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I’ve long said that it was Audrey Hepburn’s special talent to appear (to the camera, to the audience) to be in love. One minute she’s in love with William Holden, a minute later she’s in love with Humphrey Bogart, still later she’s in love with Fred Astaire or Cary Grant. Fred and Cary were a little long in the tooth, and so had Bogart been, but Audrey was the best ever at evoking a lady-like heat, a civilized rut. Jeez, were we all in love with her: not just us males. I was in love with Audrey Hepburn throughout my own puberty and I was still in love with her through my son’s puberty. It was a long time before I began wincing at what an old dog Fred was in Funny Face: and it wasn’t till recently that I heard rumors about Cary Grant that made me wince in other ways: Cary was never too old, but it’s no good if he plays for the wrong team.
A decade ago at my son’s wedding I evoked Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance in Shakespeare in Love to embody perfection in imaging a woman in love. Today I stand by that metaphor, but must add: Kate Winslet is far from shabby. She broke all our hearts in Titanic (and never forget what a perfect boob she showed us as her Rose poses for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack). So I was well disposed toward her as I streamed a bit of Labor Day. I scribble this before satisfying my hunger to go watch the remainder of that flick. I did take a side track to let Rotten Tomatoes summarize the critics. Treakle, damn sugary treakle. Maybe so, but Kate is fabulous: a woman who needs a man: even her 13 year old son sees her heat! and can’t help but sympathize. That’s some acting, not to mention native ability.
I’ve seen the whole now: mostly rubbish but some very good features. One chapter showcases Kate Winslet’s chronic grief at a series of miscarriages, capped by a still birth. Jeez can she play womanhood in need.
2014 12 28 Speaking of Rossellini and his using architectural space to communicate the relations between manners and engineering — the courtiers for King Louie bow and scrape to each other as machinery for not getting in each others way: the peasant gets out of the way of the knight, the knight gets out of the way of the queen, the queen gets out of the way of the king: unless it’s a coup: I just bailed out of Along Came a Spider despite loving Morgan Freeman so: what rubbish. Here’s the angle I’ll come in at:
When I was a kid Hollywood would make this or that Cleopatra movie, Elizabeth Taylor would bathe, Charmian would assist, the bath would be as big as big, Charmian herself would have a dozen maids in waiting, helping her to wait on Cleopatra. Show the pyramids, everything huge. But those pryamids were huge to use stone to support a ceiling over a pharoah’s mummy in a crypt hardly bigger than the bank deposit box! That was the ratio: huge / to tiny. When Marc Anthony visits Cleopatra he does so in space the brother of Grand Central Station, the orgy can have 5,000 participants, all with a view of each other. In Rossellini’s work for European TV, the palace room is actual size, it’s filmed in Versaiilles. You’d think three people couldn’t fit in that room: actually, bowing a scraping a dozen and a half make way for each other, like twenty clowns bursting from a VW bug.
Spider sets its scene in an exclusive prep school. Secret Service thugs brandish automatic pistols in the hall ways, protecting the privileged, war on the universe for the comfort and luxury of the princess: the princess being an extension of the comfort and luxury of the White House. We visit a class room where every princess has her own huge minitor on a computer desk, every computer has its own WiFi … A teacher somehow functions amid all this. The teacher summons the priness to his office. The teacher opens the door, a homey fire, huge as any Nixon ever lit in the White House, roars comfortably. The teacher could hold the AMA convention in that office. Then the teacher drugs the princess, strangles some hapless teacher who wandered in, fusses with his fake beard, wheels the unconscious princess out of the exclusive school under the machine pistols of the thugs … I bailed out.
I know those exclusive schools: the chairman of the department’s office is the size of a closet, the rest of the department’s offices stack teachers’ desks vertically, an academic skyscraper. The student in conference with the teacher has to jam her knees against the teacher’s knees, everybody elbowing everybody.
The Japanese rent hotel rooms you can barely squeeze into: there’s you, there’s your room, can ift in like a hand in a glove, everyone else also gets a glove … Except in Hollywood, where steel architecture misrepresents stone culture.
Paris was famous for being the comfortable city: nothing was taller than six-floor walkup, only the cathedral had anything else in its shodow: until Eiffel built his tower! Walkups can go only so high; steel girders can climb and support and rise forever.
Balzac saw that monstrosity, turned and ran! But not Hollywood.
Simplify: Rossellini uses the set to communicate profound truths, not normally evident; Hollywood builds sets to lie. To lie in Biblical, Hollywood proportions.
Sorry Morgan Freeman: I just saw Miss Diasy again: that will have to be enough.
2015 01 20 I’m moving Movie Monthly entries to separate posts, endure the editing awkwardnesses with me.
2015 07 19 Above I mention the plastic perfection of Kate Winslet’s boob in Titanic. Early Hollywood showed breasts, nudity, no problem; but Hollywood came to cower before the censors, just as it cowered before Senator McCarthy: hilarious, if your sufficiently pessimistic, because those censors had no authority but their own group chutzpah. Anyway, by the early fifties a vital male had to seek foreign movies, Swedish, French, to see a little flesh. My army buddy and I began an inventory of great tit shots: Jeanne Moreau, Les amants, came first to mind, launched our list. Jeanne Moreau is modestly bosomed, but Louis Malle showed the nipple, showed the whole thing (and hinted at pussy-sucking!) Sill, Titanic, with Kate Winslet’s perfect boob belong atop any list, until last night. Monica Bellucci would barge anyone aside. How Much Do You Love Me isolates her tit, filling the giant screen! Kazambee! But you know just last week I saw another Monica Bellucci film, from which her tits were all stars: her tits, her ass, her thights, her snatch, her everything: Malèna. Bellucci plays a woman whose husband is off to war, WWII, leaving the wife to care for the old, deaf, incompetent Latin teacher. She’s beautiful, the local youth is smitten, the local codgers are bowled over, the local wives hate her, want to strip, tar, and feather her. So when she’s starving and accepts a crumb from the Nazis, these Sicilian fishwives spark an opportunity to strip her, wound her, beat her. Her knee is gouged, the wound open, ugly. She can’t help how her crotch takes center stage as she’s knocked akimbo: all the while, each of her two magnifient mammaries juts, the wiggles this way, then that. Oh, God, how terrible.
Now there’s a double bind: we know we should look away, but we can’t help look. Monica Bellucci could have earned two, three, four acting awards for her various parts. Amazing.
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