Sunday, May 16, 2010

"...it's nice, people knowing who you are and all of that, and feeling that you've meant something to them."

Dozens of actresses have portrayed Marilyn Monroe in some capacity. An icon of beauty, fragility, femininity, and Old Hollywood, it's easy to understand why Marilyn's essence is still so present almost forty years after her passing. While I don't endorse the likes of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears dressing up as our dear Marilyn to hawk some new perfume of their's, and I still morally oppose La Lohan's rendition of "The Last Sitting" from a few years ago, I accept (and even occasionally embrace) young actresses who adopt certain characteristics of Marilyn Monroe in their acting. Whether it's Amy Adams doing her best Lorelei Lee impression in Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day; or Poppy Montgomery, Sally Kirkland, Kim Stanley, Catherine Hicks, Theresa Russell, Sophie Monk, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, and several others who have portrayed the actress herself. In the last few days it has been announced that two biopics about MM are underway.
Both Naomi Watts and Michelle Williams are set to portray the tragic screen icon in two projects slated for production in 2011. Naomi Watts, 41, is five years older than Marilyn Monroe was when she passed away. Watts is set to star as the actress in Blonde, the faux-Monroe memoir penned by Joyce Carol Oates. Director Andrew Dominik told ScreenDaily.com, "Why is Marilyn Monroe the great female icon of the 20th century? For men, she is an object of sexual desire that desperately in need of rescue. For women, she embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes."
While Dominik had found his Marilyn in Naomi Watts, Michelle Williams was announced to play the late star in My Week With Marilyn (terrible name for a film, but what can you do?), a story centered around Monroe's time in London during the 1957 filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, her fantastic film with Laurence Olivier.
Honestly, while I love both of these two actresses, I find it difficult to imagine either of them in the role of Marilyn Monroe. I do not doubt their respective talents, but I've just never seen them through the bombshell lens. I'm excited to see how these projects turn out, and it will be interesting to finally see an actress besides Scarlett Johansson gain comparisons to Monroe.

Image credit: People online

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to be like Edie Sedgwick

With a life as quick and bright as a shooting star, Edie Sedgwick has become an icon of the sixties underground for her style, beauty, warmth, and her troubled personal life. Quite arguably Warhol's most famous superstar, Edie was the subject of numerous songs, books, and a biopic with a cult-like following (she also inadvertently was a central part of the lawsuit Bob Dylan filed as a result of Factory Girl's implication of his role in her death). In addition to the legions of girls who copied "her fog, her amphetamine, and her pearls" during the 1960s, Edie has inspired many modern-day gals. Taking style cues from Sedgwick is not just Factory Girl star Sienna Miller, but also the likes of Nicole Richie, Mary-Kate Olsen, Samaire Armstrong, Lindsay Lohan, the late Brittany Murphy (I wrote a post about Edie and Brittany a few months ago), and many other young girls who look smashing wearing black tights en lieu of pants. I myself have been a devoted fan of Edie for many years, and I offer my abbreviated guide to Sedgwick-dom to any (and every) one fascinated with the first "poor little rich girl":

Edie's Wardrobe:
  • Black opaque tights
  • Fur coats (in a variety of different kinds: mink, leopard, monkey, fox, etc.)
  • Black leotards (to wear to dance class)
  • Black-and-white striped anything - tee shirts, sweaters, tank tops
  • Boatneck shirts (especially black-and-white striped boatnecks!)
  • Sleeveless shift dresses in metallics, monochrome prints, and a variety of different materials (Edie had a Betsey Johnson-designed shift dress made out of vinyl when Edie was the spokesmodel for Betsey's line Paraphernalia)
  • White v-neck tee shirts
  • Black mohair turtleneck with long sleeves
  • Tight, short miniskirts
Her Accessories:
  • Shoulder-duster earrings (Check out Steve Sasco Designs for exact replicas of Edie's earrings. Sasco was jewelry designer for Factory Girl - I can vouch for his designs; I own several pairs and they are exquisite)
  • Black undergarments (rocked onscreen by Edie during Poor Little Rich Girl and Beauty No. 2)
  • Black ballet flats
  • Black high heels (slingbacks, etc.)
  • Fishnet tights
  • Long chain necklaces to layer with one another
  • Black rosary necklace
  • Brown leather rhino from Abercrombie and Fitch
  • Hats (newsboy caps, wide-brimmed felt hats, fur cloche hats)
  • Her two perfumes of choice were Robert Piguet's Fracas and Femme by fashion house Rochas (seen in Poor Little Rich Girl)
Pastimes:
  • Sketching portraits of horses
  • Listening to the Everly Brothers while ordering orange juice and coffee, applying makeup, getting dressed, and explaining how she spent her entire inheritance in six months (a la Poor Little Rich Girl)
  • Posing for the pages of Vogue
  • Hanging out at the Factory
  • Burning down rooms in the Chelsea
  • Dancing, dancing, dancing
Acquaintances:
  • Betsey Johnson
  • Bob Dylan and Bob Neuwirth
  • Andy Warhol
  • Brigid Berlin
  • Baby Jane Holzer
  • The Velvet Underground
  • Mick Jagger
  • Ultra Violet
  • Chuck Wein
  • Sally Kirkland
  • Bibbe Hansen
  • Salvador Dali
  • Judy Garland
  • Diana Vreeland
Hangouts:
  • The silver Factory
  • Santa Barbara ranch
  • Silver Hill Hospital
  • The Chelsea Hotel
  • Max's Kansas City
Pearls of Wisdom:
  • "I think drugs are like strawberries and peaches."
  • "I'd like to turn the whole world on just for a moment. Just for a moment."
  • "I'll have to put more earrings on. I bet that someone could analyze me and tell my condition by my earrings."
  • "I know a lot of rich people and they're all pigs."
  • "I really like good, beautiful clothes. I love the space, Courreges things. I love Rudi Gernreich. I hate to go through seventeen buttons. I'm nervous enough going someplace."
  • "Speed is the ultimate, all-time high. That first rush - wow! Just that burning, searing, soaring sense of perfection. There's no way to explain it unless you've been through it."
  • "I'm greedy. I'd like to keep most of it for myself and a few others, a few of my friends. Keep that superlative high just on the cusp of each day so that I radiate sunshine."
  • "Wherever I've gone I've been quite notorious. And quite innocently so."
  • "I lived a very isolated life. When you start at twenty, you have a lot of nonsense to work out of your system."
  • "I had fun, but I really didn't have anyone I particularly loved. And I still don't, except for loving friends, but I mean I haven't been in love with anyone in years and years. But I have a certain amount of faith that it'll come."
  • "I made a mask out of my face because I didn't realize I was quite beautiful. God blessed me so. I practically destroyed it. I had to wear heavy black eyelashes like bat wings, and dark lines under my eyes, and cut all my hair off, my long dark hair. Cut it off and stripped it silver and blonde. All those little maneuvers I did out of things that were happening in my life that upset me."
  • "You care enough, that you want your life to be fulfilled in a living way. Not in a painting way, not in a writing way ... You really do want it to be involved in living, corresponding with other living objects, moving, changing, that kind of thing."
  • "They say use it, channel it. Do it, like there will be a sign, be an artist, you're so creative, do anything, you've got to do it, use it. Then, things like, and you've got to collect yourself too. I mean, you know, make your hair more about yourself, self-respect. But I mean, ridiculous."
  • [About a dream she had] "It's like my having to walk down thousands and thousands of white marble stairs ... and nothing but a very very blue sky, very blue, like ... Yes, and I'd have to walk down them forever. I never thought about going up ... I don't know, don't you think that must mean something? It never occurred to me to turn around, I mean, why didn't I think that way? This was after I had the car accident."
  • "It's sort of like a mockery, in a way of reality because they think everything is smiles and sweetness and flowers where there is something bitter to taste. And to pretend there isn't is foolish. I mean the ones that wander around and know, at the same time, and yet wear flowers, and they deserve to wear flowers. And they've earned their smile. You can tell by people's eyes."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Top Ten "Jailbait" Movies

In order to sound like as little of a creep as possible, let me put into context how I thought of making this list. When I was in my young teens (mostly between the ages of 14-17) I had several encounters with men who would somehow make a Lolita inference during our conversation. I always thought this was equal parts disturbing and flattering. It was sometimes nice to know that my crushes on inappropriately older gentlemen weren't always entirely one-sided. For any gal who has every been "Hot for Teacher" or longed for a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, this list is for you.

So to start off the list, I give you the girl who started it all...

Dolores 'Lolita' Haze (Sue Lyon) in Lolita, 1962

I've never seen the remake with Dominique Swain in the title role, but I'm still going to say that this is my preferred version. I love Sue Lyon's portrayal of the flirtatious fourteen-year-old - especially in those moments where she's allowed to be a little bit darker than what the censors would normally allow and explore more of the depth to this character. Plastic heart-shaped sunglasses have become a little bit less childish since this movie's release. Fun fact: Though she was the star of the film, Sue wasn't allowed into the premiere of Lolita because she was a few months shy of her sixteenth birthday (16 being the minimum age required to enter the screening).

Mathilda Lando (Natalie Portman) in Léon: The Professional, 1994

In the film, Portman plays the twelve-year-old neighbor of a hitman in Little Italy named Léon. After her family is murdered, including her four-year-old brother (the only one in the family she actually loved, she says), Mathilda begs Léon to teach her his skills so that she can avenge her family's murders. Natalie Portman looked badass in her big black boots, choker necklaces, striped tee shirts, and her sleek bob that could put Mia Wallace to shame.

Iris 'Easy' Steensma (Jodie Foster) in Taxi Driver, 1976

Never before this movie did I ever say "Gee, I wish I were a twelve-year-old prostitute." As Iris, a New York 'lady of the streets', Jodie Foster got to wear some of the most killer seventies clothing. I'd die for the dusty pink hot pants and red suede wedges she wears when she meets Travis Bickle (Robert de Niro). Though she's onscreen for only a fraction of the movie, Foster's role as Iris and her relationship with Bickle drives the second half of the narrative.

Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) in Manhattan, 1979

As Tracy, the seventeen-year-old love of Woody Allen's philandering 42-year-old Isaac Davis, Mariel Hemingway earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. And with good reason. Giving the most soft, subtle performance in a film of neurotic characters, Hemingway's Tracy comes off as the most intelligent and mature of the whole lot. She also gets to utter one of the famous last lines, "Not everyone gets corrupted ... you have to have a little faith in people."

Violet (Brooke Shields) in Pretty Baby, 1978

Perhaps the jailbait actress of the century, practically anything from her early career could have made this list (The Blue Lagoon, Endless Love, her Calvin Klein ads), but here is Brooke in her first major (and most jailbait-iest) film role. The film is set in 1917 New Orleans during the last months of legal prostitution. Brooke plays Violet, the twelve-year-old daughter of a prostitute (Susan Sarandon being gorgeous, as per usual), whose virginity is auctioned off by her mother's madame. A photographer by the name of Ernest J. Bellocq is fascinated by Violet's beauty and youth, and marries the girl. Although Brooke is undoubtedly gorgeous, there is still something I find so unsettling about seeing such a young girl painted with makeup and made to be so overtly sexualized ... especially when you consider that this was partially a true story.

Charlotte Goodall (Sue Lyon) in The Night of the Iguana, 1964

Sue Lyon really made a career out of playing over-sexualized teenage girls. Here our little Lolita travels to Puerto Vallarta to pursue the affections of Richard Burton, but she faces some stiff competition from Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. Fun fact: Although director John Huston did not have a problem with the international ruckus that Burton and his lover Elizabeth Taylor were causing on the Puerto Vallarta set, Huston banned Sue Lyon's fiance from the set after interfering with film production too many times.

Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) in American Beauty, 1999

Mena Suvari kind of ruined the entire idea of red rose petals for me, but it was still a stellar film.

Ivy (Drew Barrymore) in Poison Ivy, 1992

After befriending schoolmate Sylvie Cooper, Ivy - a seductive scholarship student at an exclusive Beverly Hills prep school - makes designs on Sylvie's father. Ivy is a calculating young girl who was ready and willing to do anything to get something she wanted. Drew Barrymore's fifteen-year-old femme fatale is far and away the most dangerous girl on this list.

Baby Doll Meighan (Carroll Baker) in Baby Doll, 1956

In this Elia Kazan picture, Baker plays "Baby Doll," the sweetly uneducated teenage bride of Karl Malden. In order to compound this fact, Baker sucks her thumb a lot. The film was widely condemned upon its release, with Time Magazine saying in its review at the time that it was the "dirtiest American-made motion picture that had ever been legally exhibited." The Legion of Decency even succeeded in getting the film withdrawn from theatres because of it's "immoral content." Fun fact: Despite being thirty-years-old at the time, Marilyn Monroe was chosen by Tennessee Williams personally to star in the film. Monroe, who wanted the role badly, was finishing up her year-long exile from Hollywood to improve her acting talent and almost got the role. Kazan ultimately went with film newcomer Carroll Baker, who had worked together at the Actor's Studio.

Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan) in An Education, 2009


In 1961 England, sixteen-year-old schoolgirl Jenny is swept up in a romance with the charming and sophisticated David, who is over twice her age. With Mulligan racking up the awards this past year, it goes without saying that her portrayal of the young, impressionable schoolgirl was a hit among critics and audiences alike. The film is set in the same year as Kubrick was filming his version of Lolita, so I think that completes a beautiful circle there, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

i wanna be free, like the warm september wind babe, say you'll always be my friend babe, we can make it to the end babe

I feel so terrible about this, because I only just found out a few moments ago. Phyllis Nesmith, the former wife of Monkee Mike Nesmith, passed away the day before Valentine's Day this year. She was 63 years old.
How was this unknown to me for two-and-a-half months? I adored Phyllis - I wrote a post about her a little over a year ago. She was beautiful both inside and out. She was an admirable woman not just for her years as a Monkee wife and for being a wonderful mother, but for everything she did in public service in her later years. Apparently at the time of her death, she had been fighting Lou Gehrig's disease for quite some time, but it was never publicized. That, I feel, can sum up a lot about her. Not that I ever knew her, or came close to knowing her. But she did touch my life in some small way that I felt almost connected to her.
She was a quiet sufferer, I suppose you could say (though that's not the best way to phrase it) - a woman that did not publicly confess her pain or misfortune. She did not want public attention steered toward her, which is rare to find in someone who was touched by celebrity for so much of their life. There was a reason that she was considered the favorite Monkee girl by female fans - she was admirable in her strength, beauty, intelligence, and quiet grace.
Phyllis and her family will be in my thoughts tonight, and I hope that her loved ones have begun to find their way to live without this truly wonderful woman in their life.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

i'm the fox you've been waiting for

I have a problem - I've developed an all-consuming addiction to the dreamy, earthy beauty of the seventies. Not to say that I haven't always had a large spot in my heart reserved for this ethereal era - Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sofia Coppola's ode to The Virgin Suicides, memoirs of Buell and des Barres, and the photography of Sarah Moon and David Hamilton all come to mind when I think about the sweet seventies. I now have another film to add to my mental collection of inspirations: Foxes.
The film follows the lives of four Los Angeles teenage girls during the late 1970s. With no discernible adult influence in their lives, the girls teeter on the line between youth and their own naivete during this age of decadence. In the world of the Foxes, there is no such thing as a functional family.
The films stars the fantastically talented Jodie Foster (at her most beautiful, right before enrolling at Yale and taking a hiatus from acting) as Jeanie, the mother-hen of the group who takes cares of her best friends during their many troubles. There is Madge (Marilyn Kagan), the nerdy, repressed virgin of the group, whose wild brown hair and thick, oversized glasses make her look like a cross between Carol Seaver and Stella from the Polanski flick The Tenant. With opposite troubles is Dierdre (Kandice Stroh, in one of her few acting roles), who is continually plagued by boyfriend troubles and repercussions from her own sexual curiosity. Cherie Currie plays the role of Annie, the last and most destructive of the 'foxes'. She a teenage runaway (a not-so-subtle nod to Currie's previous gig, perhaps?) who drinks, parties, and takes drugs to escape the pain that her abusive policeman father has caused her.
That is not to say that Jeanie is without her own problems. She struggles to have some semblance of a normal relationship with her own parents: a mother who is more interested in her married lover than her daughter, and a father who is barely in her life because of his job as a tour manager for the glam band Angel. To forget about their troubles, the girls all like to cut loose and have fun in whatever way they can. While all the girls love to go out and party, Annie always takes it one step further than the rest and puts her safety and health in danger. She has a magnetic quality about her, one that causes everyone in her life to be drawn to her despite how many times she upsets them or hurts herself. The rough-yet-vulnerable portrayal by Cherie Currie is fascinating to watch, and makes me wish that she was given more opportunities to act in mainstream motion pictures.

A great big credit to Le Souffle au Coeur for so many wonderful screencaps from the film