Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bella, Sophia Loren Style

I kind of adore her right now. Stay tuned. There will be more about this later!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"The Show Off" (1926) and "The Plastic Age" (1925)

It is hard for me to dislike flapper movies. Even when I do not care for the plots, or pay attention because I just came off a great work week, I always check off five-star NetFlix reviews. This became the case with "The Show Off" with Lois Wilson and Louise Brooks, and "The Plastic Age" with Clara Bow, Gilbert Roland, and, get this, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable in small roles.

In "The Show Off," Louise Brooks supposedly plays a supporting role, but that remains difficult to determine. Her look is iconic, and she exudes such presence, I found myself wishing her onscreen when she was not. The story of a deceitful in-law kept me engaged enough, but Louise proved competitive. And she won.

Not that Lois Wilson did not flapper it up :-)

"The Plastic Age," on the other hand, presents a fun college story about a freshman who unsuccessfully tries to balance his academic life, his football career, and his relationship with the popular girl, played by Clara. They break up, and drama, drama, drama. I like Clara in anything. End of story!

I mean, cute, right?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The September issue

Nope, not the documentary, which I am sad that I still have not seen. One of my favorite things ever is Vogue's September issue. It always features pages and pages of beautiful, new editorials, and usually puts someone a little unexpected on the cover. In my opinion, it outdid itself this year. I could not believe how beautiful the cover alone looked when I pulled it out of my mailbox.

I never thought I would say this, but I sort of wish I was Kate Moss --- at least, in this photo. If she does not rock fairy tale princess here, then I don't know anything! I am excited to read the story about her as well. I feel like she gets a lot of coverage in the U.K., but we do not hear much about her in the U.S. I have always liked her as a model. 

Another fabulous aspect, this will take me ALL fall to read!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Do not be fooled by this dashing cover art of Paul Muni in the The Life of Emile Zola. Much to my personal disappointment, he dons the "beard and glasses" ensem in the biopic about the famous French writer and his involvement in a trial underscored by anti-semetism. Still, I have come to the conclusion I can watch Paul in any film, and in any form. He could wear a carrot costume and sing "Old MacDonald," and I would find it wonderful.

Still, allow me a moment to oogle at this screen cap from Scarface.

Back to topic, he gives a fantastic performance in this. It makes me so sad he remains so underrated today. The Life of Emile Zola remains a serious film, but Paul inserts all these little quirks that make it more light-hearted. It comes together in one of "those" film-y courtroom speeches toward the end where I became so mesmerized I forgot where I was for a second. He also speaks with his voice I find smooth as butter ...

Speaking of performances, Joseph Schildkraut gives another good one as an officer wrongly court martialed for disclosing military secrets. He snagged an Oscar and all. And, Paul? Just a nom, but who wins them all? At least he does not have to worry about my heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A New Kind of Love (1963)

Paris and fashion blend again in A New Kind of Love, a romantic comedy starring the best Hollywood couple ever, in my opinion, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. But back to the fashion for the moment. It IS seriously amazing here. Of course, the opening credits list Edith Head, Lanvin, Christian Dior, and Frank Sinatra singing, so I expected nothing less. From the full-skirted, feather couture ensems walking Parisian catwalks, to Joanne's menswear inspired blouses and trousers (and one or two pencils stuck randomly in her hair) this movie treats what women wear as consciously created works of art.

These fashions circle what I see as a typical Paul/Joanne storyline: She plays the intelligent career woman who at first ignores his charming advances, but then viewers discover she loved him all along. More specifically, Joanne plays Sam, a tomboy who "steals" high fashion designs for the mass production of more affordable, department store versions. For this reason, she travels to Paris with two co-workers, and meets columnist-in-exile (for sleeping with the boss's wife), Steve. The two begin awkwardly---Steve mistakes Sam for a man.

Inspired by the Paris fashion, a dance with Maurice Chevalier (don't ask) and embarrassment over her single-dom, Sam invents a more feminine, fashionable version of herself. Steve then spots her again, mistakes her for a famous call-girl, and interviews her several times for column inspiration. Though Sam fails to extend the act, and Steve dislikes her for that, I think no shock will come from my assurance that everything works out for them in the end.

I find this movie fun, despite its lack of an original plot. Paul and Joanne convey so much chemistry and comic timing. Also, Thelma Ritter, Eva Gabor, and George Tobias head a charming supporting cast. However, I think the movie's best point remains its use of fashion. I rarely see one that uses fashion so intentionally for both entertainment and insights. For instance, a split-screen of Sam observing a fashion show, while Steve indulges in burlesque acts, with models and dancers wearing similar ensems, seems so clever to me. As someone who already loves fashion, it made me appreciate it, and its possibilities, even more.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

 Midnight Cowboy remains one of those films I have meant to watch for ages. It earned an "X" rating when first released, and received much acclaim. Putting its reputation aside, I found it sad, but very "New York," and "1960s." 

When Texas cowboy and self-proclaimed "hustler" Joe Buck (Jon Voight) moves to New York City, he befriends crippled conman, Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). They make classic pair. Buck remains optimistic and naive, trailing alongside the more streetwise Rizzo. While Rizzo sports cheap, flashy suits, Buck continues to don his cowboy ensemble. Yet, despite their differences, Buck learns from Rizzo. For instance, he imitates Rizzo as he slams on passing car hoods and shouts, "I'm walking here!" Something in him wants escape his background. Flashbacks reveal Buck comes from a darker past than he conveys, but nothing certain surfaces. Instead, he continues to develop. With Rizzo as liason, he sleeps with wealthy women for money, but never loses his charm.

I mentioned I find this film represents the 1960s and New York. Having not lived through the era, I can only assert the film captures how I see 1960s New York in my imagination. The gray, gritty streets, and broken-down buildings filled with drugs and sexual decadence spells the place and time. An extended party scene seems psychedelic, yet realistic to me, and selected documentary style-shooting (cameraman focusing on a couple and asking, "Why are you here?") extends its validity.

When Midnight Cowboy ended, I felt sad, and full of questions. The film ends tragically, and I felt I still had much to learn about these characters. However, I am grateful to have followed them through this footage.