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Category Archives: Style

In the annals of cinema it would be harder to find a more stylish film than Luis Bunuel’s 1967 masterwork Belle de Jour.
Catherine Denueve, of course, looks marvelous throughout, but here I will concern myself with another equally irresistible carachter, Marcel, played by Pierre Clémenti (1942 – 1999).
Marcel is a hoodlum.
His hair swept forward almost down to his interrogating eyes, he has something of a look of Scott Walker. His crowning glory is his mouthful of metal teeth (knocked out at one blow… he explains with his customary dismissive braggadocio).
With his long leather trenchcoat and his swordstick , there is a somnambulistic strangeness about his swagger, this lithe dark predator whose pained features might have been drawn by Cocteau.
The devil is in the detail-his menacing lowslung belt,his vagabond boots and garish ties- the suit he wears with loose disdain.
But what I admire most about him is his passion, and his death, gunned down in the street by a cop, is flawless.
For all his otherworldliness Marcel has a hole in his sock,just as you or I might have. Towards the end of the film we see Severine whiling away the time, penitently sitting with the husband that Marcel has crippled. She works at an embroidery.In a happier world she would be darning that sock.

Role model: Howard Vernon

Joao Kartoshka has been wearing glasses since the age of 16. At first he didn’t like it. Regardless of the large numbers of people that he saw on the street everyday wearing glasses, and of all the people in the movies, on TV, it just didn’t feel right.

Role Model: Joop van Daele

He loves his glasses now. They are like a prop. For example, if you want to feign reflectiveness, you just pop them off and place the sidearm in your mouth like the stem of a pipe.
I remember at the age of four some white coated person coming to our school to test our eyes- we had to line up and sit on a wooden chair in the middle of the hall. The chart was hung on a board, not on the wall itself, but on this free standing board well away from the wall. I remember being conscious of the fact that my eyelashes were brushing the palm of the lady’s hand as she covered my eye.
Apparently I couldn’t see a thing out of my left eye. Nothing. They were astonished, and sometime shortly afterwards Ma Kartoshka had to march me up the incredibly steep hill to the hospital where they shone all sorts of little torches into my eye in a darkened room that smelled of stainless steel.
The eye was perfect.
For quite some time Ma Kartoshka went on about this unnecessary journey to the hospital- which she described as traipsing. I had enjoyed it; it reminded me of the pre school utopia, being out in the streets when other people were either at work or in school.
I don’t remember, but apparently I confessed that my left eye blindness was caused by boredom. Reading the set of letters twice? No thank you…
A similar situation arose when I was fifteen. This time the procedure was more clinical, more efficient, and apparently my eyesight was now genuinely defective. The person conducting the test couldn’t believe that I didn’t wear glasses already. I read the letter confirming this on the way home. I showed it to Pa Kartoshka.
You don’t want glasses, do you?
That was the end of that- I survived another year or so in the claustrophobic grey blur of myopia before finally yielding.