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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tom Ford: Shallow Like A Fox

"The fox knows many little things. The hedgehog knows one big thing," The Hedgehound and the Fox

This blog has been on Tom Ford's case for quite some time. It was, in a sense, almost too easy. Almost every time Tom Ford made a public utterance he proclaimed his astonishing shallowness. Further, he did it in an airy languid drawl. Tom wore open shirts exposing an almost indecent thatch of chest hair (public-pubic). He tarted up Dakota Fanning. He left Gucci because he caught the What-I-Really-Want-To-Do-Is-Direct cliche. Fashion wasn't enough for him; he wanted to make a statement. And so on.

Then came "A Single Man," which flipped the script. A game changer. Taken out of the context of commercial fashion and it's beautiful but vapid surfaces, Ford has made an interesting film. Not only that, he has all these clever plays on surfaces and shallowness and outer style that suggest he is a while fucking lot smarter than this blogger ever gave him credit for being. There is a scene in "A Single Man" when Colin Firth's character, wanting to commit suicide -- simultaneously the shallowest and most profound act of human torment imaginable -- is prevented by the fact that his blood may ruin the decor. Shallow and darkly clever, Tom Ford. The phantom of Death haunts the entire beautifully shot film. Who would have thought Tom Ford capable of such morbid depths and such terrible wit?

And then there is the style of the film. It is extraordinary. Julianne Moore looks ravishing (the woman gets more and more attractive with time). The exquisite cinematography (Eduard Grau) and the well-thought out costumes mesh with a complex script and Oscar calibre directing and subtle, touching performances. The subject matter -- Love and Death -- are among the most serious in the Western world, and yet it is the attention to the little (some might say shallow) details, the clothes, the design, makes for a magnificent organic whole. Tom Ford has addressed the interplay between the surface and the inner, answering all his critics of the past half decade. There is a line in Norman McLean's A River Runs Through It that goes, "All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something that isn't even visible." And this is his first film!

Damn you, Tom Ford. You make my previous blog posts about your shallowness look, by comparison, shallow.

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