June Newsletter: Desperately Seeking Cindy…


 
 

Photos: Classiq Journal

 
 
… or Charlotte…

Sepia soaked long summer days and Cindy Crawford in frayed faded cutoff denim and simple white t-shirts, white shirts or bodysuits, most probably Alaïa, on sandy beaches. I don’t think I am alone in saying this, that we find life to be the most covetable when exposed to the summer elements – a blast of wind laden with sand in the golden hour, a sun fade, and the taste of saltwater. Or that Cindy Crawford’s athletic, healthy, curvy body still is the epitome of natural beauty. Maybe it’s the very nature of summer – wistful, adventurous, brazen, free – that brings to mind a time pre-Instagram when models and actors had more mystery and grace, and everyone, the public, had their own lives to live. You could only imagine your favourite actor’s or supermodel’s glamorous life and getting to see, for example, Cindy’s famous workout routine, which she filmed in different locales, from the beach to a rooftop, was enough of a sneak peek into her private life. It was enough. You respected their privacy. Because they wanted to keep their privacy.

There is this line towards the end of Tonne Goodman’s book, Point of View, which explores for the first time her life and work, charting Goodman’s career from her modeling days, to her freelance fashion reportage, to her editorial and advertising work, through to her reign at Vogue. She says: “I took part in the evolution from models to celebrity covers.” And that is it. That’s what makes all the difference. Celebrity culture has replaced culture, has replaced fashion, has replaced everything.

Will we ever be able to reclaim our sense of freedom?

Desperately seeking Cindy… or Charlotte… Charlotte Rampling. In her book, Who I Am, (more about it further down in the newsletter), Charlotte Rampling writes “I don’t open up.” I respect that. Charlotte Rampling’s fame is different from that of her peers. People have not learned to read Charlotte Rampling, because she never plays their game. Therefore her presence, in real life and in her movies, is as fresh as her first film. “Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had this feeling – it’s in my nature, and so it’s not even pretentious – that if everyone’s going one way, I will go the other, just by some kind of spirit of defiance.”

Her choice of films was not the result of lucky breaks and good timing. Never easily impressed, she has always sought out the more difficult path, and challenging, even controversial and troubled parts, driven by emotional and intellectual curiosity, such as Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969) and Liliana Cavanti’s The Night Porter (1974). “European films were what it was about for me – the sensations I needed, the depth, the storytelling, the characters, the directors, and the freedom that you can’t really find in American films… I could have been a superstar in America – I was certainly taken out there. But I said, ‘No way, José, I’m not staying here in this madhouse.” Her intense gaze is the first thing you notice. Yet you receive no answer. It keeps you guessing. She once said that doing cinema is not about watching yourself. Just like watching cinema is not just about watching.

Will movies ever be able to reclaim their freedom?

 

 
Viewing

The films of Christian Petzold. It’s been a long time since I dove into the work of a filmmaker the way I recently have with Christian Petzold’s films. I think Nina Hoss, the protagonist of many of his films, has a point when she says that he is one of the very few author-filmmakers, true auteurs, left – he both writes and directs his movies. Petzold is very good at creating microcosms with his films. Barbara (2012) is set in East Germany, 1980. Barbara (Nina Hoss) is a doctor who works in a hospital in a small provincial town. This is her punishment for attempting to emigrate to the West. She used to work in the biggest hospital in Berlin. Now she is kept under constant surveillance, secluded in the country, with nobody to trust. She does her job systematically, patiently, and she waits. We are waiting, too, patiently, as the tension builds. I loved this film on so many levels and I have recently written about the many visual aspects of the film.

In Phoenix (2014), Nelly (Nina Hoss) is a German-Jewish cabaret singer who survives the concentration camp but her face gets disfigured and has to undergo reconstructive surgery, then tries to return to her old life in Berlin. Her husband doesn’t recognise her and “hires” her as his wife so that he can claim her inheritance. Christian Petzold skillfully merges suspense, revenge, trauma, desperation, destruction, and under his direction a subject that has been (much too) often approached in cinema upends convention, and that has much to do with the way it is told. The ending scene is sublime, the perfect ending, and a perfect ending is not that easy to come by in cinema.

With the same Nina Hoss in the leading role and another beautiful performance, Jerichow (2008) employs noir elements and is the kind of neo-noir that I have been longing to see post-2000s. But beyond the classic film noir theme, a very contemporary issue subtly and when least expected permeates the film: immigration and the Turkish community in Germany. Christian Petzold’s films are films to think about, not to pin down.

There is this recurring visual element in Yella (2007) that is more on the subconscious level until the very end and I like how the film tantalises the mind and does not quite answer all the questions. It is the story of a young and reserved young woman, Yella (Nina Hoss), who leaves her hometown in former East Germany for a promising job at a big company in the West, while trying to escape her unstable ex-husband. The past has a way of making its way to the present in each film, but it appears in a whole different light every time it’s encountered.

Scarecrow (1985)
Jerry Schatzberg

I don’t have one favourite actor. I have many. Film noir is still my favourite genre and I would almost always choose a classic film over a more contemporary one. But my love for movies has stemmed from Al Pacino’s generation of actors. And one night last week I felt like rewatching Scarecrow. And I believe that watching Pacino in any of his 1970s films would be enough for anyone to love film. His presence and magnetism are visible to the naked eye.
 
 
Reading

Who I Am, by Charlotte Rampling, written with Christophe Bataille, is not a biography (and it most certainly is not a celebrity biography), nor a life story, nor a narration. Going back and forth, glimpses into the past, snippets from the present, scattered memories, a search for words and understanding of the unknowable, a look into a rebellious spirit, a poem to her sister who died young.

Hilton Als is an author, a Pulitzer-prize winning critic, a New Yorker writer. But the subject of this interview with him is mainly his approach to Instagram. I get it. I like it.

Légende magazine No 8. Because it is entirely dedicated to Rafa Nadal.
 
 
Listening

Patti Smith, Wave.

New Order, Movement.

In the latest episode of his podcast, Frame & Sequence, Todd Ritondaro talks to photographer Jamie Beck about her life in Provence, photography and her love for everything hand-made.

 
 
Making

A selection of artisans’ and artists’ works, limited editions, independent publishings, textile collections and sunny cuisine, one of a kind pieces. A place of meeting, of art and culture and craftsmanship. Sessùn Alma, a project created by the beautiful French brand of the same name, Sessùn. It is a select store located in the Old Port of Marseille, small cafe, shop and space for daydreaming and reading – “This is Marseille. A port is where stories are told,” goes a line from Christian Petzold’s film Transit. Some books and crafts are also available in the online shop. The brand’s encounters and talks with beautiful people in the heart of their studios or workshops are no less fascinating.
 
 
Exploring

The great outdoors! School is almost out for the summer!

 

 

”A new approach is needed to re-enchant the world and establish the commonality of all life on Earth.
This is not just the task of politics and philosophy. It requires the effort of all those who tear down
convention in order to preserve what is meaningful. That is, the preservation not just of environments,
but myth, irrationality, autonomy, and joy — whether by direct or poetic means. New islands — of thought,
literature, art — are already emerging. We find these points of orientation, mapping a scattered community
that spans continents and disciplines. To represent a world of many worlds, not a globe.”

Isolarii books

 
 
The regulars: The interviews, newsletters and podcasts I turn to every week and/or every month because they are that good. Craig Mod’s all three newsletters: Roden and Ridgeline. Wes Del Val’s book-ish interviews. Soundtracking, with Edith Bowman. Alicia Kennedy’s newsletter. The Racquet magazine newsletter. The Adventure Podcast: Terra Incognita. The print magazines Monocle and Sirene.
 
 

Becoming, by Cindy Crawford with Katherine O’Leary

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