And the (Posthumous) Oscar Goes to…

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Last night’s Academy Awards was an unusual event in more ways than one. Firstly, the pandemic made it something of a bare-bones affair. And secondly, the favourite to win in the Best Actor category – Chadwick Boseman, for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – passed away in 2020, aged 43, after a long battle with cancer. In another change of routine, this award was presented at the end of the ceremony, with winner Anthony Hopkins, in a speech given from his home in Wales, acknowledging his fellow nominee: “At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t … I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early.”

In her own way, Jeanne Eagels was as much an icon of the Roaring Twenties as Ma Rainey, and as several media outlets have noted lately, she also heads up the select group of actors who earned Oscar nominations posthumously. Continue reading

Rolling Into Spring With Lana

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As we roll into springtime, I’m enjoying Lana Del Rey’s dreamy new album, Chemtrails Over the Country Club. Here in England we’re still in lockdown, but the vaccine has arrived so let’s hope a brighter future is just around the corner. Although I haven’t been posting here much, I’m busy writing offline. Continue reading

Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

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The front cover image presents – in extreme close-up and suffused in glitter – all the facial attributes of a screen goddess: the bedroom eyes, red lips, and of course her beauty mark (cut into the dustjacket.) And yet, she’s both familiar and strangely not herself: a dazzling mask. Only when the jacket unfolds and the iconic image is revealed in full can we be certain this is Marilyn Monroe, from the same photo shoot that inspired Andy Warhol’s first silkscreens. Beneath this vivid mask, a glossy black hardcover is embossed with a short verse in white font: “No one knows/how it feels/inside my troubled mind/No one wants to.” Continue reading

2020: A Year in Film

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This photo was taken in Brighton just two winters ago, but it already feels like a distant memory. Founded in 1910, the Duke of York’s is the oldest operating cinema in Britain, and I’ve been a customer, on and off, for the last quarter-century. The last film I saw there, back in February, was (ironically) Parasite. After four months in lockdown the Duke’s reopened in July, but by October its parent company Cineworld had announced that all theatres would close indefinitely. Now this grand old building is boarded up, a sorry sight – and it’s just one of many venues facing an uncertain future. I’ve really missed the cinema, though streaming has offered an alternative of sorts. As an old friend told me recently, we all need a little glamour in our lives – and so I hope 2021 is kinder to the arts than this year has been. Continue reading

Merry Christmas to All My Readers!

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Wishing you all happiness this Christmas, whether you’re at home with family or separated from loved ones in this winter like no other. This seasonal card, featuring the work of Walter Crane, was produced by the Radical Tea Towel Company.

Over the last few days I’ve shared my favourite booksmusic and films of 2020, . And at my sister blog, The Marilyn Report, I’ve compiled some of this year’s top Monroe stories (yes, she’s still making headlines …)

And finally, here’s a mellow version of ‘Blue Christmas’ from Sharon Van Etten – and a toast, from me to all of you. Cheers!