Set Design

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:

Ex Machina sets

So you should have already seen Ex Machina because it is great and everyone has been telling you to, but if you haven't this is what you would be missing:

LIVING ROOM BUILT INTO A ROCK WALL!!!

LIVING ROOM BUILT INTO A ROCK WALL!!!

NATURE!

NATURE!

The film takes place in a secluded modern mansion, and its expansive finished basement.  From a set design perspective, what is most interesting is how the basement sets (most likely filmed on a sound stage) tie into the upper home.  

The basement level has atriums that mirror the nature in the upper level.  They are lit to look like sunshine coming down a shaft, so it helps you orient yourself in the space.  

Outlier Outlander Chair

Outlander: Season 1, Episode 16 - A Scottish monistary

Outlander: Season 1, Episode 16 - A Scottish monistary

This chair came out of nowhere in the season finale of Outlander.  The show is set in 1743 Scotland, during a war with the English, so it wasn't a time when craftsman were thinking up new gorgeous chairs.  But then, behold!

This chair seems to fit the room and the time period, but has such contemporary lines.  What makes it extra special is that it only has three legs.  Ingenious!

Harvey Specter's Throw Pillows

Suits: Season 4 - Harvey's slick bachelor pad

Suits: Season 4 - Harvey's slick bachelor pad

Harvey, from Suits, has such great throw pillows.  They have an incredible tribal quality, while still being slick and graphic.  Or maybe it is a take on Arabic writing?  

UPDATE (July 7, 2015):  

I noticed a similar style of fabric in the film Blended (2014), which takes places at an upscale South African resort.  And yes, I watched Blended.

In the below pictures you can really see how the fabric is constructed by layering a maze-type design over a solid.

Per Wiki, this style is called Kuba and it is indigenous to the Congo. Kuba seems to refer more to the design than the material or technique.   

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.  

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.  

It's the little details

Olive Kitteridge - A local pharmacy in Maine.  

Olive Kitteridge - A local pharmacy in Maine.  

I just finished the HBO miniseries, Olive Kitteridge, and really enjoyed it.  Well acted, well written, well shot, well everything.

Olive's husband is the local pharmacist, and he went the extra mile with his cabinet hardware.  Where do you go to purchase contemporary themed pharmacist cabinet pulls?  I have no clue.  

An old Frenchy

Sarah's Key  - Apartment of an old French lady

Sarah's Key - Apartment of an old French lady

While watching the movie Sarah's Key, I had to stop the film to inspect the matchy-matchy lampshade in this old friend lady's Parisian apartment.  The wallpaper is awesome to begin with, and then this lady went the extra mile. 

I know this space feels stuffy and old, but just imagine that you repainted the lower halves of the walls and moldings white, and removed lots of the knickknackery.  It would be stunning.  

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

Something's Got to Give

Something's Got to Give (1962) - Dean Martin's mid-century home.  It's full of beds, but he won't take his new wife, Cyd Charisse, to bone town.   

Something's Got to Give (1962) - Dean Martin's mid-century home.  It's full of beds, but he won't take his new wife, Cyd Charisse, to bone town.   

I just watched Something's Got to Give, Marilyn Monroe's last (partial) film, and she is more stunning than ever.  I was going to make a joke about how she is not as stunning as that daybed, but that would be lame because there is Marilyn, and then everything else.  

If you want to get the look, West Elm has a remarkably similar model.  

Widow Daybed $550

Widow Daybed $550

Dean Martin stops by a hotel, dotted with Mid-Century Sunshades.  I love these, and I don't know why they aren't more readily available.  Design Within Reach sells one, but it is $1000 and only comes in white (two things that make no sense), and there are a few more options at inmod (but still so overpriced).  

I just don't get why this product doesn't have a version on Overstock or Amazon?  The construction seems fairly standard, and it does not use any more material than other $200 patio umbrella's on discount sites.  Someone make this please.

Now that's what I call well designed.

Now that's what I call well designed.

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.