She SAID: Clear Moisture

Shahada Karim

Gone are the days when deeply hydrated skin meant some form of ultra rich lotion or cream. These days, some of the most effective moisturizers come in a formula that is literally… clearly… different. Gel formulations are not new, but were oft reserved and marketed to oily skin types. Now, with the hot Summer months just around the bend, theyclear moisture are enjoying a resurgence in popularity for both oily and drier types. And forget about gel moisturizers being oil free; these days, they feature everything from snail mucus and EGF to anti-aging peptides and skin firming additives.

Now that the world has gone snail-crazy (bless the internet for granting us access to some of the best kept secrets in Asian Skin Care), everyone is trying to harness the most effective formulation to calm, repair, and restore skin to its healthiest state. Reorum is leading the charge with one of the most effective gel moisturizers to date. The Secret Formula Snail Gel is both calming andclear moisture 1 hydrating, but refreshing enough to use on even the oiliest skin types. It absorbs almost instantly, and leaves skin feeling dewy but not greasy. At $70+ per jar, it’s not exactly inexpensive. But it delivers much more bang for the buck than your average ‘miracle’ skin care.

Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Cream comes at a considerably lower price, but is no less effective: the Gokujun Perfect Gel claims to function as five skin care products in one. It contains Supahiaruron Acid, Collagen, Ceramide and Hyaluronic Acid. It’s recommended for all clear moisture 2skin types, and hydrates by creating a protective barrier on the skin. Although it’s not marketed as such, we found it highly effective as a makeup primer on drier skin types. And true to the company’s philosophy, there is no fragrance, mineral oil, or artificial coloring.

Korea’s top skin-care export, Sulwhasoo, does not disappoint with the Hydro-Aid Moisture Cream. Despite the word ‘cream’ in the descriptor, this product features a gel texture that promises to deliver and help skin retain moisture over time. Nothing from Sulwhasoo comes cheap, but fans can take comfort in knowing that a little bit of this product goes a very long way. Also to its credit, Sulwhasoo products play very well with others, so frugal skin-care junkies can mix and match for the best possible (and most cost-effective) results.


She SAID: How Sweet It Is

Terri Kennerson

Healthy food isn’t exactly rare in a place like Los Angeles. Healthy food that’s fast and relatively inexpensive isn’t so rare either. Healthy food that’s organic, exciting, tasty, fast, and inexpensive…

Now you have my attention.sweetgreen4Sweetgreen has come to Los Angeles and Santa Monica, and with a little luck and a lot of work, there will be even more locations in the near future. Challenging the hipster staple Tender Greens, the small restaurant offers an interesting selection of salads and grains that would pique the interests of  even the most sophisticated palettes. The staff mix all manner of greens, nuts, grains and dressings sweetgreen1together for a result that is truly harmonious. No more digging into a salad and wondering if someone… ANYONE actually tasted the combination before declaring it worthy of a menu.

Sweetgreen was born in 2007, with a plan to source local and organic ingredients from area farmers, and forward a mission to make for a better planet. Their biggest hub is in Washington DC (the healthiest place in the country), and mostly along the East Coast. Southern California in particular is naturally attractive for a restaurant like Sweetgreen, and with good reason. We’re stereotypically known for trying just about anything once; and the healthier it appears to be, the more likely we are to line up for it… with a smile.

sweetgreen2But competition in a place like Los Angeles is nothing to smile about. There are no shortage of organic pit stops that feature everything from cold-pressed vegetable juices to (actually tasty) gluten-free desserts. And with Tender Greens easily at the front of the class for salad destinations, the folks at Sweetgreen have their work cut out for them. If the menu is any indication, they may not need to be worried.

Of note are the Rad Thai (organic arugula + organic mesclun, sprouts, carrots, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp, spicy cashew dressing) and Hummus Tahina (shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade husweetgreen8mmus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt) salads. In fact, the latter might just convince a carnivore or two that vegetarians don’t actually sacrifice taste when they cut out the meat. Not only are the salads good; they keep. I kept the Hummus salad for 4 days (don’t you dare judge) and the greens were still crisp when I finally got around to digging into them.

And in true LA fashion, there’s even an online ordering function. Those of you who don’t want to be … seen … by the local paps making a dash for the salad spot, this app’s for you. And for the rest of us who are too lazy to battle LA traffic to satisfy a Rad Thai craving, just dial in and order up. Organic, Healthy, Interesting Fast Food is just a click away.

He SAID: Going Mad for Max

Scott F. Evans

George Miller just broke Summer 2015.
Let me reiterate that with some added perspective.
70-year-old George Miller just broke Summer 2015 with his first action film in thirty mad max 8years. Now let that marinate before continuing.
With Mad Max: Fury Road, a senior citizen in the twilight of his career and his life, has made arguably the best action film in twenty years. And no, I’m not being hyperbolic. John Wick? Nope. Any of the superhero films? Uh-Uh. The Fast and Furious franchise? Please. 2011’s The Raid comes close but Fury Road edges it out. Yes, it’s that good.
The fact that Miller comes out this strong after not making a film of this type since the last Mad Max picture way back in 1985, is itself a major accomplishment. This feat puts him head and shoulders above his peers. He’s had an odd career that spans back to 1979 with the original Mad Max. He followed that in 1981 with the sequel The Road Warrior, a seminal action classic that influenced filmmakers for decades. His filmography takes an odd turn after that with the disappointing third entry, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where we came to know a kinder, gentler George Miller. The neutered PG-13 film effectively killed the franchise (or so we thought). Miller goes on to direct such disparate work as The Witches of Eastwick, Lorenzo’s Oil and the Happy Feet series. Fans lit a candle to mourn the passing of a great talent. Or so we thought.

mad max 3Mad Max: Fury Road feels like a course correction, an apology for the maudlin work he’s done over the past two decades. This is a return to a form created and perfected with his first two films.
Mad Max (and even more specifically The Road Warrior) almost single-handedly defined what a post-apocalyptic film should be. Hardcore, brutal, fetishistic, beautifully grotesque and oddly fun, these two films sparked an entire genre in the mid to late 80’s. Any knockoffs were cheap and schlocky, uniformly terrible and have been all but forgotten.

mad max 1Well kids, the king is back and it’s like he never left. Like the previous Max films, Fury Road’s story (written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris) is insanely simple. No complicated twists or heavy handed themes. Just a plain A-Z plot. Simple, yet beautifully told using visuals and minimal dialogue. You can watch Fury Road with the dialogue muted and easily follow along. And despite the sparse wordplay, Miller still gets strong performanmad max 7ces out of his entire cast.

Tom Hardy steps in as Max Rockatansky, replacing Mel Gibson from the original trilogy. Although Gibson originated the role, he’s not missed here at all. Miller wisely recast his lead. Hardy gives another strong performance, and creates his own character instead of   imitating Gibson’s version. It’s still Max, but Hardy is more grounded than Gibson. His Max feels older, tired and even more laconic than before. This is primarily a physical role, and Hardy handles it proficiently. mad max 6
Max may be the titular character but this story is about Imperator Furiosa, played skillfully by Charlize Theron. Sporting a buzzed haircut, greasy eye makeup and mechanical arm, Theron cements her place in the Badass Female Hall of Fame. Furiosa is tough and capable without sacrificing her femininity. Like Max, this is also a physical role, and she is just as proficient as Hardy. But Fury Road has a strong pro-feminist slant that gives Furiosa some additional levels for Theron to play. Forget about Black Widmad maxow or Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator sequel. This season belongs to Furiosa.
Rounding out the cast is Nicholas Hoult as Nux and Hugh Keyes-Byrne as the villainous Immortan Joe. Nux, a deranged fanatic, is easily the third lead and Hoult is excellent in a truly bizarre role. He’s over the top, but Hoult reels him in just before he turns into a cartoon character. Keyes-Byrne’s Joe is the stuff of nightmares. He’s grotesque and insane. The character is masked the entire film and it’s occasionally difficult to understand what he’s saying. But he communicates through his eyes and we’re able to follow his every motivation.
The other star of Mad Max: Fury Road is the stunt team. Crewed by prmad max 4ecision drivers, Olympic athletes and Cirque de Soleil acrobats, they pull off some truly amazing work. There are definitely some computer generated shots, but most of the action is practical. It’s also perfectly shot and edited. Old school style, you can see everything that’s going on and there’s a clear sense of geography. The production design is equal parts grotesque and beautiful. Cinematographer John Seale brings everything together with a colorful contrast that defies the grittiness of the subject matter. This movie cost $150 million to make, and every single penny is up there on the big screen in glorious detail. The movie is, in a word, breathtaking.

mad max 2Stunning work from a director of any age. The fact that Miller is 70 makes it that much more amazing.

Rating: THEATER!!!!!!!!!!

We SAID: Hot Commodity

Staff Writer

When it comes to perfume, some of us like to spray and go. And some of us want to mix, mingle, and blend all manner of scents for a bespoke result that speaks to our true selves. For the mixologist in all of us, there is Commodity.

commodity commodity2commodity1  commodity3

The fragrance house combines unusual notes to create blends names like Gold, Paper, Whiskey, and Book (which literally smells like… a book). You’re invited to wear these scents alone or mix them to your hearts desire and make something totally new. And although the scents seem to be separated by gender, it’s hardly more than a suggestion. The fragrances easily translate across gender and occasion lines with the additional spritz of one scent or another.

rain mossmimosawool tea

What sets Commodity apart are the singular scents themselves. There is some particular pleasure in wearing a scent that literally mimics the starchy clean scent of a blank sheet of paper. It reminds us of the film Perfume, where the protagonist tries his best to capture the scent of everything around him.

If you’re not ready to commit to this unusual journey into fragrance, no problem. Commodity offers sample kits to try before you seriously buy. So settle in and take a whiff. You’ll be glad you did.

She SAID: Float On By

Terri Kennerson

If April fashion showers sprung May flowers, most of those blooms were decidedly lacking in color. For Spring/Summer, sea of white invaded ready-to-wear runways and department stores across the globe. The result is a selection of floaty frocks guaranteed to make every day feel like a holiday weekend at the beach.whitedress

Roberto Cavalli tones down his usual animal print and ostentatious styling for a decidedly demure interpretation of the quintessential eyelet dress. The simple lines make it appropriate for day or night with the addition or subtraction of a few accessories. at $4k, we’re not so sure you’ll be taking it to the beach, but if so you wouldn’t exactly be out of place.

whitedress1Oscar de la Renta interprets eyelet in more conservative fashion for the season. Think, quaint little garden party in his collared fit&flare shirtdress with cuffed 3/4 length sleeves. The only thing that keeps this adorable frock from falling back and firmly planting in the 1950’s is the fabric itself; instead of traditional eyelet flowers, the patternwhitedress2 takes a modern turn. This might be the only acceptable time to wear white pumps (honestly, we’re not even sure why those things are still hanging around for anything other than the bride who’s not interested in making a fashion statement below her ankles).

If you’re the polar opposite of conservative, the folks at Liv may be able to help. Their racy lacy tunic manages to cover and uncover all at once. From shoulder to hem, this little number measures only 32 inches. We’ll let you do the math on that one. Hey, if you’ve got it and all that jazz… you know how it goes.

From brunch to lunch and onto dinner, there’s a version of this season’s white dress to satisfy just about every need. Just be careful with the condiments.

He Said: The Age of Marvels

Scott F. Evans

2012’s The Avengers was the ultimate comic book movie. It was colorful, and breezy. It knew exactly what it was and told a rollicking, unpretentious story.  This time around, Avengers: Age of Ultron brings us more of the same, but in slightly more grown up fashion.

Joss Whedon returns as writer and director, and it’s clear that he has matured as a filmmaker. One of the main complaints of The Avengers was that it looked like a big budget TV show. Not here. Age of Ultron looks like cinema. It won’t dazzle you with camera acrobatics or beautiful vistas, but there’s a visual depth here that was definitely missing from its predecessor. Maybe that richness can be attributed tultron2o cinematographer Ben Davis, who brings a darker palette to the film. The picture’s visuals perfectly match Whedon’s heavier story. The sequel has much more emotional resonance than the first one, with characters dealing with varying levels of love and loss. Still, Whedon is careful not to lay it on too thick. He gives us just enough weight so that the film won’t be dismissed as a piece of fluff, but delivers the fun and thrills audiences expect from big summer blockbusters. His dialogue is snappy as ever, with handfuls of great one-liners that takes us right to the edge but never fall into self-awareness. And he has toned down the cuteness of his dialogue. The snark and whimsy is still here, but his characters sound less like teenage girls and more like adults.

All of the players from the original are back, and even though they have eight films among them, every once of them clocks in for this movie. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth and Evans, Scarlett Johanssen, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Rennerultron10, and Samuel L. Jackson all do solid work. Downey Jr. nearly stole The Avengers, but Renner is the standout this time around. Hawkeye was almost an afterthought in the first film, spending much of the film under the control of Loki. In Age of Ultron, Hawkeye gets to be an actual character, an integral part of the team, and gets to deliver the best self-aware line of the film. Johanssen’s Black Widow and Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk get some nice tender moments that illustrate how the franchise is growing up. There are also a couple of extended cameos that will delight fans, and seem to be a direct response to the original’s diversity problem.  It’s a small step… but it is a step.

Newcomers to the franchise really get to shine in this movie. Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson ultron11play the super powered twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Johnson’s Pietro is the Marvel Studios rendition of the same character previously introduced in last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Unlike that film, this version doesn’t feel shoehorned in as an effects gimmick. Pietro plays an important role in Age of Ultron. He’s essential to the plot here. In Days of Future Past, the character could have been easily cut and it wouldn’t have affected the film at all. Johnson is good in a part that requires audiences both like and dislike the character from scene to scene. Olsen is terrific, bringing equal amounts of pathos and menace to the part.

Paul Bettany debuts as ultron9Vision. In the previous Marvel films, Bettany was the voice of JARVIS. Here he plays a newly constructed synthetic. Bettany brings an almost childlike humanity and a bit of sadness to the small role. Like the Guardians of the Galaxy, the introduction of the Vision pushes the Marvel universe further into the fantastic. Also like Guardians, the Vision works. Whedon wisely chooses to play the character in balance between triviality and magnitude. He’s introduced, gets a couple good lines and character moments, and we move on.

The main villain is the titular Ultron, voiced by the incomparable James Spader. The actor brings a grandness to the supervillain, embodying him with an awkward pompousness that should be contradictory, but oddly succeeds. Whedon gives the character great dialogue, and Spader relishes every word.ultron6

Like most modern blockbusters, Avengers: Age of Ultron ends up being about twenty minutes too long. It sags in the middle and some of the plot points get lost in the confusion to set up the inevitable sequel. But Marvel’s strengths are in character and casting. The slow or expository bits are driven by strong acting from charismatic performers, so it doesn’t feel like such a slog to get through. Age of Ultron (and all of the Marvel films for that matter) is the near perfect representation of what a popcorn film should be. The filmmakers put significant time and thought into story and character, instead of just dazzling (but empty) F/X and action scenes. You don’t have to “shut off your brain” to enjoy it.

RATING: Do I need to even say it? THEATER!