The Revue Cinema Presents
Designing the Movies: American Gigolo (1980)
Guest programmed and hosted by freelance culture writer and film critic Nathalie Atkinson, a columnist for The Globe and Mail, Designing the Movies explores the talents whose names may be less familiar but whose work in production design, art direction, costume and set decoration is intrinsic to the look and world of their films.
Paul Shrader’s sensual, subdued thriller confirmed the director as a bold visual stylist and is Richard Gere’s breakout role, in a relaxed Italian wardrobe supplied by Giorgio Armani.
After the screening, Atkinson and special guest (to be announced) will discuss stylistic aspects of the film, its prescient vision of the decadent 1980s, and the history of fashion designers contributing to film costume design (for better, or for worse). In Gigolo’s case, the specific marketing coup that raised the Italian designer’s profile in the United States and helped turn his brand into the $3 billion company it is today. Armani’s canny foray into costume design not only had a profound influence on menswear but forever changed Hollywood’s relationship with fashion brands—on screen and on the red carpet.
About the Film
USA, 1980, 117mins
Directed by Paul Schrader
Stars Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Hector Elizondo
Los Angeles plays a stylized version of itself. Richard Gere plays Julian, a vain and self-centered sex worker who romances clients while moving from designer boutiques to upscale hotel bars—and when he’s accused of murder, from behind bars. Danger and glamour commingle thanks to the who’s who of the New Hollywood, not least of all writer-director Schrader, the onetime seminary student and film critic who also wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. A daylight noir that luxuriates in glamorous surfaces, art director Ed Richardson (in consultation with the great Ferdinando Scarfiotti, of The Conformist) and sets by George Gaines heighten John Bailey’s sinuous camera movement, compositions and plays of coloured light, hard light and shadows. It’s atmospheric even when you close your eyes thanks to the Oscar-nominated score by synth guru Giorgio Moroder (Top Gun, Flashdance, Midnight Express): his original collaboration with Debbie Harry on the film yielded Blondie’s hit “Call Me.” Just the opening montage is so good, it’s not surprising Nicholas Winding Refn was inspired to make Drive.
About the Series
Film series often focus on cast or director, or link by common subject themes; this ongoing series instead considers the crucial contributions of below-the-line craft in both popular favourites and forgotten gems from across the decades, genres and eras. Guest programmed and hosted by freelance culture writer and film critic Nathalie Atkinson, a columnist for The Globe and Mail, Designing the Movies explores the talents whose names may be less familiar but whose work in production design, art direction, costume and set decoration is intrinsic to the look and world of their films.
With expert introductions and special guest Q&As, Designing the Movies covers the films of production pioneers like William Cameron Menzies (who invented the role, if not the term), Cedric Gibbons, Lyle Wheeler and Canadian Richard Day and their costume contemporaries Howard Greer, Edith Head, Adrian Travis, Banton and Orry-Kelly as well as more recent counterparts like Ken Adam, Roger Christian, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Dante Ferretti, Adam Stockhausen, Sarah Greenwood and Catherine Martin, Sandy Powell, Jenny Beavan, Colleen Atwood, Wendy Chuck and Michael Wilkinson.
As longtime Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Robert Boyle defined it, production design is the physical environment in which the action and the meaning of a film takes place, interpreting the psychology and emotion of a screenplay and relaying that in visual form. So too the integral, at times misunderstood, role that costume plays in storytelling and bringing characters to life. The screenings are an invitation to reconsider films from a new or different angle, the invisible work made visible. - Nathalie Atkinson
DOORS OPEN AT 6:00PM - FILM AT 7:00PM