In the midst of this deep and snowy winter, the Swedish film Force Majeure, which I loved, continues to come to mind. It rather brilliantly walks the line between comedy and drama, and the characters are simply outstanding. And if you’re longing for the French Alps right about now, the scenery is transporting.
In my annual January/February quest to see all of the Oscar-nominated films that I missed during the previous twelve months, I watched the Polish film Ida last night. In its quietness and starkness it is remarkably powerful. And the cinematography is both striking and stunning, filmed in black and white in the classic Academy ratio, 1.37:1, no longer often used. Here it is flawless. An absolute work of art.
Over the course of our divine two week holiday break we found ourselves to be serious patrons of the movie theater. It has been an amazing year in film and we still have a lot on our list (Selma, Birdman, Boyhood, Ida and Force Majeure). With the Golden Globes this weekend, I definitely have movies on my mind. Into the Woods was an absolute visual treat and the performances were great, as were those in Foxcatcher. However, the standout performance of the year for me so far is Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, completely mind-blowing. Simply put, I loved everything about The Imitation Game, everything. And although it was released back in March, we should not forget the brilliance of The Grand Budapest Hotel, hands down one of my favorite films of 2014. Now I just have to make the very difficult decision on Sunday evening of whether to watch Downton Abbey or the Golden Globes…
Inspired by the glorious snow last week, I watched Downhill Racer for the very first time. Filmed entirely in Switzerland, France and Austria, it is so stylish, so raw and so completely of the moment — 1969. And young Robert Redford in the Alps… I loved it.
Monk with a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This fascinating-looking documentary is about Nicholas Vreeland, grandson of Diana Vreeland, who eschewed a life of privilege and glamour in favor of a life of service as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. An Irving Penn-trained photographer, Vreeland’s sublime images of monastic life and life in India preserve, both financially and culturally, the monastery where he lives and studies and the Tibetan community at large. I’m definitely heading to Lincoln Center this weekend.
|Joan Didion photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, September 1996. www.vogue.com
A promising and well-deserved documentary, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, is underway about the life and career of the great Joan Didion. Directed by her nephew, actor and filmmaker Griffin Dunne, and notable documentarian Susanne Rostock, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live is right now in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds in order to complete the film. This momentous documentary is for sure one I know I want to see. You can take a look at the trailer here.
One of the most inspired exhibitions we’ve seen so far this fall is Dance & Fashion at the FIT Museum, quite superbly curated. It was lovely to see at close range costumes from some our favorite ballets, those of very recent years and also those from as far back as the early 19th century. It was also fantastic to learn of the work of designers I had no idea designed for dance such as Gianni Versace and quite thrilling to see iconic costumes like those worn by Martha Graham and Judith Jamieson. And it was such a treat to watch once more David Michalek’s Slow Dancing film featuring his wife Wendy Whelan that was part of the Dries Van Noten exhibition in Paris earlier this year. The catalog is well worth your time, and I imagine the two-day Dance & Fashion symposium on October 23 and 24 will be too.
Dance & Fashion will be on view through January 3
This past weekend Yaddo, the hallowed and very private artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, opened its doors to the public for only the sixth time in its 114-year history. Situated on 400 acres of stunning wooded property, Yaddo has hosted (and continues to do so) well over 5,000 artists, across five disciplines, in stays that range from two to eight weeks. Yaddo’s roster of celebrated guests includes Leonard Bernstein, Louise Bourgeois, Truman Capote, Noah Baumbach, Sylvia Plath, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Langston Hughes and Aaron Copeland. There is something so tremendously inspiring about this place, we felt it all around us. Among the countless standouts we’re still thinking about are the lovely cocktail room, the communal dining room and the magnificent Tiffany & Company fireplace in the 19th-century art-filled mansion. A glass mosaic frontispiece depicting a phoenix rising out of fire and ember, illuminated by the glow of the actual fire behind it. We can only imagine how breathtaking it is when in use. We’re also still thinking about Katrina Trask, a poet in her own right and the founding patron of Yaddo, and a true romantic and visionary. It was she who envisioned this haven where artists could create freely and without interruption, this haven that has made such a profound impact on the development of the arts in this country. And no less important, we learned that white was her personal color, which she wore exclusively, and love was her chosen emotion. LOVE.
One of the most resonating markers of the end of summer in Saratoga Springs is the conclusion of the racing season, this weekend, at the Saratoga Race Course. Now in its 151st year, this fantastic, historic track is the second oldest in the country. In the art and literary world, the Saratoga Race Course has been the setting in more than one work of fiction, and the artist Matthew Barney actually filmed part of Cremaster 3 at the track in 2002. We especially love to visit in the early morning, before the track opens, to watch the horses train. Really lovely. Until next summer…
Despite the generally tepid reviews, I really enjoyed Magic in the Moonlight. Classic Woody Allen and the ideal summer movie, the costumes were lovely, the scenery transporting and the film itself very easy to watch. It was like a perfectly wrapped gift. And to be honest, I would see anything with Colin Firth…