Sunday, February 7, 2010

miss belvedere update

Those of you who knew me when recall that I was pretty obsessed over Miss Belvedere, the brand new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere encased in a concrete vault as a memento of the 1957 Tulsarama! celebration. The intent was, of course, to open the watertight vault in 2007 and present the world with immaculately preserved artifacts of the late 50's. Except that when one plans on underground preservation, airtight is the required standard and a watertight concrete vault will, in fact, revert to the swimming pool it do closely resembles. Fast forward to 2007 when the ruins of a cruelly drowned and devastated 1957 Plymouth were unearthed, displayed, and celebrated.

Don't misunderstand, I'm mad about Miss Belvedere. Not so much for her ruined condition, but for the can-do attitude that swept a bunch of Tulsa businessmen into thinking that they could create this remarkable time capsule. The fact that they really couldn't is more of a footnote.

Okay, so two years later, where is Miss Belvedere? I had read that she was in the care of a company called Ultra One, that makes a rust removing product. They were going to attempt to stabilize her and get some good PR in the process. Along the way they discovered that the frame is ravaged, the rear springs crumbled and the axle was fused. They have removed most of the red clay and even gotten portions of her to resemble an automobile. Enough suspension components were replaced to make her push-worthy, but the realization has dawned that she is an artifact with the structural integrity of a potato chip.

Follow this link
to an update in today's New York Times about her saga since 2007, complete with a photo slideshow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

a single mess

I went to see "A Single Man", Tom Ford's motion picture directorial debut, last night at the Camelot. I'm not discussing the plot, which seems to be about a despondent suicidal Colin Firth discovering the possibility of new love and then dying anyway, but rather the execution. This is the film that is being described as immaculately detailed by film reviewers. Tom Ford himself was quoted as saying "believe it or not, I didn't care about the style".

I believe him. Is that why there are so many obvious errors?

Now a period film is exquisitely hard to make, and one will never have every detail correct, so pay attention to the important ones. For example, if a film is clearly set in November 1962 and the entire plot pivots around a terrible traffic accident in the late winter of 1962, approximately March, do not choose a 1963 Rambler Cross Country as the victim's mode of transport, as its unavailability at that time ruins the credibility of the production design. Are we to believe that the factory flew in a prototype for the express purpose of dispatching the late lamented lover?

Furthermore, the fact that the car lies totally undamaged on its roof as if gingerly placed there by an army of fairies is odd, and one wonders whether this was an attempt to sanitize the gruesome nature of an early sixties auto crash, or whether they simply had to have the Rambler back to Hollywood Picture Cars by 5 pm to avoid additional rental charges. However rationalized, the Rambler is an epic failure.

So the camera follows George (Colin Firth) to work in the morning, starting with an establishing shot of his oh-so-chic Mercedes 220S coupe in the carport. The camera pulls back slightly and reveals a yellow and black California 1956 license plate with a year sticker. Period correct. For a pickup truck. E 95 047. A Commercial plate. A passenger car would have a three letter, three number configuration such as ABC 123. A twelve year old could catch this one- so how did it work its way into this film so highly praised for detail? Or do glaringly inaccurate details still qualify?

The offending Mercedes, from the HDNB Blog.

I'll cruise past the conceivable but unlikely narrow whitewalls on the 220S and drive to school with George. We pull into his College parking lot and there in full glorious view for several seconds is the totally restyled 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible. Not the original 1961-63, not the lengthened second generation 1964-65 with totally new roofline, but the all new 1966. They're two generations off. I am now totally screaming inside, I can't think any more, and we're only twenty minutes into the film. Yes, I am a stickler for detail, but how can one make so many glaring mistakes in important scenes?

Oh, right. The quote. Tom said he didn't care about the details. Well, Tom, maybe if you ever make another film, and I'm certainly not suggesting that you do, you might think about caring. For all us little people in the dark.