Film Muse: Viva Las Vegas

Recently, I was riding the bus home when a friend of mine happened to hop on at the downtown stop. We chatted about what most friends talk about: work, roommates, future plans, and current romantic timelines. I learned that her and her boyfriend had traveled down to the west coast and ended up staying in Las Vegas, Nevada for a night. However the details of Las Vegas were depressing - terrible casino culture, hot weather, and a sugar daddy sighting that looked more like a grandfather walking arm in arm with his granddaughter.

As she got off at her stop, I thought about a movie I'd seen recently: Viva Las Vegas (1964) directed by George Sidney.  Starring in the film was none other than the king himself, Elvis Presley, as well as another hot celebrity of the era, Ann-Margret. The film was electrifying and painted Las Vegas as the time capsuled city we all imagine: dazzling gold lights, hot neon cowboy signs, with every street corner draped in homage to Americana's sultry allure.  Yet what's even more exhilarating is Elvis and Ann-Margret's obvious on set chemistry.

This musical/romance/comedy is absolutely salacious in the best way possible. Lucky Jackson (Elvis) is a traveling dare devil, looking to win the Grand Prix Race with the help of a new engine for his car. He soon runs out of money and attempts to find a way to pay for his hotel bill, as well as that special engine. While staying at his hotel he meets Rusty (Ann-Margret), the swimming pool instructor. The two begin to play tug-of-war with each other's affections, Lucky determined to win Rusty's love.

One of the first characteristics of this film that I fell in love with was the color palette.  It's the epitome of '60s pop art design. Clementine corals, baby blues, red hot turtlenecks - this film does it so well. A nice color palette is something that we don't see too often in modern day cinema, in my opinion. I think some directors forget how important it is to have an organized color scheme, for it is vital to establish a visual tone. After all, we are all voyeurs in cinema in some way or another- we crave beautiful and interesting things to look at. 

Then there is the pop culture history of the two stars. Whether you like them or not, Elvis and Ann-Margret were forces to be reckoned with. Elvis at the time was tired of doing B-movies to keep his career afloat during the rising Beatlemania era, where Ann-Margret was the new hot actress in the Hollywood scene. Priscilla, Elvis' homegrown wife to be, was in hysterics when she read that the two were having a fling on set. It was known that Ann-Margret was the female version of Elvis' better self: fiery, full of passion and talent. The way the two looked at each other during the film was clearly more than just acting. Although the soundtrack flubbed in sales, the movie itself stayed afloat due to their undeniable infatuation for each other. 

It was also rumored that the director of Viva Las Vegas was just as infatuated with Ann-Margret as Elvis was, and maybe even more. Tension grew between managers as Sidney gave Ann-Margret more dance numbers with countless takes and increasing air time. Many noted that Ann-Margret nearly stole the show, which was unheard of when you put a major player like Elvis in a feature film.  Even I can't argue with her allure. Sometimes I find myself fantasizing over her beautiful shade of strawberry blonde hair......... I digress. 

Much to my own dismay, I won't lie to you when I say the film gets a little stiff 3/4ths of the way through. Some iffy sexism (among other issues) leaks through the mirage of the glamorous Las Vegas scenery. I find that happens with most older films that I watch. Yet I still find that I can view this film with the same amount of awe that captured me originally. I can still feel the romance between the two, even though the bigger picture is a bit more sour. Elvis' career (which skyrocketed from his appropriation of many lesser know black artists) went downhill a few years later, despite a spike in his comeback performance ('68 Comeback Special). By the early '70s, his marriage to Priscilla crumbled and his prescription drug abuse ended his life on August 16th, 1977. Ann-Margret is still alive to this day, married to Roger Smith. 

Viva Las Vegas will always be one of those movies I'll look back onto fondly. The chemistry, the colors, the unapologetic lush consumerism of the '60s makes me giddy in the most unexpected ways. Watching the film will transport you into a hazy hue of a warm and tender idyllic love stupor, if you let do so.

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion

P.S. Here are some loved songs from the film, or that reminded me of the film. 

 P.P.S. Rose McGowan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers depicted the iconic duo in Elvis: The Miniseries (2005) and Rose looked absolutely STUNNING. 


Style Muse: Viktor & Rolf's "American Beauty"

"Everything that's meant to happen does." - Angela Hayes (American Beauty 1999)

Recently I've taken a fondness to runway fashion again. To be truthful, it has been a while since I've looked at fashion with the same appreciation as film, for example. Perhaps it is because the art of the industry is often atrociously commodified, or on the other extreme- not even digestible for us "common folk" to begin to revel upon. Yet the more time that I spend looking at certain collections, the more admiration I have for fashion designers and those who have passion for the subject. Much like film, I've begun to understand the inner workings of these artists, and I couldn't be more inspired. 

Today I wanted to share a few looks from the Viktor & Rolf Fall 2014 Couture collection that reminded me of a certain lascivious character: Angela Hayes.

(Runway photos from Style.com)

The Viktor & Rolf Fall 2014 collection housed twenty-two red carpet looks. The hair and makeup of the models were neutral and tousled, looking quite ripe. Initially, I thought the material of the dresses was some kind of a terrycloth bath towel fabric- later learning that the material was a little more .... grounded. 

The collection immediately reminded me of the 1999 film American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes. Although the character Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) only peppers the film, she serves as Lester's (Kevin Spacey) immediate muse for finding the spark in life again. Lashing out viper ridden insults and puffing on a showy cigarette, Ms. Hayes seems like a typical vapid mean girl, only to be meticulously revealed as an innocent and frail human being that we all are at some point in our lives. Angela Hayes is seductive and full of passion, exuding indescribable potency - much like these outfits. The material of the covered oxfords and dresses from the Viktor & Rolf collection actually is that of glamourous red carpets. The carpet fabric has a certain lustful sheen to it, similar to the velvety sheen of the American Beauty rose petals.

The form of the dresses aren't just simply bathtub/bathrobe chic - they are sculpted works of art. I can even see some of the pleats mimicking petals themselves. And lastly, the richness of the reds that were used was a classic choice and head nod to a such an amorous color. Overall, I thought the collection was a very fresh take on the simplicity of beauty - I'd love to wear the pieces myself.

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion 


Film Muse: IRL (2013)

Hey Film Muse-ers, 

Recently I've been thinking a lot about this blog: what it has become and what it will be. To be honest, I never intended Curbside Fashion to be a blog of almost solely film reviews - yet here we are. I started to question why I liked doing these posts and I realized that it's because I really enjoy other people's visions and success. When the music lines up perfectly and the shot is awe-inspiring I can't help but document it and share it with others. Ever since I was a kid I was mesmerized of how film can generate undeniable empathy within its viewers. All it takes is one good film to see the world differently.

I've learned from my experience as a Fashion Blogger that the field is very individualistic. Your dress size, hair color, and trendy accessories are all compared to the mass consumer market and sometimes the beauty of fashion gets lost. It is hard to explain. Yet I truly believe that watching films can inspire many facets of your life, including fashion. Even flawed films are worth seeing and talking about if they inspire you in other ways, and I believe it is important to support those who put their ideas into the world and don't get enough credit for doing so.

 Today I'm bringing you a short film from Grant Singer called IRL (2013).

IRL is a twenty minute long short film starring Sky Ferreira as Angel, a girl who is trying to remember her previous trip-induced NYC night out with a mysterious woman. As Angel tries to piece together the evening, she learns of a murder that took place on the "L" train tracks that she may or may not have been linked to. IRL's characters are hyper stylized, reminiscent of Gregg Araki's '90s teenage crews (Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation, Nowhere) - this group peppered with 2013 texting lingo. The underground club scenes are breathtaking, as they would be - given that Grant Singer has done so many great music videos in the past (Night Time My Time, You're Not The One). What I particularly enjoyed about Singer's direction is his curated aesthetic to create a mystery urban world of sterile apartments and neon smoke infused raves. It is clear that Singer's strong suit lies within musical montages that evoke unspoken emotions.

Originally written by Patrick Sandberg, I was very intrigued of the IRL script. As previously mentioned, the artistic head nod to Gregg Araki was crystal clear in terms of the character's dialogue. Araki's characters often spit some kind of razor sharp banter among each other. Araki's films have been ripped apart by critics, mainly for this reason. It isn't always easy to like such blunt (and sometimes vapid) characters. IRL dangerously goes further. Angel's friends obsessively snark at their iPhone screens, creating an insipid cloud of meaningless modern friendships. Although it was clear that Sandberg wanted to show the emptiness of these characters, something did not sit right with me.  In fact, I cringed a bit while watching these scenes. Not only is it hard to digest representations of internet subcultures on screen, but I'd imagine that it's even harder to act out the dialogue in a likeable way itself. Some non-actors fumbled with this delivery, yet where IRL lacked in acting it made up for itself in visuals. Watching IRL is a good study in understanding the importance of acting, especially in stylistic settings.

The reason I'm probably the most partial to IRL is because of the cinematographer Jason McCormick's work. The compositions of nearly every shot are so beautiful. The day scenes are washed out in the best way possible, while the night scenes seem to be pulsing with glowing energy. In particular, the warped shots of Angel in the convenience store are some of the most visually interesting frames I've seen recently. 

Sky's performance is one of the best. Her expressions are hauntingly meant for this film, and her voice carries the story along. These past few years I've kept a tab on Ferreira, especially when she collaborated with Gaspar Noé (Enter The Void) for her Night Time, My Time album cover. Sky has some great tastes, not only in pop culture - but in collaborators as well. She is one of those artists to keep an eye on. 

The stand out characters of IRL were actually Damien Echols and Genesis P-Orridge. They both looked like they stepped out of a Harmony Korine/Gregg Araki movie. It is so clear that they had the vibe that Singer was going for, and they delivered their lines perfectly. They were intensely eerie and somewhat comical - heightening the potency of the film's suspense. 

For music fans out there, Salem's John Holland and Gatekeeper's Aaron David Ross among others contributed to IRL as well. Their grainy slow pitched sounds permeate the plot line, so make sure you have a good speaker system or pop in those headphones when you watch the film. 

Overall, IRL is one of those films that you should study. While some of the acting is crude, by no means should the film be dismissed. You can learn from films' mistakes while still appreciating the effort, and that is why I make Film Muse posts. I respect this film enough to share it with you all because I see the potential and the seams of the idea. If you are an artist, you should be familiar with these refinement gaps already, and I believe it's important to support those who are still mastering the craft. Regardless, IRL was an enjoyable short film and I will be keeping tabs on all of the film's collaborators. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion