Category Archives: films

If You Liked Easy Rider, What about Two Lane Blacktop?

The truth is that not many people have ever heard about the 1971 film “Two Lane Blacktop”. It got very little play when it came out, and basically sunk like a stone in the pond afterwards.

And there is a reason. It is not a conventional film that tells a story the way we are used to experience. Instead, Two Lane Blacktop gives you a series of glimpses into a story, and leaves you to fill in the blanks. So to watch the film, you focus on its “feel” rather than its “meaning” or “message”.

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That was a “thing”back then. And it has its own type of charm. Here is a review.

Here are 2 European films in this genre that I enjoyed

The narrative concerns a group of upper middle class people attempting—despite continual interruptions—to dine together.

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  • Fellini’s (1953)

it stars Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director who suffers from stifled creativity as he attempts to direct an epic science fiction film.

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Why do I like these films? They challenge us to take our view of story and meaning a bit less seriously. They are, in my view, light hearted, in a way that we need these days. How+ They help us take ourselves a bit less seriously.



Best Sunglasses – Think Michael Caine landing at Turin airport in The Italian Job.

Here is an image for you

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Nice look! You probably don’t have the sunglasses for this. Esquire offers some choices.

Go for it!

Wondering about The Italian Job? It is one of the better comedy adventures coming out of the UK in the 1960äs. Here is the summary.

And the trailer!


Remembering Peter Fonda

It seems like a long time ago when Peter Fonda played a handsome young rebel in the film “Easy Rider”.  It was 1969 and Fonda had a certain look that sold well.

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That look gave the film a certain gravitas. It was a nice contrast to the more scalawag look that Dennis Hopper had as his sidekick.

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Fonda’s appearance sold the film and so it is worth reflecting on it for a moment. It was a serious look. A look that suggested depth of character. A sense of the importance of rejecting societal norms and embracing an alternative, more free way of being. And it was a look that made fun of mainstream values.  It was “in your face”.

The truth is, however, that there was not much else to the film. Just the look, the music, motorcycle riding,  drugs, a bit of odd sex in a cemetary, and a tragic nasty ending.

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That ending was, in fact, the real content served up by the film.  The shocking contrast to the aimless wandering. Beautiful, romantic youth was killed in a senseless fashion by red neck society.. An ending of the type that we associate with the great romantics — Shelley and Byron. Hmmm … the fact that this was not a particularly original ending did not occur to folks at the time.  To the contrary, the film seemed to be very different. And it was different than the mainstream Hollywood stuff that we were used to seeing.

It was different, for example, from “Funny Girl” and “Planet of the Apes” and “The Thomas Crown Affair”., three popular films from 1968. But in fact, “Easy Rider” shared characteristics with some popular films of 1969 — like “Midnight Cowboy”,, and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, Both of these 1969 films had  similar tragic,  romantic  endings. That was a popular thing that year. We might also recall that Clint Eastwood gave us a similar rebellious look. And even the motorcycle thing had its own pedigree.

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While this may not be  particularly original or deep stuff,, Fonda was able to make it look deep. Perhaps he got that from his father, Henry Fonda who was very good at portraying serious characters (like Tom Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath”). Peter Fonda was the next generation and he  captured the imaginations of lots of young folks because he seemed to reflect the questioning that was going on at that moment. He seemed genuinely determined to get to the truth about the meaning of life.  He was a hedonist, as hippies generally were,  but a hedonist on a mission or sorts.

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Well, maybe Peter Fonda was serious about that. And maybe he was not that serious about it. Time went on,  he got older, but he did not appear to get any wiser. To the contrary, he seemed to get a bit cranky. And he has now passed on at age 79.

It is tempting to dismiss this as just more evidence of the shallowness of Hollywood culture where a certain look sells — but just for a moment.

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But it is a bit painful to be reminded that Fonda was not really a rebel. To the contrary, he was a rather typical creation of extravagant Hollywood culture. He came from a well known Hollywood family, and had a pampered existence. Naturally, he complained about it on the grounds that his famous father was emotionally distant.

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That was the reality. And sad to say, it is a bit boring. So perhaps we can all be forgiven for not paying very much attention to the reality. Instead, we remember the fantasy. We remember the look and the pretend epic journey that Fonda and Hopper embarked on in the film. After all, we were with them, at least in our imaginations.  Never mind that we were actually walking the dog, or cutting the grass, or  grilling burgers in the back yard ,or cramming for an exam. We were much more than those things in our dreams and we still are!

Cool McCool Lives! Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Hollywood is not a place. It is instead, a craving. A craving that we all have — to be cool. To be the thing that others crave to be. In that sense, Hollywood oddly reflects back to us who we wish we were, or perhaps still dream of becoming.

Very Fitzgeraldian!

This does not always work out. There are missteps. But once in a while, Hollywood films strike a nerve. And Quentin Tarrantino’s film about Hollywood – nay a love song to Hollywood – appears to be striking that nerve now.

How do I know? I know because it is creating a fashion trend.

Read on!

Whilst it is only just set to launch in UK cinemas, Quentin Tarantino’s hotly anticipated ninth film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is already a strong contender for the most stylish film of the year, and it’s not hard to see why. Set in Los Angeles circa 1969 – an iconic era for fashion – the film is brimming with strong looks, the most notable of which are sported by its two main characters, Leonardo DiCaprio’s struggling television star Rick Dalton and his best friend and stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt.

As the pair wrestle with the prospect of their dwindling careers, they still manage to maintain an air of effortless cool, cycling through a series of punchy late sixties-style outfits, which renowned costume designer Arianne Phillips (who also worked on A Single Man, Walk the Line, and both Kingsman flicks amongst others) was tasked with putting together. She attributes her inspiration to the richness of Tarantino’s script, which provided detailed insights into each of the characters and the era in which they were getting loose. “This isn’t a movie about fashion,” Phillips told Vogue. “Fashion is a reflection of the culture, it’s a reflection of what’s happening at a specific time. There were real historic references to trends, but mainly these costumes came from the characters and their personalities as Quentin wrote them in the original script.”

I am reminded how the film “Out of Africa” spurred an interest in Ralph Louren safari jackets back in 1985.

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It is easy to make fun of this, and I cannot help but chuckle a bit as I write this. At the same time, there is something to it. We do aspire to things. We do want to be magical. And we need the clothes to make it happen, right?

Who is Jenny Lefcourt?

Jenny was one of the first importers of natural wine from France to New York. Indeed, we might call her the princess of natural wine.

Except Jenny is not like a princess at all! Here she is

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Jenny is a free spirit. She shares her sensibilities and her story here.

This gives you the flavor of the thing

I started my company by… Putting wine in a bag and bringing it back to New York, because at the time you could carry it onto the airplane. I have a very vivid memory of dragging sixty bottles through the airport and trying to fit them under the seat in front of me, which it did! We had no funding, so we’d go to retail shops introduced to me by friends of the family, like Josh Wesson of Best Cellars, and show them the wines, saying “Hey! I can’t believe this crazy Gamay from the middle of France that you’ve never heard of.” They were all so excited. We got the same response again and again: “Wow, this really reminds me about what I love about what I do.” I They would taste it and ask if we could send some tomorrow, and I’d be like, “I can send you some in two months! Can you order a little more so we can get this going?” [Laughs] We did all the orders DIY for the first few years, trying to save money, living on nothing and buying more wine.

Quite a story! That sort of free spirited approach to living is contagious. Or should I say it is infectious? They are not the same!

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But how many people do you know who have that quality? I have known a few, but not many. And how often do you get that feeling from a film? I have felt it from time to time, but not usually.

One film that delivers that contagious sense of free spirited fun is Roman Holiday by William Wyler.  This image captures the feeling

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Wyler, btw, was himself a free spirit — except when he was working. He was famous for being a perfectionist, doing take after take after take of each scene. It paid off. Wyler is remembered as one of the greatest directors of all time, and Roman Holiday is one of his masterpieces. It was Audrey Hepburn’s breakout role and she won an Academy Award for it in 1953. Errr … shall we say, thanks to Wyler!

The thing I admire most about Wyler is how the actors and actresses who worked with him said he made them better. That included Bette Davis and Lawrence Olivier. He made Lawrence Olivier a better actor? Now that is something!

Here he is!

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Two Films You May Want to Check out!

From a fun BA post about stuff that happened last week

Last weekend I finally saw The Farewell. All food-loving people, and people-loving people, will love it. I won’t give away the plot, but it will make you laugh your face off and wipe away tears with your popcorn napkin. But as Jenny G. Zhang wrote for Eater, the scenes of the Chinese family gathered at a huge round table of seemingly endless food mirror the ways families share grief as if it too is being spun around on a lazy susan. Go see this movie! And then listen to our interview with director Lulu Wang on the Bon Appétit Foodcast next Wednesday.

And this

If you can, schedule your weekend around finding a theater playing The Pieces I Am, the inspiring and phenomenal Toni Morrison documentary. It has nothing to do with food, EXCEPT that the unmatched American author, who died this week, was known to make an incredible carrot cake (especially for her authors when she was an editor at Random House—can you imagine?!). I don’t have the recipe, but in the doc, she does reveal it was heavy on the carrots. Maybe one day we’ll learn the rest.

Carrot cake?  Now that is a thought! Or what about some banana bread?

Early Sixties Chic! They Had Fun Back Then!

It was 1963. Before hippies. Before Woodstock. Before bellbottoms. The Beatles were just heating up in England. A young Blake Edwards co-wrote and directed a  comedy detective film that was supposed to be a vehicle for David Niven.

It was The Pink Panther, and it made Peter Sellers a star. The film also featured the life styles of the well heeled crowd – and you get a taste of it in this great song and dance sequence in the Swiss Alps  Enjoy!

Just for fun, here is a sequence from a 1963 film, Charade. BTW, Charade happens to be one of my all time favorite films. Audrey Hepburn plays a young American in Paris who is hounded by a gang of ex-American spies who think she has their lost money. Carey Grant may be trying to help her, or the bad guys. In this scene, the two are getting ready to go out to dinner. Enjoy!

One last sequence from Charade. In this restaurant scene, Hepburn starts to feel something special as she and Grant play the “pass the orange” game. I do not think that restaurants do this sort of thing now!