Remember these? It’s hard to believe no one thought twice about how big and incredibly awkward cell phones were when we first got them into our hot hands. Thank God technology has evolved, because when they were born, mobile phones had to be the most cumbersome and inconvenient status symbol ever. My mother had a huge, supersonic pager, then a bulky car phone, then a big ole’ generator-sized cell phone. And while my father gave her oversized, unelegant gadgets the side-eye, I was fascinated…no, obsessed…with the whole idea of a phone with no cord. That you could take anywhere. (Didn’t take much back then.)
Grace Jones is bad to the bone, and quite under-appreciated in these days of pop culture shaped by Miley Cyrus’ haircut, Chris Brown’s tattoo, Jennifer Anniston’s engagement, nihilism set to dope beats, Basketball Wives, American Idol, Gallery Girls, The Situation and Honey Boo-Boo. Grace was the mind-blowingly iconic patron saint of those marching to their own beat, a woman of razor-sharp style and originality who didn’t think twice to laugh, scoff, if not spit, at so-called ‘normality.’ Exhibit 1: her 1985 Citroën commercial, directed by (then-lover) French photographer Jean-Paul Goude. Grace at her absolute fiercest — she belts out one word (“bien”), runs over you, the viewer — and then drives back into her own head. In the middle of a scorching desert. Apparently, Grace and Goude brought out the best (and near-worst) in each other…but considering how they set each other on fire artistically (Goude directed and shot much of her legendary imagery), kinda makes you wonder (OK, makes me wonder): how psychotic must their sex life have been? But I digress.
If the commercial’s imagery looks familiar, that’s because it popped up 16 years later in the Stanley Kubrick/Steven Speilberg sci-fi flick, ‘A.I.’
One last bit : an 1985 interview Grace did for Australian TV. Original keepin’ it real…before it was an over-quoted, under-utilized concept.
I recently had the pleasure of checking out a truly nasty horror flick: Shadow of the Vampire (2000) by Brooklyn director E. Elias Merhige. Not sure how this one slipped by me…but it kinda makes ‘Twilight’ and ‘Trueblood’ look like sit-coms. (It’s a fictional account of the making of the horror classic Nosferatu (1922), which I’ve always given the side-eye anyway.) In SOTV, a dangerously obsessive director (imagine that) named Friedrich Murnau (John Malkovich) gets ghoulish actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) to play the vampire, but turns out Schreck is waaaaay more of a method actor than anyone realizes.
Right from the opening credits, the atmosphere is good and thick. Dafoe’s actor character is half worst nightmare, half train wreck: beyond disgusting for reasons that are difficult to articulate — yet impossible to turn away from. It’s all about the invisible evil that Dafoe portrays as being far worse than anything you could imagine. (Brilliant actor, anyone?) Add to that John Malkovich being the nut we love him to be, a dramatic Eddie Izzard and a spectacular Catherine McCormack as the debauched, strung out, morphine-addicted leading lady. Good times.
Real talk: the unspeakably disgusting quality that Dafoe serves up is a fascinating thing of perverse beauty.
Have a nice day!