Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

In keeping with the theme of my previous post about the holiday season, here's my all-time favorite New Year's Eve scene from a movie... the final scene from 'When Harry Met Sally'.  

Happy New Year to all, from Retro Active Critiques!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Romance & The Meg Ryan Trilogy

Everyone has their special holiday films. They're the ones you take pleasure in watching annually, ones that capture the spirit of the season for you in a particular way. When I think of a favorite holiday film –– or films that make me feel warm and fuzzy –– my mind often rests on what I think of as 'The Meg Ryan Trilogy': 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Sleepless In Seattle', 'You've Got Mail'. Incidentally, all three films were written by Nora Ephron who truly knows how to write a romantic comedy.
When I thought about The Trilogy this holiday season, and once again craved a viewing, I wondered why this season is such a romantic time for me. I think of the holidays as a time to be close to someone you love. Going for walks, seeing the beautiful Christmas lights in the streets, shopping together, staying home and being cozy together. It can also be about the melancholic feeling of being alone for the holidays and thinking about being in love. This could all be due to the years I spent in New York, where this feeling is prevalent. And the Meg Ryan Trilogy certainly picks up on those feelings.
But then I realized something about this preference. One holiday season in New York, I was single for the first time in my adult life. I reluctantly went to a small Christmas Eve party and that's where I met my now husband. It was genuinely love-at-first-sight. We were drawn to each other like magnets and we've been together ever since. December 24th is the anniversary of the day we met and it will always be a romantic day for us.
What is your favorite holiday movie? And why do you think it holds a special significance for you? Wishing the happiest and most romantic holiday to you all from Retro Active Critiques!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beyond the Silver: Eternal Bond of the Le Bons

In time for the holidays, here's a real treat.

If you're thinking bonbons, you're close, since I'm thinking about sweetness of the Le Bon nature.

I frequently post about dynamic, lifelong couples on this blog (my post with the most amount of traffic happens to be one) and Yasmin and Simon Le Bon are one of the most endearing and noteworthy. After all, here we have the quintessential rock star/supermodel pairing people typically wouldn't expect to work in a way that's eternal. But these two are so far from typical. Many other famously glamorous couples have tried. Few have out-shined or outlasted these two. (Of course there are other exceptions, like Keith Richards and Patti Hansen, who deserve their own post.) And 2011 marked Simon and Yasmin Le Bon's SILVER anniversary, believe it or not...!  

For 25 (gorgeous) years, this British couple has been going strong. Their 26th anniversary is coming up on December 27th. So here's to another happy holiday anniversary. 
Off topic, for a moment: I'm surprised no one has suggested before that beautiful Yasmin Le Bon was surely an inspiration for a young Keira Knightley growing up in the UK, (where Mrs. Le Bon and her Mr. Le Bon are as close to royalty as you can get.) What I love most about Yasmin Le Bon is her speaking style. It is so particular and arresting. Yet, somehow, her style of speech will sound remarkably familiar to you – and that's simply because (this is my belief) Keira Knightley fashioned her speaking and mannerisms after this gorgeous woman, who must have been her idol growing up. See and hear the uncanny resemblance below.
Yasmin Le Bon was also emblematic in showing the world that a great model can continue to work (and be in high-demand) well after what could have been considered her prime. 

It should be noted, definitely, that Simon Le Bon, too, deserves praise for his incredible knack at commitment. Even if he happens to be married to someone as fabulous as his wife. When asked what keeps their marriage so strong, Simon Le Bon said:  "I wake up in the morning and for ten minutes or so I just get to look at her sleeping peacefully. That's kind of all you need to know about me... I guess I'm very lucky that I picked somebody really bloody good in the first place! She's great fun, fantastic, beautiful and we laugh all the time. It's not always easy at all. But I really want to stay married for life."  

Their love is very real and that's what resonates.
Aside from his long-term ties to his marriage and family, Simon Le Bon has also proven similarly commited to his career as front-man of Duran Duran... a relationship that was depicted so well in their recent video for the song "Girl Panic". The song and video, both, are epic and classic Duran Duran. (I find it especially adorable when YLB, as "The Guitarist", says in her most haughty tone, "I'm not a member of Duran Duran.") And with that, let's celebrate the holidays with a toast to the eternal bond of the Le Bons.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alma & Alfred Hitchcock: The Dynamic Duo

During a summer trip a couple of years ago, I began to read "Hitch: The Life & Times of Alfred Hitchcock" by John Russell Taylor. I'd found the book some time ago and was glad to finally begin reading all about old Hitch.

Inside my (used) copy, first published in 1978, I found a page torn out of a British magazine, 'Country Homes', with listings and markings from the previous owner of the paperback. So this particular copy had made the rounds in Hitchcock's native England before finding its way to me in San Francisco. That was the first bit of intrigue in reading it. I felt as if it was left there for me to try to unveil a mystery of: who had this book before me? And what did that torn page with home listings mean? But that's getting into Agatha Christie territory.
The second bit of intrigue about this book was that the man who wrote it, John Russell Taylor, a critic, actually wrote the biography with direct cooperation of Alfred Hitchcock himself... as well as Hitchcock's inner circle. Since the book was written in the 1970's, it seems odd and interesting to observe how the writer refers to his friend, Hitch, in the present tense. And that also made for some fascinating insight into a rather mysterious person. 

The third bit of intrigue that came to pass was – and is – by far my favorite. That one is about Alma Hitchcock. I knew very little about her when I started reading, apart from knowing she had a good deal of involvement in the making of her husband's films. So everything about her was already of a heightened level of interest for me. 
I discovered that Alfred Hitchcock fell in love with Alma Reville, whom he'd met at a British film studio called Balcon-Saville-Freedman, where she was a film editor. She was editing films at the age of sixteen and needless to say, that was it for me. I was in complete adoration of Alma from at that point on. As was Alfred Hitchcock, for his entire life.

I even noticed now a striking resemblance between Alma and Joan Fontaine's character, Lina, in Suspicion (one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock heroines & plot.) 
Joan Fontaine as Lina in 'Suspicion'
People have so often noted Hitchcock's fascination with those memorable cool blonds who occupied his films, but his lifelong love was reserved for his own 'Monkey Face', Alma. On that note, how remarkable is it, even, that Alma Hitchcock was such a noteworthy filmmaker in her own right, decades before women were carving the slightest presence for themselves in the work force?

Alma Hitchcock was a very special lady, indeed. She is a great example of 'the-woman-behind-the-man'. In her case, much of what we equate to Hitchcock's genius was in part because of her talents and contributions.
Alma Hitchcock, the woman behind the man
Having been rather smitten with their story, my own husband recently shared the news that a movie is now in production called 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho' (not a very elegant title) in which Alma will be depicted alongside Alfred. And rightfully so.

Soon the general public will finally get to know more about the Hitchcocks' fascinating work relationship and marriage.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

80's Obscure - 'Let's Go' by Wang Chung

This song-and-video combo makes me smile. Together, they're just so distinctively 80's. This also pops into my head frequently, since it's easy to think "let's go" in various capacities throughout the day. Or even "Wang Chung" for that matter. Just yesterday our cat, Jane, yelled what sounded like "Wang!" which led me to think about Wang Chung and invariably : "Let's Go". (Check out the hair and suits!)