My Inspiration

Faves

Harper’s Bazaar asked Chloe Sevigny some questions about her creative inspirations and I’ve decided to post my own answers to some of their questions, plus a few more…

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First album bought: Must have been The Eagles. My brother and I were both listening to them a lot – their harmony is amazing.

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Most re-read book: There are two: The Garden of Eden (Hemingway) & The Lover (Duras). (Pic: from film based on Dura’s “The Lover.”)

'Lost in Translation' Movie Stills

Fav. Film: Sofia Coppola’s, “Lost in Translation”. I just “get” this one completely – what it’s trying to say and the wit.

Fav. Film Quote: “We let it happen – that’s how we choose.” From: Violets are Blue, written by: Naomi Gyllenhaal.

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Guilty Pleasure: Going to see a film on a weekday afternoon. It just feels decadent.

Fav. object: A sapphire ring from my mother.

Fav. time of day: Midnight. The world gets quiet, no ringing phones, music sounds better and I can think, write, and read with better clarity and inspiration.

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Dream lunch date: Without question, Henry Miller. He was a great conversationalist and I would love to sit around the table all afternoon and into the night talking to him about, well everything really. (Pic: Henry Miller & Hoki-San Tokuta Miller)

Signature dish: Not sure why they asked this but it’s spaghetti. Whether homemade sauce or store bought and doctored – I rock it.

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Fav. TV show: Mad Men was a real stand out – original and never boring. Matthew Weiner is a very talented writer – talk about creative.

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Fav. Band: Aerosmith. They’ve always just done it for me and there is no one I’d rather hear play guitar than “Joe Fucking Perry”.

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Fashion Inspiration: Think Bohemian. This is not something I give a lot of thought to – I make it my own, but I am inspired by: Jane Birkin – love the boho lace crop tops, jeans and sixties style dresses…

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Alison Mosshart – she has great style.

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…and Joe Perry – the hats, scarves, cool jackets, shades, ripped jeans…love it. All three have inspired me in some way. (photo: Zack Whitford)

Dogs or Cats: Again, not sure why they asked this but…dogs – cats are creepy.

Fav. room: Bedroom, where I keep my favorite books, music & photographs nearby.

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Bedside table: A few photographs, an odd little ceramic entwined newts I bought when I was in high school, an old pink salt used as a ring holder, Berts Bees Baby Bee Solid perfume and books including Henry Miller’s My Life, Paul Auster books and currently Alexa Chung’s “It”. (Pic from HM’s My Life & Times.)

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Favorite artist: Thomas Wilmer Dewing (pic: The Spinet)

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Fav. Sculptor: Camille Claudel. (Pic: The Age of Maturity)

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Fav. Photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson but I’m most inspired by anyone’s old photographs of families or old buildings.

Well, there you have it, some of my enduring creative inspirations.

 

 

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Breathless

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Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” is a good example of the dialogue driven films I love, which the French seem to excel at. It’s so beautifully shot, with scenes easily imagined as photographs taken by Doisneau or Cartier-Bresson. The film was a stand out in the French New Wave when it was released in 1960 and it’s easy to see why, with it’s documentary style hand-held camera, fresh dialogue and unique rhythm.

The film is in step with the rebellious nature of the ’60’s – a youth bored with the conventions of bourgeois society. Seberg’s character Patricia is stylish, entitled, aloof and confident – add in Belmondo’s Michel, a petty thief with the swagger of the rich – both selfish with a restlessness that even a great city like Paris can’t assuage. I recommend watching “Breathless” in the quiet stillness of the early hours – I think it really brings out the film’s beauty.

Chef

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I know I’m a little late to the table, but I finally got around to viewing “Chef” and wanted to write a few lines about the film. Obviously it’s food themed, the life of a chef, but stripped down to bare bones it’s a story about a man who’s so focused on achieving that for a time he loses his way, and after being humbled is forced to set a new course, which leads him ultimately to an even better place. “Chef” rings true. Leguizamo and Vegara are terrific as his friend/sous and ex-wife respectively. Jon Favreau has successfully tried on a lot of hats: comedian, actor, director, screenwriter and has brought them all together to become quite an accomplished filmmaker. Lastly, Favreau has put together a great soundtrack for the film – so if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend it.

The Author’s Bookshelf

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Lisa Chapman ©2015

Although I’m rarely influenced by another’s choice of reading material – I will cop to occasionally sneaking over to The Author’s Bookshelf on The Strand’s website. I think it’s more curiosity than anything, imagining myself ducking in to have a look at their private home libraries. And if you’re more curious about your favorite filmmaker’s picks, check out Criterion’s filmmaker’s Top 10’s.

Complexities in Love

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So much is going on under the surface in this scene – true to life we often dance around how we’re feeling, unwilling to just come out and say we care about someone. Sofia was able to convey with such beautiful subtlety, our tendency to complicate something as simple as truly connecting with someone. Truth is, there are many facets and depths of love – not all are deeply romantic and we often feel if it isn’t, it’s not valid and therefore should go unspoken. Leaving love implied but not spoken may be romantic in itself but long term it robs the relationship, whatever it’s depths, of true intimacy.

An Unlikely Hero: Rodriguez

Rodriguez 01Sixto Rodriguez/Searching for Sugar Man, 2012 Sony Pictures Classics

Finally got the chance to view “Searching for Sugar Man” over the weekend and I highly recommend this truly extraordinary documentary. The film tells an unbelievable story of the musician, Rodriguez, who was famously unsuccessful here in America and across the world in South Africa was….just famous, which would have been great, if only he had been made aware of it.

“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” – Anais Nin

The reason why his two albums released here in America, which were quite accomplished with poetic, soulful lyrics failed to take off is a bit of a musical mystery and one Rodriguez himself shrugged off by saying, “it’s the music business, there are no guarantees”.  However it was a very different story playing out in South Africa, to the people suffering through the oppressive forces of the apartheid era – they were frustrated, fearful, largely cut off from the rest of the world, yet at the same time, ripe for revolution and looking for inspiration, which they found in the lyrics and spirit of Rodriguez’s albums Cold Fact & Coming from Reality. His lyrics inspired them to fight against their circumstances.

Rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated….

The film follows two Cape Town fans who were anxious to uncover the mystery surrounding the artist Rodriguez, and to discover the truth behind his rumored death. As they were nearly ready to give up, Rodriguez’s daughter Eva saw their website pleas for information and the rest as they say is history. And so finally Rodriguez, very much alive…found out that he had been an icon and hero of the South African people for over twenty years and prepared to meet his longtime fans for the first time.

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What I found even more amazing than the story was Sixto Rodriguez himself, a man full of grace, humble and hard-working, who when he found that in another country he had been more famous than Elvis, didn’t lament his misfortune at all but merely enjoyed finding some recognition for his work before returning to his everyday life back here in Detroit. Truly extraordinary.

Before Midnight

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When Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan wrote “Before Sunrise,” I wonder if they imagined the depth with which their characters, Jesse & Celine would resonate and stay with their audience. Before Sunrise isn’t a flashy film by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a corny romance either. What it is, is a languorous walk between two strangers who meet on a train, recognize an immediate connection and spend the next hours – through to the morning experiencing a microcosm of love & courtship. The film had the feel of truly listening in on two people in those first moments of getting to know each other. It resonated with audiences and everyone who loved the film wanted more…did they meet up as planned?

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Before Sunset begins with Celine attending Jesse’s book reading at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris. The book Jesse has written, seemingly a work of fiction, is in truth and only known to Celine, the true recounting of their hours together. Although only in the city for hours, once again they find themselves increasingly anxious at the prospect of once again parting.

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Having sought input from Hawke & Delpy on conversations written into Before Sunrise, Linklater brought them both in to collaborate on the second film, Before Sunset.

Now it seems it has turned into a wonderful trilogy, with the upcoming release of “Before Midnight,” where it seems by the trailer that Jesse & Celine’s story is still going strong.