27/04/2012 § Leave a comment
New additions to the I Need Money file — which is already quite a large file, indeed, thank you for asking — from the Christie’s Interiors auction in South Kensington on 2 May 2012. With some estimated values as low as £300, I miiiiiight be able to convince my pocketbook to make an exception for a small piece of film history.
Sale information and how to place an electronic bid can be found here.
85 Old Brompton Road, London
May 2, 10:00am
09/02/2012 § 4 Comments
After much deliberation, I finally purchased the Apple TV receiver from the sparkling new Apple Store in Grand Central two weeks ago. Initially a bit daunted by the tiny black box, its attendant cords and its installation, I was quite pleased to find the process a breeze. After five minutes of plugging things in and hiding the cords away and two minutes of linking my router and entering my Netflix information, I was streaming media like none other. A minute after that I blew my own mind when I figured out how to find my iTunes account on my laptop. It was like a real-life Minority Report! Ok, not really — but I was rather pleased with myself.
I have been running through the classic films on the instant streaming service of Netflix ever since, which is only $8/month. My one complaint, if I must have one, is that specific artists can be difficult to find if you can’t guess (or don’t know) the name of one of their films that Netflix has available to stream. You can’t simply search by actor or director name. Now departing from my soapbox. Overall, I highly recommend Apple TV. It’s kind of amazing.
I recently spent an evening revisiting one of my very favorite films — which also happens the inspiration source for the name of this blog, in fact. If you have never seen the Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), I will pause for a moment for you to drop absolutely everything you are doing and go watch it. No, really. I’ll wait. Most famous of course for the iconic musical number “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” the film is a madcap romp detailing the adventures of two best friends as they search for suitable mates with suitably fat wallets. Both actresses are at their archetypal best: Monroe as the ditzy blonde, Russell as the wisecracking brunette.
It’s kind of amazing how every time I watch Marilyn, I discover again how damned talented the woman was. When made the transition from actor to icon, it became so easy to reduce her to representative symbols: her blonde hair, the billowing white dress, her beauty mark, her voice. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes you get to enjoy all that Marilyn has to offer: her spot-on comic timing, her lovely dancing and her singing (mostly, she got a little help on some songs). It really is no wonder Marilyn’s performance has inspired so many homages, and that none really come close to touching the original. Even if I do enjoy watching Nate, Dan and Chuck attempt choreography.
The original, 1953.
Madonna, Material Girl, 1985.
Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, 2001.
Blake Lively for Gossip Girl, 2012.
Also charming is “Two Little Girls from Little Rock.”
As I visit with old favorites and make new discoveries (Gregory Peck in Twelve O’Clock High was a revelation!) I can’t help but find it a bit humorous that I’ve taken what is the probably one of the most modern ways to consume media and have turned it into a time machine into the past. Humorous, but not surprising. In any event, if you like classic films as much as I do, the winning combination of Apple TV and Netflix instant will be your new Best Friend.
But of course I still like diamonds.
23/01/2012 § Leave a comment
The kind of extravagant and geometric choreography
only Busby Berkeley could be behind.
From Dames, 1934.
18/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in Coriolanus,
a modern adaptation of the tragedy by Shakespeare, with
Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Chastain costarring.
Opens January 20, 2012.
08/01/2012 § 1 Comment
It is with great excitement that I look forward to the release of Red Tails, the retelling of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, on January 20. The film was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots in the United States armed forces and served in World War II, facing remarkable adversity and racism within the military as well as society at large. After African American soldiers were denied the opportunity to fly in World War I, Congress forced the War Department to begin training African American pilots in 1939, and forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black fighter unit in 1941. The 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed in March 1941 and the unit was eventually expanded into the 332nd Fighter Group when the 100th Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Squadron and 302nd Fighter Squadron were added. The group saw action in Europe and North Africa, and are well-known for their excellence flying escorts for heavy bombers. The nickname “Red Tails” came from the distinctive red paint the pilots had applied to the tails of their planes.
The main reason for my excitement is my personal connection to the Tuskegee Airmen. My great uncle, Col. Edward Creston Gleed, served as the 302nd Fighter Squadron commander during WWII. He personally had two confirmed kills, while his squadron accounted for almost one third of the aerial victories recorded by the 332nd. He also served as operations officer for the 332nd. As you can expect, my family is exceptionally proud and very excited to see his story brought to life on the big screen. I can’t wait.
05/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Very excited the release of W.E. is fast approaching. Financed, directed and co-written by Madonna, the film is primarily about the Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936. Ardently loved by Edward, yet fiercely hated by many (and a suspected Nazi sympathizer to boot), Wallis has long been an intriguing character to me. Scandal, indulgence, fashion, luxury and passion. The makings of a great story. I’ve also been hearing wonderful things about Andrea Riseborough as Wallis and I look forward to her performance.
I’ve never known one person so utterly possessed by another, as he was by her.
W.E. opens February 3, 2012.
05/01/2012 § 2 Comments
“I’m not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at,
so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else.”
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of York
James D’Arcy and Andrea Riseborough as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,
wearing costumes from the film W.E. by Arianne Phillips,
photographed by Tom Munro for Vanity Fair.
[W.E. costume designer Arianne] Phillips’s business was to discover the precise detail of Simpson’s fashion aesthetic. She started at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Paris’s Musée de la Mode et du Textile and London’s Victora & Albert Museum – the three great repositories of Simpson’s attire. In the film, Riseborough has around 60 costume changes, including three wedding dresses. Most famous was the pale, “Wallis”-blue Mainbocher dress, in which she wed the Duke of Windsor in 1937. The original is in the Met but, said Phillips, has not lasted well: “We were lucky enough to see it, but, unfortunately, the colour has faded into a dingy bluey-green.” So the dress Riseborough wears is a replica hired from Cosprop, a London-based costumery. The other 59 outfits, however, were not so simple: “She was a client of haute couture in Paris in its heyday, the Thirties” said Phillips: “so I had to figure out how I was going to recreate it. The problem was my whole budget could have gone on making one dress.”
So Phillips hustled, using her fashion-world contacts. The Duchess was a client of Madeleine Vionnet – “who has been cited as the mother of couture” – and a rifle through the company’s archives, held in the Louvre, revealed precise details of what Simpson had bought and when. Phillips took her findings to Vionnet’s owners, and – hey presto – they agreed to make four new couture dresses for the film. Perhaps the most beautiful is the sparkly silver dress used in a scene where Edward and Wallace host a benzedrine-enlivened cocktail party. “I wanted something twinkly for that scene, for all the intoxication and jazz. I’d seen the original in the Louvre and fallen in love with it.”
Wallis Simpson was also one of the first clients of Christian Dior, and the house remade three dresses for Andrea Riseborough based on Simpson’s originals. And in the very last scene – set in the Seventies – Riseborough wears Dior from a recent collection designed by John Galliano. Other companies persuaded by Phillips to pitch in include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Roger Vivier and Dunhill. The hats were by Stephen Jones and recreations of outfits by another designer beloved of the Duchess, Schiaperelli, were made by Phillips and her team. Incorporating so many fashion collaborations into the costumes for a single film is, admits Phillips, unusual. Yet, it was by far the best way to recreate the world of a woman whose appetite for luxury was so very voracious.
From Inside Wallis Simpson’s Wardrobe by Luke Leitch for Telegraph.com
“Wallis and the Duke both made a lifestyle out of presentation. . . . It was a beautiful façade,” says Phillips. “He said that because she never got a title he gave her jewelry to make her feel royal.”
From Windsor Dressing by Krista Smith for Vanity Fair.
All images via Vanity Fair.
19/12/2011 § Leave a comment
Three different films, one leitmotif.
Boundaries. Convention. Identity.
Albert Nobbs, starring the inestimable Glenn Glose in the title role she also played Off Broadway, is the story of a woman who masquerades as a man for over thirty years in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland.
French film Tomboy, is the story of Mikael, the new boy in town, who is actually a girl named Laure.
And last, but definitely not least, the amazing Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, a portrait of the rise of Margaret Thatcher, the first and only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the first female elected to head of government in the West.
While Albert and Mikael/Laure wrestle with their concept of themselves as manifested outwardly through their chosen manner and dress, Baroness Thatcher contends with some of the same issues as they relate to her chosen profession. All three struggle with the corresponding concepts of masculinity and femininity. I look forward to seeing all three.
Albert Nobbs opens January 27.
Tomboy is currently in limited release.
The Iron Lady opens December 30.
11/10/2011 § 1 Comment
Release date Nov 23, 2011.
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky’s the limit – major movie stardom awaits. THE ARTIST tells the story of their interlinked destinies.
A new, silent, black and white film, set in Hollywood in 1927?
Someone made this with me in mind…
H/T to Hello, Tailor.