‘Precognition’: Pareno’s Marilyn in Paris

Artist Philippe Pareno‘s 2012 video installation,, set in Marilyn’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite is now on display as part of an exhibition, ‘Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World’, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, reports The Guardian‘s Adrian Searle:

“Why the tears? My own moment came when watching Parreno’s 2012 film Marilyn. Monroe’s voice, recreated by computer, takes us on a tour of the hotel suite where she lived in the late 1950s. What Marilyn sees, the camera sees. We watch through her eyes. Sunlight falls into the room. Rain beats at the window. Sometimes the camera swerves along with Marilyn’s frantic glances, her growing sense of hysteria and entrapment. Her eyes snag on the corners of things, the light glancing cruelly on polished surfaces. The studied normality of the room becomes a prison. The cushions, too perfectly arranged at either end of a sofa, look like a dumb rebuke. Her solitude seems terrible. The telephone rings but goes unanswered.

Towards the end, the camera retreats from the window, gliding between the occasional tables, the slipper chairs, the lilies in the vase. The camera’s tracks appear, then some bulky electronic equipment, as we back off, revealing the room as a movie set with no one in it. As the film ends, lights go up on the other side of the screen where the film has been projected, to reveal a huge snowdrift beyond. The temperature plummets. The sound of the rain we heard in the film is unabated.

This moment is somehow intensely moving. We are in a set too, just as Marilyn was. What is this subterranean drift of real snow in the Palais de Tokyo’s basement? Ice in the soul? Death? Are we in Marilyn’s mind or is she in ours? I begin to notice other piles of snow around the auditorium, like the shovelled-up slush you see on winter New York sidewalks.

When you buy a ticket for the show you get given a DVD of Marilyn. It can only be played once, because the dvd erases itself as you watch it, leaving you with a memory of something seen that can’t be recaptured. The DVD is called Precognition.”

‘Either Way: From Marilyn to Ella’

Either Way: From Marilyn to Ella is a new album from French jazz singer Anne Ducros. Inspired by Ella Fitzgerald’s story about how Marilyn lobbied for her to perform at the Mocambo Club, Los Angeles in 1954 (full story here), the album is a tribute to both women.

Either Way features covers of ‘You’d Be Surprised‘, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy‘, ‘A Fine Romance’, ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’, ‘Through With Love’, and ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’

You can see an interview with Anne here.

Photographers Prefer Marilyn

UK fans of Eve Arnold may be interested to know that her famous bedroom shot of Marilyn graces the cover of Professional Photographer magazine’s October issue, as part of a ‘100 Photography Heroes’ special.

However, this issue goes out of date very soon – if you can’t find a copy, try UK website Newsstand (there are currently 3 in stock.)

Marilyn also features in the artwork for All About History‘s current issue, as part of the Kennedy myth (next month marks the 50th anniversary of the president’s assassination.)

There is very little about Marilyn inside, but to their credit, the magazine admits that the alleged MM-JFK affair has never been proved.

Dreams Are Made at Bonham’s

What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic‘, is an auction curated by TCM at Bonham’s on November 25. Several MM-related items are featured, including this rare photo of the newylwed DiMaggios in Japan, and the Millers on the set of Let’s Make Love, both signed; and original storyboard titles from River of No Return, and Fox’s 1963 documentary, Marilyn.

While perusing Bonham’s website, I also found these stunning screenprints made from vintage movie posters by Mimmo Rotella (circa 1990), to be sold at the Period Art & Design auction on November 17.

Marilyn’s Fashions in Liverpool

Christine Edson is an American-born costume designer based in Liverpool. She has recreated many of Marilyn’s most famous gowns, worn by lookalike Suzie Kennedy among others.

As a new showroom for ‘Christine Collections‘ opens on Victoria Street, Christine speaks to the Liverpool Echo:

“Christine, born and raised in the USA but now based in Liverpool, became an expert in Marilyn fashion when she was principal designer for an off-Broadway show devoted to the tragic star.

‘I did the costumes for that show and, although it was only small and it didn’t run for long, they got a huge amount of press attention,’ she explains. ‘I had girls from all over the world contacting me to do Marilyn Monroe costumes and I became the go-to designer for anyone who wanted to look like her.

‘Then in 1999, Christie’s were having a big auction of Marilyn’s personal property in new York and I was asked to be a stylist for the displays.

‘I got to actually handle her dresses which was a real privilege, it was just heaven,’ laughs Christine. ‘I didn’t want to go home at night! The designer who did most of them was a guy called William Travilla, he did the famous white one from The Seven Year Itch amongst others, and he was like a god to me.’

Christine spent numerous hours, not just styling the dresses for sale at the multi-million dollar auction, but examining them inside and out.

‘The construction inside these dresses was just a wow,’ she smiles. ‘She had that lovely curve at the back and designers sculpted the dresses onto her to accentuate her hourglass shape. The work inside them was just amazing, with all the boning and detail, and it was just inspiring.'”

Amy Greene on Marilyn

Amy Greene, widow of Milton Greene, was interviewed recently by Gotham magazine:

“What was it like to live with Marilyn Monroe?
AMY GREENE: I’m a very secure woman, so she was fine. She never got out of line, and I never got out of line, and we became girlfriends. As Sinatra said, ‘She was a good broad.’ I love that statement. You young people don’t know what that means, but it is the highest compliment that a man like Sinatra could say about anybody.

Did she teach you anything?
AG: No, well, makeup! She did teach me one thing, how to brighten the areas around your eyes with a lightener . . . She and I would practice endlessly on making each other over. She would make me over, I would make her over, I mean, what else do you have to do, you’re husband’s working in New York, and you’re in Connecticut.

Would you say Marilyn’s public persona today reflects who she was as a woman?
AG: The interesting thing, and I was thinking about this yesterday, was in the ’50s she was strictly candy for men, but since the feminist movement—which started around my dining room table, thank you very much—women have accepted her, they no longer make fun of her. So in the end, she’s earned respect, which is what she wanted.”


‘Love, Marilyn’ on DVD

Photo by Fraser Penney

Love, Marilyn will be released on DVD in the UK on Tuesday, October 28. (International release dates here.) Here are a selection of British and European reviews, firstly from Sight & Sound magazine (click to enlarge.)

And a few more, both good and bad – it’s interesting to note that the film magazines and blogs are more appreciative than critics in mainstream media.

“Documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus clearly has enough skill to turn the unprecedented access she has to all things Marilyn Monroe into something unique. Right off the bat Love, Marilyn is a very slick, high value production … Moving along at a steady clip and providing a constant stream of information, it’s a celebration as much as it is the tragic look at a pressured life.” – Filmophilia

“As for diehard Marilyn fans, there may not be any major revelations or shockers, but they are likely to appreciate the thoughtful overview of the person behind the myth … Overall though, the effect is a positive one and Garbus deserves credit for experimenting with an interesting style to delve deeper into the mystique of an already heavily scrutinised icon.” – Filmoria

“Those who simply know the name Monroe – to the most dedicated cinephile will find something in this film, a film, which spends it’s time challenging perceptions and opening out the vast and intellectual mind of Monroe. It is clear from those taking part in the project, that they each owe Monroe something so important and integral to their own careers, that their love shines through in this film and in their readings.” – Front Row Reviews

“Some things we’re sick of due to their inevitability and sheer volume but after Liz Garbus’ engrossing Love, Marilyn I can delete the first one from the list. It completes a loose trilogy of sorts for the director who is drawn once again to a troubled psyche like she was in Bobby Fischer Versus The World and There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane.” Entertainment Ireland

“There are some moments of wonderful clarity from various sources, including Monroe herself … a valiant attempt to make this investigation a more personal one in every aspect, something which we’ve not really been presented on the big screen before.” – Cine-Vue

“There aren’t many revelations here but revered writer Arthur Miller emerges in a surprisingly negative light … By contrast, another Monroe husband, baseball player Joe DiMaggio, a conservative figure who wanted Monroe to be a traditional wife and mother, is shown to have treated her with far more affection.” The Independent

“Their source material is two boxes of letters, poems and diary entries found at the home of the star’s acting coach and confidant Lee Strasberg. Monroe’s writing is beautifully succinct, but the cast deliver it with such mannered intensity that it comes across like the worst of Monroe’s performances: insecure, abstracted and ill-focused.” – The Guardian

“It’s a simplistic approach and a not particularly effective one. The constant parade of celebrities, each given lines from Monroe’s scribblings or relevant to a raft of observers that includes directors, studio chiefs and co-stars, is actually a distraction.” – Yorkshire Post 

‘Goddess’ on Kindle

Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe became a bestseller after its release in 1985, and has remained in print ever since. This full-scale biography – with a special emphasis on Marilyn’s alleged links to the Kennedys – was written by investigative journalist Anthony Summers.

While generally popular, Goddess tends to divide fans – particularly because both Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen feature heavily, and their association with Marilyn has been widely disputed. Secondly, its inclusion of an autopsy photo was also controversial.

Nonetheless, Goddess is well worth reading, whether or not you agree with its conclusions – for its exhaustive research, and to understand how it has shaped our perceptions of Marilyn. It is now available in ebook from UK online bookstores, including Amazon.