Griffiths in Blow Dry (2001) in 1080hd
This is one odd movie from the official "quirky
small-town Britain" formula. (Same author as The Full
Imagine if Christopher Guest, Ingmar Bergman, and Disney
made a joint project. What would it be like?
- Chris Guest's contribution - well, he'd have to
have some quirky, odd, self-important people who are
obsessed with their own reality, but it would have
to be a reality that is inherently insignificant to
outsiders - dog shows, community theater, and ...
say, how about Competitive Hairdressing. No matter
that there is no such thing, let's create the 2000
All-England hairdressing championship, let's locate
it in the usual quirky small town, let's have the
mayor gush when he announces that he obtained the
event for his town, let's have all the reporters and
townspeople laugh and mutter when they hear the
- Ingmar Bergman would have to add several people
dying of cancer, and people overcome with tragedy
over unspoken past offenses.
- Disney would have all kinds of family
reconciliations, moral lessons, and happy endings.
There you have it. A tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a
silly competition, treated as seriously as if it were
the Olympics. Despite the silly premise, there is an
undercurrent of very serious issues being faced by very
serious people. The local hairdresser's wife ran away
with his female model many years ago, abandoning him and
her son. Now she has returned to ask him and their son
to join her and her lesbian lover as a hairdressing team
in the competition. Her objective is to bring them all
together. She needs this reconciliation to tie up the
loose ends, because she is near the end of her battle
The dad won't do it at first, then he softens, then he
finally comes back at the end for the triumphal fourth
round of the tourney, and leads their team to victory.
They treat this competition with the same straight face
and the same presentation that would attend the
championship game in Hoosiers, or the fight in Rocky, or
the race in Chariots of Fire. The hairdressers have a
lot of glitz, of course, but all the sporting cliches
are brought right over without comment. The dad "used to
be the best" hairdresser in the world, but hasn't
competed in years, the judges hold up their little 9.9
scores for various haircuts, and the team from Keighley,
the town which also hosts the pageant, defeats all the
super-power teams from London and elsewhere.
When I read the description of this movie, I thought to
myself what you are probably thinking now, "what a
crock", and dreaded having to watch it. I was partially
wrong. While it does have some serious groaner moments,
I have to admit that the film approached the concept
with such earnestness that it sucked me in and I enjoyed
it for the most part. Where else but the UK would they
make a film with such a flimsy premise, its only promise
being satire, then eschew the satire for warmth, then
hire such great people to act in it and bring honesty
into it? Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, and Rachel
Griffiths head the cast. They don't try for humor. They
simply play the characters straight, and manage to make
it work fairly well.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda liked this
sappy, woefully unhip movie, although it isn't as funny
or as original as it might have been, given that the
over-the-top premise ultimately was wasted.
Fonda and Jessica Tandy in Camilla (1994) in
Camilla is the story of the
friendship between an eccentric elderly violinist
and a young woman who aspires to write music. The
elderly woman (Jessica Tandy) looks back upon her
yellowed clippings and draws upon her ancient
memories as part of the process of imparting her
wisdom to the young 'un, so it plays out sort of
like Titanic Light. The acting is terrific, although
the movie itself is kind of an artificial
three-hanky chick-flick, and reminds one of a TV
movie of the week on one of those networks that
cater to older women.
As an example of the contrived melodrama, Ms. Tandy
finds the long-lost love of her life before the end
of the film, and does so almost by accident. And at
her age, long-lost is very long indeed.
The most unusual and probably the most memorable
element of the film is that Jessica Tandy did a nude
scene in "Camilla", the only nude scene of her
career. She was 84 or 85 when she did the scene.
"Hey, that isn't beautiful or sexy,
No, of course it isn't sexy, but beautiful ... well,
"beautiful" is more complicated.
Ms Tandy was one of the great stage actresses of the
20th century, and owned a film resume that spanned
63 years and includes a Best Actress Oscar. She was
a great and gutsy woman who continued to perform as
long as she could stand, and continued to do so very
well. Brilliantly, in fact.
Tandy knew she was dying when she made this movie,
and she had died by the time it was released.
She and her husband of 52 years, Hume Cronyn,
appeared together in this film, knowing it would be
the last of the thousands of times they shared the
spotlight. During the film, Tandy and Cronyn spoke
this line (from Sea Fever by John Masefield) aloud
to each other:
"And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when
the long trick's over".
If that isn't beautiful, then what is?