Film

Upside Down

I would be shocked if you have seen UPSIDE DOWN (2012), a film staring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess, and I am not recommending it, but it's worth knowing that this ball room set exists:

The concept of the film is that there are two planets positioned right next to each other.  The gravity of a planet only works on the matter that originates from that planet, and vice versa (FYI: this is not how physics works).  This means that if you are from World A and you go to a dance club on World B, you will be dancing on the ceiling (because your planet is sticking you up there), while the people from World B are dancing around on the ground like normal.  

Or if you are on World B and you order a World A Cocktail, you have to drink it upside down or else the liquid will try to fly up and get back to World A where it comes from.

And if you are running an interworld dance club, you better make sure people can tango on the floor and the ceiling.

This Must Be The Place

I watch the 2011 film, This Must Be The Place, and it was.....well, this isn't a place where I review movies, so let's just jump to the highlight: Theatrical Set Design!

There is a concert scene with the Talking Heads singing "This Must Be The Place", and the set is so strange and awesome.  

So here is the breakdown:

It all starts out with a lady reading in a vintage living room.  The camera pulls out and we begin to get the sense that something is off with the room.

We keep pulling out and all of a suddenly it's a concert!  

With a full band of adult rockers dressed in white!  But is something weird is going on with the living room set?  Is it tilting up?

And then the stage starts moving forward, and passes right over the band's head.

And it keeps moving right towards us! Awesome stuff.

Also, weird rocker Sean Penn lives in this gorgeous house, so now you have seen the highlights and you don't have to watch the movie:

Divergent Architecture for Brains

Divergent - Place were the "brains" work.

Divergent - Place were the "brains" work.

Loved seeing the new Joe and Rika Manueto Library, at The University of Chicago, featured in Divergent.  Back when I went to school there, it was just a patch of lawn next to the Regenstein Library (that concrete building).  

There was a persistent rumor that the Regenstein was designed with those long thing windows because the benefactor invented the plastic window in envelopes.  If you knew how dorky U of C is, it would make total sense that this was one of the hottest rumors on campus.  

Giraffe Heaven

The Intouchables (2011) - Apartment in the Paris projects

The Intouchables (2011) - Apartment in the Paris projects

Wow, just watched The Intouchables and loved it.  It is a bro-comedy (my favorite genre), but smart too.  

Any who, the reason for posting this picture is that my grandmother has collected giraffes for much of her life, and her home is a giraffe shrine.  Whenever I see anything with a giraffe on it, I think of her (see curtains above).

Grandma, when you read this, send me some pictures of your collection.

UPDATE: June 15, 2015 - MY GRANDMA SENT ME PICTURES!!!

UPDATE: June 16, 2015 - GRANDMA FORGOT ONE!!!

The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty - Rich lady's apartment where everything is expensive, but there is little of it.

The Great Beauty - Rich lady's apartment where everything is expensive, but there is little of it.

I know The Great Beauty (2013) is supposed to be a really good movie, but.........  I didn't enjoy it.  

However, I do like this tile floor.  The pattern is the right balance of geometric and floral.  The tiles themselves have slight color disparities, meaning they are either old or a vintage style.  There is a dark band around the base of the walls, which frames the pattern and highlights the scale of the room.

My new favorite sofa

The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) - Home of a successful actor whose decor is.......a little dated.

The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) - Home of a successful actor whose decor is.......a little dated.

In The French Lieutenant's Woman, Jeremy Irons plays a film actor who throws a cast party at his house.  After a number of scenes where people compliment his fine home, the party comes to an end, and he decides to have a think on one of the most balls-out 80's sofas I have ever seen.  

Please appreciate it's droopy quality.  It's as if the sofa is covered with an enormous throw blanket, tucked in around the cushions...and yet, the arm seems to have a ribbed seam. 

UPDATE:  I think the arms of the sofa have a separate fabric cap on them.  I haven't seen that product in years.  My grandma had a couch with arms caps and I used to put them on my head as if I was a nun.  If only she had this couch because I would have been one psychedelic nun.  

Art Nouveau doors

Exhibit A - mausoleum doors from Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica, NY

Exhibit A - mausoleum doors from Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica, NY

I just finished watching the film, Suspiria, and despite the sets being infamously eye-catching, what stuck out for my were the art nouveau inspired doors.  

Obviously custom art nouveau doors are stupid-gorgeous (see Exhibit A), but what I liked about the doors in Suspiria was that they felt attainable.  They were simple enough, that they seem like doors I could one day own.  I am sure they won't be cheap, but they seem "manufactured".

Suspiria (1977) - The hallway of a European ballet school, inside a nightmare.

Suspiria (1977) - The hallway of a European ballet school, inside a nightmare.

Therefor, I am going to do a quick Google to see if I can, in fact, purchase this style of doors with a few clicks..........

......................so....................I'm seeing lots of hardware options........................

There is this place, AAW Doors Inc, that has some options, but I don't love them.  They seem to be trying too hard:

US Doors and More seems to have all the same stock, but a few more options.....although I didn't see any that had the elegant simplicity of Suspiria.  

Conclusion:  Failure

I am sure these doors are out there, but they were not a few clicks away.  There weren't even a good number of clicks away.  

If you have a good lead, let me know.

Stoker....

Seeing as I fell in love with the wallpaper in Oldboy, I thought it would be easy to write about Stoker (2013).  It is the director's, Chan-wook Park's, first English language film.  And it was off to a good start.  I love the pops of color.

Red door!  Yellow umbrella!

What color is the dashing uncles room?  Blue!!!

But then it takes a turn.........Tell me these are not the ugliest bedrooms you have ever seen.  I love architectural salvage, but this is too much.

Stoker - Mother's bedroom (aka a set from the Blade Trilogy)

Stoker - Mother's bedroom (aka a set from the Blade Trilogy)

Stoker - Daughter's bedroom (aka jaundice)

Stoker - Daughter's bedroom (aka jaundice)

And the bedrooms are not the most offensive rooms in the house.....

The piano room could double as the lobby for a 90's boutique hotel.  It hits all the key notes (pun!): re-purposed Roman column, ornate corner chandelier, pooling curtains, etc.

But I have to hand it to the Set Decorator.  He or she managed to fill this room with plants, with out resorting to a fiddle leaf fig:

A Despot's Palace

The Dictator (20120 - Home of a North African idiot man

The Dictator (20120 - Home of a North African idiot man

I finally watched Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator, and thoroughly enjoyed it (despite all the body humor).  In it he plays a North-African-oil-controlling-child-like-psychopath, and of course an absolute ruler deserves an absolutely over the top palace.  

Tyrant (2014) - Home of a Middle Easter dynasty 

Tyrant (2014) - Home of a Middle Easter dynasty 

However, the first shot of his palace, looks remarkably similar to the first shot of the palace in FX's Tyrant.  This got me thinking:  Are these structures representative of the homes of Mid-East/African rulers, or are they representative of what we collectively assume they look like?  Are these images helping us get a clearer picture of life on the other side of the world, or cementing an outlandish image in our collective conscience?

Aladdin (1992) - Home of the adorable Sultan of Agrabah

Aladdin (1992) - Home of the adorable Sultan of Agrabah

Wood Paneling

Sleeping Beauty (2011) - A mysteriously high-end brothel bedroom

Sleeping Beauty (2011) - A mysteriously high-end brothel bedroom

GROSS!!!

GROSS!!!

I watched Sleeping Beauty (2011) over the weekend and enjoyed it, although it is pretty provocative, so I'm not recommending it.  Although, look how gorgeous that wood paneling is.  

Wood paneling gets a bad rap because it is most closely associated with room from the 70's called "dens" or "rec rooms".  Yellow knotty pine is not the worst atrocity of the 70's, but people are still battling it.  

I think the reason the paneling in Sleeping Beauty works is because it is neither yellow (it is more of a walnut color) and does not have knots (just a lovely grain).  As long as you stay away from those two things, there is a lot of wiggle room.  

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Somewhere in America

Somewhere (2010) - The pool at the Chateau Marmont

Somewhere (2010) - The pool at the Chateau Marmont

I finally watched Somewhere (2010), Sophia Coppola's fourth feature film, and loved it (more than anyone who reviewed it on line).  A  majority of the film is set at the Chateau Marmont, in Los Angeles, with decor ranging from relaxed elegance to hideous 90's.  

Above all, I love the pool.  It's brick/white/navy blue color scheme is American glamour.  If it weren't for the tropical vegetation, this pool could be part of a Hampton's estate.  

Shallow Grave's coat of paint

I have been trying to catch up on my 90s classics, so I just watched Danny Boyle's first film, Shallow Grave.  It is a dark comedy where three soulless roommates bury the fourth roommate in a shallow grave, and then spend most of their time in their apartment slowly going mad.  

Luckily for them, the apartment is lovely.  High ceilings, lots of natural light, soothing colors, and minimal clutter.  I am guessing that this apartment was built on a sound stage (but I could be wrong) because there is always light pouring in, but you can't see anything clearly out of the windows.  

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Each room has its own dusty color pallet.

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One of my favorite paint effects is how both sides of a door are painted a different bold color.  When the door is open, it allows the color from the neighboring room, to spill over.  It turns every doorway and archway into a portal for an accent color.  

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The Wallpaper is Back

A while back, I wrote about the wallpaper in Mad Men vs. The Americans.  The thesis was that cutting edge wallpaper in the 60's, would become mass produced by the 80's and used in suburban homes.

Mad Men - 1960's

Mad Men - 1960's

The Americans - 1980's

The Americans - 1980's

Now there is another data point:

The Skeleton Twins - Gay bar on Dyke Night

The Skeleton Twins - Gay bar on Dyke Night

The trailer for The Skeleton Twins was just released and The Americans's wallpaper is featured in a bar set.  This would fit with the thesis because this bar probably put this wallpaper up in the 80's and has spent the next 30 years regretting it. 

Halt! I have seen that before.

Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1, Episode 1 - Conference room in a tech company from back in the day.  

Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1, Episode 1 - Conference room in a tech company from back in the day.  

I watched the first episode of Halt and Catch Fire, and was pleasantly surprised.  There are some great, smart-mouthed, characters, and dated computer tech.  The last scene takes place in a conference room that looks mighty familiar.  

   Dr. Strangelove (1964) - Director: Stanley Kubrick, Production Designer: Ken Adam

 

Dr. Strangelove (1964) - Director: Stanley Kubrick, Production Designer: Ken Adam

Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove

It all started with the War Room in Dr. Strangelove.  Someone thought of hanging a drop-down, over-sized light fixture above a conference table, and the rest was history.  

This style of lighting will be forever linked with serious decision making.  When someone sits under these lights, their face is illuminated, and the rest fades away.  It is a place for a Master-of-the-Universe to share their thoughts. 

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight recently brought our attention to the design of the FIFA board room, which was directly modeled after Dr. Strangelove.  He jokes that the people who run FIFA are pretty much evil overlords, and their decor does nothing to disguise that.   

FIFA

FIFA

The Hero - A place for heros to "beast" it

The Hero - A place for heros to "beast" it

I also had the great privilege to work on the TNT show, The Hero, where the Production Designer, Stuart Frossell, created his very own War Room (I picked out those horrendous modern sculptures, per the producer's request).  

Me and The Rock!

Me and The Rock!

Wes Anderson gets what he wants

Ages ago, I wrote a post about the art in the show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.  The gist of the post is that I am always amazed when I see recognizable paintings used in sets.  

The art that you see in sets needs to be "cleared".  Often this means one of two things:

1. The art was created for the set, so it is original.  No one owns it.  Sometimes this art is in the style of a more recognizable artist, but the art was imagined by an employee or contractor of the film.  

2. The artist and/or person who owns the art formally gives the project permission to use the image in the set.  Getting the rights to use a piece is a hassle and a half, so option 2 is only on the table if it seems "do-able".

That's why I was amazed to see Gustav Klimt's Birch Forest in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel".

Anderson also prominently places an Egon Schiele painting in his set, but I could not find the exact painting used, so maybe they went with the in-the-style-of option.  

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Egon Schiele - Wally Neuzil in Black stockings 1912

Egon Schiele - Wally Neuzil in Black stockings 1912

I guess I had art on the brain because right after watching Grand Budapest, I noticed a similar art situation in How I Met Your Mother.  

How I Met Your Mother: Season 9, Episode 20 - The Farhampton home of a rich captain who loves boats.

How I Met Your Mother: Season 9, Episode 20 - The Farhampton home of a rich captain who loves boats.

Rene Magritte - Time Transfixed

Rene Magritte - Time Transfixed