Friday, November 27, 2009

Clouzot's Inferno would have been amazing

I was recently commissioned to write a review of Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (2009), a remarkable documentary by Serge Bromberg about the failure of a French film maker who simply tried too hard.

In a similar way to Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's Lost In La Mancha (2000), narrating the incredible chain of disastrous events that prevented Terry Gillian from finishing his adventure film about Don Quixote, Clouzot's Inferno is about a film that never saw the light of day, or better put, the darkness of a cinema theatre, in spite of all the efforts and money spent into it.

Over the course of the documentary, we understand that however cautiously Clouzot had planned and prepared every frame and scene of his film with a fine-toothed comb, between the Boulogne-Billancourt Studios in the west of Paris and a remote lake setting in rural Cantal; however demanding he was with his actors and crew, requiring them to work around the clock and re-shoot the same scenes time and again until the result would for some obscure reason finally satisfy him, the project was programmed to fail and Clouzot to sink into madness and depression with it. And, unlike Lost In La Mancha, which humourously blamed the forces of nature for ruining Gillian's movie, we are made to believe it is Clouzot's violently obsessive character that was the main cause for Inferno's failure.

For those not familiar with the film maker, best known for his classic Quai des Orfevres (1947), the documentary gathers testimonies, some funny, some scary, from the people who worked with him at the time, and had to put up with his increasing folly. The sweet and sour portrait they brush up is that of a truly inspired and dedicated artist who just didn't know where to draw the line and who gave everything he had to express his inspiration as truthfully as possible. Interestingly, the film was supposed to tell the story of a middle-aged man (Serge Reggiani) who becomes pathologically jealous about his beautiful, candid wife (Romy Schneider) and day dreams of incongruous scenes where she lavishly cheats on him with the local mechanic. Although the documentary doesn't attempt to rebuild Inferno as a whole from the rushes, it does offer a vision of what some of the key scenes would have been like, at times involving current French actors in rehearsal-style sketches to help us understand better how scenes would have followed each other.

As we go through the different steps of the film production, highlighting how unusual the project was in its Hollywoodian scale and budget, at a period in France when the Nouvelle Vague advocated spontaneity and improvisation on a shoestring, we discover Clouzot's indulgent yet controlled cinematography and his imaginative representation of erotic themes. The documentary makes great use of the numerous hours of film material that resulted from the titanic work on avant-garde special effects, meant to translate the troubled state of mind of Serge Reggiani's character. We see some amazing stroboscopic and kaleidoscopic effects using the latest techniques at the time, offering unprecedented sights of world-famous star Romy Schneider in hallucinogenic colours and outfits, and an obsessive, almost ghastly perfectionism applied to every single scene - taking actors to their physical limits. Right until the end of the epic, cut short by Clouzot's non-fatal heart attack, we see the gap between the film maker and the rest of the world widening, symbolised by Reggiani's nightmarish visions.
The film will give you a unique opportunity to admire Schneider's universal beauty under a new light, dive into a unique movie-maker's atmosphere, indulge in 1960's vibrant visual effects and ponder on what the film would actually have been like if it had been completed.

TR for Art is Alive.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Etre une femme Saint-Laurent.

Le Figaro Madame recently asked Catherine Deneuve and other actresses what is their definitition of being a Saint Laurent's woman. Here is Charlotte Rampling's answer:
What's your idea of feminity?
A Saint Laurent tuxedo with a very beautiful jewel on your jacket. High heels and your favourite perfume.
According to you, what's the "Saint Laurent woman"?
She knows that allure accounts for everything. She knows that she needs to understand how to be in her body and in her mind. After that, she just needs to be Saint Laurent of course!
Are you a Saint Laurent's woman?
I am from times to times, since I am 20 years-old, a Saint Laurent's woman.
A woman should never leave home without...
...her mobile, her makeup powder, her lipstick, her debit card, her keys, because she needs to go back home at some point.
What's the height of elegance?
My mother.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Contemplation: Alexander McQueen's shoes Spring/Summer 2010 collection

Alexander McQueen is a genius.

Quote of the week: Tom Ford on YLS and Pierre Bergé

"Being at Yves Saint Laurent was such a negative experience for me even though the business boomed while I was there. Yves and his partner, Pierre Bergé, were so difficult and so evil and made my life such misery. I've never talked about this on the record before, but it was an awful time for me…. I have letters from Yves Saint Laurent that are so mean you cannot even believe such vitriol is possible. I just think he was jealous, and Yves and I were friends before I took over the company. But then when we began to move the company forward and were very successfull…he just became so insanely jealous… Pierre and Yves were just evil. So Yves Saint Laurent doesn't exist for me."

Tom Ford, The Advocate, November/December issue 2009.

Michael Jackson's portrait by Andy Warhol sold for 800 000$

Christie's auction house, estimated this portrait of Michael Jackson between 500 000$ and 700 000$ but it actually reached 812 000$ yesterday night in New York. Dating from 1984 it features Michael at the time of his "Thriller" period. A similar portrait had already been sold in August for more than one million dollars.
More info on:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Conor Harrington - Headless Heroes at Lazarides Rathbone

I really enjoyed this show by Conor Harrington "Headless Heroes" at Lazarides Rathbone, in London, running until the 26th November.
Harrrington's practice is split between inside (oil painting) and outside (murals), and the parallel between oil painting and graffiti becomes a paragon for his subjects specifically authority and its defacement. There are many references to the history of oil painting, from Manet's the Execution of Maximilian to Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and that's what I found really interesting. Go and see it !

More info on:

François Nars' new book.

Naomi Campbell

Make-up artist Francois Nars is celebrating the 15th anniversary of his own cosmetic range with a limited picture book, which will be available from 15× for 30 days from mid November onwards.

keeping with the company’s anniversary theme, the publication is also titled 15x15 and includes 15 photographs of renowned friends of the make-up artist, whose Nars made-up faces document the talents of the star make-up artist.
It looks amazing ! What do you think?
Marc Jacobs

Amanda Lepore

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marni partners with Ladurée

When Fashion and pastries meet, the result is amazing! Consuelo Castiglioni has imagined charming limited edition boxes for Ladurée with the traditional fashion Marni's language of dots and flowers. Following last year's collaboration with Louboutin, Ladurée continues to set up cross branding partnerships.

Each box, conceived for eight or eighteen macaroons, contains chocolate macaroons decorated with gold leaf ... But if you're unhappy with gold leaf (who would be?) you can still pick up your favourite flavour. I love it!

More info on:
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