Thursday, February 24, 2011

Issue of Diminishing Return

I received the 2011 Vanity Fair Hollywood issue. Based on what I've seen in this magazine, I'm surprised Vanity Fair bothers to call it "The one and only Hollywood issue." I have purchased every Hollywood Issue since 1995. I've saved them all and still enjoy looking at them. I refer to this collection as "the archives." I'm sorry, but this is no Hollywood issue.

The Cover
From left: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Patricia Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Gwyneth Paltrow,
Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Angela Bassett, Sandra Bullock.
Photo by Annie Leibovitz.
The cover of the first Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue (1995) featured a group of up-and-coming actresses  photographed against a white backdrop and referred to as the Class of 2000. Yes, Gwyneth is the only one fully dressed here, and that caused a stir, but VF hit the mark on calling these ladies actors on the rise. All of them have since been nominated and/or won the Golden Globe, Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Screen Actor's Guild and Independent Spirit Award. 

Vanity Fair continued to put rising stars (some rising higher than others) on the cover of the Hollywood issue until 2000, when it was time for a Master Class.

from left: Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep,
Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Kate Winslet, Chloe Sevigny, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.
It's a gorgeous cover and all but one of the four women who didn't have an Oscar at the time the photo was taken now have one. Chloe Sevigny, the pressure's on now.

This year's cover? It's fine.

A promising group of Young Hollywood stars looking glamorous in an old Hollywood way? Yep. The four most famous of the group under the masthead to get you looking and hopefully buying? Yes. A little skin showing in fold out panel two? Sure. Robert Duvall behind the bar? Wait. What? Why is Robert Duvall behind the bar? The "behind the scenes of the photo shoot" page reveals nothing. 

The Portfolio
Scarlett Johannson & Javier Bardem recreating a scene from Rear Window. Photo by Norman Jean Roy

Early Hollywood Issues feature portraits of everyone from George Burns to Johnny Depp, group shots of writers, directors, producers and a closing reunion shot, a tip of the hat to a classic film (To Kill a Mockingbird, American Graffiti, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). The 1995 spread includes Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in full drag makeup reliving the Some Like it Hot days. Oh, speaking of hot:
Daniel Day-Lewis. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.
Yeah. I went there.

Follow up issues were a mixed bag, but there were still some standouts. The 2006 salute to film noir, entitled Killers Kill and Dead Men Die, and the 2008 tribute to Hitchcock with recreations of scenes from Psycho, North by Northwest and Rear Window.(see photo above) gave the photographers and actors a bit more room to play. In 2010, the scope was smaller and the focus was on collaborators, directors and actors. Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar, Lee Daniels with Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe. They were trying something new. This year, I feel like VF didn't try. The 2011 portfolio is much smaller. How small? The 1995 issue had thirty portraits. The 2011 issue has twelve. Twelve. You're telling me Vanity Fair couldn't find enough actors and filmmakers to fill an issue? If you're only going to focus on nominees, fine, but how about ALL of the nominees. The acting categories alone give you twenty people to photograph. Throw in the directors, producers and screenwriters and you easily clear thirty. Something to consider for the 2012 Hollywood Issue. 

Oh, and the picture of Christian Bale? Obviously from a red carpet event. Don't you have some of the best photographers in the world on the payroll? You couldn't get Christian Bale in a room with Annie Leibovitz or Bruce Weber? OK.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Trying Times

Not the best week. I'd call it a trying one. I've been trying to

find my balance
do my best
be braver
not feel isolated
stay focused
not take it personally
remember to eat
remember everything
get enough rest
not lose my mind
improve myself
improve my work

Yeah. I'm frustrated and a little blue. It happens. It won't last. A cup of tea, a slice of my friend Heather's awesome lemon curd pound cake and a new episode of Law and Order: UK are making things a bit better right now. Tomorrow, this girl gets back on her feet.