A Fashion Fairy’s Film Festival
by James Killough
Yes, overly alliterative titles are cheesy and fatty, but nonetheless delicious.
Since the beginning of this blog we have had tremendous support from Diane Pernet and her A Shaded View on Fashion blog. I began a fiction piece for her, then stopped when I couldn’t figure out where I was going with it, and I have a massive rewrite on another novel to finish, so I can’t wrap my head around… oh, whatever. They’re all just the usual writer’s excuses for underperforming.
Diane has been developing her fashion film festival for a few years now, and it really seems to be hitting its stride, or strut, which would be more more apropos of fashion. ASVOFFF will be held this year at the Pompidou Center during Paris fashion week, from October 7 to 9. Check out the awesome trailer:
Aside from being completely delinquent on the Render The Savage serialized novel-in-the-making I was writing for ASVOF, about six months ago Diane graciously asked me to write a children’s book for her about the Fashion Fairy, a character based on her, which is an amazing idea, and I’m about midway through the outline except I can’t figure out if it’s going to be Tim Burton-esque or Roald Dahl-ian, or some new form of James Killough-ish. Again, writer’s excuses.
However, Tuttle is my witness that I have been wringing myself wretched over which direction to take with it when we go on our weekly hikes in the Hollywood Hills. Both he and Diane have suggested that the Tim Burton prose poem route isn’t for me, but if I eliminate that option I give myself a clearer direction, which means no more excuses, and we can’t have that.
Speaking of Tuttle, he’s now on Twitter, @TuttleMode. I’m barely able to post to Facebook, much less tweet, but this is perfect for him, so please be sure to follow. (For whatever it’s worth, my Twitter account is @purefilmlimited.)
And I owe my friend Jen Swallow and other True Blood fans something of a retraction from an earlier post of mine slamming the show. It’s the one time I actually moved her enough to indignation to comment on the PFC blog, which is saying a lot about her passion for the show.
I watched the last two episodes and found myself laughing quite a bit and exclaiming “oh, shit!” every now and then. Yes, it is good fun, utterly silly. I think my resolve to hate it was shattered when Lafayette, the black demi-drag queen short-order cook who has now discovered he is a medium (there are very few of the protagonists who do not have supernatural powers at this juncture), stabs his boyfriend in the hand with a fork covered in egg yoke. I just lost it. Suddenly, myriad ugly morning moments with boyfriends and dates flashed through my mind. I must remember to do that sometime; a yolky fork through the hand is a definite point-maker.
Properly speaking, the vampires on TB are have long ceased to be vampires. They’re simply vamps. There is even this fanged version of campy Samantha from Sex and the City named Pam De Beaufort, played by Kristin Bauer, who storms into frame every now and then and spews crass BDSM fashionista American-cougar-on-the-French-Riviera lines, which I find predictable and obvious, but then again she is vaguely representative of the sort of Ameropean gals I grew up with, as some of them have turned into in middle age. During the penultimate episode, which was by far the best written and directed of the season, she briefly halts the execution of another vampire to grab her necklace. “Wait!” she growls, ripping off the victim’s choker. “It’s vintage Cartier.”
The weaker episodes at the beginning of this past season were saved, oddly, by Fiona Shaw’s performance as the psychotic, power-hungry witch. I say oddly because Shaw is a renowned British theater actress who is best viewed treading the boards on the big stage at Stratford-upon-Avon, not on screen. She looks much taller on screen than she really is, perhaps because of her long waist. Her features are aquiline, but the shape of her head is equine, which is my mannered way of saying she’s got a puss like an old plough horse. While a tremendous and gifted performer, Shaw’s slightest grimace can seem over the top, and the camera usually doesn’t like that. Usually.
The last time I saw Shaw on screen was in De Palma’s Black Dahlia, but the only actor who survived that directing disaster intact was Hillary Swank. Shaw played a crazed dowager in a way I would describe as Sissy Spacek during her rampage in Carrie veering off to perform Lady Macbeth. I’ve been told by an actor who has worked with De Palma that, like many stylish directors, he gives very little in the way of guidance to performers, which explains a lot.
But when you are acting in the delirious riot that is TB, nothing less than going back to your nursery school, let’s-pretend, howling histrionics will suffice, and Shaw really rises to the role of the good witch/bad witch. She’s even allowed to be nuanced, to have a full character arc, and she is mesmerizing to watch.
So, yes, Jen, as usual you are quite right about the merits of the show, as you are about most things. However, even though the scene where Sookie has both of her wrists sucked on at once by vampy vampires Bill and Eric had me snorting with laughter, I stand by my assessment of Anna Paquin. She acts like a fairy robot.
Diane is too, too fabulous and absolutely deserves her own film festival. She has been so helpful and supportive to me personally and one of my favorite moments in writing for Pure Film Creative is when I received an email from her saying that she couldn’t stop laughing.
As for Trueblood, I watched the first season and was shocked at how “acting class” the acting seemed but it was definitely a choice that garnered a lot of enthusiasm. When I saw an episode this summer, I can see that it’s come a long way and look forward to catching up with it. Good call, Jen!
Jen’s a lawyer, she was born right. She’s also 6’2″, towers over Saffron Burrows, who says she’s 6’0″, but I think she’s 6’1″. I just remembered that I was supposed to do a fashion film with Saffron a couple of years ago. I could have tied that all together neatly at the end with True Blood and Fiona Shaw. Oh well.
No doubt the film would have swept the awards at Diane’s festival. Not through any artistic merit, of course; I would have thrown a massive fashion wobbler in the Pompidou Center until they gave me something.
For the record, I had the idea for Black Dalia about 15 years ago, and my version would have been better.