Sunday, 27 July 2008

Funny Face

The funny thing about Funny Face (1957) is, it is not a great film. It isn't actually even a good film but, and it is a big but - it has a certain style. The unlikely pairing of Audrey Hepburn with lead man Fred Astaire as love interest looks somewhat farcical these days. The music and storyline are fairly weak but it has a certain charm.

The director Stanley Donan was the lead director at the time on musicals due to his production of Singing in the Rain (1952) and the choice of Astaire would have been for the dancing.

Odd casting, silly storyline aside what does Funny Face offer. Firstly Kay Thompson is fantastic as a fashion editor, although again her talent is somewhat dampened by farcical scenes. Fred Astaire can obviously dance and Audrey Hepburn looks stunning.

The real gem of the film comes from the input of fashion photographers Richard Avedon and Bill Avery. Avedon's stills were used in the film and he designed the opening credits.

Hepburn is stunning with her modelling and dancing. Her acting ain't bad but although I loved the clothes, the context of the film and the idea - as a musical it is light and frothy, somewhat disjointed.

Leaving the music, script and settings aside it does contain spectacular fashion stills and great costumes. I also loved Hepburn's bohemian dance in the Left Bank setting of Paris. I adopted her look in that scene as my de rigeur style at university! It was a while ago...

Worth a watch but don't expect to be gripped.

Friday, 4 July 2008


I thought I'd complete a trilogy of French films of influential note. Amélie probably needs no introduction to most of you. Featuring the charming and gorgeous Audrey Tatou, Amélie is a film of note due to it's eccentric use of costume and scene setting to explore the growth of the central character Amélie.

The mixture of her upbringing, fate and interaction with the other characters provides an interesting mix of an idealised view of contemporary Paris and a skittish portrayal of quintessential French fashion. The costume designer was Madeline Fointaine, with Emily Lebail, Veronique Elise and Sylvie Bello as the costumers.

The film was an international success, although it attracted criticism for not reflecting the racial diversity of Paris in 2001. If you compare Amélie to Diva made 20 years earlier this is not an unreasonable view. As with many French films the stories and the costumes are a perfect antidote to Hollywood. Years later Pushing up Daisies on American TV borrows heavily from Amélie's cinematography, art direction and wardrobe.

Despite any misgivings Amélie is extraordinary as a cinematography example.