it's quite exciting, because the director collected the dialogues from original diary entries of people dealing with witchcraft in that time.
Not to mention it's visually beautiful. The atmosphere is very eerie and let me tell you - there are only 2 adult actors in the movie, the rest are kids, who completely blew my mind with their acting!!
I recommend this a bunch for everyone, I see you Tumblr people!


26 May 2016

More 60s Goth

My internship was over last week which now leaves me with a lot of free time and a nice summery mood, so I made more of those "this is my new style now" pics.
It's not really my new style, I don't wear hats ever, but I do need to dig out more of Boris' hippie stuff, like that vest I'm wearing for example.

I have also been inspired by Sonic Youth's weird experimental albums which I kind of like and dislike at the same time. 
And I found this new weird-ass band called The Garden. I hate how goofy they are and their awkward lyrics, then again, this is how they look like:

should I utter another word?

We're having a gig with our band tomorrow and from what it looks like, we'll have gigs in the following months plus a recording session in July that will hopefully be fruitful. I am happy things are going as planned, and am excited to play live, because that's literally the best thing ever.

Have you got any style inspirations lately?
On a different note: last week Boris and I went to the zoo and saw the biggest rooster of our lives. I would love to visit a chicken contest once.


19 May 2016

What My Languages Mean To Me

I stumbled across this article the other day about language fluency, and figured it is time to write a post about what all the languages I speak mean to me.

I speak 4 languages (in order of appearance): Russian, Hebrew, English and German. I think you have noticed by now that this is something I take pride in, or at least I take speaking different languages  as a form of self-identification. And while I cannot be proud of speaking Russian and Hebrew, as those were brought to me since I was born/very little, I take pride in keeping all four in shape. To some extent, at least (I can never criticize myself enough when it comes to this).

I caught myself thinking about it many times: I use Russian in very specific contexts and situation, and I use English for certain purposes that I do not use Hebrew for. Not to mention German, which, at this point at least, has a completely different function.
It all comes down to a matter of relevance, usage in everyday life etc etc, and with which language I interact closer with or not.

Here's a small "story time" with each:

Whenever I tell people that I'm Russian, I always mean it as a language-based identification at first (I can hardly consider my socialization 100% Russian). This is something people notice at first from my accent (damn) and when Boris and I talk to each other. Russian has always been a home language to me: I would speak it before and after school, I would speak to all my relatives in it, to my grandparents in Uzbekistan, to my mom while shopping.
Russian would be the safe zone: when not wanting to be understood, we would speak it in a public place and laugh about it.
This is the language my mother would cuddle me with (I often say to close people that I have a "cuddle language", and this is exactly it). Furthermore, this is the language I speak with Boris, so it has also a romantic and erotic function.
On my first ever official job I spoke Russian as well- it was a call center for technical cable support, and we got all the russian-speaking clients (mostly old people, typically for Israel). And while that was the shittiest job in the world, the connection we made inside our team was nothing like the other coworkers have had. I had laughs with people completely different from me, people that I wouldn't touch with a stick. That was where I understood- Russian is that special thing, that in a second can place you in a very familiar, consolidating environment.
Place years of Russian culture from television, books and tv-shows (ah, Russian tv...) and you have a connection like no other.

"How To Squat Like Slav"
You guys have to watch this, it is painfully culturally accurate.

I cannot describe the process learning Hebrew consciously. I came to Israel when I was 6 years old and pretty much drank this new language thing till the last drop, which wasn't even something I can describe as being an effort (unlike my parents did). Soon I realized that even for Russian kids like me, Hebrew was the "outside of home" language. At school, everybody spoke it. Even with an accent. I went to grade school in the neighborhood where I grew up where a huge Russian-immigrant population was settled, and we only had like 3 "native" Israeli kids in our class. Boys would curse in Russian to seem cool, but everybody used Hebrew slang, and it was the most fun ever (well, it is Israel's national language and we studied in it after all).
On the other hand, one of the biggest imprints this language has made on me was through literature. In high school I took advanced literature (with the coolest teacher in the world, so that was part of the experience) and read so many things (original and translated): plays, poetry, fiction and even - and I refuse to forgive myself, but we had it on the reading list - Russian literature (Crime and Punishment), that I devoured happily. I felt like this was the language I enjoyed expressing myself with, and even recall giving my literature teacher a few things that I wrote to read.
It has since then changed.
Living in Berlin, I do not use Hebrew very often, except from when Boris and I talk. I often find myself searching for words when I am about to express myself with more than a sentence, and that's weird to me.
But some things will never let me go, and that is mostly slang, and the in-your-face expressions and humor Hebrew has to offer. And in the end, the mentality that flows through it, with which I inevitably grew up.

A great noise rock number by the Israeli band, Mashina.

This was something different. English was a goal I set myself to master, as soon as I noticed that I began to understand all the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon cartoons without subtitles on tv. My grades in English were ok, then again- I was never too good at tests and studying. It was speaking it and hearing it that was fun for me. Then came the music, and English seemed like the perfect language to express yourself with. Everybody did already anyway, so why shouldn't I try? In high school I quickly switched from writing in Hebrew to English, and thought that if I wroe a lot, my language will get so good I will surely sound like a native speaker! (little did I know).
I have endless Word files on my hard drive with poems I wrote in "I am an angsty teenager writing about goth stuff in rhymes".
The summer after graduation I went to a summer camp in Boston, where for the first time- I spoke English for an entire month! I was so happy about it I tried changing my accent every couple of days there. Then I began watching youtubers and noticed that I could pick up on many of the expressions they used in order to shape my own English.
As I grew older English seemed to be more familiar to me, and by English and mean American! This is basically how English is taught in Israel, British is very far away from me, especially culturally.
Moving to Berlin has pushed things forward. We speak with most of our friends in English and sometimes with other German people too.
English is a neutral zone- everybody understands it and can relate to it, and I cannot recall a time in my life where I would connect to English so often than now. I even catch myself on thinking that my future child and me might be speaking English a lot more than Russian, just because I find English so handy at the moment. Who knows?

This is where my typing slows down and my eyebrows come together on my forehead. This is where I need that one extra second to think before I open my mouth to speak. This is where when I'm tired, or anxious or nervous, I cannot trust myself to speak at all. And at the same time, this is where, after casually chatting for a few hours, I realized I didn't need that damn extra second at all: that I was just sitting there like a normal human being, talking to another human being.
Tell me that you are shocked that I ,with my level,  speak German for only 3 short years -  and you have just made the biggest compliment in the world to me.
Despite (somewhat) confidently studying (and passing!) and working in it, German is still thin ice. I make grammatical mistakes and sometimes stutter, depending on the subject, yet find myself firing expressions and shooting paragraphs on some days without the slightest effort.
This is where I raise my chin and let you (subtly) know that after accomplishing my dream and learning German and moving to Berlin - I am good god damn proud to be where I am. Proud to have been sweating over all those language exams. Proud to be accepted to a university and surviving it so far. Proud to have accustomed to a culture that was at first - quite scary.
I had a thing in the beginning after moving that I didn't allow myself to retrieve to English in German-challenging situations, I was sooo strict with myself that I nodded my head to sentences I didn't understand without asking, and ending up feeling like a fool.
I go easier on myself nowadays, and if I am speaking to someone, even to my boss, I would slip an English word here and there and she wouldn't even blink about it. Besides, that's how all the cool Jungs talk nowadays anyway.
Oh, and those language-comparing videos and memes, about "how does butterfly sound like in different languages" are so not funny after you've learned German. Seriously, German is a beautiful language that I regret to say - has a professional/educational function for me at the moment.
My vocabulary completely lacks in the romantic and sexual field, and to be honest, only imagining that I need to reply with "ja, ja" during a sexual encounter makes me cringe to my bones. I have though, in the recent year, mastered the everyday, peer-friends department and it has been loads of fun.

Ideal / Berlin
One of the best new wave (neue deutsche Welle) bands

I still have a few languages goals for the above 4, for example: to read in Russian more, to talk in Hebrew more, to stress less over German and try to connect with it more, also through reading.
My greatest fear, so far, is to be looked down upon in a professional environment for not being a native German speaker. A thing which, to my luck, hasn't ever happened yet. And since I live in a heterogeneous city as Berlin, is very rarely to occur.
I try with my entire being to pass as a long tern speaker, like an immigrant who grew up in Germany would talk. I try to erase traces of my accent in both German and English, just because it is thrilling for me. Being able to speak in an awesome way is perhaps one of the most important thing for me when it comes to languages, and to be able to communicate with people who speak them too, to have exciting interactions and conversations.
And for now, my language slots are full. I have little faith that I could master a 5th language as good as I did English or Hebrew, especially as the years go by. But again, who knows?

And I always say: it has been a good day if I spoke in all four languages today.

Sorry for the long post, hope it was somewhat interesting. I have been thinking on filming the accent tag, but I need to figure out technicalities first.
Have a wonderful summer!


12 May 2016

First gig ever!

I just had to quickly update about our first ever band gig with Girls Like Us! It happened last week and I am still left in it, if I do say so myself - it was a hell of a first gig and I am so proud of us three for rehearsing our asses off to feel so comfortable on stage together! Friends were surprised it was our first time as (from what they told us) we looked and sounded very confident on stage.

And look at the super cool Trabant we drove in to the venue! All thanks to our drummer Maike (in the middle):

coming to the gig like 1969
My first experience with an electrical instrument on stage wasn't as "shocking" as I would expect. I mean- Boris always told me these horror stories about bad soundcheck, asshole soundmen who couldn't care less about you and not hearing some of the instruments as a result.

But the venue was really good, the sound guy was super sweet and really cared for everything. You could tell it was a somewhat high class bar and not a squat we were playing at.

Speaking of which, we actually warmed up Marakesh, an alternative rock band originally from Ukrane, they were pretty big there from what it seemed and even warmed up Placebo in their home land at the time. So we were stoked to play with them, and needless to say they were awesome live, very tight and of course- Mark is one charming frontman!

I still need to get proper photos, but in the meantime here's a short clip from the only song where I sing lead vocals :D
It is sadly only the ending of the song, but I am still happy we've got some kind of recording! More to come in the future I hope.

Next gig is at the end of the month, can't wait already!
Hope you're having a nice summery time! I am still busy as hell, as it's always is when summer semester comes around.