Archives for September 2013

Coco Chanel’s back story reveals drama, determination

Coco Chanel’s design aesthetic was partly influenced by the time she spent in the Aubazine convent in central France.

Coco Chanel’s design aesthetic was partly influenced by the time she spent in the Aubazine convent in central France.

Sure, this chic mini-film is a commercial for the mighty brand, but it’s fascinating to consider Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (Aug. 19, 1883 – Jan. 10, 1971) and her rise from poverty to power.

Meanwhile, showing tonight on TCM: “Double Indemnity” (at 7 p.m. EST), “Gun Crazy” and “The Big Sleep.”

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Film noir delights in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema

"Another Dawn" will play Saturday night at the LA County Museum of Art.

“Another Dawn” will play Saturday night at the LA County Museum of Art.

I am greatly looking forward to seeing the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) exhibition and film program Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film.

Mexico was home to a vibrant, commercially stable film industry in the early 1930s through the 1950s. The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema series will explore Figueroa’s contributions as a groundbreaking cinematographer, a master of light and contrast.

Figueroa spent time on the set of Soviet master Sergei Eisenstein’s “¡Que Viva México!,” had an apprenticeship with Hollywood cinematographer Gregg Toland, and was friends with painters such as Diego Rivera. (The series is co-presented by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.)

"Autumn Days" will screen first on Saturday.

“Autumn Days” will screen first on Saturday night.

This weekend, two film noir delights are screening: “Dias de Otoño” (Autumn Days, 1963, Roberto Gavaldón) and “Distinto Amanecer” (Another Dawn, 1941, Julio Bracho). You can read the museum’s synopses here.

Upcoming film series will highlight Figueroa’s work with Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel, the Hollywood films that the cinematographer shot over his 50-year career for directors such as John Huston and John Ford, the films of the early 1930s that spurred Figueroa, and contemporary Mexican filmmakers whose work invokes Figueroa’s legacy.

Meanwhile, the New York Film Festival opened today with “Captain Phillips.” Manohla Dargis of the New York Times gives her assessment here.

 

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‘Chinatown’ screens to mark aqueduct’s 100th anniversary

Chinatown posterThe Natural History Museum in downtown Los Angeles will mark the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct by hosting a screening of the neo-noir masterpiece “Chinatown,” directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne. Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27; the screening starts at 7 p.m.

David Ulin, book critic of the Los Angeles Times, will moderate a brief panel discussion with history professor William Deverell, cultural commentator Sandra Tsing Loh and Christine Mulholland. They will discuss the facts and fiction in Polanski and Towne’s iconic look at greed, power, lust and the rise of modern Los Angeles. This event is free, but space is limited. RSVP HERE. Use the Exposition entrance. You can bring a picnic or buy dinner from on-site food trucks.

We love this film so much we reviewed it twice: FNB’s review and Mike Wilmington’s review.

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Film Noir Blonde’s beauty picks for fall 2013

Guerlain's 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Guerlain’s 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Bond No. 9's latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Bond No. 9’s latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother's vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother’s vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome's Art Liner 24H.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome’s Art Liner 24H.

After a five-year hiatus, Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

After a five-year hiatus, fragrance guru and former florist’s apprentice Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

Dior first introduced Dior #9 in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Christian Dior first introduced Dior #9 lipstick in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Dior's New Look photographed for Vogue.

Dior’s New Look photographed by Serge Balkin for Vogue.

Chanel's gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

Chanel’s gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

When reporters asked Marilyn Monroe what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder's Modern Muse and, I hope, a surge of creativity. ;)

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder’s Modern Muse.

Since the '90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

Since the ’90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry and cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Laura Mercier's Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.

Laura Mercier’s Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.

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Hitchcockian thriller ‘Prisoners’ calls for multiple viewings

Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman star in "Prisoners."

Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman star in “Prisoners.”

Prisoners/2013/Warner Bros./153 min.

Tense and absorbing, “Prisoners” ranks as a solid three-star flick. When two 6-year-old girls go missing, one of the fathers – a carpenter and hunter named Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) – quickly reveals himself to be a brutal vigilante, intent on beating information out of a mentally disabled man brought in for questioning and then released (Paul Dano).

Jake Gyllenhaal, as the obsessive cop assigned to the case, pursues another suspect and eventually Jackman chases yet another – all of the suspects, we learn, share a shattering connection. Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo round out the cast. Aaron Guzikowski wrote the screenplay.

Québec-born director Denis Villeneuve thoughtfully tells a complex, Hitchcockian tale and elicits memorable performances from the cast, especially from Gyllenhaal (perhaps his best work since “Zodiac.”)

On the downside, there are some rather drafty plot holes, the pacing is slightly off and, while Jackman is very watchable, the script’s characterization of Keller Dover proves more facile than fascinating. Still, it’s engrossing enough that you might feel like watching it twice to catch all the clues. And the ending is superb.

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On the big screen: Style doc ‘Mademoiselle C’ and three neo-noir titles: ‘A Single Shot,’ ‘Prisoners, ‘The Family’

Mademoiselle CMademoiselle C/90 min.

In defense of full-on glamour, Joan Crawford once said, “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”

Fashion insider Carine Roitfeld, the subject of a new documentary called “Mademoiselle C,” echoes that view and takes it up a notch. Running French Vogue for 10 years, Roitfeld became known for her edgy “porno-chic” aesthetic.

After her Vogue gig ended, Roitfeld decided to launch her own mag in New York, CR Fashion Book, and the film chronicles this experience. Interestingly, unlike Crawford, Roitfeld has a tranquil home life, complete with adoring husband and two gorgeous, grown-up children.

Fashionistas will likely enjoy watching Roitfeld at work and seeing her rub elbows with celebs such as Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Diane Von Furstenberg. And Roitfeld exemplifies Parisian chic style, stateside. Director Fabien Constant’s touch is light and lively, though overall it feels quite superficial – a bit like browsing through Vogue, glancing at all the glossy pictures and skipping the stories.

“Mademoiselle C” opened Sept. 11 in New York and opens Sept. 20 in LA at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills.

A Single Shot posterA Single Shot/116 min.

John (Sam Rockwell) is backwoods/country guy trying to make ends meet and looking to patch things up with his estranged wife and son. It’s when he resorts to poaching that his troubles begin and he’s quickly caught in a noirish trap – there’s a big pile of cash, sleazy lowlifes aplenty and a dead body, natch.

Director David M. Rosenthal’s haunting visuals help create a moody atmosphere but the film is undercut by its draggy pace and characters who feel less than authentic, particularly John and his blasé reaction to his own pivotal act of violence. Matthew F. Jones wrote the novel and screenplay. William H. Macy, master of the unctuous interloper, wears a scary toupee and preposterous plaid to great effect. Opens Sept. 20 in New York and in LA at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 in North Hollywood.

Prisoners movie posterPrisoners/153 min.

“Prisoners” looks set to be one of the fall’s best offerings, especially with such a stellar cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello and Paul Dano. Québec-born Denis Villeneuve directs. Am seeing it this weekend and will come back soon to update. Opens Sept. 20.

The Family/111 min.

In case it’s not clear from the cloying ads and previews, “The Family,” should do everyone a favor and stay at home. Despite a strong cast (Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones) who manage to eke out good performances, the film is weighed down by a weak script and a story that is both illogical and predictable.

This is a crime comedy? Really? Sadly, it’s just not funny. Snazzy camerawork eventually became distracting as did the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool score. I expected more from director Luc Besson. Opened Sept. 13.

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Film noir poster bliss with actress Jeanne Carmen

A few weeks ago, I posted about Jeanne Carmen, a pin-up model, ace golfer, B-movie actress and friend of Marilyn Monroe. Jeanne’s son Brandon James has kindly shared these images from her work in film noir and in the Western genre. She appears on posters for all three movies.

Portland posterPortland Exposé” (1957, Harold D. Schuster) based on a true story of a mob syndicate in Portland, Ore. You can watch scenes from the movie here.

Guns poster US

Guns poster BrazilGuns Don’t Argue” (1957, Richard C. Kahn, Bill Karn) was a compilation of a 1952 TV series released as a feature film. It’s true crime anthology of Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, Ma Barker and Bonnie & Clyde. In it, we see Jeanne Carmen as Floyd’s moll. You can watch scenes from the movie here.

Outlaws poster US

Outlaws poster Italy“The Three Outlaws” (1956, Sam Newfield) tells the story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Jeanne Carmen plays a temptress named Polimita. You can watch scenes from the movie here and here.
Monster posterAnd how could I resist running what is perhaps Jeanne Carmen’s most famous movie, “The Monster of Piedras Blancas” (1959, Irvin Berwick).

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Highlights from the next Sunday with Hitch on TCM

Sundays with Hitch smaller sizeTCM’s monthlong celebration of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, and his stellar filmmaking continues on Sunday, Sept. 15.

Here’s what we at FNB are especially looking forward to. Must pop copious quantities of corn. Yum!

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956)

Vertigo

“Rear Window”

“To Catch a Thief”

You can see the full schedule here.

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‘Partly Fiction’ is fully compelling, beautifully shot

Partly Fiction/2013/Adopt Films/77 min.

Partly Fiction posterAt 87 years old, Harry Dean Stanton is just as interesting to watch as he was 50 years ago, when he first started appearing on movie screens.

Perhaps that’s because the actor and veteran of neo noir has a look — like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones — that ages for sure but never really gets old, no matter how many decades pass. Classically handsome, not so much but Stanton’s rugged, weathered face is singularly expressive. Or as Sam Shepard puts it in a wonderful new documentary on Stanton: “His face is the story.”

Directed by Sophie Huber, “Partly Fiction,” is an of-the-moment glimpse into an iconic actor’s oeuvre and a mysterious man’s heart. Through interview footage, clips from some of his 250 films and his own renditions of American folk songs, we see a loner, an artist and a Hollywood survivor. Stanton is someone who has been steadily successful on his own terms in a cut-throat industry famous for using, abusing and discarding talent. Maybe his secret is he doesn’t seem to take Tinseltown or himself too seriously.

At least that was my impression as Stanton discussed his early days, working with his friends, acting greats Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. We see him at home and at a longtime hangout, Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood as he talks a bit about his roots in West Irvine, Ky., the craft of acting and a relationship that left him “broken-hearted.”

Offering their takes are on what makes Stanton tick along with Shepard are David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry. Seamus McGarvey provides luminous camerawork (black and white at Stanton’s home, color when he ventures out).

“Partly Fiction”’s  story is rich, resonant and real.

“Partly Fiction” opened Wednesday in New York. It opens today in LA with select cities to follow. Director Sophie Huber and Harry Dean Stanton will be doing a Q&A tonight (Friday, Sept. 13) following the 7:30 p.m. show at Landmark’s The Nuart in West LA.

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World 3-D Film Expo III honors Golden Age

It’s been 60 years since 3-D leapt off American movie screens with films like “Creature from the Black Lagoon” “It Came from Outer Space” and “Dial M for Murder,” among many others. Paying tribute to these and other Golden Age classics, the World 3-D Film Expo III continues at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood (6712 Hollywood Blvd.) through Sunday, Sept. 15.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, the expo is hosting a Film Noir Night! First on the lineup is “Inferno” (1953, Roy Ward Baker). In this brutal crime drama set in the scorching desert, Robert Ryan plays a rare good-guy role as a husband left to die with a broken leg by his cheating wife (Rhonda Fleming) and her lover (William Lundigan).

Next up is “I, the Jury” (1953, Harry Essex). Crime legend Mickey Spillane’s first Mike Hammer novel gets the 3-D treatment with terrific b&w cinematography by master D.P. John Alton and noir siren Peggy Castle opposite Biff Elliot as Mike Hammer.

Classics, restorations, premieres and rarities are being screened in a combination of 35mm 3-D projection and digital RealD 3-D. All of the features and shorts will be shown in their correct aspect ratio (many in widescreen).

The festival is produced by Sabucat Productions. You can see the complete schedule and get ticket info here or call the Expo box office at 661-724-0934.

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