Category Archives: film

Good things on the Internet: swingin’ sixties and seventies edition

Here, presented without comment, a selection of images from what in my humble opinion is one of the Best Blogs Ever.

Just. Go. Here.

Liz Eggleston’s impeccably and indefatigably curated collection of sixties and seventies images–the glorious, the tacky and the gloriously tacky–mainly from her own scans of British and French magazines, is an unspeakably great treasure. Her focus is on the British Boutique movement, but she confesses to being inspired by “the weirder, even seedier, aspects of popular culture.” This is the kind of amateur (in the French sense) labor of love that the pre-listicle era Internet promised, but really didn’t deliver….

 

boucanier-november-1972

omar-sharif

nice-girls-do-2

wedge4

sockssmockscombinations7

smirnoff

fair-weather-friends-3

rose-tinted-quant

annacat

guiness-september-1973

Zadie un-friends Mark Zuckerberg

"Let's take another. Not haughty enough."

Zadie Smith has major problems with Mark Zuckerberg’s world. Fair enough. Hear her out. Her ruminations on The Social Network in the New York Review of Books are quite good, and provocative (and I might add I’m looking forward to her new books column for Harper’s).

This is her best point.

Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: Doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?

Also,

With Facebook, Zuckerberg seems to be trying to create something like a Noosphere, an Internet with one mind, a uniform environment in which it genuinely doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you make “choices” (which means, finally, purchases). If the aim is to be liked by more and more people, whatever is unusual about a person gets flattened out.

… Finally, it’s the idea of Facebook that disappoints. If it were a genuinely interesting interface, built for these genuinely different 2.0 kids to live in, well, that would be something. It’s not that. It’s the wild west of the Internet tamed to fit the suburban fantasies of a suburban soul….

Shouldn’t we struggle against Facebook? Everything in it is reduced to the size of its founder. Blue, because it turns out Zuckerberg is red-green color-blind. “Blue is the richest color for me—I can see all of blue.” Poking, because that’s what shy boys do to girls they are scared to talk to. Preoccupied with personal trivia, because Mark Zuckerberg thinks the exchange of personal trivia is what “friendship” is. A Mark Zuckerberg Production indeed! We were going to live online. It was going to be extraordinary. Yet what kind of living is this?

Nearly forty years ago, Wendell Berry, who to this date has not heard of Mark Zuckerberg, (and quite possibly never will), anticipated the flattening out of personality problem presented by being reduced to your “Wall”:

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

The Mad Farmer’s advice:

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

I love that bit about the fox!

Ironically, there is a Facebook page for Wendell Berry (4,487 likes!).  Pretty good for someone who does not own a computer, and never will.

Couture clash: Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

Edward Klein’s Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? is a film I knew by reputation, but only just this weekend got around to watching. I loved it.

It’s had some high profile screenings this past summer, at Walker Art Center in my hometown of Minneapolis and at the Metropolitan Museum in my other hometown, in conjunction with the Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion exhibition.

This film has shoehorned its way into my all-time favorites list. From the opening scene, a fashion show where the models wear sheet-metal outfits, and the imperious editor (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Diana Vreeland) pronounces that the designer has “created the Eve for the nuclear age,” it’s a satirical tour de force, a commentary on fashion, celebrity and media that hasn’t lost any of its bite.

It’s funny, sexy, stylish as a film is possible to be, and shot in that gorgeous high-contrast black and white almost-verité style you see in Godard’s Masculin/Feminin and Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, another film from an American expat. Oh, to have been one in those days!

The star, Brooklyn-born American fashion model Dorothy McGowan is pretty much just being herself and not really caring what anyone thinks of her.  She’s perfectly suited for her role, as were the Beatles, who had the same attitude. (See, especially, the classic “Dead Grotty/early clue to the new direction” scene where George stumbles into a youth marketing man’s office). Jean Rochefort plays the television producer who sets out to make fun of the superficial girl, but she is tougher and smarter than he thinks, and he ends up falling in love with her and pondering his own nothingness (I know! but it’s a sixties French movie, after all).  A good chunk of the film is occupied with a subplot involving a handsome prince who is smitten with Polly’s image, and the hapless spies he sends to track her down.

With her moon face, rabbit’s teeth (her own description), and  huge eyes (usually featuring some extreme deployment of mascara,  liner and false eyelashes), McGowan’s gorgeous, and impossible not to look at, even when she is out of makeup, in her tiny little apartment, more appropriate for a student than a cover girl.

Klein’s photography is spectacular: in the fashion scenes as you would expect, but also in many shots of the quotidian life of Parisians (he loves tight shots of crowds from belly-button level): queued  up for a cafeteria, getting into heated political arguments, stewing in traffic jams.  And there is this strange and wonderful animated sequence that brings to mind Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations.

Alas, McGowan apparently stopped modeling and acting after this film. “Every time they take my picture, there’s a little less of me left. So what will be left of me in the end? I’d like to know.”

Eric Rohmer, RIP

Eric Rohmer has died at the age of 89. Here is the entire trailer, en français, for Le Genou de Claire. How times have changed. The trailer, like the film, is gorgeous, wordy, not exactly pacy, but ever so sensuel.

Attractive, well-to-do French people philosophizing about God and lusting after each other in beautiful settings. I could watch his movies forever.

And here’s a nice detail from the obit:

An admirer of Andre Bresson, his strength was in his capacity to depict human foibles and to capture a sense of time and place. According to his frequent cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, Rohmer visited the locations of “Claire’s Knee” a year before filming and planted roses in scenes that he envisaged.

more about “Le genou de Claire (1970) trailer“, posted with vodpod