Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is There a 1920s Revival Going On?

Seems to me that there’s a 1920s revival going on! Numerous movies and TV programs have been released that either feature or take place in the ‘20s and I find it all quite exciting! Looks like I picked the right time to become enamored with the first truly modern decade! It’s a refreshing alternative for retro aficionados not really interested in the early ‘60s Mad Men craze currently sweeping the nation. A list of these Jazz Age-era projects includes:

Paris- The Luminous Years: Toward the Making of the Modern is a fascinating two-hour documentary about the Paris arts scene of 1905-1930. Much of the program is dedicated to the painters of the early 20th Century (Picasso, Chagall, Braque, et al.) Hemingway and the '20s get coverage, with the best part being the archival Sylvia Beach interview. There are also segments on Sergei Diaghilev's ballets, Stravinsky's music, and the Dada (anti)-art movement. Watch it HERE on the PBS website.

The doc is highly informative--particularly about the painters and makes it all worthwhile. It sheds light on the period 1905-1910 that I've always found interesting but evasive in terms of the level of coverage in documentaries such as these. Watch it HERE on the PBS website.

Midnight In Paris- Woody Allen’s latest film—and a HUGE hit, by Woodman box office standards—has captured the imagination of yours truly and a number of other bloggers, and has introduced many people to several Modernist icons including Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, Ernest Hemingway--yes, there are those who only know his name and nothing more—and Gertrude Stein.

Boardwalk Empire- The HBO series about Prohibition bootleggers produced by Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg debuted last year and has garnered good press. I saw only one episode but was immediately hooked on the costumes, art direction, and brilliant performance of Steve Buscemi.

Prohibition- Documentary giant Ken Burns covers America’s “Noble Experiment” in an engrossing five-and-a-half- hour overview that’s definitely not “dry”, except in the temperance meaning of the word.

The Great Gatsby- Upcoming Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge) project of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel stars that seemingly retro-obsessed actor, Leonardo DiCaprio.

J. Edgar- Another film starring DiCaprio, as the eternally-youthful Leo takes on the role of controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover became head of the Bureau in 1922. It remains to be seen how much of the film will spend time on that early decade, but I’m counting it anyway. It’s directed by Clint Eastwood.

I hope that this 1920s revival brings much interest in this most fascinating era. It's been a long time since movies chronicling a past era influenced style and various subcultures. I was the kind who held out hope that 2002's Gangs of New York would influence today's hooligans into wearing horizontal-striped shirts and stovepipe hats during their empty-headed pursuits, but alas, it was not to be. My fingers are crossed that we shoot for higher aspirations in this, the time of the 1920s revival.