Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

I haven't written a review in way too long. To be honest, I've been re-reading some passages written by an acquaintance with quite an envious mind. But it's a positive sort of envy (Immediately reminisced a Hemingway approach: "If it's good, I'll dislike it because it's not mine. If it's bad, I'll dislike it because it's not good")! The thought of unsubstantial writing really disillusioned me, more specifically in high school from my professors because I wasn't the most succesful with essays. The same notion followed me throughout college and prevented me from harvesting self-expression. This year I'd love to sharpen my style to suit my desired taste. Lately I've been on some sort of slump with my writing but one of my main  goals when I'm abroad is to take my moleskin everywhere I go and write in it everyday. A portable diary seems great, especially in a foreign country. That way I'll be a (hopeless) step closer to embodying Anais Nin and produce stacks of prolific diaries that expose nothing but streaming and powerful truths. If only.

All personal matters aside, I present to you a couple of my favorite stills from William Klein's Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966) proceeded by a petite review.

I definitely have no expertise in being critic to anything, so as a prelude to this charming and, what I deem to be a dollop of a film, I'd like to state that my review is pure conjecture and may not cover all aspects of what a film review consists of. 

It's the 1960's and anti-war sentiments are headstrong with creative, free-thinking pursuits making the largest artistic breakthroughs. In France, the New Wave is pioneered by director Jean-Luc Godard trailing witty and heavy pop art remarks in the big screens for fellow directors to acquaint . I did just a bit of research on director William Klein and uncovered that he was a photographer for Vogue for many years before dabbling with cinema. It's no surprise that his creative photographic skills have been transitioned into the making of this film complete with moments of vivid abstraction to celebrate a dreamer's nature. Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966) is the account of a fresh freckle-faced, doe-eyed 20-year-old doll babe model, Polly Magoo, who's chosen to be featured in a show titled "Qui êtes-vous? (Who are you?)". 

There are two men that are enamored by Polly's inevitable charms: a boy-prince who has lived inside his home for his entire life and whose premature love for Polly has survived through his imagination, but mostly through the butchering of Polly's editorial magazine photos proceeded by the hanging of them on his mirror (and I assume a kissing of them, too). The other man is the producer of the show "Who Are You?" himself. He manages to make Polly undergo a series of exercises that will determine whether she is a girl who is substantial, opposite to what her life as a model appears. 

I believed it was interesting that both men in love with Polly seemed to be more in love with the idea of her since the presence of her personality is completely removed (boy-prince indulges in illusions, while producer questions if there is a greater weight to her than what she demonstrates). Yet both identify their feelings as "love", which is evidently a pure misusage of the word in the duo's context. The problem with films is that, like literature, they can be interpreted in several different ways. In this case, I'd incline towards the idea that Klein was perhaps trying to make a commentary of sorts. It would be of no surprise to unveil that it's situated in the like of sexist characteristics, because, let's not forget, in the early 60's the western world was barely a progressing pre-cursor to equality with the 2nd wave of feminism settling into Europe. That's the great thing about adding idealistic meaning to artistic movements. Anywho, Klein illustrates these men improper with their definition of love and within the continuation of the movie, Polly's character is gradually unraveled.

Other intentions that the director had (in my opinion) worthy of mentioning is the satirization of the fashion industry. Mostly evident of this is the opening scene of the movie: models being prepped to strut the runway in sheets of metal distorted to ambiguous shapes, which are quite impossible to walk in, might I add. To me the whole event seemed more like performace art thanks to the impracticality of the outfits, and the danger of wearing them too.

This quirky film becomes a little difficult to follow after a while because it is rather lengthy with some choppy scenes that one has to piece together. But I do admit that the entirety is a definite visual episode whose aesthetics as much as its humor shall not tire my little eyes. I adored Polly's character encompassing the dangerously alluring, yet innocent and playful little girl persona clothed in deliciously feminine (and at times, tomboyish) attire. Maybe it's my predisposition to 60's visual art (or my overall obsession with things remotely pertinent to the era), but its pleasing display just may have won me over. Have you seen just how perfect their makeup is!?


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