A Surrealist Poet, Francois Truffaut, and Jane Russell’s Nipples Walk into a Bar. . ..


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You Have Complaints, Howard?

You Have Complaints, Howard?

Let’s all enjoy the moment when, in 1958, Francois Truffaut made a sudden leap from high art to low neckline. In a graceful segue, France’s premier filmmaker and critic, pivoted from a quote by Guillaume Apollonaire (France’s great surrealist poet of World War I), to Howard Hughes’ obsessive presentation of Jane Russell’s nipples. Now that is an impressive display of dexterity!  Shall we? Mais Oui!

L'Américain est un idiot quand il s'agit de graisseurs! (Trans: Hughs is a Dolt.)

L’Américain est un idiot quand il s’agit de graisseurs! (“Hughs is a Fathead.”)

The Postscript from the end of Truffaut’s Von Sternberg Essay in The Films in My Life, on Howard Hughes’ Production Notes

. . .Paraphrasing Guillaume Apollinaire without realizing it (“Your breasts are the only shells I love”*), Hughes demonstrates in the following memo what happens when an actress’s brassiere undergoes aerodynamic design analytics: Continue reading

Star Crossed: Morrissey + Charlie Brown


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“Ohhh sweetness, sweetness. I was only joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head. . .”

A graphic artist in San Francisco has come up with the most delicious and disconcertingly perfect pairing since peanut butter and sriracha sauce–Charlie Brown and Morissey.  Oh, had they only met! What late night door-banging sulks, lexapro-vivid dreams, and brooding breakfasts the two of these could’ve savored, Charlie B. yearning to please and Morrissey determined to be disappointed. But it was not to be. One was just a caricature of melancholy, and the other drawn by Charles Schulz.  These are just a few samples from Loren LoPrete’s Tumblr, This Charming Charlie.  Enjoy.

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Clothing of the Future. . .or is it the Past?


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Clothing Of The Future

In case you were wondering, at the link above are the fashions of the year 2000.  No one, I assume, in the 1930s could have dreamed of idiocies like the “It” bag (there’s nothing more reeking of a mindless herd instinct than waiting lists for handbags), super low rise jeans that make you look both short and fat (now there’s a score!), or of the pervasive influence of porn on the fashion industry (Schiaparelli will wreak vengeance one day).  Instead, here in the future/past we have climate control belts, glass wedding dresses, and rather prescient cantilevered heels.  Also, got to dig an updo that looks something like a knotted babka.

“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”? Another Unncecessary Remake, That’s What!


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Is a Remake Sacriligious? Even if it gives us more Crazy to Love?

So it’s official, and has been for a month or so.  Whatever Happened to “Baby Jane”?  It’s Getting a Remake.  Which seemed to me to be one of the silliest decisions I’ve encountered since Hollywood tried to remake The Women and ended up pouring bong water over the embers of Meg Ryan’s career.

But naturally they’re at it again.  It’s clear they’ll never learn, because here’s a little sample of Hollywood logic for you:  “The idea is to make a modern film without modernizing the period.  It needs to resonate the golden age of Hollywood.”  These words were uttered by Walter Hill, who was chosen to be the director of this remake.  The man is doubtless an artist, whose upcoming Stallone film, Bullet to the Head, will rival Grand Illusion for delicacy and depth.  How the hell could anything resonate the golden age of Hollywood more thoroughly than Bette Davis impaling herself on Joan Crawford’s falsies, before kicking her to the head? 

Continue reading

NYC Films on the Green, Summer 2012: OSS 117, Cairo Nest of Spies


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Cairo, Nest of SpiesI never understood the allure of James Bond films–or rather, I never understood why the hell anyone would admit to being a fan of  such pendulously dull male adolescent fantasies.  I’d get it if these films had been screened like nudie films used to be, in select ares of Times Square, where those burdened with a shameful yen for cartoonish dialogue + farm hand’s ideas of fancy living could go see ol’ Jimmy drive his purty car and spar with follically challenged villains.  But who’d have thought such heavyhanded silliness would become so culturally entrenched?

But as usual, my sense of what will be admired and duplicated is wrong wrong wrong.  And (she points out with a girlishly raised index finger) I was born too late to get all jazzed up by cold war hi-jinks in the cinema.  The early 60s were a fermentative and frightening era, and Jimmy B’s smug suavity calmed WWII victors’ fears of just what the fuck the Communists were percolating behind their Iron Curtain, while here in capitalistic society men were wrapping their minds around the honestly world-changing fact that women could now actually have sex without getting pregnant, and quite frequently chose to do so with people other than their husbands. . .but still.  “Plenty O’Toole?” “Pussy Galore”? 

Yawn.   Continue reading

The Wilde World of “Nothing Sacred”


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Stephen Fry as Wilde

I like any chance I get to think about Oscar Wilde, and there are surprisingly frequent opportunities in life to do so:  Whenever one gives in to temptation, sees ghastly wallpaper, or greets a widow with newly blonded hair.  Anytime you encounter someone so improbably youthful that you assume they have a ghoulish self-portrait in their attic.  Whenever you write in a diary, or stay in a cheap hotel room in Paris, or leave your family to run across town to spend time with a pretty, mean-spirited young lover whose daddy is a Marquess and an inventor of boxing rules.  Whenever someone in this world cannot find it in their hearts to believe that small-minded people are out to destroy them, and ends up doomed by their optimism. 

But most often, and increasingly, one thinks of Wilde whenever brackened, unformed life lurches from the primordial mire and shapes itself. . .into an imitation of art.  As happened in New York recently.  (Ah!  New York–the place where Wilde, upon his first visit, informed customs officials that the only thing he had to declare was his genius.  See?  Dude’s everywhere.) Continue reading

Noir (et Blanc): Weegee and “The Loving Story” on HBO


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The Loving Story: HBO on Tuesday at 9

I spend my nights the way most New Yorkers do, embracing my apartment’s quietude, clutching its peacefulness to me the way an emphysematic does their oxygen–the nights are precious because the days are filled with so much noise and shouting and crowded sidewalks and no seat on the subway and people richer than anyone needs to be and those poorer than any nation should allow.  You learn a lot of zen, walking around this town.  My nightime quietude is also fragile; it’s nothing more than a decision reversible at any time, which renders it lovelier.  There’s loads I could be doing out at night, in the Naked City.  My apartment is on the 16th floor, and sometimes the night skyline beckons brightly.  Sometimes I remember Updike’s quote about New York being the only city which, even when you’re in it, glitters at a distance.  Sometimes I grab my coat and go out to see the creative, the fabulous, the city’s blind rush towards the future and (far more interesting to me) its reflection on the past. Continue reading

I’m the One. . .


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. . .sidling shyly in the doorway, pausing to pretend to admire the decor.  When really I’m just vetting out the room, getting a handle on the dress code, the temperature, taking a measure of the ol’ joie-de-vivre.  In short, this is my first time here.  And I’m not sure what to say, other than that you look fabulous (love the hair)–and most of all that Continue reading