Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Roundup: It’s always better on holiday.

No Duranalysis this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Duranalysis will resume as usual next Thursday and continue on a weekly basis through the end of the year. In the meantime, here’s a quick list of recent Duranalyses, if you feel like getting caught up on any Duran-based madness you may have missed:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The See-Paris-And-Die Affair”

In Paris, nightclub owner Max Von Schreeten (Lloyd Bochner) and his cousin Josef (Gerald Mohr) receive a delivery of a suitcase filled with cash. The Von Schreeten cousins embezzled half a billion dollars in uncut, unregistered diamonds from a diamond syndicate; to prevent them from flooding the world diamond market, the syndicate has been paying them a cool million each month in extortion fees. Max wants to use his new ill-gotten wealth to lure Mary Pilgrim (Kathryn Hays), a singer from New York who used to date both Max and Josef, to Paris to perform at his club, in the hopes of winning her back.

There’s a listening device attached to the suitcase’s luggage tag. From a hotel room somewhere in Paris, Illya eavesdrops on Max and Josef.

Back in New York, Napoleon kidnaps Mary Pilgrim from her apartment in the Bronx, hustles her into a cab, and takes her to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters, where a quartet of stylists ignore her loud protests and give her a head-to-toe makeover, transforming her from frumpy to glamorous. Napoleon explains the plan to an outraged Mary: He wants her to accept the job in Paris and rekindle her romance with Max to find where he’s hidden the diamonds. Max is already very much in love with Mary, so apparently Napoleon gave her a non-consensual makeover just to be a dick.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Duranalysis: Simon and Nick on “House of Style”

Hide the lacy frocks! Nick and Simon have descended upon Sears!

In the summer of 1993, back when Duran Duran was riding high on its post-Wedding Album renaissance, Nick and Simon appeared on an episode of MTV’s long-running fashion series House of Style. In I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, an oral history compiled by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks, Nick says, “Going on House of Style was one of the funniest things we ever did on MTV.” He’s right: The segment, in which the boys go a whirlwind shopping spree at Sears, is a trip.

While there’s no John Taylor in this, there is a tall, leggy brunet(te) with great hair and phenomenal bone structure: Cindy Crawford, House of Style’s longtime supermodel host, who, as you all surely recall, played John in Duran Duran’s glamorous “Girl Panic!” video. So it’s pretty much just like having John on hand, except Cindy smiles more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Bat Cave Affair”

Somewhere in the Ozarks, Napoleon visits a beautiful young hillbilly named Clemency McGill (Joan Freeman), whom U.N.C.L.E. is interested in recruiting for her remarkable powers of clairvoyance. Napoleon’s skepticism about Clemency’s abilities deepens into smirking contempt when she claims Illya is in immediate danger of being mauled by a bull in Spain. Illya, Napoleon tells her with maximum hauteur, is currently on assignment in Sweden, not Spain.

Cut to Illya in a bullring, waving his suit coat like a flag in front of a stampeding bull. On the sidelines, armed THRUSH agents costumed as matadors prevent him from leaving the ring. So apparently Clemency knows what she’s talking about.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Roundup: Friday the 13th edition

Happy Friday the 13th. I spent a lovely fall morning strolling in Central Park, kicking up the autumn leaves and getting sniffed by enthusiastic dogs and humming Simon & Garfunkel tunes softly to myself and avoiding the stinky patches of fallen ginkgo berries. Ginkgo: Rhymes with “stinko” for a reason. Their leaves are so lovely, and yet their berries smell like rancid feta.

(Ginkgo leaves are a gorgeous gold this time of year, not green as in this photo. I swiped the picture from my sister’s Flickr account.)

Nothing much to report this week. I saw Spectre and enjoyed it well enough, I think, but the details didn’t care to stick around in my brain for very long. I remember liking Q and Moneypenny a lot, but that's about it.

Also, I have a new Duranalysis up, if you’ve missed it. This week, I examined the video for 1988’s “All She Wants Is.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Duranalysis: “All She Wants Is”

Know you’ve got to save some for the shoeshine boy…

“All She Wants Is” was the second single off of Duran Duran’s 1988 Big Thing album. The video was directed by acclaimed photographer Dean Chamberlain, who first became acquainted with the band through Nick’s then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) Julie Anne Rhodes, and who previously worked with Nick and Simon on Arcadia’s video for “Missing”*. As with “Missing”, “All She Wants Is” was created using a visual technique in which individual frames were exposed for long periods of time, which, when combined with a moving light source, enabled Chamberlain to “draw” on the film with light. To add an extra layer of difficulty, the video was then pieced together one frame at a time to create a stop motion effect.

*“Missing” is a gorgeous video. It won’t ever be Duranalyzed here, even though I’ve done prior analyses of three Arcadia videos, because it doesn’t feature any of the Durans anywhere in it. No Durans, no Duranalysis; that’s a hard and fast rule around these parts. Still, for fans of Chamberlain’s light painting technique, “Missing” is well worth watching.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Never-Never Affair”

Illya races through the streets of Manhattan, ducking behind cars and glancing wildly over his shoulder. He darts into an alley and finds himself trapped: THRUSH goons have lit blazing fires across each exit, effectively anchoring him in place. A Rolls-Royce limousine pulls up, and the dastardly yet charming Victor Gervais (Cesar Romero), the visiting head of THRUSH’s French Division, gets out. Illya, it seems, is carrying a list of names of top-ranking THRUSH leaders; Gervais is trying to intercept him and recover the list before Illya can bring it to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Bemused, Gervais watches as Illya collapses from smoke inhalation.

This episode comes relatively early on in the series, so Gervais and his THRUSH associates genuinely appear to have no idea who Illya is—they consistently refer to him only as “the courier”, instead of as “Mr. Kuryakin”, or as “the Russian”, or “the one with the turtleneck fetish”, or maybe “the cute one with the pretty eyes and all that nice hair.”