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Monday, June 13, 2011

COCO CHANEL AND IGOR STRAVINSKY (2009)

Call it ‘Glamography.’ Jan Kaonen’s plush looking biopic on the Parisian fashionista & the great Russian composer opens with a real coup de théâtre, a meticulous recreation of the riotous 1913 Paris premiere of Stravinsky’s THE RITE OF SPRING. (Nijinsky’s weakly conceived dance, the probable cause for most of the pandemonium, is long lost, but the reimagined choreography certainly looks inadequate! Not so the music, which is gorgeously played by Simon Rattle & the Berlin Phil. The premiere’s conductor, Pierre Monteux, would have killed for such a band!) With the crème de la crème of Paris dressed to ‘the nines’ for le scandale, this scene is the sole reason to bother watching. Skipping ahead to 1920, more or less where COCO BEFORE CHANEL/'09 left off, we follow a largely fictitious tale about la grande affaire between Igor & Coco. Him: warm, passionate, obsessed, guilt-ridden. Her: cool, calm, collected, guilt-free. All of it: hooey. Anna Mouglalis’s chilly Coco is probably closer to the notoriously witchy dame than Audrey Tautou’s gamine was in ‘that other’ Coco pic. Alas, she’s no more interesting. And what the heck is handsome, hunky Mads Mikkelsen doing as the decidedly unattractive Igor Stravinsky? At the least, a Beauty & the Beast angle might have juiced up the storyline. Compared to this chic trick, the entirely mediocre COCO AVANT CHANEL is Proust.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: By 1913, the last century had produced its two defining works in music & painting with Stravinsky’s LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS and Picasso’s LES DEMOISELLES D’AVIGNON/’1907. What artistic thunderbolts have come on the scene so far to help define the 21st century?

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: The only 'choreography' that's come close to living up to Stravinsky's score was provided by the dinosaurs & volcanoes in Disney's original FANTASIA/'40. Stravinsky hated the tweaking Leopold Stokowski made to his score, but it's still a great recording. And imagine Hollywood making a mainstream animated feature all about the theory of evolution today.

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