Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Being Andy And Becoming Jane: 2 Films Recently Seen.




Perhaps these shoes (painted by Andy Warhol** ) once belonged to his beautiful muse Edie Sedgwick? We'll never know.
All I know is: I like the vibrancy of the colours, the mingled shapes, the unmistakable "feel" of an era.
They're images in the style of a time that was passing; New York, 27 years ago.... that's when the painting first appeared.




Last week I watched Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller in "Factory Girl", directed by George Hickenlooper; they play Andy and Edie, whose names sound like those of an ordinary couple from Rochdale . And I'd been looking forward to this film; both the era AND the Warhol/Sedgwick relationship fascinate me.
It's probably best to blame that fascination on Du Maurier's "Trilby", and her Svengali, who I discovered in a sunny garden in summer, '63.
OR perhaps blame Cathy and Heathcliff on the Yorkshire moors
OR Romeo and Juliet in Italy
OR even Tristram and Isolde ( I got the poster, but not the T shirt...)
OR you COULD blame the boredom of a labour ward in the 70's, before the arrival of my first son. Between contractions, I read a book I still have (" Nicholas and Alexandra" by Robert K Massie ) which the previous Prima Gravida had left. Inside it, was an article about Picasso and his muse, Dora Maar. From then on, I was hooked on Muses and fascinated by The Intense Relationship...

YES. The film was entertaining and colourful and I enjoyed the sets; Warhol's Factory, the sizzle of 60's New York and the music, particularly " Velvet Underground". Everything buzzed in all the right places, just as it should.
And Sienna Miller was pretty, a polished actress, who will have been applauded for her capable interpretation of a hedonistic young woman.

BUT the big star was Guy Pearce, first spotted by me and my children in "Neighbours", as we drank Smoothies and watched Kylie all those years ago.
And has Pearce Grown Up! ( I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't know WHAT he's been doing since " Neighbours"...)
David Bowie was great as Warhol in Schnabel's " Basquiat" ( 1997) but Pearce's Warhol was superb; he was ice-cool, talented, white haired, pitted-skinned. He was often child-like, he was often the most lost of people. He played Warhol as an enigma, an icon and as such, Pearce was BRILLIANT.
THEN yesterday I saw " Becoming Jane", directed by Julian Jarrold.
This film is about Jane Austen's supposed love affair with Tom Lefroy. It paints pictures we've come to expect of a particular time in English history. It has lush countryside with massive oaks, shimmering lakes. It has ladies in empire dresses playing harpsichords in pastel-painted rooms. It has women in Jemima Puddleduck bonnets ( sorry, wrong film) shawls fetchingly draped around slender shoulders, it has women who shiver with repressed emotion as they cluster together with numerous sisters. And it has men in breeches, men in tights and men running stark naked into woodland ponds in broad daylight..
The film, too, has leering rustic faces, cobbled courtyards, ballrooms where sedate people dance and glance, it has unrequited love, sobs at night, pewter tankards, ample women and stage coaches, which rattle with people, luggage and horses, cantering to London at dawn.
It also has huge shabby houses with furniture we'd die for... and carpets ( faded and Turkish) and curtains ( damask and dusky and satin and silk)....
AND there's James McAvoy ( cheeky, irresistible) who plays Jane's lover, Lefoy. And Anne Hathaway is Jane ( dead ringer for Lizzie Bennett) perfectly cast with beguiling brown eyes, youthful elegance; this Jane exhudes intelligence, romance and ( I have to say it) 21st Century woman.
There's a supporting cast including Julie Walters (Mrs Austen ) Maggie Smith (dreadful wealthy neighbour ) and the late Ian Richardson, in what I imagine was his final film, superbly playing Lefoy's pompous disapproving uncle.
Ultimately, it's a light and pleasant film telling a sad love story; whether it's accurate isn't really its point. ( Its end actually disappointed, spluttering squib-like to the final credits...).
Its point is, I suppose, audience pleasure, Box Office success, The Rising of Stars...
BUT what would Austen make NOW of her "Becoming"?? What would she make of her love life stretched so "imaginatively" for all to see, of her desire to write exhibited, along with the turmoils within her family?
And what would Warhol make of the depiction of his Factory, his even crazier Edie?? Of his talented ludicrous life?
What'd they make of these fantasies,these glossy 21st Century views of their private, intimate selves?
Just imagine: Sitting together on a fluffy pink cloud, high as kites ( in celestial terms, of course) Andy and Jane, looking down together on films in 2007...two folk, different as chalk and cheese.
What in heaven are they thinking?
** Art Print "Shoes" Andy Warhol ( 1980)

12 Comments:

Blogger Anne S said...

Aaah Edie Sedgwick, that's the second time I've read something about her in the past few weeks.

I remember my friend Maureen and I were fascinated by Edie back in the 70s. We read the biography and saw that film "Ciao! Manhattan".

I hadn't thought about her for years and looking at her photos on the web she looks so cool, beautiful and slightly crazy.

She and Louise Brooks are always associated together in my memory as Maureen and I were fascinated by her as well. We read her autobigraphy and even, one time, got to see her famous performance in "Pandora's Box" in a rare showing at a local theatre.

11:54 am  
Blogger Carole said...

I too saw Guy Pearce when I watched 'Neighbours' with my kids. You must see him as an uptight cop in 'L A Confidential'.

1:39 pm  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Jane ain't happy, I know that! It is discourteous to movie-fy her... A bunch of jumped-up rich folk speculating about a private life; imagine Jane covering her face with a little ivory fan, all scribbled over with notes for a story. Jefferson had a little ivory notebook he carried for jottings, so I suppose she could write on her fan!

Have you got something on here somewhere that I missed that explains more about what your life as a tutor is like?

Cat-killer curiosity...

8:41 pm  
Blogger Minx said...

I first saw Guy Pearce in 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the desert' where he played part of a drag queen act alongside Terrence Stamp and Hugo Weaving.
He was also in 'Memento' - that was quite good I seem to remember.
Thanks for this Jan, Warhol is a fascinating subject, I shall look out for it. Can't say the same for the heaving bosoms - I have a horrible feeling I shall get angry!

11:21 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Great review. I fancied seeing The Factory Girl, but instead went to see a Turkish film, The Climates, which was broody with lots of cigarette smoking and very little dialogue.

The Warhol pictures in MOMA are just fantastic. One of my favourite pictures of my last visit to NY is of my friend scribbling notes in front of his two Munroe canvases.

11:28 pm  
Blogger Cathy said...

I'm afraid I was unconvinced by the casting of Anne Hathaway as Jane...just a little too perfectly pretty compared to the rest of her family and as you say, 21st century.

11:47 pm  
Blogger Catherine said...

I imagine they'd be thinking "is that really supposed to be me? What were they thinking?". I'm trying to remember who Guy Pearce played in "Neighbours" - I recall most of the characters, but not the names of the actors (except for Kylie, and Craig McLachlan)

11:55 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Anne:
Thanks for all this. I think EDie fascinated a lot of folk. I wonder who will be remembered as today's muses??

Carole:
He's come a long way from swanning in with Jason and Kylie in his school uniform!

Marly:
Good to hear your fascinating voice again, Marly.
I've a friend who collects fans.
I'll have to nick one, then do some unobserved observations for my jottings..

MInx:
Lots of interest here, so thanks, Minx!
But please don't get angry with the Austens etc; as I said, Heaven Only Knows what they'd really think about all this.
You still haven't said if you live in St Ives?
Did Warhol ever come to Cornwall?
My son lives in a village nr Looe.

Apprentice:
I bet that's a brilliant photo. Galleries are great for superb shots...although you might have to knock out the officials, standing guard-like at the doors, first!

Cathy:
Hello Good to see you.
It strikes me when in Galleries ( eg pre-Raphelites in Lady Lever, Port Sunlight, Merseyside...) JUST how totally unrelated faces echo each other beautifully down the ages**..same eyes, hair, expressions. Same for menfolk too...I actually find this reassuring for some reason..
** There is a poem on this theme...what is it?? Can anyone help?

Catherine:
IF ( and that's questionable...) I remember rightly, Guy Pearce was Jason's mate; his girlfriend was a girl called Jane.
I was usually: "makingteayellingabouthomeworkthrowinginwashingfeedingcats" at " Neighbours" time of early evening so I'm sure you will forgive any serious memory lapses..

2:51 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

I believe Guy Pearce played 'Mike' in Neighbours and was a bit special on the saxophone.

If you are into broody Turkish films, Apprentice, try 'Uzak'. Check out the film poster here for broodiness:
http://www.bostonturkishfilmfestival.org/nbc_retro_uzak.htm

3:47 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Ric:
Thanks for that timely reminder...it seems a longlong time since you sprawled on the sofa after school with G, Jez(sometimes) Nikki (often) and Connarty (oftener)...which reminds me, he looks rather stunning in this week's HELLO!!

4:40 pm  
Blogger Minx said...

I can see St Ives from my bedroom window. I live about eight miles further up the coast.
I don't think Warhol ever came to Cornwall - how stupid can you be?

Looe is a favourite place and Polperro (almost next door) features heavily in me novel 'Coven of One'.

6:25 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

WOW! Lucky Minx!
I shall look for your book. Just the title is enough to intrigue!

3:08 pm  

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