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Jul 28th
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Coco & Igor

film_CocoIgorThe possibility of an affair between fashion designer Coco Chanel and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky,1920, inspires this hothouse rhapsody from director Jan Kounen, based on the novel by Chris Greenhalgh. The era is irresistible, a period of astonishing artistic, political and cultural ferment. The personalities are fascinating (the designer who freed women from corsets; the composer who invented a new musical language). The project is redolent with possibilities, but few are realized in this artfully posed but static and disappointing film. It begins well at the 1913 Paris premiere of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," recreated in lavish detail (the corps de ballet in animal skins and tribal costumes; Nijinsky's ecstatic choreography to Stravinsky's relentless rhythms), followed by the famous rioting of the scandalized audience. Jump to 1920: with Paris full of Russian expats after the Revolution, Chanel (Anna Mouglalis), head of her own elegant Paris fashion house, moves Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) and his enormous family to her severely chic black-and-white country house in the South of France so he can work.

Coco and Igor's mutual simmering finally erupts into acrobatic sex, accompanied by long passages of his dramatic music, and the fretting of his sweet, un-chic, tubercular Russian wife, Katia (Elena Morozova, film_coco_chanel_and_igor_stravinskydone up like a Renaissance madonna with a high white forehead, red hair, and no eyebrows). That's about it for plot. Genius is not a spectator sport, especially in ho-hum scenes of Igor brooding over his piano, reworking riffs from "Rite." (You'd think he never composed anything else.) In one refreshing interlude, Coco visits a perfumer (his workers knee-deep in flower petals) to incubate her new scent, Chanel No. 5, but the viewer longs for more scenes of Coco at work. (When Katia gives her a Russian peasant dress to transform, or Coco signs on to design costumes for a new production of "Rite," we never get to see the results.) Worse, the filmmakers assume that all creativity springs from illicit passion with an artist of equal or greater celebrity; they never acknowledge any other possible influence on these two wildly creative and innovative artists than each other (a dubious point made no more convincing in the abrupt, perplexing coda). All this makes for a claustrophobic, rather morose romance in a highly decorative setting that might have been so much more. (R) 120 minutes. In French and Russian with English subtitles. ★★ Watch film trailer >>>
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Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

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Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

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