Category: Movies

The White Shirt

And, oh my, the clothes. That scene where Annie, dressed again after the tennis match where she meets Alvy, emerges in her loose khaki pants, man’s shirt, waistcoat that unbuttons to reveal a wide tie, her hat framing her face, her sisal tote bag slung over her shoulder — that is the scene that launched a million ill-advised teenaged girls’ attempts at men’s wear.

from Annie Hall and Shopping Menswear

I’ve never owned a bucket bag, but I’ve riffed on the rest of the Annie Hall look at various stages of my life. I was a wee child when the film came out but Annie was still cool in 1988, 1992, 1997, 2003. I could never relate to her nerve-wracking flightiness but I could to the carefully rumpled three-piece suit. It said (and says), “I’m almost too smart to touch down properly.”
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The Camel Coat

A few years back there was a film version of the engrossing novel Possession by A.S. Byatt. You may know it only by the fact that it occasionally bobs up from the obscure depths of free Netflix recommendations. (Netflix, by the way, has decided that I like “Understated Comedies About Dysfunctional Families” by my ratings. I quickly ducked their radar by watching a slew of cheesy romantic comedies.)

Possession (the film) disappeared almost as soon as it appeared. I read the book in my early 20s and was engrossed for days on end, holing up in my smoky corner of Sitwell’s Coffeeshop with the rest of the desperate writers. (It is a writerly book about writers researching writers. Enough said.) A couple years later, I read in Mirabella magazine (the only magazine I have ever subscribed to, a combination of fashion and intellectualism, now sadly defunct) that it was being made into a film by Jane Campion, director of The Piano and last year’s absolutely lovely Bright Star.

Ten years went by, no Jane Campion movie. Read more

Gran Torino & the Great Masculine Tragedy

Last month I spent a lovely evening in the backyard of good friends in Prague. They were hosting a film night on the big screen with popcorn and the whole shebang. It felt just like Austin; the only thing missing were the cacophonous cicadas.

Our friends’ teenage daughter picked the film for the evening–Gran Torino. Which I’d not yet seen but when everyone says *you must*, right down to a Czech teenager, I know I’m missing something.

Gran Torino is set pretty close to where I grew up and the background subject is the ever-fast-changing racial terrain of the ex-Motor City (did I say ex?). I understood all the background jokes. (Yep, you were an eyesore if you dared drive a Toyota in the 80s. I came from a Ford family and a school full of motor company kids.)

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Garden State and the post-geek films

This movie didn’t make it to my top 10 films of the 2000s, but it showed up in the rather long list that I edited down. The thing about making top film/music/whatever lists, especially of recent things, is you just don’t know how these things will wear over time. Garden State was certainly a harbinger of things to come–the quirky indie romance comedy with a dash of realism and lo-fi of-the-moment soundtrack. Read more

Amélie Revisited (top 10 movies of the 2000s)

This is not exactly the time of year that people do their top 10s, but lately I’ve been taking inventory. Our 8-year anniversary is nearing, our house is turning into a huge potential garage sale, and I’m getting very near 40. No, it’s not a mid-life crisis, but it just so happens that decades line up with my life, having been conceived at the very beginning of the 70s. Naturally, I think in decade patterns: my adolescence in the 70s, my teens in the 80s, my 20s in the 90s.

My romance with Derek started with a film date on my 31st birthday. We’d taken a late train into downtown Prague to catch Amélie in a deserted theater. The posters of that famously pixie-charmed face had been plastered everywhere for a month. She was an odd heroine for an ominous time. The film was released just a few weeks after 9/11. I’d also loved the director’s other films (Delicatessen, City of Lost Children), but they were fairly surreal and obsessed in a gothic way, and this seemed like something new. Read more