Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Classic Movie Challenge: Funny Face

I have always loved the movies.  I know people use that line a lot, but my first job was at a movie theatre, so I think it holds a bit more weight.  Unless you are talking to Martin Scorsese.  Then he definitely loves the movies more than me.  In high school I wrote my first ten page essay on how I wanted to be a film director.  I guess you could say that I've always been interested in telling stories in one form or another: through illustration, through song, through writing, and I daydreamed of doing it through film as well.  I filled out postcards and had information for film schools sent to my house during the college search.  I wonder if I had followed my artistic pursuits at a younger age if I would be happier with my career... but that is neither here nor there and I wouldn't trade my college years in Madison for the world.

Given that I love the movies I don't go as often as I would like here in Miami.  In Madison I was spoiled with a Sundance Cinema.  There were only two in the country at the time (now there are six) and I made the most of the student deals on Tuesday nights.  I went so much I even had a card that got stamped for each ticket I bought.  Sundance 608 had the big movies and the little art ones.  It had awesome popcorn and even better ambiance.  Here I am fighting the throngs of teeny boppers and their poorly behaved parents (yes, parents) just to get a ticket- I avoid the concession stand at all costs.  I like feeling like I'm escaping the world when I go to the movies.  In Miami, more often than not, I struggle to keep my attention on the film and not on the people in the audience.

When I moved down here I got myself a Netflix subscription.  It was better back then because I could watch streaming television and older movies while requesting DVDs of newer releases.  I've changed my plan now that Netflix has changed their policies.  I get three DVDs a month.  I watch a lot of newer releases and television shows.  I was watching some British programs like The IT Crowd, and some American ones like The Big Bang Theory.  While I make room in my "queue" for the occasional drama, I spend most of my time with comedy.  I love to laugh.  There is enough drama on the world's stage to keep me glum for a lifetime.

After watching My Week With Marilyn I realized that I have virtually no experience with classic cinema.  I've seen Gone with the Wind (snore), For Whom the Bell Tolls (double snore), The Maltesse Falcon, The African Queen, and Breakfast at Tiffany's.  That's it.   I can't even remember what happened in most of those films.  Considering I've adored Audrey Hepburn and all she stands for since I was in high school, this is appalling.  I decided to load my "queue" up with some of the funnier classics: Auntie Mame, Some Like It Hot, Roman Holiday, The Gay Divorcee, and a few others.

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face

I started my classic movie marathon with  Funny Face and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I've been in musicals in high school, but I'm not a die hard fan of them.  But this one had music by Gershwin in it and I'm sorry, but you cannot go wrong with him, or with Fred Astaire's dancing.  And to me, Audrey Hepburn is gold.  I thought the story was very cute and surprisingly modern.  It asks the question: can you value fashion without being vapid?  Can you enjoy the seemingly frivolous while holding your own philosophies about the important?  Kay Thompson as fashion editor Maggie Prescott was amazing.  She was an older character that displayed as much vitality, and PIZAZZ (her favorite adjective) that the younger Hepburn did.  I was pleased to see such a large role for an older woman.  And she can sing!  I sort of have a bad taste in my mouth for older, female characters (unless played by the goddess Meryl Streep).  It has to do with growing up in a culture that emphasizes youth and with being relegated to "old lady roles" (save for once) in my high school drama career because I had a different body type.  I was forever playing the mother, the brash older broad, or the stern British senior citizen.

While the movie ends on a happy note, it didn't complete like movies of our day with the stereotypical wedding and a baby.  I feel like every story I've read recently, whether it be sci-fi, fantasy, action-adventure, or realistic fiction, ends with the characters getting married and finding out shortly afterwards that there is a baby on the way.  (Or, if the book/film doesn't end like this, there is sure to be a money making sequel...)  This isn't the dream for everyone, including myself, despite the fact I married young.  As a viewer, we get the idea that even if Hepburn and Astaire don't end up together, she's still a tough cookie with a well-educated mind of her own who'll get by just fine.  I like that.  I like Thompson's no-holds barred attitude that doesn't also take a cut-throat approach along with it.  There are no true enemies in this film.  Sure, it's not entirely realistic, but movies don't have to be.  Some of the best movies and books are ones where we suspend our fantasy and enjoy the story for what it is.

At this point in my cinematic life I am going to educate myself with the seemingly simple yet deceptively layered stories that invoke glamor, romance, and slapstick comedy; where the images are not as sharp as high definition, but they are not as flat as some of the movies today.

No comments:

Post a Comment