1 Shot Wednesday

a flashbulb memory

Regular readers know my photo posts are called 5 Shots, where I select the best shots of an outing and ask you to pick your favorite from the batch. Consequently, there are hundreds of other shots that sit in my computer album having never made the final pick. Singular besties that when I see it months or years later, the picture instantly recalls the place and emotion. My goal for 2019 was to blog more. I thought I’d try a new series where every Wednesday I pick a random picture that functions as a flashbulb memory and share it. I hope you like them.

This one is from a blazing June morning full of the perfume of flowers. I turned a corner on a cobbled street in Capri and walked by a gated entrance to a building. I liked the similarity between the sharp spears and the sharp color of fuschia from the Bougainvillea bush. When I look at this picture, I remember the breeze that wiped my brow from the sea and the buzz of people chatting. Veering away a couple of blocks, the island hushed for me to hear the bee’s buzz, and the vibrant colors intoxicated me.

Bougainvillea Explosion

The Favourite (2018) More aggravating than entertaining

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I’m just an idiot standing around with no purpose.

I love historical dramas. It had all the ingredients of fine entertainment. Instead, I scratched my head with bewilderment at the end of it. Fellow-bloggers liked it a lot and many gave it high marks. But for me, I felt more aggravated than satisfied. Be my guest and disagree. Spoiler-alert! 

The Favourite (2018)  

A dark comedy? Yes. Did I leave the theater utterly depressed? Yes. For some, adding modernity to the early 1700s narrative makes Yorgos Lanthimosis‘s latest effort absurd. (The modern dancing, the overuse of the “C” word) is a time warp that doesn’t work. Absurd? No. Incongruent and jarring?Yes. Was the tone of his film to show the ludicrous lifestyle of the nobility? If so, he succeeded. Was his goal to show class-conflict and reveal the sordid details behind the curtains of Queen Anne’s bed? To illustrate an atypical love triangle between two female cousins whose ambition are Machiavellian? He succeeded. On the surface, it seems like a winner. So why was I turned off by the two cousins who battled to win the Queen’s favor, hence, ensure the power of court affairs and financial stability?

It has something to do with a trend in the entertainment industry. Hail to the stories of women who are strong and resourceful. Yes. But I feel there’s an exaggeration taking place at the expense of men. More films than ever showcase women as corrupt, aggressive, and savage while men are utter idiots. In The Favourite, for example, the scene where the naked man dances to avoid being hit by oranges by the rest of the men in the room. Whenever you have a black and white situation — all men are ridiculous and useless — or women are sex toys or dumb blondes– you’ve reached the same level, the basement. While I enjoy the actors Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, I found their characters repugnant and could not root for either one. Eventually, I became bored.

As far as cinematography, I thought the ultra-wide fisheye lens shots clever and in line with absurdism. The final scene was outstanding with the rabbits. She who steps on the rabbits is stepped on by the foot of the queen. Trapped and caged, all players in the love-triangle lose. The best reason to see The Favourite is for the outstanding acting job by Olivia Colman as Queen Anne of Britain. So while I can see how one could make a case for its virtues, overall, it’s not a film I would ever watch again. 3.0

L13FC: Vincente Minnelli

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Welcome back to Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club where we share comments with one another about a topic in the film industry. This is my lucky day because you are joining me on my birthday! Three cheers to Vincente Minnelli.

He was a costume and set designer in Chicago theater before he moved to New York City and was eventually hired in 1940 by producer Arthur Freed at MGM. Considered an auteur because of his style and creative control of his films, his background in theater and experience with stage sets and the use of color are trademarks of his musicals and dramatic films. According to The Gross: The Hits, The Flops by Peter Bart in 1999, Minnelli’s impact is profound in cinematic history. Vincente Minnelli directed An American in Paris (1951), Brigadoon(1954), Kismet (1955), and Gigi (1958). Other than musicals, he directed comedies and dramas including Madame Bovary (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Lust for Life (1956), Designing Woman (1957), and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963). He passed away at the age of 83 in 1986. Nominated several times, he finally won the Best Director Oscar for Gigi in 1958. As a director, he is credited for coaxing several actors (Shirley MacLaine, Spencer Tray, Gloria Grahame, Anthony Quinn, Kirk Douglas, among others) in Oscar-nominated performances. Would anyone disagree that Gene Kelley‘s magical dancing in the fantasy-rich sets of a Minnelli film is the best offering from MGM? I think not.

What’s the allure? It’s his use of color. Vincente used Technicolor better than most directors to shape the visual information much as a theater director does for the stage. Used as a device, he created motifs and incorporated visual imagery and symbols that added a layer of complexity for all to appreciate. Contrast his colorful worlds to the real world pallet of grays, browns, and Army green from the depression and WWII. In the fifties, the battered world needed the whimsical sweetness of a Minnelli film. His films were a tonic, the relief after the hangover of war.

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One example is his decision to use the bold color of fuchsia to signify the loose morals of Shirley MacLaine‘s “easy” character, Ginnie Moorehead in Some Came Running (1958). Walter Plunkett was the Costume Designer and combined with Minnelli’s vision to illustrate the theme of acceptance and the fracture of morality in small-town America in part by use of color, it was a memorable film.

Which sequences in his films have you noticed this theatrical trick to use color to help tell the story?

Since Gene Kelly was in several Minnelli films, take a look at this tribute by Christopher Walken.

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