In Red Carpet Convos, a rotating group of panelists looks at what people are wearing to events like The Emmys, film festival premieres, and various random events, and use it for an excuse to talk about actresses. Today's guest is Guy Lodge from In Contention.
Nathaniel: The annual Women in Hollywood even took place this weekend -- or perhaps Monday? all the days be running together lately -- so let's start with the Household Names. You can just say "Pfeiffer", "Aniston", "Witherspoon" and "Heigl" and everyone knows who you're talking about. Even people that don't go to the movies (strange strange people, though they be!)
Guy: You know it's the Women in Hollywood event because This Is Serious and Serious Women Do Not Wear Color.
Nathaniel: Michelle has been serious her whole life. If she's feeling unusually frisky she'll throw a red at'cha but it's almost always, 90% of the time, black.
Guy: As if she needs its slimming effect.
Guy: I realize that to say a word against Pfeiffer at the Pfilm Experience is a bit like pissing on the crucifix in a cathedral, but I"m... not crazy abotu this look on her? The mid calf length, combined with the severity of the black, is a bit schoolmarmy.
Nathaniel: Well, you're a good sport about my dissings of Aniston so I can take it.
Guy: It's interesting that her belt resembles a roll of film, though, since she seems to have so little interest in the medium these days.
Nathaniel: [sniffle] I do love that she's gone all out with the detailing though to make up for the absence of color.
Guy: Yes, Pfeiffer's always been good with the details -- the glasp on her purse -- CLASP not glasp-- on her purse looks a bit like the vial from Death Becomes Her.
Nathaniel: You were thinking "[gasp] NOW a warning?!?" which is totally understandable because Michelle is 53 years old so she's clearly been to see Lisle for that age-defying potion.
We have to discuss the psychological profiling of their individualistic choices in cleavage, though. Immediately Reese is confusing me because when i first saw this i swear to god i was thinking "chest hair". it totally threw me.
Guy: I'm glad I'm not the only one puzzled by it. I was wondering if she has a giant sunflower tattoo in progress on her chest -- just the petals haven't been added yet.
Nathaniel: Decolattage as character profile: Pfeiffer: angular, classic; Aniston: freewheeling California golden; Reese: .....; Katharine:" Look at me! No, don't look at me. Ack. What am I doing?"
Guy: Still, I'm grateful for Reese's weird chest-lace. It's the only thing keeping her from looking like she's abotu to sell me a house.
Nathaniel: Tell her the price is too high! Too high!
Nathaniel: Another fun game we could play is "Which of these four women has the worst taste in scripts?"
It's a game where everyone loses! Including us.
Guy: Is it just a symptom of my incurable Fanistonism that I think she looks amazing here? I like that the SLEEVES are long -- it's like she's saying, "See? There's plenty of fabric!" She just knows where we're looking. I mean, it's kind of all out on display, but she's rocking it so confidently.
Nathaniel: I have never disputed her confiJence. But she is a little Goldie Hawn in this for me. Like she found something she likes (messy windswept locks, silver shimmer dress) and now shce can't go without it. She has so little variety!
Guy: I see your point about variety, but at the same time, I find it quite endearing when a star develops a regular look -- it reveals more of their personality. Same as Pfeiffer and her trademark red-black-Armani wardrobe -- Jen's learned from the best!
Nathaniel: I guess it would be unnerving if Pfeiffer was suddenly wearing clothing as attention grabbing as her face. Where would one look? This is totally random but when I saw paparazzi photos of LaPfeiff at the Lady Gaga concert in NYC all I could think was 'have any two stars ever had less in common, wardrobe wise?
Nathaniel: Next photo?
Guy: We said so little about Katharine Heigl. Make of that what you will... Poor Katherine. Nobody likes to get caught by a photographer on the way to the bathroom.
Nathaniel: I could have used a more flattering photo, I know, but I liked that this one had that "get me outta here" look because her choice in material MUST be coming from a place of self-destruction, right? In absence the normal self-destructiive star tendencies she's just trying to destroy her career with her ACTUAL career. At least it's an original take on the standard showbiz rise and fall narrative.
Guy: I did want to share this amazing conversational snippet I overhead yesterday:
It's pronounced Katharine Heigl, apparently. To rhyme with Smeagol."
Nathaniel: My preciousssssssssly sexist romcoms.
Guy: I think it's sad and telling that even people who don't know her well enough to pronounce her name correctly seem to dislike her.
Nathaniel: True. I was once a fan myself. But I've never seen anyone so enthusiastic about wallowing in shitty movie
Guy: It's significant that her dress looks about ten years out of date -- doesn't it feel like she'd have been a bigger star in the 90s?
Nathaniel: Yep. It started off so promisingly when she dissed Knocked Up for sexism. But than she made movies that made Knocked Up look like it was written by Chandra Mohanty.
Nathaniel: Anyway. Moving on to the next group of ladies. Oh, did you see RAMPART?
Guy: I'm afraid I have not. I tried to see it at LFF but it was such a hot ticket! Harrelson still has fans, it seems. Or maybe they were all rocking up for Robin Wright.
Nathaniel: Robin Wright Penn announces in the movie that she likes to suck cock and she says it with such tossed off verve that I just fell in love with her. It's as if her character knows she's being provocative but is also bored with the provocation. Like, whatever. Anyway, I loved her in it.
The movie has all these great actorly beats. But it also made me crazy because it's all these great actresses (Celestia, Sigweavie, Wright, Nixon and Audra McDonald ) that the movies never use properly and then the movie only gives them a couple of scenes each. Argh!
Guy: I just had the same reaction to Tea Leoni. So underused but so sparky in Tower Heist. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say that yet. I can't wait to see Rampart. Sounds like Robin is shaking herself free from the fusty failed-prestige shackles of The Conspirator. Oh and Sean Penn.
Nathaniel: Oh, no! And I just called her Robin Wright Penn! By habit. I need to shake off the shackles with her. Let this be a lesson to all actresses who get married: NEVER CHANGE YOUR NAME. It is stupid. You are your own business. Reject the patriarchy!
Guy: This isn't exactly the va-va-voom 'look at me i'm single now' look she could be rocking, but I kind of like how jagged and off-center it is. She's never been a mermaid gown kinda gal.
Nathaniel: Yes. Retro (20s) but Modern (now!) much like Robin herself who is surely eager to reinvent herself at this point as an actress. Will Hollywood play along?
Guy: I mean no disrespect to her at all when I say I think this is the moment for her to do something ferocious on TV.
Nathaniel: Well that's what Laura Dern realized. I've only seen one episode of Enlightened" but holy hell she's fun in it. It's like tailor made to demonstrate all of her peculiar gifts... which I guess makes sense because in the credits her name is everywhere. She produced, co-created, stars, and cooked the food for craft services.
Guy: Someone who certainly doesn't need to take their eye off the big screen right now is Viola Davis -- I see she's already shifted into her metallic wardrobe palette for awards season. Only silver now, but for how long?
Nathaniel: I suppose that all depends on her nemesiss Sister Aloysious Beauovir as Margaret Thatcher.
Guy: She certainly looks confident here -- that's not just the smile of someone who knows her own worth, but now knows that everyone else knows it. She's going to be tough to beat.
Nathaniel: I agree. and lord knows people have won for doing much less than she does for The Help.
Guy: I'll let it slide here, since we're going to be seeing her rocking a million other red-carpet looks in the next few months, but I hope she lets the girls (or, to borrow a more cinephilic euphemism from Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, The Magnificent Ambersons) go at some point. They look so trussed up here.
Nathaniel: I am now officially in love with Hadley Freeman.
Guy: Is Laura Dern doing some kind of tribute to The Faaaace from Inland Empire here, or is that the expression she usually wears these days?
Nathaniel: never diss THE FAAAAACCE. Laura's Dern's face is the 12th* wonder of the world (*or some number as yet undiscovered.)
Guy: By the way, is Laura Dern wearing a jumpsuit? THE FAAACE LAUGHS IN THE FAAAACE OF STYLE RULES
Nathaniel: Remember how i pontificated that Katharine Heigl was trying to destroy her own career by sheer crappiness? I think Naomi Watts may be trying to do the same with sheer blandness. A plain dress that's hard to distinguish from your skin when your career seems to be fading through lack of spark or hits?
Guy: Lynchian segue to Watts! Yes, Watts really does appear to be camouflaging herself here. If not for the eyes, she could easily be mistaken for a loofah.
Nathaniel: If Robin needs to shake Penn off Naomi most certainly needs to hsake off all the dour miserabilism. People have been filming her with grimy THIS IS DEPRESSING! lighting for so long that I have no idea what she'd look like if she was having fun !?!
Guy: Well, at least Watts is coming up in J. Edgar. A Clint Eastwood movie is just the kind of fun, frisky change of pace she need .
Nathaniel: LOL. There's nothing like that Tom Stern cinematography to highlight the sparkle in a girl's eyes!
Okay I saved the Rising Stars or Stars of Tomorrow or Future Has Beens or whatever you'd like to call them for last. Let's start with Scarlett Joh---er, I'm sorry Amber Heard.
Guy: Okay you're going to HAVE to tell me who these Cabbage Patch Kids are.
Nathaniel: Left to right: Heard, Elizabeth Olsen, Abigail Breslin, Freida Pinto, and Little Miss Ubiquity.
Guy: Good lord, I didn't recognise one of them in that shot. What are the stylists doing to them? It's weird that Elizabeth Olsen looks so much more like an Olsen Twin here than she does in any one shot of Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Nathaniel: I can't remember where you are on this movie because all opinions but my own have evaporated since i've just recently seen it and it consumes my thoughts.
Guy: I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
Nathaniel: Yay! Me, too.
Guy: I actually saw it for the second time yesterday after first meeting it in Cannes and it just gets more slippery and unnerving on a revisit.
Nathaniel: I so admired its alienating and roomy headspace... speaking of roomy space (ba dum dum) THIS DRESS.
Guy: The dress itself looks a little like one of those communal garments shared by the girls at the Catskills commune.
Nathaniel: So she's channeling both her sisters infamous bag lady style AND her character. Multi-tasking.
Guy: Clever girl. She'll go far. I do like the demure colour, and the crepe-paper texture of the dress but the shape is so age-ing. Don't be afraid to show your youth! Academy voters certainly won't shy away. I really hope she can ride the "ZOMG an Olsen sister who can ACT" angle to an Oscar nomination -- so perhaps it's canny of her to channel her sisters' look in public.
Nathaniel: She strikes me as VERY smart ... and not just because she has already admitted that Pfeiffer was her earliest actress idol.
We must leave Olsen behind. Frieda Pinto's dress makes me think of a flag what with the shoulder/neck detail. She's submitting herself as the 64th Best Foreign Language Film.
Guy: Don't give her, or the Academy, ideas -- you know she'd win.
Nathaniel: It's the only Oscar she'll ever win.
Guy: What's up with the shoes? It's like she gutted two trout and then slipped them on.
Nathaniel: Abigail Breslin's outfit suggests that she's going to hit her shift at McDonald's right after this event. These colors. NOOoooooo.
Guy: I'm afraid to say I quite like the clashy citrus colours -- you can get away with those at 15. Certainly more than you can with Chloe Grace Moretz's creepy "one tug and it all comes off!" bathsheet.
Nathaniel: I am afraid to say anything bad about Chloe because people love her so so much. but i do wish they'd decide what her name is. Is it Chloe Grace Moretz? Chloë Moretz? Chloe G?
Guy: I think it's currently Chloe Dirty Money Diddy Moretz but that'll change tomorrow.
Nathaniel: She's welcome to change her name to Chloë Grace Moretz Penn but any other actress I forbid from changing their surname!
Guy: I know you're afraid but I'm not: What IS it with her? She's one of those child stars who manages to make being talented and self-possessed seem unappealing. I can't explain it. But this dress kinda does.
Nathaniel: It says "I hate her, too."
Guy: Zing. It's like she's preparing to play Catherine Trammell in Basic Instinct 3: The Next Generation, which I wouldn't put past her.