Blonde, Gucci, big head Todd

Monroe in Seven Year Itch by sculptor Seward Johnson (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Tim van Schmidt | New SCENE

Usually, in this column, I write about things I would fully recommend. But that may not be the case with Netflix’s recent “Blonde” feature.

Let’s just say. Despite a dreamy (nightmarish?), even revolutionary cinematic style and a compelling performance by Ana de Armas, “Blonde” is painful and sad. It follows the tragic life and death of 1950s-1960s movie star Marilyn Monroe.

“Blonde” was directed by Andrew Dominik and based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, a work that the author called fiction.

This makes the important questions fly.

Did Monroe’s mother really try to drown her as a child? Did the former athlete really hit her with her belt? Did the president sexually abuse you? Did the film studio really drug her?

True events or not, in “Blonde” it is Monroe’s inner struggles that end up being the most destructive. Like Norma Jeane Baker, her given name, she was a lost girl. The concoction that became Marilyn Monroe was the exact opposite. How do you survive without these opposite things tearing you apart?

Sixty years after her death, the film industry is still abuzz about Monroe’s lifelong train wreck. If he could choose what his legacy would be, would it be his passion for acting, or would it be this kind of lurid rehash of the worst moments of his life?

“Blonde” is the first film to achieve an NC-17 rating to be released on a major streaming service.

Blonde talks about Marilyn Monroe (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Gucci: 2021 release ‘House of Gucci’, directed by Ridley Scott, reveals another train wreck, but this time it’s the fall of the Gucci family – famous as fashion trendsetters – amid the rise of the Gucci brand, brought to the fore by corporate acquisitions. This train wreck is filled with intrigue and jealousy and includes murder.

Forget the big stars of the title: Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. Who really gets this production cooking is Jared Leto, who plays Paolo Gucci, an aspiring fashion designer with little talent or common sense. Leto, simply physically unrecognizable, creates a memorable character with very strange tics.

Monroe’s Early Years on display at the Catalina Museum (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Compared to “Blonde,” the bad things that happen here—family members get sidelined by other family members and the law—seem to be the problems of the rich. Monroe’s issues initially come from a humble beginning, tugging at viewers’ feelings. But the Guccis are used to being treated like royalty.

In “House of Gucci,” power is revealed to corrupt. The chauffeur’s portrayal of Maurizio Gucci changes from a selfless heir to a cold business titan. Patrizia Reggiani’s characterization of Gaga goes from bad to worse as ambition and greed take hold.

In some ways “House of Gucci” is comparable to “Blonde” in that, apparently, life at the top is no bowl of cherries for either movie stars or fashionistas.

Jared Leto at CSU in 2012 (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Big Head Todd: This is rich.

Washington’s was once a big bar with an amazing mix of interesting stuff covering the walls and ceilings. It was both a hometown bar and a college hangout.

Washington carried bands from the area and one of the first I remember seeing there with a dozen other fans was Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

Big Head Todd and the monsters (photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Thirty years later, Big Head Todd and the Monsters return for a two-night fling at Washington’s, November 25-26.

Things have changed a lot. Now, Washington’s is a top-notch music hall and the band is one of the most successful groups in Colorado music history – it’s all for the best.

Visit “Tim Van Schmidt’s Time Capsules” on YouTube.

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