Tag: glamour

May 6, 2010 / / Main Slate

La Dolce Vita – 1960 – dir. Federico Fellini

A master of baroque, neo-realist cinema, Federico Fellini took movies to a new level, turning standard, narrative storytelling on its head and replacing it with poetry. Few, if any, directors since even try to copycat his style, deferring to his one-of-a-kind status as a genius of camera-wielding and a maker of innovative art.  He was to the camera what Picasso was to the canvas and made us see Image as we had never seen it before.

La Dolce Vita (translated as “The Sweet Life” or “The Good Life”) stands as a perfect example of Fellini’s genius. One of the most acclaimed European films of the 1960s (indeed, it illustrates “The Swinging Sixties” perhaps better than any other film ever made of that era), it won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, winning for Best Costume Design. Entertainment Weekly named it the 6th greatest movie of all time and it shines now more than it did when it was made because our modern-day society with its attachment to shallow values, instant fame (Warhol’s 15 minutes of “Me”) and universal promiscuity mirrors Fellini’s world view and reveals the director, in addition to his many other gifts, to be a true prophet of the future.

October 26, 2009 / / Main Slate

Bombshell – 1932 – dir. Victor Fleming

I first saw the 1932 screwball comedy Bombshell, which stars Jean Harlow in one of her best roles, as part of retrospective at the Brattle titled “Blondes Have More Fun!” The program had grouped Harlow with other blonde Hollywood icons of the classic era: Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Kim Novak, and Veronica Lake. (Funnily enough, Bombshell was at one point known as Blonde Bombshell to flag it as a Jean Harlow comedy rather than a war picture.) Placing Harlow in the context of a fascinating tradition of fair-haired starlets is illuminating – she somehow bridges the worldly toughness of West and the fragility and innocence of Monroe. In the film that made her a star, Howard Hughes’ 1930 epic Hell’s Angels, Harlow famously announced that she was ready to slip into something more comfortable, sending a smoldering look over her shoulder. Starlets have been copying her moves ever since, but it’s rare for actors of either gender to nail Harlow’s distinctive blend of glamour, wit, and grit. (James Cagney, Harlow’s co-star in The Public Enemy, has a similar appeal, blending fast-talking edginess with disarming vulnerability.)