Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Word About the Oscars ...

I would just like to say this about the Oscars. I think they were great this year. I think this because, in my opinion, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, and The King's Speech are the most deserving winners in years.

That's all. Have a fabulous week!

Let's Make Love (1960)

When billionaire Jean-Marc Clement learns an off-Broadway production plans to parody him in its new production, he ventures from his Manhattan skyscraper to a downtown theater to investigate the struggling company. Once there, he falls for Amanda Dell, as she sashays in a sheer body suit, and sings the coy "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." He then introduces himself to her as Alexander Dumas -- struggling actor. 

Thus, the familiar plots of romance and mistaken identity highlight the 1960 comedy Let's Make Love. Yves Montand, as Clement, and Marilyn Monroe, as Dell, seem an odd pairing, and though I enjoyed the movie overall, I think both likely experienced better chemistry in their careers. Still, Clement's sophistication and Dell's playfulness provide enough contrast, I never questioned my interest as their relationship developed. Sure, it's all expected, and it's not pure magic. However, that does not mean I have to dislike it.

As Clement's scheme proceeds, celebrity cameos abound. Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, and Gene Kelly all try their hands at making Clement a star, to no avail. Also, Frankie Vaughan co-stars as a struggling performer and romantic rival. However, Clement proves only himself, and shows Dell in the simplest way ... before seducing her in the elevator.

The musical numbers and costumes provide the most enjoyment for me. Dell performs in oversized sweaters and tights for "rehearsal," traipses around Manhattan in a trench coat and beret, and performs in a negligee elaborate enough to pass as an evening gown. Monroe, then, appears her most stylish to me. She combines artistic and sexy, like any musical comedy performer should.

While not the most original film, Let's Make Love does all the familiars right. I cannot dislike music, costumes, and happy endings, no matter how many times I see them.

Oh, and when I first got into Marlon Brando, I found this You Tube video of him and Marilyn. The song, "Let's Make Love" is from this film!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pride and Prejudice makes my colds feel warmer and fuzzier

I think I experienced a relapse of the bug I mentioned last post. Saturday, and especially Sunday, and I did not feel well at all. Although I am better today, I wish I could acquire another reason to spend hours drinking lavender tea, eating chocolates, and watching the beyond lovely mini-series Pride and Prejudice. I cannot believe I had not seen this version before yesterday, because it eased into my heart like few things can.

Well, almost.

I think I am just attracted to Pride and Prejudice. I love the story. When the most recent version with Keira Knightley came out a few years ago, I saw it at least six times in theaters, and read the book. I still do not favor much literature from Jane Austen's era, but Pride and Prejudice helped me become more open-minded. I adore the witty dialogue, Lizzy Bennet's free spirit, and Darcy's complexities. I find Darcy one of the most intriguing characters I have read or watched on film. He represents the fine line of being what one assumes, yet also the opposite, in many ways. I commented recently how I feel he possesses perfect boyfriend material, and afterward, I forced myself to consider why I stated so. I am more reserved than Lizzy, but I understand her attraction/repulsion to Darcy. Some people secretly love challenging people, no matter how much they frustrate us at times.

And frustration abounds, considering the miniseries remains more Darcy-centered than the more recent version. Since Colin Firth portrays the leading man, I feel grateful for that. I think Firth is one of the most versatile film actors today, not to mention attractive. I could not help but giggle as his performance played with my heart. The brooding, the sharp criticisms juxtaposed with longing gazes ... I mean COME ON! He plays a perfect leading man for me to pine for. Sometimes I had to pause the DVD just to stare and smile. It was all too ideal.

Opposite Firth, Jennifer Ehle (who shortly re-united with Firth for The King's Speech. She plays Lionel Logue's wife) portrays Lizzy Bennet. Not only is Ehle ridiculously beautiful, but she portrays Lizzy as a calm force of nature. I admire her assertiveness, wit, and intelligence. Still, she seems confused about people and love, which I also relate to. I kept thinking I wanted to hang out with her while watching, which does not often happen with me and fictional characters. Together, Lizzy and Darcy epitomize restrained passion, and I love every moment of it.

As for the costumes and scenery, I will not try to summarize here. They deserve their own post. Coupled with Darcy, the series does not present the past so much as a fantasyland where secretly sensitive Prince Charmings pine for reluctant crushes, and all else remains beautiful.

I realize this miniseries is popular, so if I only repeated other viewers, bear with this newbie! I am glad I finally had the time to see it.


If only there were no such things as society and judgement ...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Restoration (1996) : Film Costume Indulgence to the X-treme

I was lucky to catch the film Restoration on television this afternoon. In it, Robert Downey,  Jr plays Merival, a 17th-century English physician the royal court adopts for the purpose of marrying him to the king's mistress. He changes tremendously throughout the film, and his development held my interest.  I actually quite like the story, and the costumes are to die for. Another 17th-century period piece I love, The Man in the Iron Mask, with Leonardo DiCaprio, showcases similar designs. The lush, red and gold colors, billowing robes, high collars, wigs, and ornate gowns transport me to a fashion fantasy world. Not to mention, the characters wear puffed sleeves and still look chic. There is much about past ages I would not want to experience, but at least it seems like some people had many amazing dress-up opportunities.

And, ok. RDJ looks sexy in that wig!

Anyway,  Restoration is a fun movie to watch on a lazy afternoon. As a final note, its old movie poster hangs at The Flicks, my favorite Boise theater. I always wanted to see it for that.

What I'm into ...

I actually have a TON I could post about, but I have been so busy, I just cannot seem to blog. I am student teacher right now, and my life consists of teaching all day, coming home, and watching a movie while I grade or plan lessons. However, here is some of what I have been interested in lately:

  • The minions from Despicable Me
  • Madonna music videos on YouTube
  • The note penciled in a used copy Charles Dickens' Bleak House I recently bought. The book was originally a son-to-mother gift.
  • The costumes in Restoration
  • Legally Blonde the Musical
  • Tons of herbal tea, because I am coming down with a cold ...


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Farewell to a fashion icon

Maria Schneider, a French actor perhaps best-known for co-starring with Marlon Brando in the 1973 film, Last Tango in Paris recently passed away. Last Tango in Paris is one of my favorite films for many reasons, two of them being Schneider's character and wardrobe. She plays Jeanne, a Parisian hipster with the most amazing style. Her granny hats and coats, juxtaposed with mini-dresses, bellbottoms, and blazers, altered how I viewed '70s style. I saw it as not only wearable today, but within my taste.

Over the years I bought pieces here and there that hearkened Jeanne's style, and I like to think they celebrate a quirky, relatively forgotten fashionista. Though Schneider's film career seemingly faded as quickly Jeanne's style legacy, I feel happy for my own exposure and inspiration.

Here is Maria Schneider's New York Times obituary: Rest in peace.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Oh why, why, why be good?"

Last night I received the documentary, Why be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema from NetFlix. Just over an hour long, it covers conflicts between filmmakers and censors from the 1890s to the implementation of the Hays Code in the 1930s. Mary Pickford, Louise Brooks, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Mae West, and Clara Bow are a few of the stars it follows under this focus.

This film did not tell me much I did not already know, but I loved the selection of film clips (Many were from the 1890s and 1910s!!), rare interviews with Mary Pickford, Louise Brooks, and Gloria Swanson, and the 1920s-inspired soundtrack. Not to mention, no matter the depth, this subject remains interesting to me. I think it's so typical to treat sex in such a taboo, hypocritical way.  It's worth checking out if you like film history.

In other news, has anyone kept up with TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar? I am excited to watch Father of the Bride tonight, and Viva Zapata! and Sunrise tomorrow.