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Books, Showbiz

Pippa Middleton launches first book | Jamie Tuohy

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When Pippa Middleton walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey as her sister’s bridesmaid, the 29-year-old younger sibling of the Duchess of Cambridge became an international celebrity, thanks in no small part to a strategically-structured Alexander McQueen gown. And now Pippa has put her assets to good use (not THAT ASSet), by utilising her English degree to launch her first book.

The book, entitled,  The Art of Social Climbing Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Families and Friends was inspired by her parents’ party-planning business and in the introduction Pippa acknowledges the source of her fame, writing,

“It’s a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that’s the right word) before the age of 30, on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom.”

To launch the guide, the first-time author chose to wear no less than four outfits, resulting in a near-total of £3,000. The event wasn’t attended by her sister, Kate, who was believed to be at home in Anglesey with William, but Pippa’s parents, Carole and Michael and her brother James all showed up to lend their support to their youngest daughter and sister.

Before finding fame-by-association, Pippa worked as a party-planner and edited the newsletter for her parent’s website (how tasking that must have been!), so the book promises to offer all the expertise she has built up over the years.

Pippa received an astonishing £400,000 advance for the book, with publishers tripping over their well-heeled shoes to get Pippa on their books.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch in front of the clamouring press, Pippa said,

“It’s incredibly exciting and I feel really lucky to be in this position to publish a book so that’s great.”

“It has been a crazy couple of years since my sister’s wedding but it’s had its upsides and downsides I just feel really fortunate to be able to build a career as a writer.”

Some of Pippa’s tips in the book include how to make the perfect breakfast, which ranges from making “a cup of tea and digestives, to a fully laden tray.”

There aren’t any references to Pippa’s royal connections in the book, apart from her sharing of some childhood memories with Kate and James, but in the introduction, Pippa elucidates on why she wrote the book, saying,

“I know many of you will pick up the book out of nothing more than curiosity.”

“I can assure you that it feels even stranger to me than it probably does to you to have seen so much written about me when I have done so little to paint a picture of myself.”

“This is my first chance to do that and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

“The book is designed to be a comprehensive guide to home entertaining, based on my experience in my family’s business Party Pieces and work for London-based events company Table Talk.”

So far, reviews have been mixed, but the book will undoubtedly be the first of many, and a Christmas best-seller, as Pippa endeavours to become a fully-fledged writer. Expect a novel within a year!

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perks 1
Books, Movies, Reviews, Showbiz

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Movie Review | Jamie Tuohy

A coming-of-age drama about an awkward teenager who struggles with self-confidence before finally being accepted into an eccentric circle of friends sounds like a typically clichéd teenage movie. However, The Perks of Being a Wallflower far exceeds its general outline, just as its central character’s timorous disposition transcends the realms of everyday teenage angst.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the movie adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s first novel of the same name. Chbosky has also written the screenplay for the film and the proficiency and poignancy of the script is both admirable and touching in equal measure. The movie encompasses the entire emotional trajectory of teenage life, beginning in moody isolation and progressing to relieved acceptance, before dwindling into desperate depression and emerging as a happy camper once again.

However, don’t let its roller-coaster-like tendency scare you into thinking this is another clichéd teen-flick, because Wallflower is punctuated with deeply moving, important and personal events, from child-abuse and death, to internalised homophobia.

Set in 1991, Wallflower tells the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman) – a gifted, but tormented 16-year-old freshman who has just started high-school and survives by writing letters to an imaginary friend, while consoling himself with the fact that he only has “1,305 days left.” At a football game, the anxious and awkward Charlie meets with Patrick (Ezra Miller), who introduces him to his step-sister Sam, played by Emma Watson, who clearly managed to get a transfer from Hogwarts. Soon the three friends become inseparable and the shy and timid Charlie is introduced to Patrick’s and Sam’s friends and ironically becomes the centre of attention amongst the group.

However, from the opening of Wallflower, we are made aware, through subtle and implicit references that there is a dark underpinning to Charlie’s anxiety. This is achieved through flashbacks to his aunt’s death, references to his best friend who committed suicide and foreboding lines such as “I think I’m getting bad again.” With his new group of friends, Charlie is inducted into the “island of misfit toys” and therein experiments with drugs and alcohol. However, his introverted disposition hints at something greater and more worrying than an abashed personality. It speaks to a deep-rooted psychological issues and one of my only criticisms of the film come from its exposition of Charlie’s problems. Without revealing too much about the film, the resolution to Charlie’s case is ever-so-slightly too fleeting and wishy-washy for my liking, but I tended to overlook that because Lerman’s performance was subtle and brilliant, his delivery impeccable and his thoughtful depiction of character was spot on.

I’ve got to admit, not having read the book (which, subsequently, has been ordered on Amazon), I went to see Wallflower primarily to see how Emma Watson was adjusting to life sans Harry et Ron and as she organises her life around The Smiths and other brilliantly chosen soundtracks, as schoolgirl Sam, she doesn’t miss a single beat. Fittingly, Sam is struggling to escape her reputation as a coquettish young girl, just as Watson tries to escape typecasting. Both are equally successful. Personally, Lerman is front and centre as the star of this production with his subtle and attentive delivery, but Watson isn’t far behind with her beguiling beauty and punchy personality. Hermione Granger who?

Completing the trio is Ezra Miller as Patrick, the gay step-brother to Watson’s Sam, who happens to be secretly dating the college jock. Though camp, brash and impossibly confident, Patrick’s sensitive and vulnerable side is touched upon in a key scene from the film. In the spirit of antithesis, Patrick offers a counterbalance to Charlie’s character, but in the aforementioned scene, Miller subtly portrays him to reveal a young boy who is; at times, exposed and lonely.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower treads very close to near-perfection, albeit in a very formulaic way, however, there are slight downfalls to Chbosky’s screenplay. The minor characters are severely underdeveloped and at times, totally glossed over. Charlie’s English teacher, Bill Anderson (Paul Rudd) discovers Charlie’s potential as a writer, but the movie fails to sufficiently develop Rudd’s character – perhaps a reflection on the fact that Mr Anderson is failing to recognise his own dreams of becoming a writer and settling for a relatively unfulfilling life as an English teacher.

The film is characterised by all the metonyms of teenage life – experimentation, awkward school dances and feelings of desolation and elation, and even though it may not be a trailblazing or pioneering film, what it does do is tell a familiar story in an honest, yet subtle manner. Logan Lerman anchors the film as he expertly manoeuvres and portrays the oftentimes strange, worrying and infinite changes of the teenage heart. A must-see!

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les mis
Books, Movies, Reviews, Showbiz, Theatre

Les Misérables extended trailer released | Jamie Tuohy

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In a newly–released behind-the-scenes trailer for Tom Hooper’s movie musical version of “Les Miserables”, it has been revealed that the cast all sang live during the making of the movie, as opposed to miming over a pre-recorded track.

The movie is a who’s who of Hollywood, with Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman starring in this movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel. Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks and Amanda Seyfried also represent the next generation of Hollywood’s finest actors and actresses.

The extended trailer, which is a follow up to May’s teaser release, which featured Hathaway giving a beautifully raw and emotionally evocative performance of I Dreamed A Dream, shows how Hopper deviated from traditional musical production.

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The actors agree that singing live adds spontaneity to the performance and allows them to focus solely on the acting, rather than acting to suit the pre-recorded track.

It looks like a stunning film, and I smell Oscars – most likely for Hathaway, who plays the doomed Fantine.

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I cannot wait to see The Words.

This movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and stars Bradley Cooper, as a writer (again) tells the story Rory Jansen, who becomes an award-winning author after finding an unclaimed manuscript and publishing the work as his own novel. When accepting the award, he admits that he doesn’t have an idea of what to write for his second novel, but lives in blissful denial, nonetheless. However, his luck changes when he meets the Old Man, played by Jeremy Irons, who is the novel’s true author. Zoe Sultana Saldana co-stars as Cooper’s wife and Cooper has executively produced this literary tale, which features stories within stories.

It hits the big screen in the coming months.

on the road
Books, Movies, Showbiz

Kristen Stewart pulls out of On the Road Premiere | Jamie Tuohy

Following the tabloid explosion of her cheating scandal with Rupert Sanders, Kristen Stewart has pulled out of the UK premiere of her upcoming movie On the Road.

The 22-year-old actress was due to appear on the red carpet on August 16, alongside her co-stars Garrett Hedlund, Tom Sturridge and Sam Riley, but following the scandalous revelations of her affair with Sanders, the Twilight actress has decided to avoid embarrassment and pull out of the premiere.

Apparently, Stewart is too ashamed to pose alongside Sturridge, as he is close friends with Rob Pattinson and Kristen sees any potential red-carpet posing as extremely awkward.

It has been reported that Kristen grew up reading Kerouac novels and it was always a childhood dream of hers to star in a movie adaptation of his greatest novel, On the Road.

However, in the light of recent revelations, she feels that any appearance at the premiere would take attention away from the movie, and as a massive Kerouac fan, that’s not she wants. Yeah right.

On the Road is due for release in the coming months and it is the movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s generation-defining novel about 50s Jazz America and is the epitome of Beat literature. It’s my all-time favourite book, so I hope the movie does it justice!

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Marilyn_Monroe
Books, Movies, Music, Showbiz, Theatre

Celebrating an Icon: Marilyn Monroe’s 50th Anniversary | Jamie Tuohy

“I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it”, so said the iconic actress Marilyn Monroe.

Never a truer word spoken and on the 50th Anniversary of her passing, we remember the life and legacy of the legendary big screen star, whose blonde bombshell figure and pin-up girl looks catapulted her into superstardom and made her one of the world’s foremost sex-symbols.

Monroe, who died at the tragically young age of 36, is as big a star in 2012 as she was back in the 40s and 50s, and half a century after her death, the Some Like it Hot actress is still held up as an icon of both film and fashion.

However, the success Marilyn would achieve later in life was a world away from her tough upbringing in Los Angeles, with a large portion of her youth spent in foster care and orphanages. A childhood which involved a single mother who was incapable of looking after her and an estranged father whom she would never meet, led Marilyn to feel that she was “never happy” or “never loved” as a child.

Nevertheless, despite her childhood hardships, in her teenage years, Marilyn found fame as a model and more notably, as an actress and thus, the shy and timid Norma Jean was transformed into the sensation that is Marilyn Monroe – an intriguing and complex beauty, oozing sex appeal and bursting with exuberance and confidence.

While Marilyn would become known for her iconic portrayals of sultry blondes and naïve materialists, the actress herself, was an incredibly clever young woman who was able to control the image she projected of herself onto the media. She once said, “I can be anyone they want me to be”, proving that she was more than just an actress who could make a name for herself in the notoriously difficult hard to impress Hollywood. Marilyn understood media; she knew its politics and she knew how to be the best. And Marilyn really was the best. The unassuming Norma Jean might be shocked that 50 years after her death, she has remained as one of the world’s most talked about cultural and fashion icons, but somehow, I feel the canny and intelligent Marilyn Monroe would have expected it.

A keen reader of James Joyce, Monroe was a student of the University of California, where she read literature and art appreciation. It is believed that at the time of her death, Marilyn had a personal library of over 400 books, with titles such as Das Kapital by Karl Marx and Aristotle’s Metaphysics.

People are fixated on figuring out exactly who Marilyn really was: a Hollywood superstar with bags of charisma and talent, or an enigmatic and often misunderstood actress? In truth Marilyn was both, and more. She said it best herself, when she told her friend Susan Strasberg, “I’ve got many strings to my bow.” Fashion houses, models, actresses and bemused fans from every corner of the globe strive to emulate her look. Over the years, there have been hundreds of documentaries made about the star, thousands of books written and many movies created about Monroe, but none of them come close to capturing the sheer magnetism of her irrevocable presence.

“We all lose our charms in the end”, Monroe sang in what is assuredly her most famous song, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, however Marilyn’s star hasn’t suffered at the fickle hands of time. From her humble beginnings as Norma Jean, she went on to become of the most iconic superstars the world has ever seen. In the 50 years since her death, Marilyn has continued to be one of the most charming and talked-about screen sirens ever to emerge from Hollywood. It’s a charm, which will undoubtedly persist for another 50 years.

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Sean Connery as James Bond in
Books, Men's Fashion, Movies, Showbiz, Television

A licence for a Killer Style: A Homage to James Bond’s Style | Jamie Tuohy

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

A list of names that is synonymous with one man – James Bond. Since its inception back in 1953, by author Ian Fleming, the James Bond franchise has gone on to become an internationally recognised powerhouse industry, moulding actors into generation-defining icons, creating the famous Bond girl and permitting every guy to ask for his drink shaken, not stirred. For the last 50 years, the 007 agent has been outfoxing, outwitting and overpowering his enemies, all the while racking up a mind-boggling amount of beautiful notches on his bedpost. Incredibly suave, charming and intelligent, it’s no surprise that Mr Bond has become an aspirational figure for guys all over the world. While his globe-trotting and death-defying antics might not be attainable for the general majority of the male species, the spy’s sartorial style is certainly something we can all learn from. As well as trumping his opponents in every aspect of international espionage, James Bond has outdressed everyone from Dr. Julius No to Auric Goldfinger, all the while operating on a licence to kill. 

When creating the character of Bond, it is believed that Ian Fleming chose an “anonymous, pared down version of his own wardrobe” and while, over the years various stylists and directors have helped to mould Bond’s look, it is from Fleming’s iconic template they work. Fleming himself was an impeccable dresser, if not slightly more lavish than his most famous protagonist. He chose ‘off-Row’ tailors [tailors just off Savile Row] for his own attire, but James Bond’s tailors are never revealed in any one of Fleming’s books. The author has admitted that this often posed a problem, as it often became hard to reconcile his jet-setting character with reality. However, this is what makes Bond such an aspirational figure and readers and viewers alike are willing to suspend disbelief when Bond grapples with villains and emerges suavely unscathed, with mere scratches on his bespoke suit.

When Sean Connery appeared in Dr. No wearing a pared down, single-breasted grey suit, he set the stylish benchmark for the character’s dapper apparel. The suit was designed by Anthony Sinclair, and the suit became known as the ‘Conduit Cut’ (as his studio was on Conduit St). Bond makes no reference to his suit’s origins, other than to say it is from Savile Row, and from Connery to Craig, the classic look which was established in Dr. No has remained as constant as his Bond-girl dalliances.

It’s hard not to describe Bond’s style in generic, overused adjectives – his look is classic, iconic and timeless, but it deserves so much more than such a regurgitated, clichéd description. It’s difficult to think of a more stylish male character in literature or film and there certainly hasn’t been one who embodies Bond’s endless charm and predilection for thrill-seeking. His clothes are a reflection of his lifestyle – they are made to suit and reflect him. From Russian rumblings to Caribbean canoodling, James Bond’s clothing is always suitable to the occasion.

                              

Over the years, directors have been conscious of era and as the decades have progressed, Bond’s style has simultaneously evolved, whilst still adhering to Fleming’s original vision. Earlier movies saw the likes of Connery and Moore essentially wearing suits exclusively, but as the franchise moved into the 21st century, actors such as Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig brought a touch of new-world charm to the spy’s look. Of course, Connery was never shy of donning a pair of chinos when the occasion demanded it, but recently, Bond’s look has seen him incorporating well-fitting jeans and a smart polo shirt alongside the trusted tuxedo made famous by Connery. Proving that Bond can do casual, no one will ever forget Daniel Craig’s infamous speedo scene in Casino Royale. This aspect of his look might not be the kind of thing us Irish holiday-makers will sport during our summer getaway, but his loose-fitting linen suits in the Bahamas are an excellent lesson in appropriate dressing for an occasion.

As well as a successful career in international espionage and womanising, James Bond can add ‘style icon’ to his list of achievements. With 50 years of style and espial dominance under his belt, the 007 secret-agent has well and truly earned that Martini. Shaken, not stirred…of course.

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