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Model Shop

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Model Shop

Image credit: Model Shop, 1969

When I found out that two of my favorite movies of last year, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Echo in the Canyon, were reportedly influenced by Jacques Demy’s 1969 film Model Shop (Disc/Download), I needed to see what all the fuss was about. If you’re searching for a slice-of-life ride through ‘60s Los Angeles, look no further than this gorgeous film about love, mortality, and the mistakes of youth.

As the sun rises on a rundown LA bungalow, we meet George Matthews, a former architect at a crossroads in his life. His girlfriend’s got one foot out the door, his car’s about to be repossessed, and he doesn’t know what he wants to do ten minutes from now, let alone ten years. But then he spots a mysterious woman (Anouk Aimée) on the Sunset Strip and follows her up into the hills in his little MG. She goes into a house, he looks out over the city that doesn’t feel like home anymore, then turns around and leaves. But fate forces their paths to cross again, and this time he follows her into a Model Shop.  In this strange make-your-own-porn business that could have only existed in the 1960s, men pay to take pictures of women in their underwear, eventually leaving with negatives and a sweaty brow. For George, this sets off a Before Sunrise-esque 24hr love affair, fueled by the looming threat of a Vietnam draft notice which just arrived in the mail. That’s the thing about the ’60s—things happened fast because they had to.

Even though George’s model strips down for his camera, it isn’t until they’re back at her place that she really starts to reveal herself (a good drink will always get you talking well into the night). Equal parts sweet and bitter, while watching Model Shop, I suggest drinking this Sunset Stripped cocktail.

Sunset Stripped

1 oz Brandy

1 oz Lillet Blanc

¼ oz Honey Syrup (Equal parts honey and water boiled together, then cooled).

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Dash of Orange Bitters

Orange peel or dried orange slice

Combine Brandy, Lillet, honey syrup, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Stir until well chilled, then strain into a tumbler with a fresh cube of ice. Garnish with an orange peel or dried orange slice.

Sunset Stripped

For anyone wanting to see what Los Angeles looked like in the late 1960s, this movie is a perfect time capsule. The cars, the signage, the mini-skirts, the tanned pre-cancerous skin—Model Shop places you right in the center of it all. Sure you could watch someone else’s modern interpretation of this time period, but isn’t it more fun to go straight to the source? Cheers!

Top Five Films of 2019

With only a few hours left on the 2019 clock, I’m finally tackling the difficult job of making my annual best-of list. If you were a politically-disheartened person with a deep love of 1960s period pieces, you probably spent a lot of time at the multiplex in the last twelve months.  I know I did. As usual, when I make my selections, I pick the films I want to watch over and over, set in worlds I wish I could step into. Here they are, my Top Five Films of 2019 in ranking order:

1. Long Shot

Long Shot

Part political satire, part romantic comedy, Long Shot demands repeat viewing. The second the credits roll, I yearn to press play again. I want to watch a movie where a strong, fierce woman leads our country, champions the environment, and stands up to corrupt narcissistic men. I want to root for a heroine who’s vulnerable enough to let a kind, funny, unexpected hero crack through that tough exterior. I want to believe in a world where anything still seems possible. I want to believe we’re going to be okay.

 

2. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

This film combines three of my biggest pop-culture obsessions: 1960s Los Angeles, the Manson Murders, and a shirtless Brad Pitt. This is a love letter to a world that maybe never existed, or if it did, only existed in a drunken fantasy. California Dreamin’, indeed.

 

3. Parasite

Parasite

This film about class conflict nearly gave me a heart attack almost a dozen different times. I can tell you nothing else about it, other than you need to watch it. With a peach cocktail and a defibrillator.

 

4. Knives Out

Knives Out

I’m including Knives Out mostly for the stellar production design. If only I could live in this mansion full of dollhouses, books, weird ephemera, and secret passages. Yes, the whodunnit script is marvelous, and the cast is incredible, but let’s be clear- I’m here for the house.

 

5. Ford v Ferrari

Ford V Ferrari

Hot cars, hot men, and an impressive array of 1960s sunglasses. I’m sold.

 

*Honorable mention goes to the following films, all of which I also loved:

Jojo Rabbit / Dolemite is my Name / Echo in the Canyon / Joker /  Yesterday /  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood / Marriage Story / Uncut Gems