Friday Flicks: Fashion vs. The Freakish

Carly SchollJuly 2018
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Opening this weekend at FilmBar:


Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist–Legendary Brit fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, whose creations helped to glamorize the punk scene of the ’70s, seems impatient with being glamorized herself in this documentaryby Lorna Tucker. She’s impatient in general, amusingly grumpy about having to discuss her past with Tucker’s camera. The past doesn’t seem to be where Westwood’s attention is focused.

Still, we get her story–a working class background, artistic talent, relationship with punk maven Malcolm McLaren, dressing the Sex Pistols, selling her designs out of McLaren’s boutique, gradually becoming influential despite the sneers of the old-school British fashion establishment. She’s also a passionate activist for environmental and other causes, and tries, sometimes to the irritation of her coworkers, to walk the walk, by keeping her designs sustainable and her company independent, eschewing major corporate backing.

Tucker’s portrait is of a formidable yet touchingly earnest woman trying to navigate her way through the wacky world of fashion. The other interview subjects, especially Westwood’s husband and close collaborator, a tortured Austrian designer named Andreas Kronthaler, seem like caricatured flamboyant eccentrics, characters too exaggerated for a Christopher Guest comedy. Yet there in the middle of the movie is the sober-minded perfectionist Westwood, talking trenchant, unsentimental sense about her punk past and other chapters of her life, seeming more like an all-business PTA mom than a wrangler of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

Westwood doesn’t even seem sheepish about being a Dame. How punk can you be, if you’re a Dame?


Opening in wide release this weekend:

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation–The lodging of the title, in case you didn’t see the 2012 original or its 2015 sequel, is a castle deep in the Carpathians that’s been turned into a resort where monsters can go to transylvaniaunwind, untroubled by torch-and-pitchfork wielding mobs. Dracula, a fretful single dad voiced by Adam Sandler, runs the place with his daughter Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez.

This third film takes Drac and Mavis away from the Hotel, on a monsters-only luxury cruise through the Bermuda Triangle to Atlantis. Along with them is their usual gang of pals: Kevin James as the Frankenstein Monster, Fran Drescher as his Bride, Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon as beleaguered werewolf parents, Keegan-Michael Key as the Mummy, David Spade as the Invisible Man, Mel Brooks as Dracula’s father

Vlad, and so on. Andy Samberg plays Drac’s son-in-law, who is non-monstrous, while newcomers to the company include Kathryn Hahn as a shipboard love interest for Drac, and Jim Gaffigan as Van Helsing, here a monster-persecuting villain. There’s also a giant puppy ominously named Tinkles.

As with the earlier films, this is undemanding, enjoyable family fare. It pays visual homage to the ghoulish art of the Boomer Era, with hints of Aurora’s “Monster Rods” model kits, of the art of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Basil Wolverton and Dr. Seuss, of the 1967 Rankin-Bass movie Mad Monster Party? The bristling midcentury look and the rapid-fire slapstick keep things amusing, and I can’t say I ever saw a movie in which The Kraken (voiced by Joe Jonas) is a gargantuan, tentacled lounge singer.

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