RETRO REVIEW: Get Scandalous as the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema Screens Matt Tyrnauer’s Expose on Legendary Procurer, Scotty Bowers, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, Opening August 31

Posted on: Aug 31st, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017); Dir. Matt Tyrnauer; Opens Friday, August 31 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Director Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017) is many things. It is a romp through the most sordid tales of Hollywood’s past; it is an in-depth observation of LGBTQ culture during the repressive studio era; and it is the curious and complex story of one Scotty Bowers, Hollywood’s most notable pimp. It is important to mention that both Scotty and his former employees do not consider him to be a pimp, insisting that he never took money from those working for him. Regardless of the terminology used to describe him, the fact is that Scotty Bowers spent the postwar years in Hollywood setting up Tinseltown’s best and brightest with one of a gaggle of young men that hung around Scotty’s gas station on Hollywood Boulevard. In an era when being outed as gay would at the very least cost you your career and reputation, and in some cases put you in a mental institution or behind bars, the secretive services provided by Scotty proved to be an invaluable outlet for many stars to pursue their lifestyle behind closed doors, away from the paparazzi and the adoring fans that would be devastated to learn that their idols were anything less than the ideal straight laced, heterosexual figureheads of the Postwar era.

At 91 years old, one would assume that Scotty Bowers would choose to slow down in his twilight years, long withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. This assumption could not be farther from the truth, as we see in film. Bright-eyed and talkative, Bowers has the enthusiasm of a man decades younger than his ninety-plus years. He and his wife Louise putter about their Los Angeles home and maintain active social lives that transcend their age (Scotty goes to publishing parties and meets up with his old employees; Louise sings at various nightclubs in full black-tie regalia).

The film captures Scotty’s most recent endeavor: the publication of his 2012 book FULL SERVICE, wherein he recounts his dealings with the stars. The book claims that countless celebrities thought to be heterosexual were in fact bisexual and gay, as evidenced by Scotty hooking them up with one of the many young men (and even a few women) under his employ. Scotty rattles names off like it’s nobody’s business (Cary Grant, George Cukor, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Vivien Leigh among others). Many readers are concerned whether outing celebrities that presented as straight while alive is disrespectful, considering the fact that they had no chance to consent to being outed. Bowers vehemently denies any disrespect on his part, claiming that because he chose to wait until every star mentioned in the book had passed away, he is abstaining from causing damage that could have destroyed their reputation in life. Whether or not this is a morally-sound decision is up to the viewer, but Scotty brushes any accusations of libel off his shoulder.

As the film progresses, another less ribald and optimistic side of Scotty begins to be unearthed. He and his wife live in a hoarding hellscape. Scotty unwilling or unable to part with the trinkets he’s collected over the decades filling both his home, a second home, and multiple garages. He does not seem to consider this to be much of an issue, but his wife mentions in passing that his refusal to see a therapist plays a large part in his dysfunction. Scotty slowly begins to open up about his past and it is befallen with personal tragedies, from the deaths of his brother in WWII and his daughter when she was only 23. The onset of the AIDS crisis took the lives of many of his friends and colleagues and led to Scotty’s decision to retire from his career as a pimp. His unwavering work ethic and commitment to “show up and get the job done” left him emotionally disconnected, unable to cope with the scale of his heartbreak. The years spent bottling up the pain came to a head when Scotty began to come apart at the seams on camera, finally acknowledging and coming to terms with his pain in the most emotionally intimate moment in the film.

While it is true that SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD takes a more serious turn when delving into Scotty’s past, it is by and large a fun and witty film, chock full of off the wall stories about celebrity sexcapades straight from the source itself. While Scotty’s story is not one that is well-known by the general movie-going audience, it is a story worthy of being told, warts and all. Be sure to catch Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary exclusively at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema opening Friday, August 31.

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RETRO REVIEW: You Can’t Help Falling in LOVE, CECIL, Opening July 27 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema

Posted on: Jul 27th, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

LOVE, CECIL (2018); Dir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland; Narrated by Rupert Everett; Zeigeist Films/Kino Lorber; Opens Friday, July 27 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

“Be daring. Be different. Be impractical.” Such are the words of Cecil Beaton, famed photographer, designer, all-around renaissance man, and the subject of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s highly entertaining documentary LOVE, CECIL, opening Fri. July 27 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema.

Through interviews with Beaton’s peers and admirers, narration drawn directly from personal diaries, and archive footage of the man himself, Immordino Vreeland, who also directed PEGGY GUGGENHEIM:ART ADDICT (2015; Retro Review here) crafts an intimate portrait of the visionary force that was Cecil Beaton. To document every photograph taken, every costume designed, or every diary entry written by Beaton would be a Herculean task, seeing as how his massive body of work spans from the early 1920s to the end of his life in the late 1970s, but Immordino Vreeland touches upon each era of Beaton’s work with such grace and brevity that the viewer feels as though they have accompanied Beaton on his artistic journey each step of the way.

Born in Hampstead, London in 1904, Cecil Beaton came into the world with less of a clear career goal and more of a broad artistic flair that manifested itself in every part of his life. Instead of attending classes at University and receiving what one would consider a “traditional” education, Beaton  spent his days creating theater clubs, performing as a female impersonator, and photographing his friends, many of whom were a part of the London socialite group known as the “Bright Young People.” Through this circle, Cecil became enamored with the aristocrat Stephen Tennant, and thus began a long pattern of Beaton finding himself infatuated with both men and women who did not necessarily return his affections. In one of the most commendable facets of the film, Immordino does not eschew Beaton’s sexuality, but chooses to highlight it, pulling direct quotes from Beaton’s diary where he explicitly states that he is attracted to men. This is not to say that Beaton did not have feelings for women as well however, as his long lasting obsession and possible affair with Greta Garbo is discussed in the film at length.

After his years as a Bright Young Person, Cecil moved to New York and was soon hired by Vogue, where he became a noted fashion photographer. Beaton’s career highlights are too numerous to list in full, but among his most notable achievements Immordino features are the portraits of the Queen Mother, Wallis Simpson, and the rest of the royal family, his wartime photographs taken during World War II (Beaton took over 7,000), and the costume and set design for films such as GIGI (1958) and MY FAIR LADY (1964), for which he won Academy Awards for both Art Direction and Costume Design on the latter.

No matter what the medium, Cecil was noted for being able to do more than just make something pretty; he was able to create an entire mood, and present the world as he wanted it to be seen as opposed to how it appears on the surface. His portraits of royalty, Hollywood starlets, and ordinary citizens and close friends all have a classic yet Modernist feel to them, an aesthetic that would carry over to his works on the big screen. While many artists who achieved fame in the pre-WWII era through the 1950s failed to keep up with the rapidly evolving youth culture, Beaton continued to mesh with whatever was fresh and innovative. He made art with the “Bright Young People” of this new generation, including Mick Jagger and Twiggy, and still maintained his classic sense of style and Jazz Age wit.

Cecil Beaton may not be a household name to many in 2018, but as LOVE, CECIL proves, the man had a sensibility to him that remains timeless, and his art continues to inspire those who seek to eschew the traditional in favor of the unique. Be sure to catch Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s charming new film to have a chance to fall in love with Cecil.

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RETRO REVIEW: Flying Castles, Forest Spirits, and Valleys of Winds: Midtown Art’s Studio Ghibli Collection April 13-19, 2018

Posted on: Apr 10th, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

Do you remember the first anime film you ever saw? The chances are fairly high that whichever one popped in your head, it was a Studio Ghibli production. Prior to the mid-’80s, anime films did not receive wide releases that spanned continents and instead found moderate success at home in Japan. This all changed very quickly upon the release of Hayao Miyazaki’s NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND in 1984, a film that garnered massive financial success in Japan and international critical acclaim. Encouraged by the success of NAUSICAA, Miyazaki, along with fellow director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, have created 21 films for Studio Ghibli since its inception, with at least one more directed by Miyazaki in the works.

The Studio Ghibli films are often the first exposure many Americans have to feature-length Japanese animation and have garnered beloved cult cinema status for many fans in the U.S. If you consider yourself to be one of these fans, then you will be delighted to learn that Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema will be screening eight Studio Ghibli classics, starting Friday April 13 and running through Thursday April 19. And if you have a friend that has yet to have met King Totoro, No-Face, and all manner of talking cats and warrior princesses, this is the perfect opportunity to show them the wonders of the world of Ghibli right here in Atlanta!

SPIRITED AWAY (2001) (4/13 & 4/17) The young protagonist Chihiro is based in part on the 10-year-old daughter of a friend of Miyazaki’s. Meeting her inspired Miyazaki to craft a new film despite the fact that he was considering retirement at the time. Chihiro and her parents come across what appears to be an abandoned theme park in the country. Unbeknownst to them, the pavilion is really an otherworldly bathhouse that plays host to demons, gods and spirits of all kinds. It falls upon to Chihiro to save her family and escape the clutches of the most powerful spirits.

NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984) (4/13 & 4/16). Technically speaking, this film precedes the formation of Studio Ghibli by a year, with Nausicaa being released in 1985 and the studio being created in 1986. Thousands of years after nuclear war has ravaged the Earth, a peaceful princess becomes embroiled in a battle to save her land from both the the poisonous jungle that borders her kingdom and the violent and power hungry political factions that lie just beyond.

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004) (4/14 & 4/18). Actor Christian Bale was so impressed after seeing SPIRITED AWAY that he expressed interest in playing any role in the English dub of HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, no matter how small. He ended up voicing the male lead. A curse laid by a petty witch onto young and insecure Sophie turns the 18-year-old into an elderly woman. Sophie soon discovers that the spell can be reversed, and her plan leads her to a powerful, mysterious wizard and his flying castle.

PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997) (4/14 & 4/18) holds the title of being the most expensive anime film ever produced at the time, having cost around $23.5 million to create. This investment paid off, as it went on to out-gross E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and become the most profitable film in Japan until the release of TITANIC (1997). A young woman raised by wolves leads her fellow woodland creatures in rebellion against the industrial town that seeks to vanquish them. She is aided by a warrior from far out west who seeks a remedy for the curse that has befallen him.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (4/15 & 4/19). The character of King Totoro became so beloved that sales of plush toys in his likeness boosted profits for the film considerably, and he went on to become the official Studio Ghibli mascot. Two sisters find themselves in an unfamiliar environment after their family moves to the countryside for the health of their ill mother where they come across a playful bunch of nature spirits, led by the lovable King Totoro, who bring joy and adventure into the girl’s lives.

KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989) (4/15 & 4/19). This film can be considered a work of alternate historical fiction, as it is set in an unnamed European town where neither World War I or World War II took place. Upon turning 13 years old, apprentice witch Kiki leaves home for the city with her feline companion Jiji to learn the two most important skills a young witch can master: flying on one’s broomstick and personal independence.

THE WIND RISES (2013) (4/16). Miyazaki stated that he had never cried upon watching one of his own films, until seeing THE WIND RISES for the first time. A biopic that chronicles the life of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi from his childhood dreams of aviation to his rise to success as an engineer, as well as the romance and war that come to shape his world.

CASTLE IN THE SKY (1986) (4/17). The titular castle drew inspiration from both the airborne island found in Jonathan Swift’s novel GULLIVER”S TRAVELS and the real life Paronella Park located in Far North Queensland, Australia. After a young boy befriends a mysterious girl he finds hovering in the sky, he is drawn into an aeronautical adventure filled with pirates, airborne ships, and a floating island that may hold the key to discovering the girl’s true identity.

Purchase advance tickets here.

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