Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eccentric Cosmetics presents The Fall - Indie Loose Eyeshadow Review

Browsing Etsy the other day looking for new (to me) Australian indie cosmetics makers, as I am won't to do, I came across Eccentric Cosmetics in Victoria. The gorgeous array of loose eyeshadows on offer was enough to convince me to make a purchase. But then I noticed that the maker behind Eccentric Cosmetics happened to be one of a very small group of people other than me that have seen the criminally overlooked 2006 film The Fall. Tarsem made his name (and money) doing projects like The Cell and a slew of TV ads for companies like Coke, but The Fall was his pet project, his labour of love, and I think it's magnificent. If there's something I love just as much as giving exposure to overlooked indie cosmetics creators, it's babbling to people about films they haven't seen but they should!

Firstly, let's look at the wonderful products that Eccentric Cosmetics have created in tribute to this fantastic film. The formula of all the shadows I received were just perfect - really pigmented, great staying power, and stunning colours. None of them were dusty OR clumpy, and because they're slightly less sparkly than some of the others I've been playing with recently they were really easy to blend smoothly and perfectly.

Red Bandit is named for the lead character in the story within a story in The Fall, played by Lee Pace.

This character is way hotter than a man in this much gold braid has any right to be.

 This is a black based shadow that comes out like a very, very dark brown with a strong gold shimmer. As well as the gold shine, it also has tiny red and blue flecks that give the whole thing a stunning depth. With all the following swatch photos, I've done a swipe on the right side over primer, and used foiling medium for the swipe on the left. It unfortunately makes my skin look a little ashy, but this would look incredible on someone with tan or olive skin.

Otta Benga is a soft, warm dark brown shadow, named for a rather statuesque ex-slave out for revenge.

Like Red Bandit, this has a wonderful gold shimmer, but leans a little more towards the coppery end of gold which makes it work a lot better with my incredibly pale skin.

Swimming Elephant is named for...well, as you might have guessed, a part of the film that features a swimming elephant.

The base for this one is an incredible match for elephant grey, with an amazingly beautiful gold/green shimmer in the right light. The grey is quite opaque, so a little goes a really long way, and the shimmer adds a lovely little extra to it.

Last is my absolute favourite from the collection - Mystic is named for a character who turns out to be much more than he seems, and this eyeshadow is similarly surprising.

Mystic at first glance looks like a pretty nice dark brown - but on the skin it transforms into a beautiful blackish teal with a smattering of light blue sparks.

I put together a quick look with Mystic in the crease and corners, Swimming Elephant across the lids, and Future Is A Choice in the inner corners to add a little extra shine.

I also picked up Eccentric Cosmetics's in house primer, and I am SUPER impressed. At first I was worried it would be a little greasy for my oily eyelids, but it's actually GREAT. No creasing, so fading, and it helps the shadows to blend soooo easily. Highly recommended!

And now, the film! The Fall was written, directed and produced by Tarsem Singh, who you might know from his work on R.E.M's music video for Losing My Religion, The Cell, or more recently Mirror, Mirror and Immortals. The Fall was largely funded with his own money, and as a result took four years to shoot, in between other projects. It sank like a stone at the box office, and I don't think it even got an Australian cinema release - which I think is an incredible shame, because the film is INCREDIBLE.

The story, on the surface, is relatively simple. A stuntman (played by Lee Pace) recovering in a hospital in California during the early thirties tells a fairy tale of his own devising to a little girl (played by first time actor Catalina Untaru) who is recuperating from an injury sustained picking oranges. Between the stunman telling the story, the little girl creating it in her mind, and the audience viewing it, the story becomes dense and complex, reflecting parts of all three parties back into the plot. It goes from being a story about castaways stuck on an island fighting against an evil king to a commentary on the way we all construct our own personal narratives. And the visuals...lord, the visuals. Even if you have no interest in the examination of the art of storytelling, just put this on mute and watch the visuals.

One of the things I really love about Tarsem's style is that so many of his visuals are just so BIG. HUGE sets, massive dressings, enormous ideas that seem to burst out of the screen for lack of room. I took nice large screencaps of these to show the detail, so I recommend checking them out at full size if you can.

Screencap of opening sequence of The Cell
Opening sequence of The Fall - Tarsem LOVES deserts.
Jennifer Lopez and Vincent D'Onfrio (no, really) in The Cell
"The Labyrinth of Despair" in The Fall, shot on location at Jantar Mantar
He also has a real fascination with unusual locations, and with The Fall he really got to go to town with this fascination. He seems to take the greatest delight in capturing otherwise hidden treasures, like the Labyrinth and the blue city, and presenting them as the artworks they are. The Fall was shot in over 28 locations, and watching it always makes me want to travel in the worst way - I think my ideal world tour would be to go and find all the places they filmed this, the jungles and deserts and remote islands, to see them all with my own eyes.

Like most auteurs, Tarsem comes across as more than a little obsessive - his commitment to his vision of how he wanted The Fall to be is just extraordinary. In order to make sure the little girl's performance was as natural as possible, he not only got the crew to shoot large portions of her scenes with Lee Pace through holes in curtains so she couldn't see the crew, he also made Lee Pace pretend to be a real paraplegic for the six weeks it took to shoot the sequences in the hospital. According to industry legend, even his makeup artists didn't know, and when one walked into his trailer and saw him standing up she almost fainted.

A great behind the scenes photo from Puppydogbites on Flickr
Tarsem also claims there is no CGI or special effects in The Fall, and I have to say, after seeing the behind the scenes documentaries I think I actually do believe him. There is footage of them actually doing most of the parts you would think were CGI - one particularly memorable sequence is of some poor workers painting an extraordinarily huge curtain of white silk with red dye, just so he could get a couple of seconds film of the red dye soaking up into the white fabric.

There is a scene in the labyrinth with dozens of guards in black rubber outfits going up and down steps in perfect time, that would have been done with CGI a more reasonable person had been directing - but the documentaries show footage of an increasingly frustrated Tarsem bellowing at increasingly overheated extras, insisting they march up and down the stairs in time despite the 40 degree heat.

You could argue that it probably wouldn't have made a HUGE difference to the end product if he had done these shots  with CGI - but there is something I find really fascinating and admirable about him insisting on doing it the hard way, in his obsessiveness about authenticity. It's absolute madness to actually get an elephant onto a shaky little barge and sail it out to just the right island to get a couple of minutes of footage of it swimming - but it's the type of madness I think adds some wonder to the world.

You might wonder why I'm choosing to write a post all about beauty and storytelling and wonder when there is so much horrible shit in the news lately. It's because Tarsem is a director who actually manges to get through to my cynical, skeptical, depressive brain - his movies remind me that beauty is real, and powerful; that it remains in hidden corners waiting if you know where to look. And that's something I need to remember most when the news is full of death and hate and injustice. The stories he tells aren't always happy, but they're always beautiful - and looking for that beauty in sadness is what gets me through sometimes.

You can buy The Fall on DVD from EzyDVD, and Eccentric Cosmetics are available from their Etsy store.


  1. Swimming Elephant is so gorgeous!!

    1. Isn't it? And I've never seen anything quite like it before, which just makes it even prettier to me.

  2. Wow. That is... impressive! And well put together post! :)


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