Michael and I have seen a few movies lately. I thought District 9 was intriguing enough and mostly original — though I wonder if the novelty of structuring movies around “found video” and “news reports” is wearing thin, or if it’s just so commonly accepted now as a narrative device that I need to get over the Blair Witchy/Cloverfieldy tendency to discount it.
We liked Inglourious Basterds, and viewed it fairly free of all the fuss and analysis that preceded it. There are several scenes that are exceptionally taut and tense, that thing Tarantino does so well, where it goes on and on and by the time what happens happens you are just a wound-up ball of giddy fret. I took the movie simply as the WWII fantasia of a messed-up little movie nut. The comic-bookness of it made me sort of wish that 1940s Wonder Woman would show up and join in on the Hitler ass-kicking. (Which would solve two problems at once: It would underline Tarantino’s imaginary aim, and it would relieve the studios from struggling and struggling to bring WW to the big screen.)
Also, I got a note from Gene Weingarten, who insists that the wonderful Christoph Waltz (Inglourious’s big baddie) is a dead ringer for … Hank Stuever? This reminds me of the time years ago I went to a Seder supper at a friend’s house and a guest said I looked like Rolf from The Sound of Music.
Speaking of good looks, the movie we most loved of late is The September Issue, RJ Cutler’s documentary about the making of the fattest issue of the year of Vogue magazine. Mostly, The September Issue validates the quirks and demands of the Vogue world spoofed (and not-so-spoofed) in The Devil Wears Prada.
But the real revelation here is not Anna Wintour, but Grace Coddington, the magazine’s longtime creative director. I’m transfixed by Coddington, who grew up in Wales reading old Vogues in the 50s and became a fashion model, and later an editor — for years at British Vogue, and then coming with Wintour to American Vogue. In Coddington, we see what I consider to be heartbreaking but necessary events of editorial compromises. She is a brilliant fashion editor, the visualizer and maker of Vogue’s loveliest pictorial “story” spreads. Most of her favorite work ends up on Wintour’s reject pile. Yet she plows on.
Anyone who has ever had their hardest work cut by an editor or boss, or changed by an ever-expanding committee, and (this is the most important part) knew in their hearts that the compromise they are making (this time, next time, always) really is for the betterment of the overall project or publication, will also fall in love with Grace Coddington. “I’m a romantic,” she finally admits. And she keeps going. What a way to start the Monday.