The LA Diaries 2019 #7: Highlights

Here is the rest, a potted highlight of my stay in LA via photographic evidence. It was a blast, over way too soon. My favourite place, I had a blast.

 

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The LA Diaries 2019 #6: TCMFF weekend

As I am taking so long to write these posts, and a huge chunk of time has passed, I figure I best get a move on and tell you all about the final two days of the fest.

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TCMFF weekend started with the fabulous Double Wedding (1937), a raucously zany comedy reuniting Myra Loy and Willaim Powell as sparring partners who obviously become intensely attracted to one another. The ending was an absolute scream — I have never seen anything quite like it to be honest! A pleasure from start to finish. It set the day up quite nicely — plus, Marya bought a Pink Panda!

 

Then it was onto Blood Money (1933), a Pre-Code that ticked the boxes in stylish fair as Bondsman George Bankcroft becomes embroiled with the clients he is helping. By then it was midnight, and wanting to attend the midnight film, The Student Nurses (1970), my friend Millie and I literally climbed under the rail next to our seats to dash into the theatre. We literally escaped from Escape from New York! But it was worth dashing because Student Nurses was hugely enjoyable: a group of four young women studying in 1970s Los Angeles find their paths go in four very different ways. I loved it.

 

Then it was Sunday, the final day of the festival. The day, once again, started fabulously, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Holiday (1938), a movie I had seen numerous times will rewatch at any opportunity. The chemistry between them is delightful, the gowns and hats are gorgeous, and the movie is delightful — a whole heap of joy.

I usually refer to this say as “Sirk Sunday” because I always watch a Douglas Sirk movie at the festival. This time it was Magnificent Obsession (1954), where Rock Hudson woos widow Jane Wyman without realizing he is somewhat unintentionally responsible for her late husband’s death. Gimme all the melodrama, I love it.

The final movie before the closing party was The Dolly Sisters (1945), a musical with more FANTASTIC surrealistic costumes, is how many of us chose to end our festival, and while this one was not necessarily my favourite, it was a great deal of fun. THE COSTUMES! I’m hoping to write more on this aspect of the movie. at some point so this is all I will say for now about that angle but YES WOW.

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We always close the festival in style at The Roosevelt to drink and chat and say our goodbyes, and later to grab fries at In-N-Out as per tradition.

 

The group of us staying up late to make the most of the festival shrinks every year, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. It’s about enjoying the final minutes of the festival before we say goodbye for another year, about having one last laugh with friends and memories and shared experiences. And that’s what it’s all about.

 

The LA Diaries 2019 #5: TCMFF Day 2

The first full day was five-movie day of joy beginning with the delicious Merrily We Go To Hell at a packed Egyptian Cinema. Sylvia Sidney and Frederic March in Dorothy Arzner’s pre-code based on Cleo Lucas’ 1931 novel called I, Jerry, Take Thee, Joan. Reporter and playwright Jerry Corbett and heiress Joan Prentice marry after a whirlwind relationship, toasting their nuptials “Merrily We Go To Hell,” which more than sets the tone of their marriage. As Jerry’s success increases, so do his alcohol addiction and Joan’s heartbreak, while the loose rules of their ‘modern marriage’ only aggravate the physical and mental decline of both. The movie is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching at times, and I absolutely loved it.

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That was followed up with one of my all-time Disney faves, Sleeping Beauty, which provided the perfect opportunity to see my girl Maleficent in all of her resplendent glory. I think i was the only person who cheered when she came on screen…and it was lovely to have the animators Jane Baer and Floyd Norman in attendance, who shared their memories of working on the movie as Disney in-house animators.  (ND’s photo came out better than mine!)

Onto Sunrise, a movie I had not seen for some time but continues to mesmerize, which I followed with the powerful, always impactful Do the Right Thing at the IMAX. I was excited for this one, not only because I had never seen Spike Lee’s groundbreaking movie on anything other than a television screen but for the pre-movie discussion with costume designer Ruth Carter, Joie Lee, and casting director Robi Reed. 

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Walking out of the movie at 11pm in a little daze following the power Do the Right Thing continues to hold, it was straight back into the TCL multiscreen for some midnight fun. I was determined to do both midnight movies this year, cramming in as much of the festival as possible and they did not disappoint! Two very different movies playing on the Friday and Saturday night that attracted a loyal following and entertaining audience reactions. Santo vs. the Evil Brain was the Friday night showing and my very first Santo movie. A joy from start to finish starring the Mexican wrestling champion who is practically a superhero encountering his own brainwashed brain! See, a joy! Plus, the movie had one of the best car chases I had seen onscreen (not for any of the reasons you may think, and not what you would expect for a ‘chase’, but it was fantastic). Masks and treats were handed out before the movie, and we whooped and cheered the whole way through. A fun day.

 

The LA Diaries 2019 #4: TCMFF Day 1

I had a great first day of TCMFF, mainly because it was different from how I have spent my time in previous years. The films always start in the early evening, and because I don’t do the red carpet or sit in the bleachers, I have no need to really be any place until the first show. Seeing the red carpet rolled out and set up in the morning and afternoon is always fun (especially if you’re eating lunch with a view), trying to cross the street or bypass the Boulevard in the afternoon is not so much, and becomes impossible the closer the clock approaches four. But I have all the detours memorized — you just need to add another five minutes to a two-minute coffee run.

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Instead of hanging around and soaking up the festival atmosphere, Kendahl and I followed up our plans from the previous night and jumped in a Lyft headed downtown for the final day of the Art of the Motion Picture Design Exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM).

 

Now in its 27th year, the exhibition brings together some of the most phenomenal movie costumes from a host of Academy Award-winning films. Amongst those on display included Ruth E. Carter’s award-winning work on Black Panther (I gasped), pieces from Avengers: Infinity War (I was hyperventilating by now — and this was in the first room), Ocean’s 8, Solo: A Star Wars Story, A Simple Favour, Crazy Rich Asians, and so many more! Here’s a snippet of what was on display.

 

With a couple of hours to spare after we finished, we nabbed another Lyft back to the station and caught a train back to Hollywood to avoid the rush hour traffic and arrived back in plenty of time for the first movie. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) at The Egyptian — what a way to kick off the festival!

The final film of the night was The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, a screwball romantic comedy (and first-time watch for me) starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple. Temple is the smart high school student who develops a crush on cad artist (Grant), the man who her Judge older sister (Loy) had met in her courtroom the previous day. Obviously, they end up attracted to one another, much to the dismay of Rudy Vallee. It’s funny, a fresh take on a reliable formula, and just delightful. A great first day of the fest.

The LA Diaries 2019 ​#3: The Night Before

 

The day before the festival is always fun; the sense of anticipation in the air palpable. Everybody is excited, happy, energized for what lies ahead. We start seeing each other on Hollywood Boulevard as we walk between The Roosevelt and bites of lunch or dinner, as we stroll between hotels or to pick up supplies that take us through four days of solid movies. Time becomes irrelevant.

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And then the day before becomes the night before, which always kicks off in style. The combination of the historic hotel, classic movies and the City is an intoxicating combination, on this night more than any other. So, I don my glitter heels, and I have a great time before it all gets crazy, before the movies start and before everybody is tired or on their way home. Because this is the night we have looked waited for since we arrived home from the previous year’s events. And when the party ends at the Roosevelt, we head to Boardners until 1am. The night becomes the early morning. TCMFF has begun.

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The LA Diaries 2019 #2: Fashion and Tiki

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The Woman’s Club of Hollywood is one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood. On a quiet road, a couple of blocks away from The Roosevelt and the Boulevard is an unassuming on the outside, a stately home inspired building creeping with history.

Founded in 1905 by twenty Hollywood women — “wives, daughters and sisters of Hollywood Pioneers to support the community” — the club was the building blocks of the City’s legacy.

The Woman’s Club Members created the Hollywood Public Library in 1906, were founding members of the Hollywood Studio Club and the Hollywood Bowl and supported the Hollywood High School and the Hollywood Hospital – all before they were allowed to vote!

In 1908 the club moved to their current location, the previous site of the Hollywood School for Girls, where Jean Harlow and many of the mogul’s daughters were students. Even Edith Head taught here, which was especially fitting given my reason for attending: Kimberly Truhler’s Fashion in Film of TCMFF lecture.

With reference to the films on the schedule, including my opening night choice Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Kimberley took us on a detailed, illustrated, sartorial trip in the most perfect of locations. The evening is always a highlight of the trip, the lecture serving as a gathering for friends who have not seen one another for the best part of a year, so it always serves as an official pre-festival reunion of sorts. I have included some of my highlighted tweets below:

Following the talk, I went to meet friends at Lono, a Tiki bar on Hollywood Boulevard. This would have been a regular, easy, fifteen minutes or so walk if it was not for the Santa Ana-like winds pushing against me, blowing palm tree branches everywhere, and, not going to lie or exaggerate here, lifting this five-foot-nothing-hundred-pounds woman off her feet. There were a couple of Seven Year Itch moments with my dress, but luckily my weighty shawl prevented anything dramatic or dangerous occurring. I beat the elements and was taking shelter in the neon-tinted bar where a glass of wine was calling my name. A great full day. And the movies had not even started yet.

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The LA Diaries 2019 #1: I Have Arrived

 

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Morning view

I’ve toyed with how to structure these posts.  I don’t want to bore you with minor irrelevant details, but I want to give you the fun stuff: the cool theatres, exhibitions, glorious sunshine, beautiful costumes, all the movies, and the fun times. So, here’s a diary of sorts: a potted day-by-day — or even a few days combined — that will give the highlights where needed and cut the rubbish. (Ok, so there may be some information that was excellent at the time that you may read thinking, “wow, so dull”). Some entries will be extended, like during the festival, but the shorter ones will be illustrated. So. let’s track this from the beginning…

I arrived in LA the Saturday before TCMFF. After my first couple of years arriving two days before the festival, the last two visits have been all about the pre-festival built up, seeing local friends and then welcoming the Tuesday crowd. The festival is only fours days of movies, but all the days spent in the City are lovely.

 

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Hey, Miss Fanny!

 

I spent all of Sunday with Marya — and finally met Miss Fanny Brawne, her super sweet cat. The weather was glorious, and it was a perfect excuse to wander around and take in the city on foot. A lovely Bellini brunch was followed by books, records, the Hollywood Museum of Death and Pet Semetary. Death takes a Sunday if you will. 

The museum has been on my must-do list for some time, and this was a very different experience to what I had expected. Having lectured on death from an art history perspective and written for magazines on real crime, I was astounded at the wealth of memorabilia on display, which consists of everything from William H. Gacy’s clown shoes to Charles Manson’s guitar and crime scene photographs of the Manson Murders (the Sharon Tates images are A LOT). Recently, there has been much discussion of the glamorization of serial killers but, in this situation, being in such a confined space with all these artifacts belonging or created by some of history’s most grotesque personalities, this is as raw as it gets and there is no hint of glamour. The small museum will certainly not appeal to those of a more sensitive disposition, but, if you have a non-frills interest in true crime, you will find the place well-curated, a little overwhelming, and intensely fascinating.

 

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Hollywood Museum of Death

 

Stepping out into the fresh air and sunshine, we decidedly to continue with the mortality theme by heading to a screening of Pet Semetary at Los Feliz 3, a beautiful small theatre with stunning art deco detail and carpeting. One of the most excellent parts of repeated and extended stays in Los Angeles is visiting a variety of non-multiplexes and independent movie theatres in the non-Hollywood area. This cinema is gorgeous.

As first days in town go it lovely start, and, as you shall see, set the tone for this trip, which was to be followed by a Monday evening drinks a beautiful Art Deco neighbourhood bar and the most glorious sky I had seen for some time.

Yep, LA and TCMFF week certianly got off to a good start…