Monday, 4 April 2011

Will you take a picture of me? Silly, people take pictures of me all the time but I don't know how to take one of myself...

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)
Chosen by Matt McGowan who had this to say about it: 'The legacy of Bettie Page is well known. Her impact on the world of pin-up photography was unheard of at the time, going from bigger and better things as the years went by, but then leaving the spotlight at her height and disappearing off the modelling scene map completely. Since then her look has been imitated and copied, but never bettered. This movie explores the life and times of this icon, an amazing performance by Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page. This movie offers as much insight into Bettie's life, as it does America through the 40s and 50s.'

There's a fair bit to like about this film. Mol is terrific and it has a bunch of great actors popping up in small roles. It does a good job of bringing across a playful Page but fails to dig beneath that.
It is frustratingly vague in the details skipping over important events to give time to recreations of famous photo-shoots (which is possibly what you want from a film about a pin-up star).
Page comes across as wilfully naive at times. It skirts the ground at making her rather a simpleton. At one point a character is surprised Page is 32, presumably because she looks so young but possibly because she acts so juvenile about things. It's refreshing and part of Page's mystique that she was so unaffected and casual about her work but it becomes hard to take that she seems to have no understanding of the effect of what she is doing.
Like Page herself, Harron can't quite get to grips with the film. It skirts occasionally close to parody with a 'noirish' sax score coming from nowhere and a Miami church service offering a salvation that doesn't seem warrented.
The film takes too much of a distance, it's clearly sympathetic with Page and pornography but doesn't seem to much care what happens, so why should the viewer?

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