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Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

FISHER’S FABULOUS FAMILY TREE

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

CARRIE
In the infamous metal bikini

Thank God for Carrie Fisher, whose WISHFUL DRINKING, which, although not exactly earth-shattering, has all the savvy, balls, fun, wit and glamour (if a tad second-hand) so sorely missing from all recent Broadway openings. Fisher has truly found her metier in this live performance which is really no different from an elaborate stand-up – or, in her case, often sitting – routine. Her dry observations and epigrams flow more trippingly off her ever wry tongue than they do on the pages of her books which can seem contrived, stilted and obnoxiously precocious.

Opening the show is a splendid big screen montage of the tabloid headlines which have stalked her from birth, detailing her life from the very beginning, when Dad Eddie Fisher dumped Mom Debbie Reynolds for Liz Taylor to her failed marriage to Paul Simon to her desertion by husband Bryan Lourd for a man, to her discovery of the dead body of her friend R. Gregory Stevens in bed beside her, not to mention a vicious John Simon review in which he called her “bovine.”

The centerpiece is her delineation of her own family tree of celebrity which, of course, began with that unholy trinity of Debbie-Eddie-Liz, (with Mike Todd and Richard Burton thrown in for good measure). If you grew up in the 1960s, their story was even more familiar to you than your own family history from the incessant, rabid media coverage, which made the Aniston-Pitt-Jolie menage (and Fisher is quick to point out the paralleling personalities) look the merest teapot tempest. This became part of everyone’s (low) cultural heritage, a fact made clear to me when I interviewed Debbie Reynolds a few years ago and within minutes achieved instant intimacy with her as, like your favorite aunt, she happily began dishing Eddie to filth and saying how she and Liz are buddies now, who just laugh at his sorry ass. Which, I suppose, is to be expected, if, as his daughter states, he brought his drug dealer to a recent performance of hers.

liz eddie

Fisher’s inspiration for this bit came from a question posed to her by her daughter by Lourd, Billie, who was dating Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson, and asked if they were possibly related. I probably would have been content if Fisher had just talked about her extended family all night, which included her father’s subsequent wife, Connie Stevens (“Also blonde and perky – do we see a pattern here?”), and sexpot Marie McDonald (“known as ‘The Body,’ she was an actress-ish”) who married Reynold’s second ex-husband, Harry Karl, and also had affairs with Fisher and Liz’s ex-husband, Michael Wilding. Eddie Fisher also married a Chinese woman (Betty Lin), who died in 2001, and, according to Carrie, he has had so much plastic surgery, he now looks Chinese, himself.

Next to these revelations, everything else in the show – her account of her addictive, bi-polar personality, and, oh yeah, STAR WARS – however funny, paled by comparison. Suffice it to say that if you go, you’ll have a rollicking good time. Fisher has also inherited her mother’s deftness with audience interaction (although I’m glad I wasn’t in the front row and subject to her lavish baptismal glitter anointing). When I saw Debbie at Lehman College a few years ago, she was met onstage by an old woman’s crying out – in the middle of a ballad, “My husband Morris played drums for you!,” and Reynolds, completely unfazed, used this as schtick for the rest of her act (“Do you think Morris woulda liked that song?”)

And, when it comes to cleverly turning a phrase, Fisher is pretty non-pareil. I’ll give you but one example, so as not to spoil the show for you: “If religion is the opiate of the masses, I took masses of opiates religiously.” The fact that she is performing at her old stomping ground, Studio 54, ground zero for legendary intake and excess, where Margaux Hemingway passed out on opening night, Halston would puff angel dust joints with then reigning drag queen Poutassa de Lafayette, Liza would party until just a few hours before her Broadway matinees of THE ACT, I once looked long and hard into the unseeing, completely sloshed eyes of Truman Capote, and a friend swore he did coke with Liz Taylor in a stall of the infamously ambisexual powder room where she showed him how to disguise the sound by stepping on the toilet pedal flush just as she inhaled, is a kinda crazy, beautiful thing.

eddie carrie
Carrie and Dad, Eddie

AND OTHERS WHO HAVE BECOME CHINESE THROUGH THE YEARS


Joan Rivers, the Mask of Fu Manchu

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Faye Dunaway

JESSICA
Jessica Lange

jerry
Jerry Lewis

UT0113572
Mary Tyler Moore

bruce-jenner
Bruce Jenner, who became a Chinese LADY

patrick stewart
Patrick Stewart

JACQUES D;AMBOISE

Dancer Jacques D’Amboise

noel coward stritch

Noel Coward (with Elaine Stritch), who once described himself in later years as looking like a “Chinese dowager empress”

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MOVIE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm

monique
(Anne Marie Fox)

“Mo’Nique has GOT to win the Oscar!” enthused Tina Brown after a screening of Lee Daniels’ PRECIOUS last Friday afternoon, an opinion with which I can only concur. As Mary, the most mesmerizingly abusive mother in film history (forget Gladys Cooper in NOW, VOYAGER, Piper Laurie in CARRIE or even Faye Dunaway in MOMMIE DEAREST), Mo’Nique gives one of those rare performances which seductively hypnotizes even as it totally repels. Forever planted in front of the TV, watching inane game shows, smoking, scarfing down food and hurling obscenities and orders at her beset, obese daughter, the ironically named Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), the actress possesses a terrifying operatic power, with furiously angry arias which, instead of gorgeous high notes, are laced with “muthafuckas” and “goddamns.” The film itself is absorbing and grittily real, even with its cinematic flights into the glamorous fantasies Precious imagines as an escape from her miserable life, but Mo’nique, with her scary, lullingly husky voice, hypes it with an intensity that invests her scenes with a dark, unholy power that surpasses everything else. You find yourself anticipating her every onscreen appearance, even as you dread what she’ll inevitably do in them. (Perhaps the actress’ stand-up appearances in women’s prison in her devastating TV concert I COULD BE YOUR CELLMATE have further informed her uncanny understanding of the darker sides of human experience.)

Daniels is clearly also in thrall to the performance, even giving her one moment of transcendent “glamour,” as she rocks out alone in her living room to Jean Carne’s great, shimmering 1979 song, “Was That All There Was,” as transfixed in the moment, despite her pimples and unshaven armpits, as Precious is in her imaginings of red carpet arrivals or triumphant stage performances. (Daniels is at his flamboyant best during these sequences, which usually occur during Precious’ darkest moments; I’d love to see him try his hand at a musical.) The funniest, most apalling movie scene of the year has got to be when the welfare worker comes to visit, with Mary pulling on a wig and Precious’ retarded baby onto her lap, putting out a cigarette and suddenly assuming a motherly sweetness, a scene which had me gasping at its multi-layered audacity. Mo’Nique also doesn’t stint from the suggestions of the incestuous sex Mary also forces Precious into with herself.

The movie, based on the novel PUSH by Sapphire, is riveting, even with its worthy truckload of “triumph of the female human spirit” qualities which have attracted no less than Oprah as an executive producer. It deals with many of the same issues as THE COLOR PURPLE, the film of which is like a lovely Disneyfied fantasy compared to Daniels’ empathic, street-wise evocation of these forgotten women’s lives. He leavens the grimness of Precious’ story with piquant touches of magic realism, as well as a gallery of other, highly ingratiating females, like the girls in Precious’ Special Ed class, who range from an amusingly officious, thickly accented West Indian to a a louche Puerto Rican mami, all of them in thrall to a comely male nurse (Lenny Kravitz, sexily relaxed), who administers to Precious after she has borne her second baby by her own father; Sherri Shepherd as a savvy school receptionist; Mariah Carey, drabbing herself down as a social worker (with even a hint of upper lip hirsuteness), and lovely Paula Patton who manages to avoid being cloying as Precious’ devotedly supportive teacher, who happens to be lesbian. Daniels also has a vital gay man’s prescient attention to telling details, like the choice of that Jean Carne song and the poster of Ntozake Shange’s landmark FOR COLORED GIRLS hanging in Patton’s home.

In her all-demanding screen debut, Sidibe is never less than convincing and admirably never stoops to easy heart string-tugging. She bears her many woes with an awesome stoicism, making her eventual emotional breakdown all the more affecting. A more trained actresss in the role might not have worked, and Sidibe’s naturalness is a considerable asset, with her somewhat limited expressiveness adding overall credibility. Yet even her big final scene is trumped by Mo’Nique’s ensuing confessional, with her fury and sadness elementally mounting to Greek tragic proportions. I only wish Daniels had kept his busy camera (mostly effective throughout) at rest during this scene. He pans down to her hands nervously fidgeting with her purse and it’s an unnecessary distraction when all we want tois see her fraught face. There’s simply no following this moment, and Daniels wisely doesn’t prolong things, giving Precious a mercifully pithy happy ending.

BTW, before the film, the Tribeca Screening Room was absolute celebrity sighting central that afternoon, which, besides Tina Brown, had a low wattage start with the appearance of Joy Behar (with partner, Steve Janowitz) who, when told it might be as much as an hour wait for the delayed screening to start (wrong!), said, “I’m not waitin’ for an hour. Let’s go have lunch!” (She returned and saw her THE VIEW co-star, Shepherd do her onscreen thing.) Shortly thereafter, Josh Brolin left the building, hopping into a chauffeured SUV, and then Harvey Weinstein and e’er-present entourage came off the elevator.

OTHER FILMS:

carey
Carey Mulligan in AN EDUCATION, and her American twin sister

katie holmes
Katie Holmes

AN EDUCATION: I can’t understand the critical praise for this. Are people that starved for another period coming-of-age story with pretensions to intelligence and feminism?

The central role of pretentious schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan), with her superior air and habit of employing French phraseology is the kind of part that demands a special kind of actress to carry off. The young Katharine Hepburn, with her unique charm – equal parts joyously innate innocence and resolute eccentricity – in MORNING GLORY, STAGE DOOR, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and, especially, ALICE ADAMS, was able to make her obnoxious, wrong-about-everything heroines enchanting, but Mulligan (a dead ringer, with her elfin baby face and long, slim body, for Katie Holmes) is far too knowing and actress-y to be either convincing or appealing. Her trained dramatic voice, with its calculatedly husky notes, is disconcertingly mature and she seems too brashly convinced of her own irresistibility. I couldn’t warm to her at all, and when she cruelly dismissed Graham (Matthew Beard), the sweetly callow, perfectly presentable fellow student with an aching crush on her, all possible sympathy for her vanished.

This enterprise is marred by overall miscasting. Jenny is taken out of her suburban existence by a suave, shady older Jewish man, David. He is played by the American Peter Sarsgaard, with his exquisite Nordic features, oh-so careful Brit accent and diffident, eternally squishy presence: they have zero sexual chemistry. David is harboring a secret or two; Sarsgaard always seems to be, as well, but with him it often comes off, for some reason, as closet homosexuality. As Jenny’s father, we have Alfred Molina, so dark and ethnic-looking, bt also essentially a sweetheart, railing against David’s Jewishness with empty bluster, and, overall, none-too-believable as a frighteningly domineering Dad. (He’s almost as strenuously unsympathetic and misguided as he was as Kenneth Halliwell, Joe Orton’s lover/killer in PRICK UP YOUR EARS.) Cara Seymour as Jenny’s mother is merely a wan dishrag, tiresomely subservient and emblematic of failed dreams. Danish director Lone Scherfig’s touch seems too alien to truly capture London in the early ’60s (there’s nary a hint of The Beatles or any counter-cultural clues preceding them, and she’s no great shakes when it comes to romance, either. When Jenny and David go to Paris to finally consummate their relationship, Scherfig goes all cliche: couples dancing along the Seine, having champagne by the Seine, strolling along the Seine, but their sex is merely suggested by a post-coital scene in which Jenny muses along the lines of “Is That All There Is?” as if Scherfig were still operating under the Hays Code. We’re thankfully spared a pair of bodies entwining to some pop ditty in careful soft focus, but Scherfig surely missed out on some sensual and/or comic opportunities here.

The charismatic glamour of David’s world (and how Sarsgaard lacks those atrributes!) is raffishly represented by Rosamund Pike, who fitfully enlivens things as an elegantly dumb blonde moll and Dominic Cooper as her man. Cooper was irresistible onstage in THE ALTAR BOYS, as a prep school studmuffin, causing him to be immediately thrown into high profile films, but his teeny-faced features don’t photograph well and, apart from a flashy, shallow bravado, he never brings much to the party.

emma thompson
Emma Thompson needs to play Mags Thatcher

It’s left to a pair of accomplished Brit ladies to provide some spine here, and Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams (channeling two Maggies, Thatcher and Smith in THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, respectively) as dragon-ish school doyennes, effectively make the most of their moments – I was far more interested in their lives than Jenny’s – but it’s not enough to make this misguided, woefully tone-deaf effort worth your while.promising

olivia williams
Olivia Williams

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is, most assuredly, where a good film is not. It starts off well enough, with Spike Jonze’s frenetically loose direction, music savvy and attention to detail promising an edgy, fun time for the entire family. With intelligent, appealing actors like Catherine Keener playing the harried mother of the kid hero, Max (Max Records), and Mark Rufalo as her boyfriend, you feel that these are folk you don’t mind spending time with. Records is admirably natural: spunky, energetic and very touching, vividly capturing that childhood angst we all recall when he is left alone by his older sister and her uncaring friends, weeping over his destroyed igloo.

But then, Max has to “fall through the looking glass,” and the film becomes a noisy, droning bore, populated by author Maurice Sendak’s off-putting shaggy beasts. (I must confess: I am not a fan.) With voices provided by James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Amrbose and Paul Dano, they depressingly sound like sitcom suburbanites, wrily wisecracking and sniping at each other, and entirely unfunny. Despite the ear-shattering crashes and mid-air tumbles, I could barely keep my eyes open from the general mindlessness, which, while hipper-than-thou, proved monotonous and utterly uninvolving.

Where The Wild Things Are
Max Records, interminably running with the beasts of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

COPYRIGHT:davidnoh2009

WRONG GAY ANG-LE

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2009 at 5:00 am

JONATHAN  GROFF
Jonathan Groff, best thing about TAKING WOODSTOCK

TAKING WOODSTOCK made me fully realize that Ang Lee needs to 1. shorten the length of his films and 2. stop making films with gay central characters. Ironically, his best film remains his early THE WEDDING BANQUET, which was funny, lightly unpretentious and observant. The drollest moment was when the parents of the Chinese gay man leafed through a photo album of the wedding which supposedly restored him to heterosexual normalcy and came upon a page featuring him with his Caucasian lover. After sentimentally cooing over images of their son with his “proper” female mate, the forced, demure silence with which they turned this particular page hilariously spoke volumes. Perhaps the presence of actor Mitchell Lichtenstein, who is really gay, in the cast, contributed something to the authenticity of this film, something Lee has never been able to recapture when tackling such subjects.

WEDDING BANQUET
May Chin, Winston Chao and Mitchell Lichtenstein in Ang Lee’s best film, THE WEDDING BANQUET (1993)

In TAKING WOODSTOCK, Demetri Martin plays Elliot Tiber, the New York interior designer who suddenly find himself the organizer of the most famous rock concert in history. The fact that he is gay is revealed about half-way through the film and it is, indeed, a total revelation, as up to this time, he has seemed no more than an amiable kid, as innocent and unworldly as Henry Fonda, making his screen debut in the 1935 THE FARMER TAKES A WIFE. Why, exactly, a New York decorator of the 1960s should be such a wide-eyed bumpkin is a mystery known only to Lee and his habitual screenwriter, James Schamus. Henry has some rather chaste, flirtatious scenes with a handy festival hunk, but little else really indicates his sexual difference. Granted, this is some forty years ago, but, then again, it was the free-wheeling, open 1960s, wasn’t it?

liev schreiber
Worst drag queen in film history: Liev Schreiber (holding real-life son Sasha – “SEE, I’M STRAIGHT!”)

Lee compounds this with a major error in casting: Liev Schreiber as a transvestite character, Vilma. Johnny Depp’s far more convincing – and sexy – turn as a piece of cross-dressing jailbait in Julian Schnabel’s BEFORE NIGHT FALLS must have set some official seal of performance cool for actors to do gay drag for pay, enabling even the most unlikely of them to don wig and frock and camp it up to a fare-thee-well. But come on! Does anyone really want to see the hulking, lantern-jawed Schreiber trying it? He certainly seems to be enjoying it; I just wish I could, too.

I was in that rare minority who did not fall head over heels in love with the interminable, turtle-paced and lugubrious BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, which was, simply, a gay movie made by straight men. How anyone could believe that sex scene which, when it finally, finally occurred, consisted of zero foreplay, a little spittle and swift forced entry which, instead of engendering any kind of real pain on the part of receiver Jake Gyllenhaal, seemed to inspire instant ecstasy. The only conclusions I could draw from this was that either it wasn’t Jake’s first time at the rodeo, or that the late Heath Ledger was hung like a gerbil.

JAKE HEATH
Jake ‘n Heath: No Lube Necessary

At a promotional screening for the film, I asked Lee how he went about directing this, and he said that, being very shy when it came to scenes like this, “I just let the actors do what they want.” “Oh boy, was this ever obvious,” I thought, “and how revealing of everyone’s utter ignorance of gay sex on that set. And aren’t you supposed to be the DIRECTOR?!” I told the Lee that what I liked best about his film were the sheep – who really gave the most natural, convincing performances – a sincere remark which didn’t go down so well with him.

Sexuality aside, TAKING WOODSTOCK starts off well enough, as a rambunctious, colorfully cast period comedy, filled with screwball characters like a hilarious Eugene Levy as Max Yasgur, who provided the festival’s real estate, Imelda Staunton (overdoing it) as feisty Henry’s mother, Dan Fogler as an arty actor, and young Broadway matinee idol Jonathan Groff (SPRING AWAKENING, HAIR) who, in a glamorous turn as Woodstock producer Michael Lang, registers lusciously on film, like a Botticelli angel with his hippie halo of curls, and gave this particular gay viewer something to really exult over in his few scenes. It might have been a fun enough romp through counterculture history but, as with BROKEBACK, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, THE ICE STORM and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Lee’s logy sense of pacing drags the film down. Henry has an encounter with as a pair of Woodstock hippies (Paul Dano, Kelly Garner) who turn him on to drugs in their trailer, and this acid trip feels about three days long, a whimsically psychedelic directorial conceit from which the movie never quite recovers. Once more, Lee’s self-conscious need to make what the great critic Manny Farber once described as Termite Art defeats his purposes.

COPYRIGHT: davidnoh2009

CUCKOO COCO PUFF PIECE

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2009 at 4:25 am

audrey tatou

Two films kept popping up disconcertingly in my mind as I watched COCO BEFORE CHANEL: Frank Capra’s PLATINUM BLONDE (1931) and John Huston’s MOBY DICK (1956). What these older films share in common with this new release is severe miscasting of their lead roles, intensified by the presence in their casts of actors playing subsidiary parts who might have been perfectly cast, in their stead. In PLATINUM BLONDE you had a young, very amateurish and stiff Jean Harlow trying her best (and failing) to be convincing as an aristocratic heiress who shockingly falls in love with a lowly news reporter, while Loretta Young, with her perfect thoroughbred beauty and blue-blood bearing, played a tough, wise-cracking girl newshound, languishing with unrequited love for the same guy, the very sort of role Harlow would eventually learn to definitively embody. MOBY DICK was blighted by the utterly wooden performance of Gregory Peck – the sanest, dullest actor who ever lived – as demonically possessed Captain Ahab, while Orson Welles, with his thunderous voice and commanding presence, who must have displayed gravitas in the cradle and could have played Ahab in his sleep, was relegated to the one-scene part of a New England minister.

Director Anne Fontaine echoes the errors of the past by casting Audrey Tatou, a delicate gamine, most remembered for her diabetically sweet turn as that pixie-ish do-gooder AMELIE, as that redoubtable, ultimate fashion warrior, Coco Chanel, while, on the sidelines, the always vivid and strong Emmanuele Devos – so moving in Anne Le Ny’s CEUX QUI RESTENT – is relegated to a supporting role as Emilienne d’Alencon, an elegant courtesan who shows the young bumpkin Coco the velvet ropes of Parisian Belle Epoque high society. Devos, with her wide, gash of a mouth, like Chanel, is a true jolie laide, and might have imbued the film’s flimsy concept of the couturiere as a girl who overcame her victimization by men to find professional fulfillment with more steely backbone and emotional variety than Tatou, who affects a nun-like, rigorous concentration in her solo sewing scenes, mouth full of pins, brow furrowed with determination, but little more to convey her character’s complexity. In the smaller role of d’Alencon, much more within her limited range, she might have been dazzling, with her doll-like features and form flaunting the kind of opulent finery which drove Marcel Proust mad and Chanel, herself, overturned.

EMMANUELLE DEVOS
Emmanuelle Devos

coco-chanel
Gabrielle Coco Chanel

I interviewed Fontaine earlier this year about this film and she told me that she thought Tatou had the perfect “androgyne” quality for the part, but, in her case, it’s purely physical, not spiritual, making me think the director got the actual character of Chanel mixed up with her company’s latest 2009 ad campaign, of which Tatou just happens to be the official muse at present. This less than salubrious marriage of history and contemporary commercialism rather echoes the 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art Chanel exhibit, which really emerged as “The Karl Lagerfeld Show,” as his recent designs for the house were given equal prominence with the original work of Coco, herself, and, in every instance, suffered by comparison in workmanship, finish and originality, even when displayed alongside faded gowns dating back three quarters of a century and more.

Tatou is dark, like Chanel was, but her conventional prettiness is like a heavily photoshopped, adorably anime version of the woman, who had far more than mere conventional good looks for allure. Diana Vreeland once compared her in her youth to a furiously snorting little bull and said, “You have no idea how ATTRACTIVE she was!”

The actual Chanel, being a personal fabulist, herself, might well have approved of this too-pretty soap opera-ish account of herself as a sweet young thing who found her true inner self in the atelier, those pesky men always bothering her be damned! When it was announced to her that Hepburn would play her on Broadway in a musical version of her life, she was at first happy to think it would be the faunlike, young Audrey, and then much less so when she learned that it was actually the older, flinty Katharine who had been cast. One can just imagine the scene: “Mademoiselle Chanel, nous avons Hepburn pour toi!” “Audrey? Merveilleux!” “Non, Katharine!” “”AUDREY, n’est-ce pas?” “NON, KATHARINE!,” that wide gash growing ever wider with disdain and disappointment.

kate coco
Katharine Hepburn in COCO, 1969

Fontaine’s film lingers so long on Chanel’s early, struggling years as a cabaret singer that you might think you’ve mistakenly wandered into another Piaf biopic. These scenes are nicely filmed, but you want to get to the clothes, at which point it devolves into a very conventional love triangle between Coco, her rich, eminent protector Etienne Balsan (Benoit Polvoorde), and Boy Capel (Alessandro Nivola), the more youthful and physically appealing, but less materially favored, love of her life. Both actors are unable to do much with these cardboard roles, who seem tired retreads of the rival suitors in Alexandre Dumas’ CAMILLE, and Nivola decidedly lacks dash and the devastating allure of Capel, which fairly leaps out at you, even in ancient photographs published in various Chanel biographies

chanel with boy capel
Chanel with Boy Capel

Much is made of Chanel’s ridding women of the rococco fripperies and binding corsetry of the early twentieth century, but, without more of a real creative conception – how exactly did she arrive at her timeless formula? – the severe ensembles she shocks Paris with here seem drably uniformlike. The film ends with a shot of the older Chanel seated atop the famed staircase of her Rue Cambon salon, watching a parade of models wearing an historic selection of her designs. This coup de theatre was done far more effectively – and, ironically, more cinematically – on Broadway in 1969, when, in COCO, Michael Bennett brilliantly staged a retrospective fashion show (all Cecil Beaton riffs on Chanel, all red) surrounding Hepburn’s cawing, butch presence that had all the brio and color this film so sorely lacks.

Fontaine also told me that she chose to focus on this early part of the designer’s life to avoid any conventional biopic considerations. More’s the pity, as Chanel went on to have a far more fascinating subsequent life, which entailed accusations of Nazi collaboration with her German lover during WWII, a vicious, fascinating rivalry with Elsa Schiaparelli who came closest to unseating her as Queen of Paris fashion, and an amazing, post-war comeback at the age of 70, which firmly established her as an immovable fashion force until her death at 86, in 1971. She ended up a true monstreuse, unbearably overbearing, who, according to Beaton, never stopped talking, and all about herself. Like all human beings, she was full of ambivalence and complexity, but I guess this would mar the received, commercially comfortable idea of her as the perfect independent, modern, ground-breaking Frenchwoman whose titular company continues to unload costly mountains of purses, perfume and drag. The irony is that here, one would absolutely have preferred a “conventional biopic,” in place of this flossy soap opera which really demeans Chanel, making her little more than a conventional, not very interesting romantic heroine.

chanel old
La vielle Chanel – in fashion, one earns one’s face

COPYRIGHT: davidnoh2009