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Posts Tagged ‘Anna Wintour’

Dolph Lundren, Grace Jones…photo by Helmut Newton

“HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL” My rating: B (Available July 24 on Kino Marquee)

93 minutes | No MPAA rating

As with few other photographers (Ansel Adams and Robert Mapplethorpe immediately come to mind) the late Helmut Newton’s images cannot be mistaken for those of any other artist.

Newton (1920-2004) worked in fashion  and his most regular employer was Vogue magazine. But even when his stated assignment was to capture on film some item of apparel he still managed to work his sexual preoccupations and perverse sense of humor into the equation.

Though he frequently photographed the famous (Margaret Thatcher, David Bowie), Newton’s main fame rests on his nudes.  Though they’ve been classified as erotica, many find them anything but enticing.

No come-hither looks. No languid poses.

Newton’s women usually present themselves to us in-yer-face naked from top to high-heeled bottom, appproaching the camera defiantly and largely indifferent to the viewer’s gaze. This is the nude body as chilly, intimidating bulwark.

Elements of sado-masochism are not uncommon.

Some critics (Susan Sontag, famously) found his work essentially misogynistic; others, including many of the young women who were his models, regard their time with Newton as empowering.

Getting to the root of that conundrum is the underlying thread of “Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful” by documentarian Gero von Boehm, whose six-part “A Brief History of the World” is one of the highest rated documentaries ever on German television.

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Rhiannon struts her stuff on the red carpet

Rihanna struts her stuff on the red carpet

“THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY” My rating: B 

90 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Very few of us have the connections or the cash to participate in the Costume Institute Gala, one of the major fundraisers of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thanks to ‘s “The First Monday in May,” though, we can vicariously crash this celebrity-studded and glamor-heavy event.

For his latest documentary director Andrew Rossi (“Page One: Inside the New York Times”) delivers a grab bag of ideas and themes centering on fashion.

In part, the film is a history of the museum’s Costume Institute and the struggle to have fashion recognized as an art form worthy to stand alongside painting and sculpture.

It also looks back at the blockbuster show several years back featuring the bizarro fashion of the late Alexander McQueen, and efforts by Gala organizers to top that record-setting event.

Rossi’s camera centers on several individuals who are planning this massive undertaking, which for 2015 has been dubbed “China: Through the Looking Glass.” The massive production will illustrate how Western (and some Eastern) designers have drawn upon traditional Chinese art for inspiration.

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