Recent Comments

    Come Into The House of Gucci and Also Visit the Ricardos

    By Jan Wahl–

    It might sound insane, but sometimes I leave a film screening saying to myself, “Only gays and women will love this movie.”   That was the case for The House of Gucci. I doublechecked that instinct by having a quick conversation with two of my colleagues at this private screening. Both thought it was long and boring. Both are straight guys (which is not to be unfair to straight guys—director Ridley Scott is presumably a straight guy—and I will be the first to cheer any straight guys in the audience who get it).

    Yes, it is too long at two hours and 37 minutes. But it is juicy fun all the way. When one is dealing with the compelling and fully committed Lady Gaga, one does not look at one’s watch! She soars as Patrizia Gucci, the spurned woman who becomes, well … I won’t give it away. Just her clothes in the first two thirds are worth the price of admission. It is hard to believe that this is Scott’s fashion designer Janty Yates, who won the Oscar for The Gladiator. Yates has said she was inspired by the va-va-voom clothes of Gina Lollobrigida in the 1960s rather than Joan Collins in Dynasty (though I see a little of both). As Yates also said in a recent interview, it was helpful to have the divine Gaga wear her clothes, since this is a woman born to be her authentic, fabulous self.

    Aside from Al Pacino as the Gucci overlord in New York and abroad, everyone in the cast looks somewhat like their real-life counterpart. Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons all give us wonderful and weird men to follow through the maze of this dysfunctional family. Pacino’s acting is believable such that his height and less-than-perfect looks don’t get in the way. He is tough but loveable, a hoodlum under the guise of a true gentleman. The clothes these men wear help us understand their characters and the House of Gucci they represent or are fighting against. I loved the subtext of the Gucci knockoffs (Patrizio is insulted) as well as the sumptuous cinematography of villas and ski slopes.   

    The next day I was sitting and waiting for another private screening: Being the Ricardos. I was lucky enough to view two movies in a week I actually wanted to see! There’s no way writer/director Aaron Sorkin was not going to get this one right. For once, the movie gods and goddesses did not disappoint.

    Nicole Kidman does not look a lot like Lucy, but after ten minutes, we are lost in the manner and vibe of Lucille Ball. We want her to win her fights with studio bosses and her love for a bandleader. That Cuban is brilliantly played by Spain’s Javier Bardem, smart and loveable, sexy and innovative as Desi Arnaz. We buy into this time of Communist witch hunting by our government as we watch a week in the filming of I Love Lucy. There are flashbacks and flashforwards, but we never lose sight of the story and characters, hoping it will work out, but knowing our own showbiz history too well to be certain of a happy ending. 

    Sorkin treats us as an intelligent audience, able to understand nuance and political references. He combines that with artistic courage. This is one terrific movie. 

    I was once lucky enough to take a cruise with Lucie Arnaz (the daughter of Ball and Arnaz). What a terrific performer. She gave us a one woman show where she referenced her parents, especially her beloved father. His Cuban songs and her mother’s humor plus Lucie’s own talent were wonderful. By the pool one day, I told Lucie I had taken a class with her mother at UCLA at the end of her life. Lucy was teaching a seminar on comedy and a few of us lucky ones got to attend. It was about two years before Lucy passed away, and she was one tough cookie. I saw a peek into the character Nicole plays in the movie, organized and comedically brilliant. Lucy almost had ESP when it came to what makes an audience laugh. In interviews now on YouTube, Lucie talks about this aspect of her mother.  

    Back to The House of Gucci … look for other movies about fashion to get in the mood or stay in the mood: Halston, Unzipped, Funny Face, Phantom Thread, Coco Before Chanel, and The Devil Wears Prada.      

    I hope I’ve given you two big screen movies worth your time and money this holiday. They both are gifts to those of us who love good storytelling and a visual feast!

    Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian, film critic on various broadcast outlets, and has her own YouTube channel series, “Jan Wahl Showbiz.” She has two Emmys and many awards for her longtime work on behalf of film buffs and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at www.janwahl.com

    Published on December 2, 2021