Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Movie Review: The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Movie:  0 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  In Spain, a woman who is skilled at manipulating men and playing them off each other manipulates men and plays them off each other.  This movie was a giant meh for me.  On the one hand, Marlene Dietrich is solid, the set and costume design is extravant, and the cinematography is competent, but on the other hand, you always knew exactly where this was going to go, neither the woman nor the men she manipulates are compelling, and the movie didn't have a very insightful take on its subject material. 

The Fashions:  6 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  The clothing was pretty extravagant and elaborate, but in most cases felt more like costumes than clothing.

In short:  If you want to see some exciting Spanish (or faux Spanish) clothing, it's worth watching, but otherwise, probably not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Movie Review: Blonde Venus (1932)

The Movie:  10 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  A husband and wife live out the consequences of the way she earned money to pay for his life-saving medical treatment.  Marlene Dietrich is amazing as always, the cinematography is stellar, and the story is well-told.  Such a brilliant exploration of how shortsighted and destructive masculine pride can be. 

The Fashions:  8 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Marlene Dietrich sure has some amazing stage costumes.  Genius.

Movie Review: Morocco (1930)

The Movie:  7 (on a scale of -10 to 10). A jaded lounge singer meets a jaded legionary at a godforsaken outpost in Morocco, and they have to decide whether they love each other and how far they're willing to go for it.  The movie was slow and spare by modern standards-- can you imagine how this would look if it were a war romance made today?-- but Marlene Dietrich is mesmerizing and the cinematography is really good for what they had to work with.  At the time, this movie was infamous.  A woman wearing a coat and tails?  A woman kissing another woman?  SCANDAL. 

The Fashions:  10 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  I'm already partial to early 30's fashions, but here they are elevated to the sublime.  You could wear anything Marlene Dietrich wore (maybe with the exception of the coat and tails), and it would still be considered the height of elegance and class today.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Movie Review: East Side, West Side (1949)

The Movie:  7 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  A self-absorbed loser has to come to terms with being a self-absorbed loser as his friends and family gradually stop making excuses for him.  A little slow, but overall a good depiction of mature people handling this sort of situation well-- thinking long and hard to give the self-absorbed loser a fair shake, but ultimately coming the the conclusion that he's just not worth it.  Carolyn Hax and Captain Awkward would be proud.

The Clothes:  8 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  The wife gets some awesome suits, the femme fatales get some awesome evening dresses, and there's a scene with live modeling in a department store (department store?). It's great to see late 40's dresses, ones that have started to become more structured, but before skirt volume got completely out of hand.  It also gave me perspective on what strapless sheath dresses with tulle overlays looked like in action.  On pattern envelopes, they look incredibly lame, but in motion, they look amazingly sexy. 

Movie Review: My Reputation (1946)

The Movie: 5 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  A thirties-ish widow gets pushback from her family and friends when she goes on the dating market again.  Admittedly, I'm not the target audience of this sort of movie, but my feeling about the whole thing was...meh.  It didn't feel like real characters so much as a loose agglomeration of people doing either the right thing or the wrong thing as the plot required.  The mother was a particularly egregious example, but the boyfriend was also pretty bland.

The Fashions:  5 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Some nice tailored suits, a few evenign dresses, but nothing I felt I had to immediately go out and replicate.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Movie Review: Baby Face (1933)

The Movie:  9 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  A young woman rises from poverty by getting an entry-level job at a bank and sleeping her way to the top.  This was a deeper and more thought-provoking movie than it had any right to be.  It would have been easy for the movie to present the protagonist as a one-sided evil and manipulative woman, but the movie consistently underscores her intelligence, her competence, and the fragility of her financial situation.  She clearly could have succeeded in the boardroom purely on the virtue of her own merits, but if the only way for her to get there was to be the partner of a member of the board...how bad was the system, if you can't be both ethical and ambitious?

The Fashions:  10 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Once the protagonist becomes moderately successful, the men around her shower her with money and she starts to wear some really interesting outfits.  Some of them are outrageous and frilly, but there are some really fabulous evening gowns.  I also love the inventiveness of 1930's sleeve designs, and I wish we could get some of that back in today's modern world.

Movie Review: Touch of Evil (1958)

Another review of an old movie for both the fashions and the movie.

The Movie:  7 (on a scale of -10 to 10).  A murder along the US/Mexico border inflames relations between the two countries as both American and Mexican officers work to solve the crime.  The plot was good, but didn't engage me as much as it should have because I'm generally not terribly interested in murder mysteries.  I was also preoccupied thinking about my favorite border town, and how everyone there must be terrified right now.  In any case, the cinematography was exceptionally good, especially the opening shot. 

The Fashions:  6 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Generally I don't find 1950's fashions as interesting as the 30's or 40's.  But, in this case, there was one pleated pencil skirt that would have looked completely unremarkable on a pattern envelope or in a fashion photo, but it looked amazing as it moved.