Daily Archives: September 19, 2015

Women He’s Undressed – Director – Gillian Armstrong

This is a truly great documentary about Orry-Kelly who is perhaps the most influential costume designer of his time — the golden age of Hollywood. He was Australian from a small rural town and the most unlikely to end up where he did. As a costume designer he worked on over 250 films including Casablanca. Some Like it Hot, Irma la Douce and An American in Paris. He won three Oscars and worked for MGM, 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios. He dressed Marlene Dietrich and Betty Davis and Marilyn Monroe and of course did the gowns for Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot. His sense of design allowed him to make the careers of many female stars of his time.

He was also gay and had a long term relationship with Cary Grant and shared the lifestyle with many other stars and artists of the time including Randolph Scott among others. However being gay was illegal and increasingly frowned upon by the industry leading to Grant and others having to abandon their obvious lifestyle and even getting married to cover the reality of their lives. Orry-Kelly was not so willing to cover his real life. It led to the end of his relationship with Grant but he moved on and found another lover who was not in the business and who he kept secret.

The documentary uses an actor to play the role of Orry-Kelly as a narrator which works very well as well as some great scenes from his movies and interviews with other costume designers, directors and film critics who know his work and aspects of his life. The Director, Gillian Anderson introduced the film and told us not to leave before the credits run since she inserted a final scene in the middle of the credits. The last scene of the film before the credits tells us that Orry-Kelly wrote a tell all memoir that has been repressed and prevented from publication by Cary Grant. The manuscript was lost. However Gillian Anderson made a great effort to track it down and in the final final scene inserted in the credits we learn that the manuscript was with his mother in Australia and is still in the hands of the family. One can only hope that the legal obstacles can be overcome so we can buy the book. Apparently it is available there but I can’t see how to get it shipped to Canada. Rats!!!

At any rate this is a great film, funny, interesting and educational all in one. Go for it.


Youth – Director – Paolo Sorrentino

This film will likely be on the OSCAR track if not for best film then for best actor for Michael Caine. The director is Italian and noted for several previous films that were generally pretty depressing in theme and plot. They have been lauded for quality but not for fun. This film takes him in a new direction. The story is lighter than anything he has previously done and offers a theme of redemption. I found some of it very beautiful to look at, very funny in several places, moving in others, but he insists on inserting scenes and images that as far as I can see are a tribute to Fellini and have nothing to do with the plot or theme. Nonetheless I was entertained more than I was irritated and the acting is top notch. I am reminded at how effortlessly the old pros like Caine and Keitel can act while being impressed with the Paul Dano a young actor who has a great career in front of him.

The story is about two old friends, Caine and Keitel who are at Swiss spa to rest and regain health. Keitel is a film director and Caine a retired composer and orchestra conductor. Both have hidden issues in their lives that remain unresolved and which come to light in the course of the film. I can’t tell you how the plot evolves but will intrigue you with the fact that Miss Universe is also there and prone to walking about with minimal clothing, and a small subplot in which Caine and Keitel bet on the quality of the relationship between ta couple who eat dinner at table near them. The picture above has them observing a change in that relationship. All very funny.

On the whole a good movie and one that will be out this fall and worth the time to see.


No Men Beyond This Point – Director – Mark Sawers

This was the funniest movie of the week. A mockumentary that the director told us was more about mocking documentaries than mocking the topic of the film. Still the topic was great and the film very funny. Filmed in Canada with a Canadian cast and director, the film speculated on a world in which women begin getting pregnant through parthenogenesis or asexually. They just become pregnant without requiring male involvement and worse, at least from the male perspective, all these pregnancies result in female babies. After a few decades men are becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the population and as no new males are being born, older and older. The film focusses on the youngest remaining man, a 37 year old who is working as a nanny and housekeeper for an all-female household. Among the speculations is that sex becomes something to be refrained from at least in the policies of the female government and a new naturalist religion evolves. Men are forced to live in compounds and the title of the film comes from signs restricting males from leaving their compounds.

The film lacks good scientific background but it uses great documentary style and while you do not laugh hysterically you do chuckle continuously and in a good way. It is a very funny movie. The director was there for a Q and A and was asked some pretty silly questions like why he did not address issues of gay/lesbian sex, his lack of multicultural or racial variety in the cast, the problem of reduced genetic diversity in parthenogenesis etc. It was after all a comedy and a joke and needed to be accepted as such and not as a serious sci-fi film. On the other had he was asked how he came up with the idea and he confessed his starting point was that he wanted to make a movie, he had limited funds so it would be shot in his house, use only 6-7 actors and involve a love triangle. The idea for the movie came from a story he read about komodo dragons who can reproduce without male/female intercourse. He felt bad for the komodo dragon and speculated on this possibility in human populations. Thus a movie is born.

I think this is well worth your time if you can track it down. I suspect it will show up at Hot Docs but not in general release but if you can find it, see it.


Victoria – Director – Sebastian Schipper

I am not entirely sure about this movie. It is not the best I have ever seen and it is a wee bit too long but all in all very entertaining. Victoria is a German film but most of the dialogue is in English. Set in Berlin it tells the story of a young Spanish student who hooks up late one night or really early one morning with four guys who are out for the night partying. What starts out as a fun encounter and a blossoming romance with one of the guys slowly turns darker as the guys are coerced into a bank robbery and the girl – Victoria – becomes the driver of the getaway vehicle. I will not give away the whole story but needless to say it all starts to go awry until the climactic ending. The characters speak English because the guys are German and Victoria is Spanish. The common tongue is English which they all speak relatively well and which makes for interesting dialogue.

What is unusual about this movie is that it all happens in real time and is shot in one continuous take. Apparently they did three versions and the final one is the one that was released. The dialogue is all ad libbed which is a credit to the actors since it is mostly in English which is a second language for them all. The pace of the movie picks up slowly over the time and ends in a rush. Great fun really and although one can punch all kinds of holes in the plot, the nature of the filming is unique and the story compelling so you really want to see how it all comes out at the end and definitely stay hooked. Not sure when this might be released. The film will be at several film festivals including Vancouver and Berlin and hopefully will get general release in the New Year if not before. Definitely worth the effort to see.