Thursday, August 05, 2010

Books, More Books, and A Queen Among Women

Currently, I am reading a couple of books on fashion, acting, living, and murder.

OK, so the murder is yet another Agatha Christie novel. Did I ever tell you I've read more than 50 of them so far?

The fashion books are on the designers Charles James and Coco Chanel, and one on the history of ready-to-wear fashion in the United States (more on this later).

However, the acting and living are combined in one book, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, the wonderfully unique memoir of Dame Helen Mirren. Man, I love this woman. So full of life. In a way; even though I've seen her in many performances over the years (especially the UK's Prime Suspect series) I think I've become more a fan of who I think she is as a person than of her acting.

I first experienced her in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover in 1989.* Though I enjoyed the film, I remember many members of the audience left early in disgust, which was funny, because the part that was almost surely expected to disturb viewers was at the very end. Those poor people, never even got to see that...

Now, I can't remember being impressed by her acting in that film but then when watching a Peter Greenaway film, there is so much more to the film than the acting. The sets, costumes, lighting, and always the atmospheric music by Michael Nyman takes over your senses. In this film, Helen not only wore imaginative and revealing costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier but she was also nude in highly erotic love scenes. It took a few more of her film performances before I experienced what she can really do with her acting talents.

I've only started reading but I did peek ahead a few pages to view the gorgeous photos taken of her through the years, and see that she spent time on a kibbutz, traveled around the world with a famous acting troupe, romanced actor Liam Neeson, and at one time was named "the Sex Queen of the Royal Shakespeare Company". And none of that covers the fact that she is the foxiest sixty-five year old I have ever seen.

Hail, Dame Helen!

* At that time, I hadn't remembered that she had also been in one of my favorite films, 1981's Excaliber.
Linked film analysis for CTWL from Wonders in the Dark.

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