Sportsmanship and Class

Sportsmanship and class-Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro 

In a fantastic Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday evening, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martín del Potro, the most fair play tennismen, displayed the kind of sportsmanship and class only the two of them are capable of. It was a match that either one of them could have won (and deserved to win). It may sound like a cliché, but it is the truth. In a five-set and almost 5-hour game, only a few points made the difference in the end. Yes, that’s sometimes all it takes to win a tennis match, and Nadal was the better player in the end, but they both gave their everything. Playing each other, Nadal and del Potro were forced to be the best of themselves.

I am a Rafa Nadal fan through and through and I have talked about him before, of all the reasons I admire him for, besides his hard-work, resilience, determination and achievements on the tennis court. Juan Martín del Potro is another great tennis player who has the stuff that only true champions are made of. Dedication, fair play, modesty and down-to-earthness. If I have to choose my number two tennis player in the world right now, he is the one. At last year’s Roland Garros, when Nicolás Almagro had to retire early in the first set of his second round match against del Potro and simply broke down on court in despair (I can not say the same thing about Serena Williams who retired out of the blue before her confrontation with Sharapova earlier this year at the French Open), DelPo displayed incredible sportsmanship, compassion and concern for Almagro. He has been there, he knows the agony of defeat because of injury, which probably deprived him of being multiple grand slam champion.

During his match against Nadal at Wimbledon, when Rafa slipped on grass a couple of times in the final set and fell on the back, del Potro came to the net and made sure his opponent was okay. Then, when the match ended, Juan Martín fell shattered on the ground – “I wanted to stay there all night long,” he later said. Nadal jumped over the fence, went to the baseline and embraced him in a moving touch of sportsmanship. “This photo says it all”, del Potro later wrote on his Instagram of that capture of the two of them.

As much as I love the game and its grandness, it is humbling moments like these that remain the most unforgettable. Two special men, two great champions. Humans first, tennis players second.

photo: Wimbledon
A Sporting Life - Classiq Journal

Related content: A Sporting Life: Rafael Nadal / A Sporting Life: Mats Wilander / A Sporting Life: Björn Borg

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Natasha Richardson in The Comfort of Strangers: A Journey into the Armani Style of the 1990s

The Comfort of Strangers - Natasha Richardson Rupert Everett - Giorgio Armani 
In 1980, Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo launched Giorgio Armani’s career. The designer went on to revolutionize fashion and, from then on, menswear, and womenswear, have never been quite the same. A decade later, when Armani heard that the director was going to film The Comfort of Strangers in Italy, he reportedly called and asked: “Can I give you anything?” Schrader answered: “Everything.” The entire leading cast in the film, from Natasha Richardson and Helen Mirren to Christopher Walken and Rupert Everett, were dressed in Armani. Today on Classiq, we are celebrating Giorgio Armani’s birthday.
Natasha Richardson in Armani-The Comfort of Strangers

Natasha Richardson in Armani-The Comfort of Strangers

Natasha Richardson in Armani-The Comfort of Strangers

Sneakers with dress, thirty years before the look became trendy.

Sometimes pretentious, sometimes tedious, sometimes bizarre, at all times visually enticing and unpredictable, the film is deeply unsettling. But despite the surpassing creepiness, The Comfort of Strangers (1990) is a spellbinding guide through the hauntingly beautiful Venice, through its hidden streets, dead ends and wrong turns, and evokes a hypnotic sense of the city few other films have – Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now remains the template for using decaying Venice as metaphor for the psychological disintegration of its characters.

English lovers Colin and Mary (Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson) return to Venice, the site of their rendezvous a couple of years prior, to rekindle their passion. Getting lost amidst the city’s picturesque canals and dark alleys, they happen upon Robert (Christopher Walken). Dressed in a white linen/silk suit, he is an enigmatic, strange local aristocrat, who regales the young couple with wine and with intimate tales of his youth, and tempts them to his Venetian palazzo for a brief rest, where they meet Robert’s wife, Caroline (Helen Mirren). Soon, the film takes an unexpected turn.

The four protagonists both perform with and display great style on the screen and it is visually that The Comfort of Strangers is indeed a great cinematic experience. A rich, stylish piece with a sleek, threatical approach. What renders the film its look is Dante Spinotti’s use of colours and lighting, as well as the set designs by Gianni Quaranta, Luigi Marchioness’ art direction and Giorgio Armani’s wardrobes, the Italian designer qualifying as one of the film’s auteurs. In other words, the film looks good. And Colin and Mary are good to look at, too. They must be, because not only is this quality the obvious reason for their mutual attraction, but it’s also what makes them the objects of desire for the other two, Robert and Caroline. Rupert Everett, in the prime of his youth, dressed in his casual Armani clothes. Natasha Richardson, a wholesome beauty with golden locks, all clad in Armani’s best. Schrader has noted that, after having Natasha live in a closet for one of his previous pictures, Patty Hearst (1988), Richardson was happy to work with him in a part that had her gorgeous and tanned and dressed in Armani in glamourous settings. “I think I looked pretty,” she said.

There is a sequence in the film where Mary and Colin are having dinner on the terrace of their hotel and at one point Mary realises that the people at the next table are talking about Colin and his looks and she approvingly tells him that. Colin thinks in turn that Mary must be the center of their attention. It’s universally accepted that they are good looking. And that their Armani clothes suit them.
Natasha Richardson in Armani-The Comfort of Strangers

Natasha Richardson in Armani-The Comfort of Strangers

Natasha wearing an unstructured suit jacket to dinner


Giorgio Armani’s designs beautifully serve the narrative, while providing a great reference to the Armani style, to the idea of simplicity and easy-to-wear elegance, which I believe is inextricably linked to the designer. Mary’s wardrobe is a harmony in colour and fabric: tones of brown, pastels, white and black, fluid shirts, unconstrictive knee-long skirts, effortless long dresses, casual day dresses and a gorgeous orange cardigan, wide belts and oversised jewellery. And, unlike Helen Mirren’s character, she seems at ease and free in her clothes, even when she wears a suit jacket on one of the evenings for dinner.

The “unstructured” jacket, the signature design Armani is best known for, is also the designer’s favourite piece from all his creations. Natasha wears hers buttoned up and it may have been worn over a dress, but most probably with a skirt, no blouse. It’s when she’s the most attractive. Giorgio Armani is a great modernist and his tailoring traded stiff formality for assured relaxation, suggesting new, natural, minimalist, effortless attitudes, a less mannered style of the female figure, while preserving elegance, sensuality and distinction. “I imagined women in new roles, women who no longer have to pull their skirts down over their knees when they sat down or unbutton their tight jackets as soon as they took their places at the table for a business meeting. The elegance of the gesture, for me, has always been of essential importance, it is an integral part of style and one’s way of dressing.” Mr. Armani, I’m with you.
Armani in film-The Comfort of Strangers

Armani in film - Natasha Richardson in The Comfort of Strangers

sources: interview with Natasha Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 1991 / interview with Paul Schrader Los Angeles Times, 1990 / Giorgio Armani by Giorgio Armani / interview with Giorgio Armani from the book Fashion Now 2, 25th anniversary edition, published by Taschen

photos: movie stills | Erre Produzioni

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Editorial: Here We Go Again

Editorial - Here We Go Again - Call Me By Your Name 

The Editorial: thoughts, short stories
or essays about the world of cinema

Remakes. Sequels. I don’t like them. I do not see any point in them except the producers making money. You make a good film? Just let it be! Because as good a film as that may be, when you fall into the trap of sequels, something fades away. The constant promise of more is making individual movies less special. So little is new in films these days, so little to sweep you off your feet and to make you watch a film again and again and again. Especially for someone like me who has seen many many movies. There is indeed so little that surprises me anymore. And I am not glad about that.

Craftsmanship was long ago thrown away for automation and uniformity in American cinema, but to this degree? I don’t care if they make Star Wars 10 (have they already?) or whatever. But I cared when they made Blade Runner 2049 (this is why), and I care when they go after the likes of Sicario and Call Me By Your Name, two of the best films of the last years. Sicario 2 is already out. No Emily Blunt or director Denis Villeneuve (who however directed Blade Runner 2049), but Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin have returned for the screenplay of the same Taylor Sheridan and under the direction of Stefano Sollima. As for Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino will return to direct the sequel, inspired by the part of the novel by the same name that was not used in the first film. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer will also be back in the roles of Elio and Oliver. Why? They may turn out to be good films, but it’s of little importance to me. Why this need to repeat, replicate and homogenise? Creativity isn’t a competition, let alone box office competition.

photo: movie still from Call Me By Your Name

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Summer Reading List N°2

Summer Reading List - Classiq Journal  
I know, I am being optimistic. Tackle two full reading lists during the summer? Because, frankly, my number one rule for the summer is to get out and stay out as much as possible on your free time. Play, run barefoot and get your hands dirty (in the sand, in the garden, in the park), get wet (the sea, a pool, a hose, a sprinkle, anything will do), stare at the clouds, do a lot whole of nothing. Doing nothing now and then is good for you – I admit I am not very good at this, nor is it very possible with a toddler around, but that’s another story. And then, you know, real life happens every day.

So that only leaves me time to read at night (and every chance I get on weekends and these chances can be very few depending on my cinephile interests). Yes, my schedule is a mess and I could use much more sleep than I am getting, but I’ve got to have my daily dose of reading. Plus, Vlad keeps recommending me good books. But the good news is that I am a fast reader, so here are a few more books I am onto now. You should try to read something that isn’t digital, too. Even if it’s just one book this summer, it counts, or a good magazine with proper articles (see below). Words on a paper page. Actual reading that requires attention and focus. Being present.
Summer readin List - Bohemians Bootleggers Flappers and Swells 
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells, edited by Graydon Carter. Now, is that a book title or what? An anthology of essays from the Roaring Twenties, the early golden age of Gatsby, which showcases 72 great pieces written between 1913 and 1936 in the pages of Vanity Fair by an incomparable slate of literary names, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, D.H. Lawrence, e.e. cummings, Thomas Mann, Gertrude Stein, Noël Coward, T.S. Eliot and Dorothy Parker. All were published under the editorialship of Frank Crowninshield in a time when Vanity Fair was a literary and visual treasure of the Jazz Age. The way magazines were. The long, thought-provoking, mentality-changing, wit-abounding articles. The cultural values of the 20th century reign supremely high over the celebrity culture of the 21st century.
Summer Reading List - Room to Dream David Lynch 
Room to Dream, by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna. I am well into David Lynch’s memoir, an unprecedented look into the personal and creative life of the visionary film-maker, and it is bound to become one of my favourites of the kind. I can not wait to urge you to get a copy for yourselves once I’ve finished it.
The Reading List - Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles 
Two Serious Ladies, by Jane Bowles. I was looking for Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky when I was recommended this book. I had never read it (it’s Jane Bowles’ only novel) and Ali Smith provides the perfect send-off: “Readers who’ve not yet read Jane Bowles have all the delight, the shock of classic originality, the revelation of such good writing, still to come.” I wish they kept the original cover though (me and my thing for book covers…). What a pair these two were, Paul and Jane Bowles. In M Train, Patti Smith writes: “Paul Bowles once said that Tangier is a place where the past and the present exist simultaneously in proportionate degree. […] I saw a bit of Tangier myself first through his work…” The power of books.
Summer Reading List - The Way of the World Nicolas Bouvier  
The Way of the World, by Nicolas Bouvier. Deemed a cult travelogue, the book, ten years in the writing, takes Bouvier and his friend, artist Thierry Vernet, through nineteen unforgettable months (during the 1950s) of travelling and discovery (of the world and of themselves). The route was from Switzerland across Eastern Europe and Asia to Afghanistan, pausing in Belgrade, Istanbul, Tabriz and Quetta to paint, write and wait tables. Introduction by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Summer Reading List - The Beautiful Summer Cesare Pavese
The Beautiful Summer, by Cesare Pavese. I bought this one for the title. No, just (half-) kidding. Regardless of my always having been an avid reader, as a film lover who used to watch up to three movies a day (ah, those were the times), I would many times find myself first watch a film adapted from a book and read the book after. The same happened with Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le amiche based on Pavese’s novella Tra donne sole (Among Women Only). I first saw the film and I finally got to pick up the book not too long ago, which led me to this second one by the writer that won my interest.
Note: I love a beautiful book cover and I often judge a book by its cover, so “Room to Dream” and “The Way of the World” win this round, followed by “A Beautiful Summer”.

illustration by Katrin Coetzer , edited by Classiq / photos: Classiq
The Reading List - Classiq Journal

Related content: The Abundance of Less / M Train / Morrissey: In His Own Words

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Life Lessons from Katharine Hepburn

Me Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn 
Life is made up of strings of short stories. It’s fast-paced and meandering. That’s how Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography goes. I like that. It’s different than other memoirs, very befitting of its protagonist. I have recently found myself re-reading this book and I have realised that this second time around what I wanted to take away from it and pass on forward were the great life lessons that it is packed with. I am not into minutious recountings of actors’, director’, artists’ careers and creative process. And Katharine does nothing of the kind. She only talks about the things and people truly important to her – her childhood and parents, Spencer Tracy (she opens up about him for the very first time), a few close friends and fellow-actors, a few favourite directors, like George Cukor and David Lean. And when she does talk about her movies, it’s an entirely different aspect than what you would expect.

What I truly loved about the book though was that what shines through is Hepburn’s liberal point of view, her strong sense of right and wrong, her powerful bond with her family (the foundation for her strong personality, courage and determination), her bluntness and pragmatism, and, yes, her bigger than life persona. Katharine Hepburn fearlessly and uncompromisingly set out to become a star in an industry that wanted greatness on its own terms, an industry that often tried to destroy the original few. Katharine wanted greatness on her own terms, she wanted to be an unconventional movie star, she wanted everything to be about her. And it was – “me”.

Parents and childhood

Katharine Hepburn - Stories of My Life 
“Mother and Dad were perfect parents. They brought us up with a feeling of freedom. There were NO RULES. There were simply certain things which we did – and certain things which we didn’t because they would hurt others.”

“They took what life had to offer and they gobbled it up. Some send-off. A real set of values – and a sense of joy.”

“And I think, how I miss you two. I was so used to turning to you. It was heaven. Always to have you two to turn to in despair, in joy. There you were: strong – funny. What you did for me – wow! What luck to be born out of love and to live in an atmosphere of warmth and interest.”

“I got to thinking about Dad and all the tricks of this gymnastic nature which he taught us. […] The important thing was to try. We could use our bodies as instruments. Get up. Get down. Get over. It was exciting to be able to do all these things. We had great fun and a real sense of accomplishment as small kids. Thank you, Dad.”

“The greatest gifts Mother gave us was freedom to be noisy, to yell. No nags. Do it? Yes, do it! And tell me about it.”

Life & Work

Katharine Hepburn and Howard Hughes - Stories of My Life 
“As one goes through life one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.”

“Thrilling is what we can do with ourselves if we really try.”

“I don’t think that work ever really destroyed anybody. I think that lack of work destroys them a hell of a lot more.”

“You must be very careful not to just go down a road because you had planned to. If you have a choice, be careful to be influenced only by what is best in the long run.”

“I don’t think that I would like to be tied up to anyone so that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.”

“Don’t fight about things. Things don’t matter.”

“Well, that the style today – pipe things – can things – freeze things – computerize things. Have to be careful about that. You can’t develop a mind full of beauty or tender imagination and independence of spirit tearing along in a box without a lot of space and air.”


Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy - Stories of My Life
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.”


Life Lessons from Katharine Hepburn
“What a tremendous opportunity it is just to be alive.”

“Courage. This is what you have to have to come out on top.”

“You’ve got to dream up everything. I believe in miracles.”

A Sense of Humour


Katharine Hepburn - Stories of My Life
“Laughter. A great gift it is. Lightens the load.”

“Just be careful what you say and to whom. You may not know whom you are speaking to.”

“It was the story of a woman’s last chance at marriage (she was in her late twenties).” (talking about a play she did, The Lake)
photos: 1-Classiq / 2-Katharine Hepburn archive (from the book) / 3-The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences | Katharine Hepburn and Howard Hughes (from the book) / 4-Katharine and Spencer Tracey, publicity still for “Woman of the Year” (1942)/ 5-Hulton Archive, Getty Images / 6-Jack Grant (from the book)

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