06 October 2007

Dirty Thirties

Last night I attended a Wisconsin Book Festival event at the UWM Union Theatre. Larry Widen and David Luhrssen discussed Milwaukee's film past and present. Kicking off A Weekend of Silver Screens at 9PM, there was a screening of Libeled Lady, starring Milwaukee's own Spencer Tracy. (Clara Bow classic It, from which we derive the now-overworked term "It Girl," screens this afternoon at 5PM.)

This was my first official screwball comedy. I remember a photo of Jean Harlow, with her pencil-thin brows, in a book about classic Hollywood movies I check out obsessively in grade school. In early adolescence, I became fixated on It Happened One Night--though, I haven't seen it yet. Though Libeled Lady wasn't a substantive film, I became invested, hoping Harlow would end up with the Gable-ish William Powell. There was enough plot twist to keep it from becoming facile. Evidently, someone liked it, though; this 1936 gem was nominated for an Oscar.

One of the reasons I opted to stick around so long past my bedtime was the anticipated feast of 1930s fashions. Though not as mind-boggling as Vera West's work in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Harlow was a knockout in a bias-cut satin wedding dress and in classic 1930s dresses in later scenes. She wears jacket and trousers in one scene, too, delighting my "Garbo pants"-seeking self. Also, there are great opportunities to look at well-groomed, well-shod men.

I just have a place in my heart for the 1930s! The clothes have an unbelievably elegant, but tough and cool-headed quality--typified by the bare backs of blouses and evening dresses.

02 October 2007

Fiona Apple: That Chile Can Sang!

One of the perks of work is iTunes, through which I've rediscovered Fiona Apple's oeuvre. That girl can sang! She has excellent control and a beautiful sense of coloration and tone. Also, she works with really excellent musicians. I've known Tidal was a great album since 1999, but I haven't listened to When the Pawn...almost since the year it came out. Her vocal attack on the album's first few songs will make the hair on back of your neck stand up. ITunes also made it possible for me to listen to Extraordinary Machine.

Happy birthday to this hyperliterate bona fide chanteuse. Life only gets better once you're out of your 20s!