Movie inspiration of the week – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Costume Designer: Lucinda Ballard, Nominated Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (24th Academy Awards)

And so it was I entered the broken world

To trace the visionary company of love, it’s voice

An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)

But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

The Broken Tower” by Hart Crane

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Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district. She is about five years older than Stella. Her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light. There is something about her uncertain manner, as well as her white clothes, that suggests a moth.

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He is of medium height, about five feet eight or nine, and strongly, compactly built. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. Since earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.

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Look at these feathers and furs that she come here to preen herself in! What’s this here? A solid-gold dress, I believe! And this one! What is these here? Fox-pieces! Genuine fox fur-pieces, a half a mile long! Where· are your fox-pieces, Stella? Bushy snow-white ones, no less!

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Pearls! Ropes of them! What is this sister of yours, a deep-sea diver? Bracelets of solid gold, too! Where are your pearls and gold bracelets?

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Compliments to women about their looks. I’ve never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.

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The poker players–Stanley, Steve, Mitch and Pablo-wear colored shirts, solid blues, a purple, a red-and-white check, a light green, and they are men at the peak of their physical manhood, as coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colors.

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“And if God choose,

I shall but love thee better-after-death!”

Why, that’s from my favorite sonnet by Mrs. Browning!

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I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.

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I never was hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft-soft people have got to shimmer and g1ow-they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly’ wings, and put a paper lantern over the light …it isn’t enough to be soft. You’ve got to be soft and attractive. And I-I’m fading now! I don’t know how much longer I can turn the trick.

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We danced the Varsouviana! Suddenly in the middle of the dance the boy I had married broke away from me and ranout of the casino. A few moments later-a shot!
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 What do you two think you are? A pair of queens?

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I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!

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The opposite is desire. So do you wonder? How could you possibly wonder!
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She has dragged her wardrobe trunk into the center of the bedroom. It hangs open with flowery dresses thrown across it. As the drinking and packing went on, a mood of hysterical exhilaration came into her and -she has decked herself out in a somewhat soiled and crumpled white satin evening gown and a pair of scuffed silver slippers with brilliants set in their heels. Now she is placing the rhinestone tiara on her head before the mirror of the dressing-table and murmuring excitedly as if to a ‘group of spectral admirers.

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Well, it’s a red letter night for us both. You having an oil millionaire and me having a baby.

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A cultivated woman, a woman of intelligence and breeding, can enrich a man’s life – immeasurably! I have those things to offer, and this doesn’t take them away. Physical beauty is passing. A transitory possession. But beauty of the mind and richness of the spirit and tenderness of the heart-and I have all of those things-aren’t taken away, but grow! Increase with the years! How strange that I should be called a destitute woman! When I have all of these treasures locked in my heart. I think of myself as a very, very rich woman! But I have been foolish-casting my pearls before swine!

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The hot trumpet and drums from the Four Deuces sound loudly
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He takes off his hat and now he becomes personalized. The unhuman quality goes. His voice is gentle and reassuring as he crosses to Blanche and crouches in front of her. As he speaks her name, her terror subsides a little. The lurid reflections fade from the walls, the inhuman cries and noises die out and her own hoarse crying is calmed.

Whoever you are-I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

’In this dark march toward whatever it is we’re approaching,’ Blanche raises the flag of magic against the crushing disappointment of reality in her “worn-out Mardi Gras outfit” and the costumes are absolutely brilliant in creating this fantasy world, showing us  someone trying to survive the decay and decadence of her own life and not being able to cope with what the world has thrown at her. And that’s how a trunk full of flowery dresses and rhinestone tiaras can help you survive as long as you keep away from the brutes, maybe you’ll be able to not only tell, but also live what ought to be truth.  ( And this in no way an endorsement of post truths or a glorification of mental illness)

References and Photos

A Streetcar Named Desire BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS – With an Introduction by the Author, Signet Books (1951)

Elia Kazan, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Norman N. Holland

Best Shot: “A Streetcar Named Desire”

A Madhouse In The Quarter: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE A Madhouse In The Quarter: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

The Furniture: Decorating Madness in A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire

http://www.virtual-history.com/movie/film/2060/a-streetcar-named-desire

Movie inspiration of the week – Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton

I have to confess my ignorance because I had never heard of this film until last Saturday when I caught it by chance on tv.

I must also confess that I have never been a fan of rock opera but this is Brian De Palma’s glam rock extravaganza and it’s brilliant.

Brian De Palma’s rock opera within a rock opera (possibly the world’s first) is a bright, loud, brash, fast and funny live-action comic book, a vicious little satire of the music business, and a head-on collision between Phantom of the Opera, Faust, and early ‘70s glam [and the Picture of Dorian Gray] .  Jim Knipfel

In 1974, apparently, Brian De Palma believed he could do anything

To begin, one must cross-reference the film with the historical referent that serves as its structuring absence: the Sixties. This is the lost paradise De Palma invokes in detailing the fallen world of mid-Seventies rock, the would-be utopia that has now collapsed into the death-and-glitter cesspool of 1974. Whatever may actually have happened in the decade, it’s clearly the object that has been lost by a world that can now sustain something called Death Records. The label serves as base of operation for a satanic producer/executive named Swan (Paul Williams), who stands in for the reaper who rang down the curtain on peace and love (…) The sense that something has been lost is inescapable, that it’s been corrupted by grotesquely commercialized hands. Travis MacKenzie Hoover

The theatrical element—crucial for a film that centers on a music palace called “The Paradise”—is the number one citation for the degradation of the music scene. What upsets the filmmakers most is that any jerk in gold lame and platform shoes can be a singing star with the right razzle-dazzle, as the unadorned musicians of the previous decade were being swept off the stage for Alice Cooper and his obnoxious bits of business. Travis MacKenzie Hoover

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Even if the over the top, outrageous, glittery empty style of the classic glam rock era symbolizes the decadence and corruption of the music [as] business, the melodramatic characters intoxicated by stardom and masterfully served by Rosanna Norton’s imaginative and eye-popping costumes also show us a phantasy (albeit bitter) world of identity creation and playful sensuality.If this is not the particular allure of this movie, it certainly explains the pervasive influence of 70s glam rock in fashion.

 

Movie Inspiration of the Week – India Song (1975)

I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once, but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.
Marguerite Duras, Emily L.

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A memory piece that calls up the dead, its heroine, Anne-Marie Stretter (Delphine Seyrig), dances with her lover, Michael Richardson (Claude Mann), in the ballroom of the French Embassy in Calcutta, where her memorial—a photograph, a stick of burning incense, some flowers—is already arranged on the piano. Time folds in on itself in India Song, and space is fractured by the huge mirror that nearly covers one wall so that the reflection of the room is a constant; it is always different, however, from the framing of the room by the camera, whether still or moving. The image created by Duras and cinematographer Bruno Nuytten is at once ghostly and eroticized, so delicately colored that it seems hand-tinted, and the closeness of the air, weighted by the insufferable heat, is palpable. India Song puts all the senses on high alert, and yet it is not in any sense realism. No one would be surprised to learn that it was shot on a set constructed in a crumbling mansion near Paris.

Amy Taubin

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I’m leaving tomorrow. This is my first trip to India and all the images I have are the ones that never show you India just the dreamlike state of decadence of what has been lost.

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Photos and References

http://kebekmac.blogspot.pt/2014/09/duras-1975-india-song.html

The Ghosts of Parties Past: Exorcising India Song

 

Movie inspiration  of the week – Pierrot Le Fou (1965)

Leaving (for now) the Riviera Summer inspiration by means of Godard’s absurdist road movie of feelings versus ideas.

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A film is like a battleground: there’s love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion

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A noir movie in technicolor that follows the adventures of Ferdinand Griffon who is trying to fulfill his vast artistic plans, after losing his corporate job and Marianne Renoir the “ingénue fatale”, the epitome of easy French “girly style”.

 

Not to write about people’s lives anymore, but only about life—life itself. What lies in between people: space, sound, and color. I’d like to accomplish that. Joyce gave it a try, but it should be possible to do better.

A bittersweet representation of the absurd in our lives in full colour and cinemascope, Pierrot le Fou‘s self-destructive romanticism, the artistic self-consciousness, the frenetically unhinged form, the blend of emotional extravagance and cool self-mocking, the vanished boundaries between irony and sincerity and between symbol and reality is Life as loud as it gets. As an “inspiration”, for me, it goes far beyond the stylish Anna Karina whose style still resonates with designers and taste-makers worldwide.  My muse in this movie is most definitely Jean-Paul Belmondo and his tragic “Yves Klein Pierrot”. No matter what, “being afraid is [still] the worst sin there is”.

 

As in Le Mépris and Bonjour Tristesse, the Mediterranean is again the landscape of failed aspirations and human suffering but as far as Pierrot le Fou goes, I would have to agree with Michel Cournot , “I feel no embarrassment declaring that Pierrot le fou is the most beautiful film I’ve seen in my life.”

 

References and photos

Only the Cinema

Pierrot le fou: Self-Portrait in a Shattered Lens

FilmGrab

paintings in Pierrot le fou

 

Movie inspiration of the week – Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

Costume Designer: Hubert de Givenchy

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When Jean Seberg is on screen you can’t look at anything else. Her every movement is graceful, each glance is precise. The shape of her head, her silhouette, her walk, everything is perfect; this kind of sex appeal hasn’t been seen on the screen.

François Truffaut

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Contrary to the common practice in this part of the world, I did not go on holiday in August and this is, most obviously, taking its toll on me. I don’t seem to be able to get the French Riviera out of my mind. This week life is back to the black and white tones of reality and Summer has, if not technically, emotionally come to an end.

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 I should probably be writing on Otto Preminger’s talents and “virtuosity with CinemaScope framing and three-strip Technicolor” and their use in establishing a clear difference in tone and mood between the wintering, sophisticated Paris present and the sun drenched,  carefree past of Mediterranean summers. 10

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Better yet, I should be writing about how Givenchy’s costumes are essential to understand the characters and the changes they go through, specially in the case of Cecile (Jean Seberg). As Barbara Tfank noted, “Givenchy is the customer designer, which is so extraordinary. When you see Jean in the film’s opening,  it’s the most perfect example of fashion and film”.

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But, as with Le Mépris, this a film I feel a strong emotional connection to. This is the film responsible for almost 10 years of wearing a pixie cut. Cecile inspired my visit to Monaco and my self styled movie fantasies while strolling inside the Monte Carlo Casino almost by myself. Said self styling was, fortunately, enough to convince the Maitre d’ that I was not a regular tourist.

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In its bittersweetness, it keeps reminding me that Summer inevitably comes to an end.

References and photos

Fashion and Film at the TCM Film Festival: Getting Audrey Hepburn, Kim Novak & Jean Seberg in Character

Well, Hello Bonjour Tristesse

Sunday Matinee, Bonjour Tristesse

Ferdy on Films

Films I Love #3: Bonjour Tristesse

Seduced by Bonjour Tristesse

Movie Inspiration of the Week – Le Mépris (1963)

The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desire. This is the story of that world

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Costume Designer Tanine Autré

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Aristotelian tragedies might not need elaborate costumes. After all, sometimes what you do not wear speaks as loud as what you do.

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This week, inspiration seems to be simple,  the always present, always perfect always modern Breton shirt. This week, more than ever, craving Summer by the harsh and timeless landscapes of Mediterranean sea.

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This was the first film that made me feel I could (I needed to) live inside it.

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You aspire to a world like Homer’s, but, unfortunately, that doesn’t exist

References

Contempt: A Visual Reading and Other Loose Ends

 

 

A character on 2046

Heartbreaking pasts and unchanged futures

 

2046 is one of my favorite movies of all times. It’s beautifully photographed, the wardrobe is divine and it leaves you with a permanent sense of longing and missing the future. I bought this dress on eBay and I was totally convinced that I could attain the sort of elusive elegance portrayed by Wong Kar Wai.

I’m not a movie critic of any sorts and even though I spend a lot of my time watching movies, I related to them primarily through an aesthetic involvement, I want to get lost in them. This particular movie mirrors what seems to be my most pervasive attitude towards life. Somewhat aimless, seldom focused on the outcomes, but always looking forward and enjoying the journey.

Is a dress that important? Having been on stage (not metaphorically) more than once, nothing makes me more aware of the character than the wardrobe that lets me understand what story I’m supposed to be telling.

On the other, the metaphorical stage, having the right props for the day’s performance always seemed to be the most enjoyable way of making the journey., transforming ordinary activities into moments of filmic fleeting beauty.

Every passenger who goes to 2046 has the same intention. They want to recapture lost memories because nothing ever changes in 2046. Nobody knows if that’s true because nobody’s ever come back.