Friday, May 29, 2009

i thought i heard your voice today, but it was someone else

There are some mainstays in cinematic entertainment -- Joan Crawford will be intimidating and scary even when she's supposed to be a sympathetic character (even Mildred Pierce intimidated the bejeezus out of me); a virgin cannot die in a horror movie; and Sean Connery, no matter nationality he is portraying, will never so much as attempt to do an appropriate accent. Apparently in Sean's eyes, Irishmen, Englishmen, and American-men (Amerimen??) all sound the same. Namely, we all sound Scottish. Now I could forgive his lack of an accent in Marnie (as an American businessman), The Hill (as an Irish soldier), and in the Bond films (as a British intelligence agent), but as I was watching him in The Wind and the Lion tonight on TCM, I couldn't help but chuckle.
Now you have to understand that I am not saying this because I have something against Sean. In fact, I love Sean. He is my favorite Bond of all, but in The Wind and the Lion he was playing Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni , a man who was from Morocco. Now I have never been to Morocco, but I think its a pretty safe estimate to say that the Moroccan people, or the Berber people as they call Sean's little brigand in the film, are not walking around speaking in thick Scottish accents. I don't know, just a thought.

Oh, this is completely random but still about the film -- Candice Bergen was in it, and even though I already knew this, man she was really gorgeous

how'd you choose between death and glory?

Stevie Nicks was born in May 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona. As a child, her family moved from Arizona to Utah, New Mexico, and Texas before finally settling in San Francisco when Stevie was sixteen. She was taught to sing at four years old by her grandfather Aaron Nicks, who was an unsuccessful country singer during his time. She began playing guitar at sixteen and joined a band during high school called The Changing Times, which was heavily influenced by the sounds of the Mamas and the Papas. When she was a senior, Stevie met Lindsey Buckingham (he was a year younger) and they formed the Fritz Raybyne Memorial Band with two other classmates. In 1968 the band began performing professionally, opening for Janis Joplin, CCR, and Jimi Hendrix among others. Stevie later cited Janis Joplin as a major inspiration, saying, "I was absolutely glued to her. It was there that I learned of what I do onstage. I said that if ever I am a performer of any value, I want to be able to create the same kind of feeling that is going on between her and her audience." Stevie based her singing style loosely on Joplin, combining it a bit with Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane.
The band's relations steadily grew strained as Fritz Raybyne Memorial had yet to score a record deal and the male members of the band grew to dislike the amount of attention Stevie was receiving. The "guys didn't take me seriously at all. I was just a girl singer and they hated the fact that I got a lot of the credit... There was always just really weird things going on between us. I could never figure out why I stayed in that band." The band broke up in 1971 but Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham stayed both professionally and romantically together, moving to LA together and landing a record deal with Polydor in 1973. Together they made the famously topless Buckingham Nicks album, which despite promise, was a commercial failure. After that Lindsey and Stevie fell on hard financial times. Stevie took a job as a waitress to make ends meet after her parents cut her off after dropping out of college.
In 1975, Mick Fleetwood invited Lindsey and Stevie to join Fleetwood Mac after he heard the song "Frozen Love" off of their Buckingham Nicks album. Initally, Mick only wanted Lindsey for the band until Buckingham told him, "we're a packaged deal." After joining the band, Stevie went out and bought every single one of Fleetwood Mac's albums up to that point and "listened to all of them to try and figure out if I could capture any theme or anything. And what I came up with was the word mystical. There is something mystical that went all the way...through all of them." After joining the band, Stevie took to playing the tambourine because she thought she needed to be doing something onstage during songs she wasn't singing.
The first album after Lindsey and Stevie joined the band, called "Fleetwood Mac," was released in 1975 and became a number one album (for thirty weeks) and produced three Top 20 singles, including Stevie's song "Rhiannon." The band's next album, "Rumours," featured Stevie's song "Dreams" which would become the band's only number one single, sold over 33 million copies. By the time 'Rumours' was released, Nick's relationship with Lindsey had essentially ended, yet neither wanted to leave the band, "[both] of us was way too proud and way too stubborn to walk away from it...We liked touring, we liked making money, and we liked being a band. It was just grit your teeth and bear it."
By 1981, Stevie had recorded her first solo album "Bella Donna" which hit number one and was the start of her very long and successful solo career. In 1998 she was inducted alongside Fleetwood Mac into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Stevie has a very unique look onstage, one that she honed in her early days in Fleetwood Mac with clothes designed Margi Kent. Stevie's classic look is a somewhat mystical gypsy rockstar witch. She wears long chiffon skirts, 6-7 inch platform suede knee-high or over-the-knee boots, shawls, lace, top hats, velvet capes, berets, plume feathers, and really long blonde hair. She considers he outfit on the cover of the album Rumours to be her 'uniform.'

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

i wish that i was born a thousand years ago, i wish that i’d sailed the darkened seas

George Harrison -- in addition to being my future husband (yeah I'm still trying to figure out how that's going to work), he's probably my number one idol for men's fashion. Despite being the 'quiet' Beatle, he was probably the Beatle with the loudest sense of fashion. He saw nothing wrong about denim-on-denim, psychedelic print-on-psychedelic print, or wearing a bucket hat with what look like little animals on it. It was like everything he did was incredibly cool and visually awesome. He painted his guitar, his car, and his house all in psychedelic colors and, apart from a few minor upsets (like that perm he got in the late seventies), his style was flawless. I particularly love the clothes that he wore in "Let It Be." For the most part it was simple functional clothes (jeans, button downs, vests) but occasionally George would break out a fantastic outfit or two, such as the all black suit and black fedora or his rooftop concert outfit consisting of a red buttondown, green pants, black Chuck Taylors, and a black shearling coat.

Monday, May 25, 2009

somebody spoke and i went into a dream

One of my most favorite films is "Amélie," or as the French call it "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain." Starring Audrey Tautou as the title character, the film is a whimsical and quirky look at a quiet Montmartre waitress who decides that in order to make herself happy she needs to help others find their own happiness.
Amelie is a shy girl who has grown up isolated from others; her father mistakenly believes that she suffers from a heart defect and therefore kept her from other children and had his wife Amandine see to her education. Amelie's mother is accidentally killed when someone leaped from atop the Notre Dame Cathedral. After her mother's death, Amelie's father dedicates himself to building a garden shrine in Amandine's memory, leaving the young Amelie to amuse herself. As a young woman, Amelie becomes a waitress with a wild imagination in a Montmartre cafe and grows to enjoy simple pleasures in life such as: cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, skipping stones across St. Martin's Canal, dipping her hand into sacks of grain, and trying to guess how many couples in Paris are having an orgasm at any particular moment. One night in her Paris apartment, Amelie finds a treasure hidden behind a bathroom tile belonging to the apartment's former dweller who lived there during the 1950s. After tracking the man down and returning the treasure to him and delighting in his reaction, Amelie decides to devote her life to helping the people around her. She helps a lonely painter who paints and repaints "Luncheon of the Boating Party" and has very brittle bones, a hypochondriac, a man that stalks a former girlfriend, a failed writer, a blind man, and her father, who desires to see the world but is unable to, by sending his garden gnome around the world. Despite how happy helping other people makes her, Amelie realizes that she has ignored her own life and is missing out on her own chance for love.

Friday, May 22, 2009

shall I tell you about my life? they say i’m a man of the world

So they were playing "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" on HBO tonight and the documentary was a heartbreaking reminder of how much I love this man. Polanski has been through so much in his life -- the Holocaust (his mother was murdered at Auschwitz), the death of his wife Sharon, and his arrest for a relationship with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 (the following case is the base for the documentary). But the devastating personal lows are countered by incredible career highs. Roman Polanski is considered to be one of the greatest directors not only alive but ever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

tonight i'll sing my songs again, i'll play the game and pretend

Okay, so I got back in town this morning from the longest, oddest family gathering I have ever been to. I had never been to that part of New Jersey, nor had I spent such an extended period of time with that sect of my family before and it was quite an experience I would say. I hung out with my cousins and people I had never met before but was assured by them that I had met them when I was a baby. On Monday night, while "hanging out" with some of my cousins, I tracked down a copy of (i.e. happened to stumble upon) "The Girl on a Motorcycle" in the store. I had been wanting to see this film for years as it has the fantastic casting of both Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon. The film uses a lot of trippy camera shots, leather, and very pretty people, so it was definitely my kind of film.

Faithfull stars as Rebecca, a bored housewife (a common theme in French cinema around this time it seems) who jets off on her motorcycle in an 'Easy Rider'-style adventure to be with her former lover Daniel (Delon), leaving her new husband behind. It was a fun movie -- not like a campy/weird/fun movie, but a 60s sexiness and an occasionally and profoundly random movie. Marianne spends the majority of the film on the back of her Harley in a full leather suit (sans anything else), but there are a lot of flashbacks throughout, including a rather random skiing trip in the middle of the film that was a little too idyllic for Rebecca's frame of mind and narrative. With all her leather and rebelliousness, Rebecca's look and frame of mind was similar to Marlon Brando's character in "The Wild One" with the need to be free and spontaneous. As Rebecca proclaims in the beginning of the film "rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

i'm not bob dylan but i never miss a beat

Bob Dylan (a.k.a Robert Allen Zimmerman in certain walks of life) is considered to not only be one of the most important artists of the 1960s, (some say one of the best ever) but also one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. He was able to bridge the large gaps between music and cultural awareness, folk and rock, politics and poetry. Time Magazine called him a "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation." Someone once said of Dylan, "there are giant figures in art who are sublimely good - Mozart, Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Shakespeare, Dickens. Dylan ranks alongside these artists." Granted that 'someone' was a Dylan biographer. But whatever.
Early in his career he became the figurehead of social change, a position he felt uncomfortable with, before he became known as a recluse, then a born-again, then cryptic mastermind. In the early 60s, Dylan modelled himself after Woody Guthrie (of whom Dylan said, "you could listen to his songs and actually learn how to live") and became a dominant part of the folk scene with his compositions like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," from his Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album, and his politically acerbic album The Times They Are a-Changin'. By the mid-sixties, Dylan was moving away from his folk roots and began experimenting with sound and writing songs that were more vague and less overtly protest. His fourth album, appropriately titled Another Side of Bob Dylan, was acclaimed by some and denounced by others for Dylan "somehow losing touch with people." This reception was only a taste of what was about to come for Dylan. With the releases of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde, Dylan had managing to define -- and then redefine -- an entire generation. His move from acoustic to electric was considered sacrilege to his devout folkie fans, but many admired and were inspired by Dylan's ability to blend his folk roots underneath his fascination with modernism and Beats (he was hanging out with Allen Ginsberg all the time at this point...), Dadaism, methedrine, rock and roll, amphetamines, and general poetic vagueness. And despite Dylan's many claims to the contrary, his work is poetry in and of itself.
The truth is that even if you don't like Bob Dylan's music, his influence is seen everywhere in music, so you inevitably are liking something about him even if you don't realize it. He made it possible for a singer to not have to have some slick routine or clean, glossy image, or even a voice that was like anyone else's. Sam Cooke said that after Dylan came out, the persona of the rock and roll star changed: "From now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth." Dylan was and is always entirely himself, it's just a matter of which self he is at that moment.
The thing I like about Dylan -- especially during this period of his career, where Marianne Faithfull addressed him as 'God Himself' -- is that despite how popular, celebrated, worshipped and adulated he was by fans, press, groupies, folkies, poets, and rock stars, he still had people and artists that he equally admired. In his autobiography, "Chronicles: Volume One," Dylan admits to being a fan of Tony Bennett, Ice-T, Public Enemy, The Beatles (he was a particular fan of "Do You Want to Know a Secret?", which he called "a perfect '50s sappy love song and nobody but them could do it"), and Peter, Paul, and Mary (even saying that if they had asked him to join the group, he would've changed his name to Paul).

Monday, May 11, 2009

rock-a-billy, it ain't so silly

The Rockabilly look stems from the rise of country-rock during the 1950s. Artists such as Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Carl Perkins were early contributors to this sound, but whats more fun for me is the style that evolved from the rockabilly scene. Its still based in the 1950s, with tight cardigan sweaters, crinoline halter dresses, and horn-rimmed sunglasses, but rockabilly girls dress like the 'bad girls' of the 50s -- the Bettie Pages of the era -- as opposed to the 'good girls'. Its a sexier take on the pinup 50s look -- clothing is tighter, hair is teased higher, makeup is louder, and tattoos are common. To sex up the 50s look, add tight pencil skirts, black spandex, fishnets, denim high-waisted short shorts, and cardigans in wild leopard prints. Some of the fun rockabilly-inspired looks can be found at Betsey Johnson.

Movies like Grease and Cry-Baby, and artists like Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Amy Winehouse, and Imelda May have all channeled this look.
Some fun hairstyle inspiration:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

A movie that I've been obsessing over as of late is William Wyler's "How to Steal a Million." This 1966 rom-com heist flick stars Audrey Hepburn (in full mod form) as Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of French art forger Charles Bonnet. They live in a world of luxury, with Nicole running around their mansion in Paris in custom-made Givenchy clothing and the father wandered about drinking champagne and wearing silk pajamas while he paints, but their lifestyle is threatened when a forged Cellini sculpture lent to a museum for tour is told it needs to be tested for authenticity before a one million dollar insurance can be granted on the piece. Nicole enlists the help of charming burglar Simon Dermott (Peter O'Toole) to help recover the piece before the museum figures out the truth (hence, how to steal a million).
I really love this film -- Audrey's chic '60s fashion is at a high note (post-Breakfast at Tiffany's, pre-Two for the Road -- so there was an edginess to her look but it didn't seem unsuitable) and I find her chemistry with Peter O'Toole to be so entertaining to watch. The film takes place in Paris, and the scenery reveals as much, but the dry wit and humor is very much British. Please rent this movie if you like charming, amusing, romantic caper flicks (and really, who doesn't?), or at the very least record it on your DVR.

Monday, May 4, 2009

what's your damage, heather?

Heathers, the 1989 cult film starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Doherty (pre-90210), is not only one of my favorite films but also one of the most fashionable films out there. Filled with '80s vernac ('How very'...'greetings and salutations'...) and badass high school kids, this film is like a super hardcore version of Mean Girls. The film has Ryder as Veronica Sawyer, a reluctant member of the most popular clique in school. Their leader is Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), a bitchy blonde who thinks the whole school wants her "as a friend or fuck, and I'm only a junior." Also in the clique are Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk), a trend-following cheerleader, and Heather Duke (Doherty), the quietest and most intellectual of all the Heathers. After Veronica falls in with Jason Dean, known as J.D. (Slater), the resident bad boy/ sociopath of the school who convinces her to kill off certain members of the student body and cover them up as suicides, does Veronica begin to question what high school is all about.
The fashion in Heathers is all very over-the-top and '80s. As J.D. says "the extreme always makes an impression," so don't be afraid to go all out with it. For the Heathers look, think plaid blazers with shoulderpads (for that instant linebacker look), pleated knee-length skirts, colorful tights, big hair, and a copy of Moby Dick with meaningfully underlined passages.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Top Five Prom Flicks

Its prom weekend in my neck of the woods, and you know what that means -- dresses! boys! parties! hotels! drama!! I really don't want or anticipating any of the typical John Hughes normalities to occur at my prom, simply because I've come to grips with the fact that my life is not a teen comedy. Tragic, I know. But in light of the fact my prom will probably be an utter and complete bore, I have done a list of my top 5 favorite prom movies (just in case, you know, I skipped out early and need something to fill my prom-less time)

1. "Pretty in Pink"

Okay, so even though I've acccepted my life is not a John Hughes movie and I will never be as cool as Molly Ringwald, I will actively remember my prom like it was in "Pretty in Pink." Tons of drunk idiots, intense dancing, and even more intense dresses. Ignore dumbo Andy in the photo because she dumped the coolest guy in school (and best dresser) at prom to go hook up with tortured rich guy Blane. Like seriously, how could you dump this guy? I mean, he's wearing a lariat for goodness sakes!

2. "Ten Things I Hate About You"

If only every girl could go to prom with Heath Ledger, who hired your absolute favorite band to perform, and could see your sister beat up the jerk who took your virginity. That would be awesome, right? This is one of my favorite teen movies in general, and the fact it has one of the best proms I've ever seen (on film) is icing on the cake.

3. "Prom Night"

This was like one of the craziest movies I have ever seen (involving prom, that is). It makes the pig blood scene in "Carrie" look weak in comparison. Its a slasher flick/ promedy (prom flick -- I coined it) where this stalker ex-teacher shows up at prom and starts killing all these kids (including the prom queen! c'mon now, killer, show royalty some respect!) until he can finally get to the girl he was stalking all along. It was sort of campy, in a way that I wasn't sure if they were intending for it to be campy, but it was fun irregardless. Well, they always say prom is an evening to remember...

4. "She's All That"

This prom was just such an inspiration to me. Apparently in their world, outcast girls will become bets and set up to go to prom with the most popular guy in school. Oh yeah, and Usher would be the deejay and every student would be a professionally trained dancer.

5. "Never Been Kissed"
So jealous am I of 'Josie Grossie', who got to flirt with Michael Vartan and attend a prom with one of the sickest themes I've ever heard of. Famous couples throughout the ages? Genius. Personal highlight? When the popular girls all show up in varying differations of Barbie. And when Leelee Sobieski shows up as DNA.