by guest writer
La Grande Illusion (1937) attracts firstly from the point of view of the bond created between the characters. True, well-rounded characters, one of the elements that make this a great classic. The movie, set in the First World War, states its case by saying that nations are divided only by national frontiers or class differences. What has impressed me the most at Jean Renoir’s imperishable masterpiece is how strongly humanist it is. The way the director portrays wartime enemies reaching across divisions is striking. Egalitarian is in fact what defines Renoir’s cinema in general. There are no heroes or villains in his films. The three prisoners of war in La Grande Illusion are working class, middle class and aristocratic, united in brotherhood. There is also established a common ground between men of different nationalities, sharing the same hobbies or professions in real life: Maréchal, played by Jean Gabin, and the German mechanic. A unity that surpasses nationality differences this time.
As with many of Jean Renoir’s films, which were commercially unsuccessful, this one fit the pattern, only to be recognized years later as one of the greatest movies of all time. This is my favourite war movie, and that’s because it’s an anti-war film, an active critic of the wrongs that mankind is doing voluntarily. As for the filming style, the movie helped Renoir perfect a technique that would define his cinema: shooting the actors in close-up and then following their movements, a remarkable technique that the director said it brought him some of his most thrilling moments, both in his films and in those of other directors.
photo: still from the film / credit: Réalisations d’Art Cinématographique
I’m glad I found time to squeeze in two hours at the cinema this week to see No (2012). In 1988, under international pressure to legitimise his regime, General Augusto Pinochet allowed a referendum to determine if he would remain in power. The Chilean people who supported the regime were to vote yes, those who didn’t were to vote no. Director Pablo Larraín’s history-driven film has Gael García Bernal in an admiring performance in the role of the maverick advertising man, René Saavedra, who was instrumental in the winning campaign.
Smart, simple, direct and heartfelt, I loved the movie for telling things as they are (including some far-reaching political truths) and for its darkly-funny view on modern democracy and human nature. The filming style is distinct. I think it was shot in a sort of television style of the times, evoking the era and allowing for archival footage to be easily integrated in the movie, which, although maybe a little disturbing at first, in my opinion contributed to its authenticity. If you like intelligent films, you should see it.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Let’s celebrate natural beauty…today, and every day!
photos: Peter Lindbergh (Kristin Scott Thomas, Isabelle Huppert, Isabella Rossellini)
The Panama hat is an icon of summer style. Despite its name, the legendary accessory has its origins in Ecuador and it has since become the country’s most famous handcraft. As with many items that have stood the test of time, the Panama hat was born out of necessity and practicality: the hat woven from Ecuadorian toquilla straw offered the best protection from the sun.
But I think there is another reason for its timelessness: it was a men’s wardrobe item. We’ve seen it donned with style by Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman, Gary Cooper, Sean Connery. It is imbued with ageless masculine elegance and it’s the tomboy touch it imprints on your look that I truly love and that ensures its all-time classic status. And let’s not forget that in summer accessorizing can be difficult, given the temperatures, and we all want to dress down: the Panama hat is such a chic and easy way to stand apart.
If you are thinking of buying a Panama hat, you should know that genuine panama hats are handcrafted and made from toquilla straw, ensuring the highest quality and a classic look. I think J.Crew offers a lovely option, that won’t cost a fortune either.
photos: 1-3: Kurt Markus for Latina, January 1999 (model: Christy Turlington, wearing a Panama hat by J.J. Hat Center in “Retur to Cuscatlan”) / 4-Koto Bolofo
On a torrid summer day, the kind we usually have around here, walking around in heels doesn’t appeal to me at all. So I am trying to diversify my flat footwear. I’ve been looking for a classic pair of loafers for a long time and I finally found it, at Musette. They are a nice alternative to sandals and a preppy and polished answer to ballet pumps. Actually, they are an early-birthday present, and they are so comfortable and come in such a beautiful shade of dusty pink, that I couldn’t resist taking them for a few walks already.
photo for Classiq