Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {Sweet and Lowdown}

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Sweet and Lowdown tells the story of Emmet Ray, the second greatest jazz guitarist and a first class shit. What makes this film unique is that rather then present Emmet's story as a mockumentary or a straight-forward drama, Woody Allen intersperses snippets of interviews with real jazz buffs talking about these outrageous stories and rumours about Emmet Ray with the fictional biopic.
Little is known about Emmet Ray. He just pops up in jazz history in Thirties Chicago and disappears a few years later after making some records. What is known about him is that he was a drunk, egomaniac, obnoxious, pathetic genius who would rarely show up to gigs, but was at least a snappy dresser. What is supposed about him is that he was a pimp, a kleptomaniac and he so idolized Django Reinhardt (unquestionably the greatest jazz guitarist) that he would cry while listening to his records and faint whenever they were in the same room together. He also had a relationship with a sweet mute named Hattie and a disastrous marriage to a rich wannabe writer named Blanche and he got his kicks by shooting rats at the dump.
What's great about the costumes in this movie is that they don't look like costumes; they look like they've been worn regularly, particularly with the extras. As usual with this month's films, there are some great sets and pretty wallpaper.
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Cameo by John Waters
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Musical Guest {Leon Redbone}


I thought that it was about time to start a long overdue irregular feature on vintage music. I don't listen to much Rockabilly, Motown, Pop or, with a few exceptions, anything after 1959. Whenever anyone mentions any modern musical acts, I just stare blankly at them. But what I do listen to, and have been for my entire life, is Jazz. Which brings me to my first musical guest.

Leon Redbone is a still touring gravel voiced interpreter of early Twentieth Century Jazz, Blues and Tin Pan Alley standards. Not much is really known about him. From what I could find out, Mr. Redbone is a mysterious and eccentric carbon-based life form known for his trademarked Panama Hat, dark glasses, suits, facial whiskers and cult following. He started performing in nightclubs and folk festivals in the Toronto area in the early 1970's. Even before he had a recording contract, Rolling Stone wrote an article about him, stating that his performances were so authentic that you could hear the surface noise of an old 78. He gained a larger public profile when he made several appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the Seventies and Eighties.

In addition to being a vocalist, he is also extremely proficient on the acoustic guitar, particularly with finger picking and is a talented whistler. His stage presence (I have not seen him live, but would love too) is very simple, usually just him in a chair with his guitar, mixing stories, jokes and eccentric tales about himself with his songs.
So far, Mr. Redbone has released fifteen albums, although you might have heard him singing with Zooey Deschanel over the closing credits of Elf and a number of his songs were featured in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (last year's Woody Allen movie) including this one:

What I like about Leon Redbone in how he uses his own, unique voice to interpret Jazz and Blues songs, some well known and some not, and how you can hear how much fun he is having and how much he loves playing these songs. It really hurts when you hear a musician play a song and you can tell that they are tired of singing the same song over and over again, but at least with Mr. Redbone, he is still just as fresh and lively now as he was in the Seventies.

Here he is in 2008 talking about the origins of Jazz and then singing "Mr. Jelly Roll Baker"

Mr. Redbone and band playing "Ditty-Wah-Ditty" on Johnny Carson in 1988

Friday, April 22, 2011

Daily Outfit

22 April 11

I miss my blue door, but what do you think of my new porch?

I've been wearing this outfit a lot lately, mostly because I'm loving the colour combination of yellow, teal and grey at the moment. It's also one of the few outfits that isn't wrinkled or being washed at the moment. I've had to wash all of my clothes since moving because my old house had a lot of mould in it, so my clothes tended to have that musty smell when I was unpacking them. Of course, the new washing machine broke two days after we moved and it took almost two weeks for men to come in and fix it. I've also realized that almost half of my wardrobe can only be washed by hand, plus there's my garbage bag full of scarves. Vintage isn't just a fashion, it's a commitment to a lifestyle. One of endless mending, washing and ironing.
I ordered this snood from Arthelia's Attic on Etsy and it's fantastic! Naomi makes great quality snoods and mine arrived in a darling parcel. Plus it keeps one's hair up all day (with a couple of bobbie pins) without shifting. Although, I really should have done my hair in victory rolls, my hair just wont let me do that, so I had to make do with my normal rolls.

I embroidered my new to me cardigan using the pattern from Cassie's tutorial. I just love Scottie Dogs and I now want to embroider my clothes more with little vintage designs. Any suggestions?

Detail 22 April 11

As you know, I've been capping Woody Allen movies this month. This is the trailer for Manhattan Murder Mystery, which I'm not covering but you'll love if you're in a Nick and Nora mood but want to see how Annie Hall dressed in the 1990's.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {Bullets Over Broadway}

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New York: The Late 1920's
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John Cusack plays David Shayne, a starving artist who has written a couple of failed plays. Fortunately he has a producer who believes in his latest play. However, the only investor he can find has a condition:
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His girlfriend Olive wants to be a star and she has to have a part in the play and like all gangster's molls, she has no talent and a horrible voice. David wants to back out rather then have Olive play a psychiatrist but when Nick the mobster tells you that you'll put on the play or he'll nail your kneecaps to the dance floor, you have Olive play the psychiatrist and lump it.
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So David starts having rehearsals and a whole host of problems emerge. The leading man is a compulsive overeater, the ingenue has a dog named Mr. Woofles, Olive can't act, the play sucks and it turns out that Nick's hit-man/Olive's bodyguard is a better writer then David is.
Bullets Over Broadway has some fabulous costumes, great sets, a jazzy soundtrack (lots of Bix Beiderbecke), a few glimpses of period undergarments and some mild violence. Plus it's wonderfully hilarious.
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The best part of the movie is Dianne Wiest, who won an Oscar for playing Helen Sinclair, the Diva of Broadway and the lead in David's play. Think Norma Desmond, only employed and guzzling bathtub gin. She has a terrific wardrobe and a catch phrase!
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