Thursday, January 31, 2008

I don't need love/for what good will love do me?/Diamonds never lie to me/For when love's gone/they luster on. A dress for the gold-digger in you.

Yes, I've been listening to a lot of Shirley Bassey lately, goslings. That's Dame Shirley Bassey to you. I had the priviledge of meeting her once and she complimented my hair. I was all of 10 years old at the time, but I knew that this was something to hold in my heart forevah.

Diamonds and emeralds on what this ebayer calls a "Finnish" print resemble all the diamond hoodies I've been seeing since last year. For some reason I'd be tempted to wear it with a sweater vest, probably because it is about 20 degrees outside. A teal or grey sweater vest with a snowflake print. And a cravat in a contrasting color. And fuzzy white boots.

I very much like the layers on this guy's outfit, posted on Sartorialist. Very inspirational. But I'm working this look using a novelty print shirtwaist dress as the foundation. And trying my darndest to evoke a 1980s Merchant and Ivory film about the 1930s.

I saw Aimée and Jaguar over the weekend. I had seen it in the theater when it came out, but I had the flu and I thought, there's nothing like a WWII Jewish lesbian story to make one feel better. (After all, I'm not being hunted down by Nazis, and most likely, neither are you. See, don't you feel better already?) Alas, I have not found any on-line photos of the costumes, but I am very taken with the main character's wardrobe choices. She has a tweedy, high-wasited, full-legged pant suit that she wears with a sleeveless high-necked brocade top. She also has a black and white snowflake patterned sweater that she wears over a long-sleeved blouse with a cravat. Plus everything she wears looks as though it actually fits into the suitcase she lugs around. I just hate it when I see a movie where someone is supposed to be living out of a suitcase and I never see them wear the same thing twice. Drives me nuts.

I've been wanting a snowflake pattern sweater for a couple of years now, but that cemented it. However, poppets, as of today, I have gone an entire month without adding to my already closet-busting, apartment-swallowingly copious wardrobe. Maybe a month and a half, what with that holiday for goyim that starts with an "X" that I never know how to pronounce, and everything being closed around the end of December. A new year indeed.

Aimée and Jaguar is the unlikely story of a romance between an SS officer's wife and a Jewish woman who works for the underground. It's also based on a true story. Felice Shragenheim was a Jewish resistance fighter with a job at a Nazi propaganda newspaper. She was resourceful enough to still be in Berlin in 1945. She must have been an amazing person. It certainly made sense to me that Lily Wurst, the soldier's wife and mother of 4 who fell for her, would spend the rest of her life devoted to her memory. But since the story is told by the survivors, namely those who knew the least about her underground activities, Felice remains a series of anecdotes and it's hard to get a sense of her personally. We are left at the end of the film with two of her former lovers and their contradictory stories about her.

I saw Last Year at Marienbad (1961) last night at Film Forum. I saw this movie when I was 15 and loved it. So naturally I had trepidations. I was a morose 15 year old with literary pretentions and suicidial aspirations, now I am a maiden aunt who endulges in self-parody. I must admit that an adult viewing makes the whole thing look portentous, the anachronistic organ music fueling this effect. But it is very funny in parts. The solemn game of pick-up-sticks that Delphine Seyrig's austere-looking husband is always winning, the overblown white plumed peignoir, the discussion of the statue, the shoe with the broken heel: all hilarious, though perhaps unintentionally. When Ms. Seyrig attends the music concert, we see two violinists sawing away, but for sound the organ music just gets louder. I guffawed (though I was alone in doing so). It was like a trick from silent films. If only Guy Madden would re-do this film! That would be a knee-slapper for sure. I think that stylistically it may have informed his Dracula:Pages from a Virgin's Diary.

I like repetition. I mean, I'll say it again: I like repetition. And everything gets repeated here. Alain Robbe-Grillet's flat narration is repeated throughout. Again and again, the man tells Ms. Seyrig that he met her last year, and again and again she denies it. Is it true or not? Is it merely the coersive force of narrative that the man represents? Is Ms. Seyrig's denial a feminist act? Or is this just one long come-on, one unending pick-up line from a man in a tuxedo? But even for me the repetition of the early scenes wears a bit thin.

There are fissures. My favorite is when the man describes going up to Ms. Seyrig's room. She, of course, denies that this ever happened. But in the film, as it is the convention of film itself, we are shown the story that he is telling. He keeps saying that she stays away from the large mirror on the wall, but Ms. Seyrig in a plumed peignoir walks the entire length of it, touching it, clouding it with her breath, resisting his narration at every turn.

Ms. Seyrig is so beautiful in this film. She also has a lovely walk. Her hips really move, yet somehow there is something etherial about it. And the Chanel gowns don't hurt her any either. I could watch her walk around the formal garden of the chateau until the cows come home. It's really that beautifully shot. But there is something about her performance that is camp. Perhaps it's because I saw her in this dreadful 1971 lesbian vampire movie Daughters of Darkness, where she lays it on thick as the Countess Bathory. She's a blonde here, but still dressed to kill and slinking around silent baroque European hotels during the off-season.

The other actors are also visually interesting. Images of people in evening dress, frozen in place, the light reflecting from the chokers of pearls the women wear with black dresses. I wonder what Mr. Sartorialist would say about the men's wear.


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