Entries in Colorology (45)
If there’s one kind of first film I love watching above all others, it’s the first color movie by a director previously confined to black and white. Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis, Powell & Pressburger’s The Thief of Baghdad, and Akira Kurosawa’s Dodes'ka-den are colorful extravaganzas by directors who, though already well-respected for their monochrome movies, will master this new filmmaking tool. The film is even better when that director, like the aforementioned Kurosawa or our director of the month Agnes Varda, is an artist. Le Bonheur is not Agnes Varda’s best film. It’s not even her best film of the 1960s. But if you want to witness an hour and a half of experimentation with how color reflects and refracts a movie’s theme, then Le Bonheur is the film you want to watch.
For a brightly-colored movie with the title “Happiness,” Le Bonheur is remarkably cruel. Perhaps this accounts for its reputation as one of Agnes Varda’s most controversial movies. Or perhaps it is because, after the empathetic female-centric Cleo from 5 to 7, Varda chose to tell a story about a man who treats the women in his life so poorly. François Chevalier (Jean-Claude Drouot) is a carefree carpenter living in idyllic marital bliss with his wife, Thérèse (Claire Drouot), and their two children. When François meets a new postal worker named Émilie (Marie-France Boyer), he falls immediately into love with her as well. The majority of the film is spent following François from his wife to his mistress and back again, as he guiltlessly and guilelessly adds to his happiness by spending time with each woman. When François finally tells his wife, her reaction is surprising and tragic.
What’s more surprising, though, is how little her tragedy means to the conclusion of the story. Since its release in 1965, Le Bonheur has been subject to many different interpretations by critics, however, Varda’s use of color commentary - of color as commentary - spells out her intent. [More...]
My mood of late has been 'fourgy with the cast of Ex Machina' That cast! Or at least a private moment with Oscar Isaac. When I'm not thinking of that movie I am thinking of The Avengers and when someone tweeted "Ava > Ultron" I immediately pictured a full two hour mash-up of those titles in which Alicia Vikander with all her little subtle whirring process noises seduces Scarlet Johansson in black leather and Mark Ruffalo in green muscles and Paul Bettany in fresh synthetic body and now I need a cold shower. My point is this: The Lusty Month of May is upon us.
In keeping with that mood, let's talk about the Penny Dreadful premiere tonight and 5 other not safe for work things after the jump...
Tru-Color meets True Star-Mojo in this fever dream of a gender-bending Western, this week's "Best Shot" topic. Herewith some shot choices around the web (click on the pics for the articles) and a few of my thoughts as well, as your host.
Director Nicholas Ray, too little known today, was on a real roll in the 1950s, and between his best loved films, noir classic In a Lonely Place (1950) and ur teen angst drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955) came this divisive oddity Johnny Guitar (1954).
We'd call Johnny Guitar a feminist Western except that the women have basically switched roles with the men rather than proven their equals. Sterling Hayden and Scott Brady as "Johnny Guitar" and "The Dancin' Kid" are, despite their considerable masculine attractiveness, essentially the passive "girls" of the picture, romantic objects or helpful companions who would rather not get caught up in bloody showdowns. Joan Crawford, at her butchest, definitely wears the pants in this movie literally and figuratively. Further complicating the highly discussable gender dynamics (the secret to why the movie had a second life if you ask me) is the inimitable Mercedes McCambridge as Emma Small. She's styled not unlike Joan's twin and she may or may not be in love/lust with The Dancin' Kid or Johnny Guitar or Vienna but she's definitely harboring repressed passions!
BEST SHOT CHOICES FROM OUR LITTLE AWESOME CLUB
(which you may join at any time - Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver is next Wednesday!)
8 shots chosen by 11 blogs
Crawford strikes her movie star pose every single chance she gets."
-A Fistful of Films
I wasn’t completely sold on Johnny Guitar as a movie. I am sold, however, on Joan Crawford as a movie star."
-Coco Hits New York
Sterling Hayden, epitome of masculinity, holding a dainty, PERFECTLY CLEAN, bright blue & white teacup."
An image of things that shouldn't go together being forcibly wedged into one place...
-Antagony & Ecstacy
Hilariously takes her enemies to task seemingly without a care in the world...
-Sorta That Guy
A quick glimpse of the frame could be easily mistaken for a shot from, say, a Quentin Tarantino film, or perhaps a Russ Meyer film."
- The Entertainment Junkie
As if having her rival be dragged out and hanged wasn't enough, Emma's gotta be all small about it and make sure that everything is destroyed..."
-The Film's The Thing
It's a rare Western where two women are given the meatiest roles... and I loved how the central conflict boiled down to a showdown between them."
- Film Actually
[Paul Outlaw actually chose the piano shot but his runner up is this - love his comment on it!]
There's no time for three costume changes like that time when you're running for your life...
-The Film Experience
'It' their fight. Has been all along.' "
-The Spy in the Sandwich
This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.
The Game of Thrones Stark family was fond of the imminent warning "Winter is Coming" but their King of North, actor Richard Madden, doesn't need to worry this time. He's due a much happier Royal ending as the latest charming Prince to hit the movie screens. Winter is most definitely never coming to Kenneth Branagh's luxe adaptation of the most beloved of fairy tales, Cinderella. From its opening vista of a well-to-do country estate, filled with warm yellows and verdant greens and one very happy family, a pleasant merchant and his sunny wife (Ben Chaplin & Hayley Atwell) and their kind daughter Ella (Downton Abbey's Lily James), this Cinderella screams springtime and summer.
Its timing couldn't be better after this particularly long winter.
Spoilers if you're freshly arrived from another universe: Ella's loving parents are not long for this world and after imparting their wisdom and reinforcing her enchanted goodness (yes, she talks to animals), they take turns dying. Lady Tremaine, the stepmother, is introduced inbetween those deaths in clever multi-tasking voiceover courtesy of Fairy Godmother Helena Bonham Carter. [More...]
Jose here. Last week I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Marisa Tomei about her new film Loitering with Intent (out in theaters and VOD) and I couldn't help but mention to her that she ended up giving my favorite supporting performances of 2014 both on film (Love is Strange) and on Broadway (The Realistic Joneses). Much to my delight - and evolving psychic abilities - my fellow Team Experience members agreed with me and she ended up winning our Best Supporting Actress award as well, so I thought I might share this fragment of our conversation...
JOSE: Pony from The Realistic Joneses and Kate from Love is Strange are such rich characters!
MARISA TOMEI: I looooove Pony!
JOSE: Pony reminded me of Honey from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Did you have her in mind at all?
MARISA TOMEI: No, other than that she was around a lot! Because Tracy Letts’ wife, Carrie Coon, played Honey on Broadway the year before (laughs) and I did keep thinking she’d be much better in this part...but then I got over that. I wasn’t really drawing any parallels though, other than that I’m drawn to those kinds of parts and that I like the part of Honey and that their names are so cute…
JOSE: And you were so amazing as Kate in Love is Strange.
MARISA TOMEI: They were the same producers as this. I got that because while we were shooting Loitering with Intent and going to get a sandwich or something, one of the producers, Jay Van Hoy, said “ I think one of our actors is dropping out of our movie, do you wanna be in it?” (laughs). He then said that Ira [Sachs] was directing it and Ivan Martin and I had gone to see Keep the Lights On and we loved that movie. I was familiar with Ira’s work and so it all came around.
JOSE: Both characters are so heartbreaking and they both feel so lived in…
MARISA TOMEI: I didn’t have a lot of heartbreak with Pony, that was really easy, because she really didn’t think that deeply, so I don’t think she made compromises for her husband, he made a lot of compromises for her actually. I think both of them were in a bargain, a whole “let’s not talk about stuff” deal. A lot of times before I’d ask myself what was my preparation, and I feel stupid for saying this (laughs) but sometimes my preparation would be visual. I’d think “pink” and also did a background story and my regular homework...but in general it was a lot of hoola-hooping and thinking in pink.
Of course, I was sent home with visions of Marisa Tomei as Kay Thompson in Funny Face. God, does she always make me think pink. What about you dear readers, were you in love with either of these performances? What are some of your favorite Marisa Tomei characters?