Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, taciturn welder, hunter, and Vietnam veteran
Del Rio, Texas, to Mexico, Summer 1980
Film: No Country for Old Men
Release Date: November 9, 2007
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Having found two million dollars in a briefcase at the scene of a drug deal gone sour, laconic welder Llewelyn Moss also finds himself the target of multiple groups of criminals.
Moss packs up his wife (Kelly MacDonald) and heads to the border town of Del Rio, Texas, where he shacks up in a motel. Eventually, Llewelyn is forced to face the fact that he’s not as wily as he thinks… however, he is crafty. Continue reading
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, sophisticated British secret agent
St. Petersburg, Russia, April 1995
Release Date: November 13, 1995
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
I’ve been featuring a number of looks from the James Bond series lately, but I would hate to let that get in the way of the 00-7th of March! Since we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this month, it seems obvious to me that we should also be celebrating the Irish actor who delivered his own brand of debonair charm to the role of 007.
In his inaugural outing, GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is relaxing in the pool of his St. Petersburg hotel when he is cornered by the alluring assassin Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). Bond gets the upper hand – among other parts – and convinces Xenia to introduce him to the mysterious syndicate behind the disappearance of a missing satellite. Continue reading
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti, newly “made” mob soldier
New Jersey, Fall 2001
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Fortunate Son” (Episode 3.03)
Air Date: March 11, 2001
Director: Henry J. Bronchtein
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
This suit had been requested a few weeks ago, and – as both a huge fan of The Sopranos and a kindred spirit of the tragic Christopher Moltisanti character – I was more than pleased to delve a little deeper into the suit and scene where Christopher finally “gets his button” for Mafia Monday. Continue reading
Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow, Depression-era bank robber and gang leader
Pilot Point, TX, Summer 1933
Film: Bonnie & Clyde
Release Date: August 13, 1967
Director: Arthur Penn
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
It was around this time in late November 1932 that an awkward and maladjusted Texas hoodlum decided he wanted to make the jump from armed robber and spree killer to big-time bank-robbing gang leader. Now 23 years old, Clyde Barrow already had numerous arrests dating back to an aborted attempt to steal a rental car and impress a girlfriend (not Bonnie, in case you’re curious.) He’d spent two years in prison, having endured sexual and physical abuse for most of it, and now graced headlines of small Texas newspapers with the notoriety of a gutless killer with the blood of two shopkeepers and a deputy sheriff attributed to him (not to mention that of the most abusive inmate from his prison stretch).
With the support of his vulnerable girlfriend, Bonnie Parker, and two Texas nobodies who shared his dreams of taking a major bank score, Clyde set out for the Farmers and Miners Bank in Oronago, Missouri on November 30, 1932. Bonnie had already visited the bank the previous day to case it, but the inexperienced girl drew only suspicious stares from its employees rather than a master plan for robbery. Undeterred by her lack of success, Clyde loaded his Browning Automatic Rifle – stolen from a Texas National Guard armory three months earlier – and charged into the bank around 11:30 a.m. with accomplice Frank Hardy. Things didn’t quite go according to plan. Continue reading
Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
London, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
I often cite For Your Eyes Only as the best 007 film of Moore’s era despite most fans’ contention that The Spy Who Loved Me was his apex. After a sketchy start with two OK outings, Moore finally found his footing with a good script and co-star in The Spy Who Loved Me, but it still rings of a disco-enthused rehash of You Only Live Twice dunked underwater. I still like the film, but For Your Eyes Only appeals more to the From Russia With Love fan that I am.
The minds behind the Bond franchise realized (a bit too late) that Moonraker was excessive, even by 1979 standards. Sure, it remained the highest-grossing Bond film until GoldenEye sixteen years later, but are massive profit margins any excuse for a loss of artistic integrity?
Thankfully, the franchise scrapped any ideas of continuing Bond’s space adventures against unkillable giants with the help of just the right gadget. In 1981, For Your Eyes Only marked a new direction for Moore’s Bond: a grounded and (relatively) realistic spy thriller. Continue reading
80 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.
Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, charismatic but violent Depression-era outlaw
Clarkson, Ohio, October 1934
Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
After dedicating the majority of my life to researching the Depression-era crime wave that saw guys like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Alvin Karpis roaming the American countryside with the support of the public and the rage of the government, I was elated when I learned that Bryan Burrough’s masterful docu-novel Public Enemies was finally being turned into a film. I wondered how a two-hour movie could capture the intricacies of each colorful individual in each of the various gangs over a two-year period, and I assumed that – like Burrough – director Michael Mann would focus primarily on Karpis, the lone survivor of the original batch of Public Enemies. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire busienssman and criminal mastermind
Boston, Summer 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
The Thomas Crown Affair is one film where I would feel comfortable ruling that the style outweighs the substance. In some ways, the plot reads like a harlequin novel – a dashing millionaire is investigated by an impossibly stunning insurance investigator (there’s no way anyone could look like 1968 Faye Dunaway and not be an an actress or a model) and the two play a cat-and-mouse game, culminating in some symbolism-driven sex and his eventual escape. It is a simple plot in a film best remembered for its lavish touches across the board from cinematography to costuming.
In fact, Crown himself is far more sophisticated than the plot. Watching for plot can be more than mildly frustrating as the film really electrifies when McQueen and Dunaway are onscreen and – not the fault of the other actors – stumbles when neither are there to save it. The film is still a fun and very ’60s caper, but it’s important to keep in mind that the focus is totally on style. Continue reading