Saturday, May 05, 2007

Just relaxing, trying to consider what the eventual consensus may be on this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Went to the gym today, and on the monitors, there were shorts from the Tribeca Film Festival: "Fairies", "Underdog" and Bill Plympton's "Guard Dog". So i haven't quite escaped the Tribeca Film Festival yet.

Yesterday, it was Audrey Hepburn day... when she was asked, Hepburn would name one of three films as her favorite of those she had starred in: "Roman Holiday" (the movie which made her a star, and which won her several awards, including the New York Film Critics and the Academy Awards), "Funny Face" (because of the opportunity to dance with Fred Astaire) and "The Nun's Story" (unquestionably the finest dramatic performance of her career; it would also bring her her second New York Film Critics Award, and would be the biggest box office hit of her career to that date, one of the biggest successes for Warner Brothers in its history, which was why Jack Warner insisted on her for "My Fair Lady"; she lost the Academy Award to Simone Signoret for "Room at the Top", signifying the importance of the emerging "art house" audience). She never mentioned "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (a film in which she felt - rightly - she was miscast) or "My Fair Lady" (another case of colossal miscasting). Though "Breakfast at Tiffany's" has become such a fashion icon as a movie, it's totally wrong: the character of Holly Golightly is quintessentially American, and Hepburn can't even fake an American accent (they added the line about her studying French to get rid of her hillbilly accent... but Audrey Hepburn never sounded like a hillbilly) and she's a tramp, and Audrey Hepburn is not a tramp. But that's why the miscasting makes the movie work as a fairy tale: if it had been better cast (Truman Capote had wanted Marilyn Monroe, and Shirley MacLaine would have been fine), the movie would have been a rather sordid story of (in Radley Metzger's words) a boy whore who falls in love with a girl whore. She was also great in "Charade" (also a huge box office hit) and "Two for the Road". But i bring this up because Hepburn's "standards" (the films and performances she felt were important and/or "good") show that she was very conscious of "quality" and of trying to maintain a career with some semblance of quality. That's why she agreed to work with Billy Wilder and John Huston (two writer-directors who represented "quality" in the 1950s, having both won Academy Awards for writing and directing).

But those standards no longer seem to apply: her very conscientious and thoughtful performance in "The Nun's Story" (a staggering accomplishment, since she has to maintain a singleminded seriousness for almost three hours) has been overlooked, in favor of the fashion show which is "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Fashion now trumps seriousness. It's very sad.


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