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Midnight – The Dress That Started It All

This is the only dress required if one is to lose all their money in Monte Carlo and hightail it to Paris on the cheap. So versatile. You can nap in it on the train, negotiate taxi fares, look for employment, attend swank parties, and play bridge. Coat on or off, shoes on or off, hood up or down, wherever and whatever the occasion, you are set! " template="default" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] … [Read more...]

Tattling on Outrage

I am married to filmmaker Kirby Dick. The Washington Post identified me as a Mexican actress because that is the information available on IMdB, and it has never been corrected. I am not her, I'm a writer and a Sr. Art Director/Creative Director at an advertising firm in L.A. As a person who never felt "American" even though I was born here, I see, and admire a certain ethical and moral advancement, uniquely American, based on a deeply held belief in rationalism. Because I share neither this belief in rationalism nor the ethical advancement it engenders, I have always been amused by my husband's selection of subject matter for his documentaries, and have always noticed that he was drawn to ethical/moral/sexual scenarios which raised many … [Read more...]

Midnight – Hats, Jackets and Oh, the Brooches!

I have to lead this piece with Mary Astor. Her ability to be both benign and malevolent at the same time within the same character is rare. I believe her motives no matter which way they lead. I first fell for her as an innocent in Red Dust (leave that dufus husband and run off with Clark Gable already!), but her flawless portrayal of treachery in The Maltese Falcon was no less compelling. In Midnight wealth becomes her. She inhabits her aristocracy with a great sense of ease and cunning. The cornucopia of adornment that would be considered on most "laden" feels natural, polished, on Astor. Simone, played by Elaine Barry is the great facilitator of Midnight. Without Simone there would be … [Read more...]

Midnight – Typography

Midnight (Paramont Pictures, 1939) is a remarkable movie on many fronts. First, its cast which includes Claudet Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Hedda Hopper, Monty Woolley and more whose names are not as familiar, but whose faces abide (for instance the delicious Rex O'Malley!). Next, there is the pedigree screenwriting team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, the director Michell Leisen, also responsible for the comic Easy Living and the stunning costume designs of Irene. My first impulse was to post about the fashion of the film and still I still intend to do so. But, as I started to study further my initial seduction gave way to my long standing love of typography. So many fonts choices were made in this film … [Read more...]

Happy Go Lucky

In which a cheerful, sometimes obtuse, young female primary school teacher takes driving lessons with a rage-ridden instructor, helps a child in need, and ultimately finds her Prince Charming. All I knew was that in Happy Go Lucky,  Mike Leigh had come up with this truly repellant character that made people want to gouge her eyes out or spit on the ground with disgust, because she was too damn happy. I put off seeing it, although I was intrigued. Then Nancy asked me to write about it. So I watched the IMDb trailer first and saw as cloying a scene as I could recall, though every millimeter a Mike Leigh joint, with Poppy (Sally Hawkins) in a fabulously fake-y fifties-style flirtation with the handsome and equally fake Tim (Samuel … [Read more...]

Six Martinis

The blogosphere is a wonderful thing. I found Sixmartinis and the Seventh Art in my search for a decent picture of the Peter Maloney 4th Street Draw Bridge in San Francisco. Here is her blog's raison de être — "What is the Significance of SIXMARTINIS? in the movie THE BIG KNIFE, Shelley Winters holds all the secrets- and she's been drinking. Jack Palance is worried that she'll find her voice with her sixth martini. This is my voice." Having not found the photographs I want, I am now inspired to return to S.F. and wait for the bridge to open so I can photograph that counterweight in action. Meanwhile, via Sixmartinis, I can catch up with some old films like, Schatten - Eine nachtliche Halluzination (1923), aka Warning Shadows, directed … [Read more...]

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In [Låt den rätte komma in] It is the cold deep winter of northern Sweden. Snow falls upon the well-kept, charmless suburb of Blackeberg.  An old man is covering the windows of his apartment with a patchwork of corrugated cardboard, some of it with chunks of advertising left on. Inside, he readies a set of very used equipment for a grisly mission, to provide fresh human blood for the young vampire who is his "daughter".  In the same building lives a young boy and his mother. The child is 12-year-old Oskar, (Kåre Hedebrant) a gentle, introverted, and highly intelligent boy, with flaxen hair and an angelic face. At school, he is the perfect mark for a group of bullies who taunt and humiliate him. Later, in the courtyard … [Read more...]

Werner Herzog, February 20, 2009, Royce Hall, UCLA — Part 3

Werner Herzog continued..."What I Learned": Part 3 OK, here comes the fun part!  Herzog shows footage from his oscar nominated Encounters at the End of the World. I feel a total disconnect between up and down. Had the explorers not been wearing wetsuits and flippers, had I not watched the bubbles of air float up, I would swear that we were looking back at earth from the moon. Are we on top of the world looking down or reveling in an enchanted abyss? Once you have oriented you realize that indeed these aquatic astronauts have entered this underworld via a 30 foot shaft drilled into the Ross Ice Shelf, Anatartica.  Back on dry ground or high ground, Herzog talks about man's ability to fly and … [Read more...]

Werner Herzog, February 20, 2009, Royce Hall, UCLA — Part 2

Werner Herzog continued..."This is what I learned": PART 2 That Werner Herzog is a lover of language and poetry. He speaks of the witnessing, the taxonomy of Virgil's Georgics, a paean to the earth and all that grows and grazes there. Herzog tells of the Icelandic Codex Regius, thought to have been written in the 1270's. How he was allowed to actually hold the delicate document, made up of 45 vellum leaves, and of its return journey to Reykjavík in 1971 accompanied  by  the full Danish military escort. He further narrates on the oral traditions of Iceland preserved and reserved for vital consolation. Women whose husbands have been lost at sea, recite all 800 verses of the Codex to purge their … [Read more...]

Werner Herzog, February 20, 2009, Royce Hall, UCLA — Part 1

Werner Herzog truly has an infinite amount of things to speak of. I wanted to speak about this lecture sooner, but in attempting to do so I found myself, like Alice, sliding down the proverbial rabbit hole, tracking sown some strange and wondrous knowledge. Here is what I learned: PART 1_ That George Murphy and Fred Astraire danced and sang their hearts out in the Cole Porter "Broadway Melody of 1940". If you get a chance to see it on the big screen, do it! That Werner Herzog is a human enthusiast, a champion of the raw psyche, condensed emotionality, "Fever Dreams", and the "Ecstatic Truth". Thus being said, he is the prime candidate to direct opera. Documenting the Wodabee tribes of the Sahara provides Herzog with the … [Read more...]