I spent February watching fewer movies than in January. Ironically, out of the ones I did watch, many were either re-watches for work-related things, or they starred Melissa McCarthy and were directed by Ben Falcone (there was a season on TV). I intend to up my quota and get back on track during March.
Now You See Me 2 (2016), Dir: Jon M. Chu
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019), Dir: Marielle Heller
Book Club (2018), Dir: Bill Holderman
Beale Street Could Talk (2018), Dir: Barry Jenkins
2018 was “a year” in so many ways. Ups and downs, laughter and tears, dreams made and broken, and a renewed sense of worth. I made plans, formulated ideas, plotted with friends. If anything, I felt I took strides as a freelancer and wrote pieces I love and worked with some great editors, who I hope to continue working with. I have many interests, not just my academic discipline, and some of my long-term goals are based around these other areas.
This evening I created a Contentedly account so all my work can be found in a nice neat online portfolio:
Like a huge chunk of the population, I am counting down the days until Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 hit the cinemas. Ok, we can re-re-re watch the almost two dozen films and various television shows associated with the franchise, but who wouldn’t want more? Who would refuse the opportunity to become an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. for an evening?
Therefore, on a cold, wet November evening, I was fortunate enough to have a run around the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at London’s Excel. It had been a long day, scuppered by train delays and appalling weather, but all of this fell away as soon as I set foot inside.
The exhibition is composed of a props, costumes, and interactive displays allowing you to try out and essentially become an Agent. This element of interaction, for me, is key to elevating this fantastic exhibition to something much more than a static installation.
All rooms are themed, and I was immediately captivated by the sight of all Iron Man suits on entry. This was one of my favourite rooms — maybe my favourite — the sight of Tony Stark’s numerous iron suits side-by-side is probably one of my favourite/most impressive cinematic displays I have seen exhibited. It’s endearing to see the suits subtly change, like a flip book or sorts, as you move back and forth between them; a shift from the tin can style suit that Tony welded together when he was captured during the first Iron Man film, to the Mark 7 of Infinity War. Although the opportunity to try out a flight stimulator was tempting, I couldn’t tear myself away from these magnificent figures.
The Captain America/Steve Rogers room was also tremendous fun, honouring his journey from the skinny bullied boy we see in 1940s Brooklyn to the strapping Captain we all know and love. It is, therefore, a very similar experience to watching The First Avenger — not a bad thing! — and the displays are tremendous. Plus, you get to sit on Cap’s Harley — who would refuse that?
However, I adored the holographic panels honouring the 1940s, particularly young Howard Stark and Agent Peggy Carter (my favourite). Images can’t quote capture those, so you gotta believe me not this one.
Also on display are props and items from Black Panther, Ant-Man (including a wonderful hologram display!) as well as props and customs belonging to Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Vision. However, all sides are catered for, and fans of Loki are not left out. The “hall of villains”, including the Dark Elves, is also great fun.
Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N is a wonderful event, and well worth a visit. The beauty of this exhibition is absolutely the interaction fans of all ages will have with the show — sitting the bike, posing with Cap’s shields, experiencing flight, touching Hulk’s massive hands, and battling Ultron. I had a ball running around taking photos and getting “in character”. What self-confessed superhero wouldn’t?
It’s no secret that I enjoy superhero films. Sometimes, as in the case of my Hollywood visit, I am able to combine all my interests in one trip. I also don’t believe in singular interests. Those who know me well, know that I’m someone with many layers. I’m still not over Infinity War, am counting the days until Captain Marvel, and maintain that the future of the MCU is female.
Case in point, I want to alert some of you to this bit of news happening in London…
On November 29 2018, Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. will open at London’s ExCel. This incredible experience will allow attendees to fully immerse themselves into the the backstories of each members of The Avengers, including:
The Thor Observatory – dedicated to Thor Odinson, King of Asgard and son of Odin — visitors are invited to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, view Thor’s outfits and study the universe and its current parameters using NASA’s EYE on the exoplanets program.
Also on display will be Captain America’s personnel file, allowing guests to explore the cutting-edge science that made Steve Rogers into Captain America.
Iron Man Engineering Bay – allowing trainee agents to get up close and personal with Iron Man’s iconic suits of armour and even experience what simulated flight flight inside the suit would feel like. Yes, you heard correct, SIMULATED FLIGHT.
There will also be the chance to explore Bruce Banner’s Lab.
I, for one, am incredibly excited about all of this, especially the world first character displays of Black Panther, The Wasp — yes, THE WASP! — and Thanos.
The exhibition runs from the end of November to March 2019, and you can find out more by visiting this link.
I’ll be reporting on the event when I visit — so suit up and stay tuned for more!
The night before the festival is always a magical experience. It’s an evening of dinner with friends, gatherings, and general low key revelry. You can feel something wonderful accumulating in the air, and indeed it is: the festival we have been waiting for all year long has finally arrived. Friends are together, familiar faces on the screen, and balmy spring evenings at The Hollywood Roosevelt. We take time out from our regular lives and fully immerse ourselves in the world — the location — of classic Hollywood stars and their movies for a few days. I put on my glitter heels, click three times, and know it’s real…it doesn’t get much better than this.
My early arrival in Hollywood really allowed me to savour the pre-festival excitement that hits at the beginning of festival week. It also allowed me to do something I had not done before: greet my out-of-town friends. As they started to trickle into town on Monday and Tuesday, plans started taking shape over texts, tweets, DMs and PMs for pre-festival adventures, dinners, and get-togethers.
Arriving into town the weekend before the festival also allowed me to attend Kimberly Truhler‘s marvellous fashion and film lecture (an event I would usually miss due to travel!) and a spend a sunny Burbank afternoon vintage clothes shopping with the lovely Danny and Aubrey. (We also met some sweet cats).
In a serendipitous occurrence, we ran into Beth and Karie. Following a quick drink and bite to eat, we popped into the fantastic Besame store to peruse and purchase a few items from their wonderful Agent Carter Collection, making our way to the Women’s Club of Hollywood en masse in time for Kim’s lecture.
Then it was onto The Women’s Club of Hollywood for a fabulous evening of fashion and film. It’s an incredible historical venue around the corner from The Roosevelt, and so under-represented that long-term L.A. natives — even those on historical committees —were not even aware of it’s existence. We all gasped after being told it was once The Hollywood School For Girls attended by Ginger Rogers! Now, it’s a lovely hall space and fantastic venue that needs to be seen to be believed. Check out it’s history and more details via the link above.
When the night was over it was over to The Roosevelt for the first time this trip and to meet up with my bestie Ms Marya Gates and the TCM/Filmstruck gang. It may not have officially started, but TCMFF was well and truly underway.
For the price of thirty dollars you can gain entry to three of the most touristy places on Hollywood Boulevard: The Hollywood Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe Ir Or Not, and The Guinness Book of World Records. I used to live a stone’s throw from the Ripley’s in London, and for three years never set foot inside. But when in Hollywood…
This may seem like an exaggeration, but the Wax Museum was once of the creepiest places I have ever visited. It started well—a pretty good section of horror figures (see above photos) greeted me—and went a little askew from there. I turned the corner and found myself staring at figures I recognised but only in an extremely vague sense—it was like they had travelled to a parallel universe and had melted a little from the planetary change in temperature. “That’s supposed to be…..???” was a sentence I kept exclaiming, and not always under my breath. I did that a lot during my visit, which was brief as the place is pretty small. Regardless, it is a truly bizarre, fun experience, and I recommend a visit just to prove I am not exaggerating.
The Guinness Book of records was fun but a quick buffer before the more vibrant Ripley’s. My pick of the three, you will find yourself navigating a series of rooms alternating in themes that take you on a journey from old Hollywood via occult trinkets and back again. The first space homes slabs from the original Chinese Theatre, Hitchcock’s Director’s Guild Medal (and a bronze death mask), samples of Mary Astor’s hair (hair or wig?), and framed newspaper cuttings, one being news of Mae West’s death.
I enjoyed the transition into the next room downstairs, which is a treat of magick and the occult. The items on display include Gerarld Gardner’s magician’s club, an ‘authentic’ vampire killing kit, an alter, and a porcelain phrenology head (exactly like the one residing on my desk).
The museum gains a bittersweet note as you weave your way through, culminating in the Marilyn Monroe Room. Her clothing, strewn make-up case and bikini do little to downplay her sex symbol status. “Marilyn’s Sexy Sleepwear” is not the ideal display card and does little to push past the glossy veneer of a person constantly striving to be seen for herself rather than the dizzy blonde characters she often portrayed on screen.
However, I was entranced by one particular item: the belted cardigan she wore in George Barris’ famous 1962 Santa Monica beach shoot. It captivates in a room of frippery and glamour where the visitor is still encouraged to view Monroe as a commodity.
This is emphasised when you glance the Monroe dresser that was owned by Anna Nicole Smith, the attached note emphasising the younger, but no less tragic, woman’s money value rather than her career.
I made my way out via a tribal themed room of ritualistic items, it stuck me how Ripley’s is the perfect metaphor for Hollywood: glamorous yet seedy, beautiful but tragic, dark and dangerous, yet captivating and magical. Some people will say both are crazy and bizarre. I left hypnotised.
(ps. I measured myself going in. Yes, I’m still short).
If a museum was built to house the contents of my working my mind, it would be not unlike the Hollywood Museum. Situated at North Highland Avenue in the old Max Factor building, the three level treasure trove is vast, winding, and appeals to all of my sensibilities. Mae West’s shoes, Hedda Hopper’s notebook, and Maila Nurmi’s gloves appear alongside costumes from Mad Men and sci-fi regalia, while four thematically lighted dressing rooms on the ground floor reveal whether you are best suited as a ‘blonde’, ‘brown’, ‘brunette’ or ‘red’. It’s a feast of a venue and essential to visit, as you will always find something new to discover. However this visit was all about the Bat.
I first heard about the Batman ’66 retrospective a few months ago, but assumed the exhibition would end a few weeks prior to my visit. Image my surprise as I walked into the lobby to be met with a poster announcing it was still on—I literally punched the air with glee. Based on the TV series which ran from 1966-1968 and starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the show spawned a wonderful, often quoted film (and countless accompanying memes). Joyous, camp, and innuendo laden, it’s a far cry from the moody, troubled, tortured Batman of recent years and I defy anyone not to be delighted by the feature length film and it’s memorable moments of West battling a (very fake looking) rubber shark or rope ‘climbing’ up a building with Burt Ward’s Dick Grayson/Robin in tow. West’s death in 2017 was a huge loss, but the popularity of the exhibition—which had been extended by two months due to overwhelming demand—is credit to legacy.
While gadgets, gismos, photographs, scripts, props and additional paraphernalia filled cabinets and display cases, I couldn’t get enough of the costume cabinet. As a Catwoman obsessive, seeing all the various iterations of Lee Meriweather, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Julie Newmar was an purr-fest (sorry!) treat.
And, of course, a certain car…
If you follow me on social media, you will surely know how much I am obsessed with all of the Batmobiles, with the ’66 version being a personal favourite, I couldn’t resist having a sly flirt with the car as I consumed her with my eyes until other attendees wandered in with similar intentions. (Although I strongly maintain she loved me the most).
I must have spent at least an hour in that room, wandering in concentric circles and ensuring that I had taken in each and every word of descriptions. Fandom has changed a lot in recent years, and can be a toxic place—especially for women—but there was none of that here amongst the vibrant colours and the “POW” and “WHAM” captions littered about the place. I soaked in as much as I could before moving on to explore the rest of the museum, a sly glance back across my shoulder, and taking one final lingering look as I waved goodbye to the gang on my way out.
In April I grabbed my copy of Eve Babitz’s Eve’s Hollywood and made my annual visit (my third in as many years) to Hollywood for TCMFF for my favourite time of year. I live for this trip: so many of my favourite people in one place, fantastic movies, a great city… I always have fun but the good times were exceptional this year — a combination of staying in Los Angeles for almost three weeks, hanging out with friends, visiting exhibitions, and having more adventures. I may have seen fewer movies this year (including none on the festival’s last day, more of that to follow ) but I had a damn good time. I also caught the closing of Noir Fest (a dream!) and was witness to the Avengers: Infinity War premiere in all its exciting madness. Closed roads, the Boulevard shut down to traffic, chaos and crowds. So grand was the scale it only slightly trailed the was equivalent of the Academy Awards…and no, I was too short to see a thing. But what a joy to witness. And, in many ways, it set the tone of things to come…(Alas, I did not have the opportunity to find James Dean at the Griffin Observatory…maybe next year…)