Julie Lobalzo Wright has written a fascinating book on the concept of crossover stardom and what it tells us about popular male music stars in American Cinema. The book is now on paperback and thus accessible. Julie is also involved in various events around the musicals season at the BFI this Autumn, the highlights of which are: A study day on musicals at NFT3 on October 26th; and a talk on her book on November 4th at the BFI Reubens Library. This matrix of events is the context for the wide-ranging and enthusiastic conversation which you can listen to above, one that touches on, amongst other things, stardom, the musical, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Kris Kristofferson, Justin Timberlake, Barbara Streisand, various versions of A Star is Born, stardom over time, and changes in the musical genre right up to the live network screenings of shows such as Hairspray and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Kevin Bacon appeared last week on the Graham Norton Show to promote his new series for Amazon Prime, I Love Dick, and talked of how it was explicitly about the female gaze. I was a bit surprised — this is not usual talk-show fodder — but intrigued. And indeed — as you can see in the clip above — this does seem to be the case. I can’t remember seeing a star ‘entrance’ on-screen as driven by a woman’s look since Redford’s introduction through Streisand’s gaze in The Way We Were (Sydney Pollack, 1973).It’s fascinating. That the Dick in question is based on Dick Hebdige, the celebrated cultural theorist and author of Subcultures: The Meaning of Style London: Routledge, 1979) and — my own favourite of his works — Hiding in the Light: On Images and Things (London: Routledge, 1988), is an added attraction.
Has anyone done a book or thesis on hairdos and film? A day after seeing Jurassic World, the only thing I find vaguely amusing about the film is that Bryce Dallas Howard’s hair goes from straight to ‘naturally curly’ when she undergoes a transformation, just like used to happen to Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand in the 1970s, except there the transformation was from uptight and repressed or wanting to pass for WASP to liberation whereas in Jurassic World it’s from running a huge corporation to letting go of control and giving herself to Chris Pratt.
Now that we take CGI for granted, seeing dinosaurs is not a big deal; and Jurassic World doesn’t offer much more than that narratively or in terms of spectacle. Even the look of the film doesn’t seem as colourful or luminous as I would have wanted; the action sequences aren’t particularly exciting; and some of the performances, like Irrfan Kahn’s as Simon Masrani, are simply not good enough. One is left sadly pondering on how hairdos in Jurassic World are sign and proof of a particular kind of ideological regression in cinema and wishing someone would make a proper study of it.