Enter the Gucci house and also visit the Ricardos – San Francisco Bay Times

By Jan Wahl–

It might sound crazy, but sometimes I leave a movie screening thinking, “Only gays and women are going to love this movie.” This was the case for The Gucci house. I double-checked that instinct by having a quick chat with two of my colleagues during this private screening. Both thought it was long and boring. Both are straight guys (which isn’t unfair to straight guys – director Ridley Scott is probably straight – and I’ll be the first to cheer on any straight guys in the audience who get the hang of it).

Yes, it’s too long at two hours and 37 minutes. But it’s juicy fun all the way. When you’re dealing with the fascinating and totally committed Lady Gaga, you don’t look at her watch! She flies away like Patrizia Gucci, the rejected woman who becomes, well… I won’t reveal it. Only his clothes in the top two-thirds are worth the price of admission. It’s hard to believe this is Scott’s fashion designer Janty Yates who won the Oscar for The gladiator. Yates said she took inspiration from Gina Lollobrigida’s va-va-voom clothes in the 1960s rather than Joan Collins in Dynasty (although I can see a bit of both). As Yates also said in a recent interview, it was helpful for the divine Gaga to wear her clothes, as she is a woman born to be authentic and fabulous herself.

Aside from Al Pacino as Gucci overlord in New York and overseas, everyone in the cast looks a bit like their real-life counterpart. Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons all give us wonderful, weird men to follow through the maze of this dysfunctional family. Pacino’s acting is believable, so his size and less-than-perfect looks don’t get in the way. He’s tough but lovable, a thug in the guise of a true gentleman. The clothes these men wear help us understand their characters and the Gucci House they represent or fight. I loved the subtext of the Gucci fakes (Patrizio is insulted) as well as the lavish cinematography of the villas and ski slopes.

The next day I was seated and waiting for another private screening: Being the Ricardos. I had the chance to see two movies in a week that I really wanted to see! There’s no way writer / director Aaron Sorkin couldn’t pull this one off. For once, the gods and goddesses of cinema did not disappoint.

Nicole Kidman doesn’t look much like Lucy, but after ten minutes you are lost in the Lucille Ball manner and vibe. We want her to win her fights with studio bosses and her love for a conductor. This Cuban is brilliantly played by the Spaniard Javier Bardem, intelligent and adorable, sexy and innovative like Desi Arnaz. We embrace this period of communist witch hunts by our government as we watch a weeklong filming of I love lucy. There are flashbacks and flashforwards, but we never lose sight of the story and the characters, hoping it will work, but knowing our own showbiz history too well to be sure of a happy ending.

Sorkin treats us like an intelligent audience, able to understand nuances and political references. He combines this with artistic courage. It’s a great movie.

I had the chance once to take a cruise with Lucie Arnaz (Ball and Arnaz’s daughter). What a great performer. She gave us a one woman show where she referred to her parents, especially her beloved father. Her Cuban songs and her mother’s humor as well as Lucie’s talent were wonderful. One day by the pool, I told Lucie that I had taken a class with her mother at UCLA at the end of her life. Lucy was teaching a comedy seminar and a few of us lucky ones were able to attend. It was about two years before Lucy’s death, and she was a tough cookie. I saw a glimpse of the character Nicole played in the movie, organized and comically brilliant. Lucy almost had ESP when it came to making audiences laugh. In interviews now on YouTube, Lucie evokes this aspect of her mother.

Return to The Gucci house … Look for other fashion movies to get you in the mood or stay in the mood: Halston, Decompressed, Funny head, Phantom wire, Coco before Chanel, and The devil wears Prada.

Hope I got you two big screen movies that are worth your time and money during this vacation. They’re both freebies for those of us who enjoy good storytelling and a visual feast!

Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian, film critic on various broadcast media and has her own YouTube channel series, “Jan Wahl Showbiz”. She has two Emmy Awards and numerous awards for her long-standing work on behalf of moviegoers and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at www.janwahl.com

Posted on December 2, 2021

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