Tag: icons

August 18, 2010 / / Main Slate

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 2001 – dir. John Cameron Michael

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the 2001 motion picture based on the successful off-Broadway musical of the same name, is a rare bird indeed: a stage adaptation that doesn’t fall flat, it has visual verve to spare and feels right at home on the big screen. The colors pop and the music (composed by Stephen Trask) truly rocks. Hedwig is perhaps too wild to be considered a throwback, but there are moments, such as the triumphant sing-along number “Wig in a Box,” when this film gives audiences that same giddy rush that comes from watching the best old Technicolor musicals. It’s one of only a handful of really special movie musicals to come out of the ‘00s, and one of the decade’s most unique films to boot.

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.)