Friday, May 18, 2007

Out of this world. Go get this futuristic 50s cotton solar system-themed sundress. This intergalactic frock does not merely imitate the planets in aligned, it depicts our little patch of the galaxy as an Alexander Calder mobile. And it has pockets. What more could you want?

Alas, it is too small for me. (B34,W26, H40) but you out there with the little waist—hop to it.

In The Gilded Assassin (the spy movie musical version of my life, for those who’ve tuned in late), I’d wear this to a planetarium. Something would go wrong and the lights would go out (“My diamonds, they’re gone!” cried the Contessa.) As a ninjayogini, I’d need to adapt to the dark. But since all my dresses are reversible in my fantasy world, I’d turn just turn my dress inside out. (Don’t worry, I’m wearing a lovely silk full slip underneath to make my quick changes in all modesty. Plus the lights went out, okay?) The alternate pattern inside would be mostly black but showing the stars at night. Maybe even a faintly luminous diagram of the constellations as a border print, or across the bodice. Maybe I could use the constellation print to light my way on the roof as I chase after the jewel thief. Or maybe I am the jewel thief! Maybe I could blink the constellations on and off to send messages in Morse code to an accomplice in a helicopter overhead.

Then there would be a chase scene in the gardens of Versailles. I seem to remember from a French class ages ago that each of the fountains represent a different planet.
At some point in the movie during a quick change I’d have to get caught in my underwear though, just for laughs. In that case I’d want to be wearing Angry Underwear. It was something I saw in a magazine in the late 80’s, but alas am unable to find any internet documentation of it. Nor can I remember the artist’s name. Angry Underwear consisted of an old skool missile bra hand-painted with a vicious open-mouthed shark over each breast. Undies to match, of course. Big old-timey granny undies. Yeah, I could sure use some Angry Underwear now. But in The Gilded Assassin, I’d be caught in my Angry Underwear and need to camouflage myself somehow somewhere. Maybe in a koi fish pond? Fish tank? As a faux mermaid in one of those huge tanks in Florida resorts?

Ninjayoga has to be played for laughs since my skills as a spy consist of holding very still and choosing the appropriate novelty print. Come to think of it, I’m kind of like Agent 13 in Get Smart. He’s the one who’s always in a mailbox, or a potted palm. You never actually see his face.

Ah, goslings, see how a good novelty print can set me adreamin’.

I watched The Blue Gardenia (1953) last night. Anne Baxter (who I will forever think of as Eve Carrington from one of my favorite movies All About Eve) plays a switchboard operator who has a seriously bad night. Nat “King” Cole has a cameo as the talent in a pseudo-Polynesian nightclub. There’s a blind flower seller who says that taffeta “speaks a language of its own”. And a sleazy artist of pin-up calendars gets his comeuppance.

Directed by Fritz Lang, beautifully shot in black and white, and occasional grainy stock footage of Los Angeles freeway overpasses, there was much to delight. But the gender politics, ugh! The plot is basically the story of attempted rape, assisted by alcohol and possibly a drugged cup of coffee. But boy was there a lot of blaming the victim nonsense that was hard to stomach. If you plan on seeing this, I recommend inviting your patriarchy-blaming friends over. That way you can hiss and boo when it gets super sexist. 1953 was not so long ago and though it’s hard to watch, I think it’s important to examine these moments as patriarchy’s time capsules. Plus there’s plenty of victim-blaming going on still. Sigh.

It is always a treat to watch Ms. Baxter work. She is Lee Strasberging, Uta Hagening, and Stella Adlering it to the max. I enjoyed watching her make choices (because an actor makes choices, by gum). She has some beautiful moments playing 4 sheets to the wind blotto. There are other scenes that she carries on her back, without even dialogue to help her, as when she decides to burn her black taffeta dress. She mined the caverns of her heart to bring reality to the cardboard character of Norah Larkin. And she comes up with gold, goslings, gold. Though the script has a few snappy lines, it didn’t do much to help her. This ain’t one of Lang’s masterpieces for sure, but I felt his presence in her solo scenes most strongly. At least he was doing his darnedest to support her.

Ms. Baxter has some ferocious acting chops. Watch and learn, goslings. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Razor’s Edge (1946). I recommend you watch that one for her scenes alone.

The Blue Gardenia is many things throughout the film: a nightclub, a song, the name the newspapers give to the “unknown murderess”, and a flower pinned to a lapel and used as evidence. The song is sung by Nat “King” Cole, of course, with arrangement by Nelson Riddle, both are fabulous, both worth the price of the rental. The song is played (and sung) multiple times, meaning something different each time, a cinematic technique that I always enjoy.
Without being a spoiler, I can tell you that the ending is a cop-out. But endings are hard and usually fall flat, don’t they?


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