Take 3: Funny Face Review (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly Blogathon Part 2)

For the second part of my Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly double feature, I’ve chosen to review the 1957 film, Funny Face! Last September, when 18 Cinema Lane received 135 followers, I reviewed my first Fred Astaire movie. That was The Sky’s the Limit, which I thought was just ok. Speaking of firsts, reviewing Funny Face is a first for 18 Cinema Lane, as it is the first musical film starring Aubrey Hepburn I’ve seen! Even though I have seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Nun’s Story, those films would be classified as dramas. Since this was my first time seeing Audrey perform in a different genre, I was curious to see if she would be able to hold her own. When I read the synopsis for Funny Face, it sounded similar to another musical starring Audrey: My Fair Lady. Because I haven’t seen that movie, I can’t make a comparison between it and Funny Face.

Funny Face poster created by Paramount Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The one word I’d use to describe the cast in Funny Face is comfortable. I chose this word because every actor and actress appeared comfortable in their role! This presented the characters as if they were real-life people dealing with real-life situations. Watching Audrey’s performance in this movie reminded me of her performance in The Nun’s Story for this reason: her character grows over the course of the movie. In Funny Face, Jo opens her heart and mind to a new chapter in her life that she never thought she’d embark on. She steps out of her comfort to not only follow her dream of meeting her favorite philosopher, but she also creates new dreams for herself. Audrey’s ability to adapt to any scenario helped her make Jo’s journey seem believable! As I mentioned in the introduction, I saw The Sky’s the Limit last September. Personally, I liked Fred’s character in Funny Face more than his character in the 1943 film. This is because Dick Avery had a better personality. He came across as easy-going and approachable, someone who you would want to tour Paris with. This made Dick Avery worth rooting for! Kay Thompson stood out to me as Maggie Prescott! While her character was no-nonsense and straight-forward in what she wanted, she was never cold-hearted or mean for the sake of it. This is different from other characters of this specific type. What’s also different is how Maggie was allowed to be silly, as could be seen when she and Dick are attempting to find Jo at the home of Jo’s favorite philosopher. This gave Kay an opportunity to apply her acting abilities to various situations!

The use of color: I love how color was used in Funny Face! Whenever scenes had a primarily plain color palette, like white or beige, objects or pieces of clothing were added to bring a pop of color to the space. The opening scene is such a great example! Each door of Quality magazine’s office was painted a bright shade of various colors, providing visual appeal to a mostly white lobby and hallway. Maggie’s office adopted a beige hue for about 85% of that location. However, certain pieces of fabric and even an assistant’s green coat add bold colors to a place that would have remained dull without them. This decision to use color was very detail oriented and showed how the film’s creative team really paid attention to how their project would be presented!

The musical numbers: Funny Face’s musical numbers were not only entertaining to watch, they also incorporated creative ideas that made them memorable. The very first musical number, “Think Pink!”, showed a montage of the different ways the color pink could be worn. Through the use of colorful visuals, it helped illustrate the point Maggie was trying to stress to her assistants as well as the audience. “Bonjour, Paris!” showed Maggie, Dick, and Jo simultaneously in a split screen shot. I have never seen a musical use a split screen before, so this detail is the one I remember the most! Each performer in these musical numbers looked like they truly enjoyed what they were doing! “Basal Metabolism” showed Audrey Hepburn having fun performing her dance trio. She appeared in her element and joy radiated from her routine. This definitely added to the overall enjoyment of Funny Face’s musical numbers!

Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

No major conflict: While watching Funny Face, I noticed something was missing from this movie. That would be a major conflict, which I think would have made the story a little more interesting. Smaller conflicts, like finding a new face for Quality magazine, kept the film moving forward. But, because a major conflict was absent, it made situations feel like they worked out too easily in the characters’ favor. One idea could have shown Dick struggling to decide if he should continue to be a fashion photographer or become a stage performer. If this would have been a conflict in the story, it would have presented a mystery as to which career path Dick will choose.

A prolonged transformation: Like I said in the introduction, I haven’t seen My Fair Lady. Therefore, I can’t compare the two movies. What I will say about Funny Face is how Jo’s transformation doesn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. In the first half of the story, Jo’s perspective starts to change, allowing her to expand her intellectual horizons. But the physical transformation, from bookworm to fashion model, happens a lot later than most movies of this nature. When a character makes a dramatic change to their appearance, that moment may be the audience’s most anticipated moment. If they are forced to wait too long, they may start to lose interest.

An attraction that happened too quickly: In my review of The Crow: City of Angels, I pointed out how, to me, Ashe and Sarah’s attraction for one another was a flaw of that movie because it came about so quickly. The attraction between Jo and Dick in Funny Face makes the same error, as it also happens too quickly. Minutes after meeting for the first time, Jo and Dick share a kiss. Shortly after this encounter, Jo sings “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, a song about falling in love. If this song had been sung later in the film, after she had spent more time with Dick, the song itself would have been more impactful. Even though it is somewhat predictable for Jo and Dick to form a relationship, it should have taken its time to come to fruition.

With Glamour & Panache: A Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly Musicals Blogathon banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

My overall impression:

Funny Face is a film I had heard of for years, but had never seen. Whenever I heard about classic films or even movies starring Aubrey Hepburn, this film has, more often than not, been brought up. Now that I have seen Funny Face, I have developed an understanding for why this is the case. This is not just a good musical or a good Audrey Hepburn title. It is a good movie in general! Creative ideas within this project help it stand out. Some examples include using a split screen and incorporating objects with color into scenes with plain color palettes. Musical numbers were well-choreographed, featuring performers that appeared to enjoy the material they were given. Every actor and actress seemed comfortable in their roles, giving their characters a life of their own. While Funny Face does have its strengths, it has its weaknesses as well. Just one example is how Jo’s transformation happens much later in the film. Despite having seen only two of Fred Astaire’s movies, I’d pick Funny Face over The Sky’s the Limit. I would even choose Funny Face over Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

Have you seen Funny Face? Which Fred Astaire musical is your favorite? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Moulin Rouge! Review + 110 Follower Thank You

In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!

Moulin Rouge! poster
Moulin Rouge! poster created by Bazmark Productions and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/moulin-rouge.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!

 

  • The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!

 

  • The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.

 

  • Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.

 

  • Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.

Note_lines_horizontal1
String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen