Saturday, 28 July 2018

Three Films

I seem to go to the cinema quite rarely these days. I see the big Marvel films like 'Black Panther' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' but that tends to be about it. So it was quite a surprise to find myself seeing three films in three weeks about three people.

'The Happy Prince' is the culmination of Rupert Everett's love affair with Oscar Wilde and tells the tale of what happened to Wilde after he was released from Reading prison and went to live in exile on the Continent. I saw Rupert Everett play Wilde in 'The Judas Kiss' a few years ago and that production apparently helped to get this film off the ground. With all the production agencies, producers and assistant producers in the credits at the end, he's obviously put in a lot of work to raise the finance to get the film made.

Rupert not only plays Wilde but he also wrote and directed the film, clearly a labour of love. The film took a little while to get going but it was worth it and I loved bookending various episodes in Wilde's life  by him telling the story of 'The Happy Prince' to a couple of street urchins.

'McQueen' is a documentary about the short life of Alexander McQueen and his rise to prominence in the fashion world before his death at the age of 40. The film is a thing of beauty in itself, very elegant and measured. There is lots of footage from the time as British fashion took off in the '90s, with clips of Isabella Blow and others who were all at the centre of it with McQueen.

There was also footage of some of his spectacular fashion shows and a gob-smacking moment when robots open fire with paint onto a beautiful, pristine white dress the model is wearing. That was a wow moment and I preferred the dress after the paint job (such clever robots). The thing that was missing for me was the lack of explanation or exploration of what went wrong to rob him of his joy - drugs are mentioned and there's footage of McQueen speaking about cocaine, but nothing about what set him off on that path. The film ends with his suicide the night before his mother's funeral - all that creativity snuffed out by success and money. If you get a chance to see the film then please do so, it's well worth seeing and is beautiful in its own right.

'Carrington' is a film from the '90s about the artist Dora Carrington and her love for Lytton Stratchy. That puts her into the Bloomsbury group of artists. She was a star pupil at the Slade School of Art before the First World War alongside Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash and others. She wasn't bothered about exhibiting her work, she painted because she wanted to paint for herself and for Lytton and that's probably why she isn't more well known. The film was screened as a one-off at the National Gallery.

Carrington is played by Emma Thompson and Lytton by Jonathan Pryce and it's a strange and touching tale of their platonic and deep love for each other, having their own lovers but always coming back to each other and sharing their joys, tears and lives. It ends with Carrington's suicide after Lytton dies.

Three films about three people, all artists, all dead while still young (Wilde was 46, McQueen was 40 and Carrington was 39) and all have left their own legacy. There's currently a year-long season of Oscar Wilde plays in the West End, the V&A put on the big exhibition about Alexander McQueen a couple of years ago so what we need is a big exhibition of Carrington's works. She was prominent in 'The Crisis of Brilliance' exhibition a few years ago but it's time for a proper retrospective exhibition - yes, Tate Britain, I'm looking at you.

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