Although the media mogul lives surrounded by Rothkos and Kandinskys, the most immaculately lit objet d'art is, of course, Pitt. To watch this immaculately coiffed, boyishly smiling reaper provides less the chill of the grave than the sense of the blow-dryer lurking just off-camera to tousle his hair between takes. The movie's excessive length and ridiculous cost (reportedly $90 million) are nothing compared to this mystery: In all the snarky speculation about Joe's relation to Bill, why does no one ever wonder if this stud-muffin is the old guy's boyfriend? There really must be some things worse than death.
"The Power of Glamour" title of the 25-film show opening Saturday at AMMI is something that Meet Joe Blackmightily strives for and that Celebrity, for all its gorgeous cinematography and Winona Ryder's splendid makeover, pretends to decry. Glamour is the aura that surrounds a star as material as those solid-gold halos that crown the saints in early Renaissance paintings and it is the thesis of Annette Tapert's book, which inspired the AMMI program, that Hollywood's top female attractions of the 1930s provide a template for the glamorous life.
Meet Joe Black
Directed by Martin Brest
Written by Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade, and Bo Goldman
A Universal Pictures release
''The Power of Glamour''
At the American Museum of the Moving Image
November 21 through January 3
Stardom, according to Tapert, was a full-time occupation. Hardworking actresses like Joan Crawford (Possessed) and Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey), Norma Shearer (A Free Soul) and Gloria Swanson (Zaza) to name only those featured in the first two weekends were, in effect, never off-camera. Unlike Truman, however, they were complicit in their own production. Their artistry was their studied self- presentation; their uniquely 20th- century calling was the care and feeding of a public image. Complaining, in those days, wasn't part of the program.
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