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Shoes in Cinema: Kinky Boots

I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing cobblers glue.

I’m in Virginia now, and although the worst seems to be over, the whole DC Metro area got pounded like British currency. My fella, Hot Latin Boy, is holding down the fort at Plumcake Cottage in Baja, Mexico where a previously inactive volcano has started to be less inactive as one might hope. Frankly I’m just one Aimee Mann song away from that crazy scene in Magnolia and I’m pretty sure my wiper blades won’t be able to take it.

I’ve got this weird survivalist streak that means my hatches were battened down days ago, and friends, let me tell you: once I batten something, it stays battened, so my best friend and I had nothing to do but watch old movies and wait for the power to go out.

Miraculously, our grid has stayed up and we made it all the way through my All Time Favorite Movie About Shoes: Kinky Boots.

I have been told by people who would know that I was at the American premier of Kinky Boots, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I was working for a film festival  so it’s certainly possible, and that was the year I discovered the magical hallucinatory powers derived from a heady combination of extreme sleep deprivation and a diet consisting entirely of Chupa Chups lollipops and absolutely unforgivable cheap champagne. Still, I’d like to think I’d remember something.

It’s not every day you see a six-foot tall black British man with a voice for Othello in a wig for Diana Ross, at least not since my circuit party days.

For those who were also chasing the Chupa Chups dragon and managed to miss it, Kinky Boots revolves around Charlie Price whose family has been making high-quality men’s footwear for over a hundred years. When the company hits the skids thanks to an influx of cheap competition, he realizes his factory must change or die.

Enter Lola, a SoHo (the proper one, not the fake Yankee one) drag performer with a penchant for red patent leather, riding crops and Eartha Kitt.

Although it’s based on a true story, it is a bit formulaic, but so was Romeo and Juliet and they didn’t even have cute shoes (well, maybe they did, they WERE Italian) but it’s well worth a watch if only for the soundtrack and the Blue Angel Boys.


(ignore the cheesy American voiceover. Please.)

So what’s your favorite movie about shoes? The Wizard of Oz? The Red Shoes? Or maybe it’s just a scene. Put it in the comments!

Fool the Manolo Once, Shame on You

Moonrise Kingdom advertising makes the movie look funny, but it's almost certainly not.

Manolo says, fool the Manolo five times, shame on the Manolo.

This is the problem that the Manolo has with the movies of the Wes Anderson: the advertising always promises that the movie will be most hilarious. (Indeed, what could be funnier than Bill Murray and Bruce Willis playing the pair of old codgers?) And yet, the Manolo can assure you from hard-won experience that, at best, this new movie will be only mildly amusing.

Yes, it will be twee, so very, very, very twee. With the twee costuming, and the twee mood setting, and the twee music.

Will it be funny? Not so much.

Instead, it will be largely annoying.

My Top 5 Movies About Shoes

Ahh the cinema. Who doesn’t love curling up on the couch, perhaps with a loved one, a good friend, or simply a snuggie, and getting lost in the magical world of movie-dom? Regardless of what your interest, chances are pretty high that you will be able to find a film that suits your fancy. Be it romance, action, comedy, horror, or a true to life documentary, there is always a title out there to titillate your mind and stimulate your senses. “But what about shoes?” you ask? No worries, I’ve got you covered. While there is no cinematic “shoe” genre, in many of these films shoes are centric and crucial to the storyline, or at least the presence of shoes is so strong throughout the production that they deserve a spot in the credits…

Tom Hanks One Red Shoe

5. The Man with One Red Shoe (1985): The ultimate movie about a friendly prank going terribly wrong, this adorable comedy follows Tom Hanks as he accidentally get’s followed by the CIA because he is wearing mismatched shoes (one of the shoes being red). Why was he wearing mismatched shoes? Because his so called buddy hid all of his shoes except for one mismatched pair. And why did the CIA begin to follow him? A terrible coincidence orchestrated by a crooked and desperate agent. Thus, comedy ensues! Plus this is “Big” and “Splash” Tom Hanks, when he is all fresh faced and adorable, not the puffy and serious Tom Hanks we know now. Enjoy him and his youth-like hilarity.

 

Marie Antoinette Manolo

4. Marie Antoinette (2006): Ok, this movie is not about shoes. However, Sophia Coppola’s imaginative take on the historical character did involve a mouth watering montage of whimsical Manolo Blahnik shoes (which were said to be visually inspired by a package of macaroons). The sequence, set to the song “I Want Candy” displays the sheer overindulgence of royalty in this time period with women playing games, eating delectable desserts, trying on gowns, wigs, jewels and of course…shoes. It will make you cringe with jealousy and drool in awe. Either way, I dare you to walk away from the scene without being green eyed and satisfied.

The Red Shoes

3. The Red Shoes (1948): This one works on many levels. A tumultuous tale of love triangles, bright red ballet shoes, and the inner struggle between the true love of a companion and the true passion of stardom, this film is exciting, romantic and filled with dancing. Not to mention, in the film the young ballerina is cast in a ballet production called “The Red Shoes” which is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of the same title. The fairytale is about a young girl who becomes so obsessed with her red shoes that they take hold of her and force her body to dance day and night without her control. Here’s the kicker (pun intended), the shoes are stuck to her feet so she can’t take them off to stop the dancing. Sounds like a great workout plan, if you ask me. (Note: there is also a great Japanese horror film by the same name about a cursed pair of red heels that when seen cause instant obsession and an overwhelming need to steal/obtain them. The problem is, side effects of obtaining and wearing the shoes include: death).

The Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers

2.The Wizard of OZ (1939): All you have to do is put on a pair of Ruby red slippers and you can be transported into a world of Technicolor and flying monkeys? Count me in! This film is the ultimate in childhood fantasy. What young girl hasn’t been Dorothy for Halloween? (I was…twice). Not the mention the beauty, elegance and desirability of shimmering Ruby red slippers that enable one to travel to different dimensions! You won’t find those on sale at Nordstroms. This movie is timeless, and while it has been re-done in many shapes and fashions, in my mind nothing beats the original.

 

Cinderella Glass Slipper

1. Cinderella (1950): Romantic and magical, I think the ultimate shoe movie has to be the Disney classic Cinderella. Again, this film has been done time and time again in different styles and mediums, but all in all the story remains the same. It’s all about that beautiful glass slipper. While there is no way a glass shoe could be comfortable, and god knows if I was ballroom dancing in one I would shatter the poor thing all over the floor, this glass slipper is not only Cinderella’s ticket to her one true love, but it is also her ticket out of slavery and poverty! Now that my friends is a shoe worth keeping. Especially if you get a fairy god mother included in the original price of the shoe, because New York car services and cabs are expensive and I would love my own personal stage coach to cart me from a to b.

P.S. Probably the only type of shoes there might not be a movie about it is Timberland work boots. Although, if you look closely, I’m sure you’ll see them in plenty of recent movies.

Do You Like Scary Movies?

Calling all slasher fans! If any of you loved the satirical classic Scream as much as I did (I know, I know…Scream 2 was decent and Scream 3 was an overall disaster, but the original was fantastic) I’m sure you’ve been counting down the days until our beloved heroine Sydney Prescott faces her masked murderer once again in Scream 4. Set to open this Friday, the film features a hot young updated cast (seeing as this sequel is 15 years after the original, the casting director clearly wanted some fresh blood to shed)  along with the original trilogies survivors for what I can only assume will be a splendidly bloody feast for the eyes.

Scream 4

The Scream 4 premiere was held in Hollywood this week, and while many stars attended the event including classic Scream veteran survivors Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox, it was the younger Hollywood starlets that stole the spotlight on the blood red carpet. Hayden Panettiere in particular looked stunning in her crimson red cocktail dress. I think she exudes class and simple elegance with her subtle diamond earrings and classic black pumps. Fresh faced and appropriately covered (except of course exposing the occasional artery for optimal stabbing precision) she is a great reminder that not all of young Hollywood is a lost cause.

Hayden Panettiere Scream 4

Good luck outrunning the killer in those high heels Hayden! I have to admit, she looks so great here that I almost don’t want to see her get sliced and diced by the good old Ghost faced killer. Perhaps he (or she? or they?) will be a slave to fashion and spare her for her wise choices? We’ll have to wait and see…

Alan Rickman’s Voice Brings All the Girls to the Yard

Manolo says, firstly, how is it possible that the Manolo has never heard of this movie before?

Secondly, this must be counted among the greatest of the Alan-Rickman-based cinematic moments ever.

Thirdly, that voice, it is like the melted butter poured into the brandy snifter filled with warm lobster flesh, while Chuck Mangione plays the Mozart softly in the background.

What the Manolo Is…

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, time to see what the Manolo is…

Reading…

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Just before the Christmas, the Manolo had the pleasure of accompanying some young friends to the new Disney Rapunzel movie, Tangled. He is happy to report that he found both the outing and the movie to be delightful.

Two things about this movie were exceptionally gratifying to the Manolo. The first is that the screenplay was unburdened by the endlessly annoying and out-of-the-place pop cultural references and adult-oriented jokes so common in most children’s movies today. In the other words, there was none of the tiresome Shrek Dreck, those catty references to assorted pop divas and their many problems.

The second gratifying thing, was that the actors in Tangled were chosen for the expressive quality of their voices, not for their fame and/or stunning good looks. Yes, the Mandy Moore and the Zachary Levi, the leads, are moderately well known, but they are not the big, big stars, and this is the good thing.

The recent trend in the animated movies has been to use the muy famosos to provide the voices for the cartoon characters, thus reducing the sort of work that has customarily gone to the character actors.

This is bad. Not only because the Manolo counts among his Hollywood friends many, many character actors, but also because such actors are usually superior in talent to their more beautiful, and more famous co-workers.

Consider, now, two movies:

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What the Manolo is…

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, time to see what the Manolo is…

Reading…

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Watching…

The Manolo, who last evening engaged in the spirited round of Twittering with his internet friends about the topic of My Fair Lady, has gone back and reviewed the evidence. In doing so, he has reached the twin conclusions:
My Fair Lady
Conclusion the First: Eliza Doolittle is the prostitute.

This is the unspoken subtext of both the Broadway play and the movie, one, which acknowledged, even in passing, gives more depth and richness to the story.

What is the Manolo’s evidence for this seemingly heterodox idea? The vending of fruits or flowers in Covent Gardens was long considered the pretextual occupation of the prostitutes. The most famous of such ladies of ill repute was Nell Gwyn, the mistress of Charles II, who began her career as the Covent Garden seller of oranges.

There is other evidence, not the least of which is that the father of Eliza, Alfie Doolittle, attempts to sell his daughter to Professor Higgins for the few pounds, with the little bit of luck…

And there is much more, if only one looks.

The acknowledgment of Eliza Doolittle’s scarlet past deepens and explains her reluctance to return the love of Freddy. It is not her low birth which makes for the problematic match, for indeed, low birth can be ignored if love is true.

It is that Eliza herself knows that she cannot be with Freddy, ever, for that even if she were to love him in return, her previous occupation renders her untouchable. (Only the kings, such as Charles II, have the power to render this stain socially nugatory.) If Eliza loves Freddy, she must protect him from her past by rejecting him. There is no other way.

Conclusion the Second: Audrey Hepburn is most horribly miscast as the Eliza Doolittle.

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Things that Fill The Manolo with World Weariness

Manolo says, just the thing to gloomy up the bright and sunny spring day.

P.S. The Manolo’s review of the first Sex and the City Movie.

Ayyyy! Monday Puzzle Corner

Manolo says, this week our friend Spirit Fingers has challenged us to identify the movies about the fake musicians.

What the Manolo is…

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, time to see what the Manolo is…

Reading…

Watching…

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The Manolo finally managed to see the Sex and the City movie.

His reaction: In the word, meh.

Although supposedly set in the present day, the movie seemed dated, as if it were the daguerreotype from the previous millennium, quaintly hinting at the outdated customs and obsolete mores of the distant past.

On the one of the hands, Carrie and her pals were sweeter and more vulnerable, more desperately romantic, than we have ever before seen them (although less funny). They were also more likable than ever, except for Cynthia Nixon, who should be dropped down the long mine shaft and left there until she realizes how truly blessed her cinematic life (with its great job, wonderful child, and good-looking if drippy man) is.

The girls were also, despite the smutty talk and Kim Cantrell’s absurdly sexualized character, entirely monogamous in their relationships, which was something of the relief to the old man Manolo, who believes that intense monogamous love between two peoples is perhaps the greatest of the Almighty’s gifts.

Yet, while there were good things, on the other of the hands, the movie dragged on interminably, piling up senseless subplots and meaningless details. Yawn.

Worse, the movie’s attempts at bringing the romantic longings of the characters (and the audience) to fruition were misguided and inadequate. Shaped as the semi-conventional romantic comedy, Sex and the City contained little that could be considered romantic.

Take for the example, Mr. Big, held up by the movie as the choicest piece of man meat to ever tread the earth, with his dyed hair, droopy jowls, shaped eyebrows, and his indecisive, dreary, somnambulantly sulky ways. At least he was rich, moderately available, tall, and rich (did the Manolo mention that he was rich? It was very important in this movie, the richiosity of Mr. Big, because it means he was able to buy Park Avenue apartments and fill their commodious closets with swag.)

Query: What is less romantic than the vacillating, indecisive, weakly lover?

Answer: The movie that confuses wealth for romantic desirability.

Oh, how the Manolo wishes he could have swapped Chris Noth for Tom Selleck!

Tom Selleck: charming, virile, decisive, funny, cheerful, and at 63, still the hunkiest man in Hollywood!

Chris Noth in Sex and the City: drippy!

But, you must play the hand you were dealt, and Mr. Big is apparently the only man who would have Carrie Bradshaw, looking, as she does, ever more like Miss Havisham…

Ayyyyy!

I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose, had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress, that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could.

~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

And frankly this is another of the problems of the movie. attempting to sell us lean mutton as plump lamb.

This is not to say that romantic comedies that feature middle aged persons cannot be good, and satisfying, and funny, only that Carrie wanted to play the part of the virginal ingenue, rather than the mature woman with the frightening romantic history. The potential for humor and romanticism was undermined by this insistence.

But, the Manolo is confident that the actor of Tom Selleck’s caliber could have convinced even the most skeptical, disbelieving audience that Sarah Jessica Parker is the hotty, could have convinced us that she is the suitable lead for the romantic comedy.

Ultimately, for the Manolo, the only romantic scene in the entire movie was the wedding at the courthouse, with Carrie in the demure suit, and Mr. Big finally wakened from his movie-long slumber. But, if Sex and the City were truly romantic, that would have happened in the first act of the fifteen minute long, single reel film, which would be followed by the feature length Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Manolo’s Holiday DVDs

Manolo says, many of the Manolo’s internet friends have been saying to the Manolo, “Manolo, you are the man of great taste, culture, and wit, please to recommend for us the suitable gifts for the holiday season.”

And so the Manolo has heard the cries and will now give you his five favorite DVDs for gift giving purposes.

The Funniest Television Show Ever

The Flight of the Conchords

Finding the Flight of the Conchords is like finding the perfect little absurdist world, where everything, every detail, every musical note, every facial expression is not only hilarious, but hilariously true. You know that this is how the world is for some peoples, principally, naive Kiwi sort-of-hipsters trying to make the go of it in New York. Yes, the interactions between the characters is funny, but it is the dead-perfect song parodies that make this something you will watch repeatedly.

The Best Movie of 2007
Ratatouille

Ratatouille is not merely wonderfully funny, it also has profound things to say about art, artists, and critics, but does so lightly, in the best way possible. The writing is perfect, the comic timing is deft, and the animation amuses. The Manolo cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

The Most Uncompromisingly Funny Television Show Ever
Absolutely Fabulous

Undoubtedly, Absolutely Fabulous is the most uncomfortably, hilariously funny television show ever made about the topics of aging, boozing, unpleasant sex, bad plastic surgery, and the uncompromising demands of fashion. Also, undoubtedly, this series could not be made today, as the neopuritan impulses of the new millennium have decreed that such things are no longer supposed to be funny. But they are. Get it before it is outlawed.

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What the Manolo Is…

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, time to see what the Manolo is…

Reading…

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The Manolo must admit that he came away from the American Gangster movie dissatisfied and more the little disappointed.

The first and most prominent problem is that not for the single instant did the Manolo buy that Russell Crowe (of whom the Manolo is the giant, huge fan) was the tough Jewish street cop from New Jersey. Firstly, his accent was terrible, nearly as bad as the “southern” accents of Nicole Kidman and Jude Law in Cold Mountain. And secondly he just did not look right, or act right, in the part. In short, he was miscast.

The second problem is that much of the middle part of the movie is boring. It drags as we endure both the tedious Russell Crowe, family-courtroom-drama sub-plot, and yet one more small scene of Denzel Washington acting resolutely criminal and earnest at the same time. Boring!

For the Manolo, the only time the movie really comes alive is when Josh Brolin appears as the corruptest of corrupt cops. He crackles with sparkling menace and is the only unpredictable thing in this terribly predictable movie.

Yes, there were good things, such as the sets and the costumes and the music and some of the secondary characters, but otherwise, this is not the movie you will long remember, which is odd, as the source material, the article “The Return of Superfly, in the New York Magazine, is wonderfully memorable.

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