Friday, May 27, 2011
L’Amour Fou (which opens today at Landmark’s Maple theatre) in fact is Thoretton’s first documentary. And it’s a good one. But what comes across in L’Amour Fou more than anything else – more than St. Laurent’s ideas on fashion, more than St. Laurent’s love for his companion and business partner Pierre Bergé – is the vast, sumptuous and extraordinary collection of art that the couturier amassed between the 1950s and his death in 2008.
The collection in fact surely must be one of the greatest private collections of recent times - and the film spends an extended period dwelling on it. The collection in fact forms the backdrop of perhaps most of the movie’s scenes and is the framework (excuse the pun) that holds the movie together.
For example, among the film’s opening scenes are those at St. Laurent and Bergé’s homes in rooms surrounded by paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Goya, Brancusi, Degas, and Mondrian. Bergé, in the aftermath of St. Laurent’s death from brain cancer, says the art will have to be removed, giving a real sense that our most cherished possessions only can be temporary.
Throughout the film the director keeps returning to the abundant art whether at the couple’s two Paris homes, their villa in Marrakech, or chateau in Normandy. We see crews increasingly taking it down and packing it up.
When it’s not focussing on the art the film does make an attempt to chronicle St. Laurent’s evolution from assistant at Christian Dior fashion house in the 1950s to his and Bergé forming their own house. Then of course there is St. Laurent’s stunning success through the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
But again the film returns to the art, at last ending with its vast auction by Christie’s at Paris’s Grand Palais, a sale for the ages.
There’s nothing wrong with so much attention on the art collection. But this is a documentary first and foremost about St. Laurent as fashion iconoclast. Therefore the movie should present more detail about what drove his philosophy, indeed his attitude towards women that seemed to be at the centre of it.
Instead we get snippets. For example, St. Laurent wanted to get women out of restrictive clothing. “When people are comfortable in their clothes they are more happy,” he tells an English interviewer. St. Laurent also introduced pant suits including the famous Le Smoking tuxedo saying they allowed women to “assert” themselves. And he introduced ready-to-wear or prêt-à-porter clothing. But the film doesn’t have more to say.
Nevertheless, there’s a lot to like about this documentary.
You can probably even hate fashion and enjoy it. After all, the film is about a couple of intellectuals - St. Laurent and Bergé – who were also devotees of literature and philosophy, to the point of naming every room in their Normandy chateau after a Proust character.
The piano music score by Côme Aguiar is beautifully poignant.
L’Amour Fou captures something of the history of France over the past 50 years, from the May 1968 riots to the rise of the country’s first Socialist President Francois Mitterrand (whom St. Laurent endorsed), to the influence of the Third World on contemporary fashion and 1980s’ gay culture.
It shows that St. Laurent was very much of his time.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
www.traversecityfilmfest.com. I found a couple of dozen films to attend. I did notice that some of the films were dated from a year or two back. But these are independent films, and often obscure, so dates don’t always matter, right? I also thought it odd the festival was listing their films without having made an official announcement, at least one I had heard. But the films were all listed on a scrolled down page under the festival’s “2011” web site. A couple of days later I checked the site again and the list of films had vanished. Then I checked my list against this year’s calendar and found that the website’s dates had been off by one day. In fact they were last year’s! I doubt I’m the only one who got confused. And festival staff, probably realizing this, yanked the list on the weekend. Hey guys, if you’re going to have a website marked “2011” please make sure the content is up to date.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Meanwhile, screening the second night in a row is Just Because I Am, a documentary about youth and homophobia shot locally by Juan Javier Pescador and Gabrielle Pescador. It screens at Windsor's Walkerville Collegiate Auditorium at 8 pm tonight with an after party.....Says a new release: ”While experiencing the transformative energy of art and the empowering effects of self-affirmation, these youngsters also face aggravating homophobic reactions unleashed by their collective coming out in this traditionally conservative (USA-Canada) border city.”
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Meanwhile, in the I-had-no-idea department, the man who founded the art house distribution label, Janus Films, has died. Cyrus Harvey, 85, died April 14, in Connecticut. Harvey co-founded Janus in 1956. The business was an outgrowth of his Cambridge, Mass’s Brattle Theatre (which still exists in its hip intellectual glory). He and partner Bryant Haliday transformed what had been a live theatre to a cinema. Janus has distributed films by such luminaries as Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa. Also fascinating is that Harvey and wife Rebecca started the Crabtree & Evelyn consumer soap products chain. This stemmed from their obsession with flowers and herbs. The Janus logo is of the Roman god who has two faces pointing in opposite directions. Why? Said Rebecca: “They named it that because they themselves were opposites. Bryant was gay and Catholic. Cy was straight and Jewish.”
Just caught Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler (who used to live in Canada though Scottish-born) in 2009’s The Ugly Truth. The flick is good for a few laughs about the war between the sexes. (Everyone says there is, right?) The story works because it plays on opposite stereotypes – Heigl as TV producer Abby Richter and Butler as Male Chauvinist Pig (do they still use that term?) Mike Chadway. Loveless Abby is looking for a modern sensitive man who among other things loves cats. Then she collides with caveman Mike whose cable access show The Ugly Truth, which purports to explain that all men are, at heart, simple, base creatures with really only lust on their minds. Apoplectic at first Abby eventually falls under Mike’s spell. Predictable – you bet. But the one-liners keep coming and Butler is hilarious. Butler himself is definitely worth a look. This ambitious, pick-him-up-by-his-own bootstraps, actor’s resume includes Tomorrow Never Dies, Attila and Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000, designed just for him.