Thursday, June 28, 2012

Polanski's inner Hitchcock meets Grace Jones

Frantic movie 1988
Polanski during the filming of Frantic
Roman Polanski's films span the gamut of genres: lush epics, engrossing dramas, suspenseful thrillers, clever comedies, and even horror. Despite that, in the decade of the 80s, Polanski directed only two films (or three, if you include his 1979 film Tess, which was released in the United States in 1980 and was nominated for Best Picture at the 1981 Academy Awards). In 1988, Polanski seemed to have channeled his inner Hitchcock by making the suspense movie Frantic.

Frantic movie poster
Set in Paris, the movie deals with a doctor (played by Harrison Ford) who goes on a search for his wife after she mysteriously goes missing from their hotel room. In his quest, the doctor crosses paths with a beautiful young female smuggler (played by Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife in real life) whom he was inadvertently led to due to a suitcase mix-up. Eventually, she agrees to help him find his wife. Along the way, he discovers that the reason his wife was kidnapped was that a group of Middle Eastern gangsters were looking for a nuclear detonating device that was hidden in the suitcase that his wife mistook for her own.

Frantic movie 1988

Unlike the director of this film, Harrison had a well-rounded filmography during the 80s, what with his turns as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, as well as the other films he was in.

Frantic movie 1988

One notable detail about this film is that Grace Jones' hit song I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” can be heard playing in the background in a couple of different scenes. Here's a clip of one of those scenes, featuring Ford and Seigner dancing to the song.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Grace Jones - “I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)”

In contemporary times, fashion and music have seemed to go hand in hand rather often. Fashion has been influenced by musical styles, and musicians have drawn inspiration from fashion trends. At times, there have even been individuals who found success in both the fashion industry and the music industry, thereby fusing together the worlds of fashion and music. That’s the case with the iconic Grace Jones.

Grace was originally a model. She modeled throughout the 1970s, as well as part of the 80s, working mainly in Paris with top designers such as Azzedine Alaia (to whom she was a muse). She was also a muse to Andy Warhol.

In the late 70s, she landed a record deal with Island Records, and she proceeded to record three albums between 1977 and 1979. In the early 80s, however, Grace entered into a collaboration with stylist Jean-Paul Goude which led to a transformation in her look to a more androgynous style. Coinciding with the burgeoning New Wave style of music, Grace’s own music morphed as well. She released two albums in the early 80s, one of them being 1981’s Nightclubbing.

Grace Jones Nightclubbing

The album contains reworked versions of previously-recorded songs, the most notable of which is “I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango).” The song went on to become one of Grace’s biggest hits. Also, the song was featured prominently in the 1988 film Frantic directed by Roman Polanski.

Grace Jones

Incidentally, the video to the song was directed Jean-Paul Goude, with whom Grace was romantically involved for a time.

There is also an alternate video to the song.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gaultier & Greenaway: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Continuing with the theme of Jean-Paul Gaultier...

In addition to Gaultier's fashion design career and his brief foray into music, he has also designed costumes for a number of movies. One of those movies is 1989's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

cook thief wife lover
Gaultier costumes

Directed by avant-garde director Peter Greenaway, the movie tells the story of a brutal crime boss who happens to own a restaurant at which he dines every night along with his motley band of henchmen and his lonely, abused wife. The wife, played by the prodigiously talented Helen Mirren, eventually finds herself drawn into a risky love affair with bookish man who also dines at the restaurant on a nightly basis. As the nights go by, the two lovers carry out their affair in the various nooks and crannies of the restaurant, all under the nose of the woman's unsuspecting husband. Inevitably though, the actions of the lovers lead to devastating consequences.

Overall, the movie is graphic and even disturbing, as it contains a couple of scenes that are gruesome. In spite of that though, the movie features striking cinematography and eye-catching set design, and an intriguing use of specific colors in the different sections of the restaurant.

Set Design

Some of the costumes include one of Gaultier’s unmistakable trademarks:
a corset. Here are some examples of his work for the film.


Originally, the movie did not get approved for an R rating. According to Wikipedia:
"Due to the content, the MPAA gave Miramax a choice of either an X rating or go unrated (adults only) for theatrical release. Unrated was chosen in light of the X rating being more associated with pornographic films."
Today, the movie has a rating of NC-17.

And finally, from what I've read elsewhere, certain elements of the movie represent an allegory for Britain during the Thatcher years. With such an unconventional movie, who’d have thought? :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jean-Paul Gaultier - "How To Do That"

A few days ago, Madonna launched her latest world tour (the "MDNA Tour"), in Tel Aviv, Israel. The tour's costumes were designed by a handful of fashion designers, including the legendary French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Gaultier is probably best known for having designed the costumes for Madonna's infamous 1990 world tour, the "Blond Ambition Tour." This time around, he designed a conical bra corset for Madonna similar to the ones she wore in the Blond Ambition Tour. Her current Gaultier-designed corset features cutouts that make it resemble a cage, and it's made of patent leather on the outside and metallic leather on the inside to give it a 3D effect.

As a fashion designer, Gaultier is sometimes referred to as the "enfant terrible" of the fashion world, mainly due to his provocative and controversial avant-garde designs. One thing many people may not know about Gaultier is that he recorded a dance music single in 1988 titled "How To Do That".

The whimsical video to the song features 80s models Claudia Huidobro, Naomi Campbell, Cameron Alborzian, and John Francis among others, all wearing Gaultier fashions.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My first post...The 80s Revisited

Hello to any and all readers,
My name is AJ, I'm 37 years old, and I live in the United States.

I was born in the mid 70s, grew up in the 80s, thereby being a so-called "child of the 80s." I love being my age particularly because I got to experience the decade of the 80s in its entirety.

The 80s in and of itself was a fascinating decade. And to a child growing up during that time, the 80s was more than just fascinating; it was a world of wonder.

So, I created this blog to share my memories and to express some of my thoughts on the captivating, unforgettable aspects of the 80s, such as its music, movies, tv shows, fashions, trends & fads, political & world events, celebrities & other individuals of note, as well as to relate personal anecdotes from that time.

For the purpose of this blog, I'm going to include the year 1980 as part of the 80s, although technically, 1980 was actually the last year of the 70s. The reason I want to include 1980 is that many noteworthy things took place that year, and also because people generally consider that year a part of the 80s anyway. Therefore, this blog will span the period from 1980 to 1990.

Without any more hesitation, let's revisit that amazing period in history.