Bendigo Art Gallery has a stellar reputation when it comes to presenting world-class exhibitions. Its next outing, presented in collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox, looks set to be the gallery’s greatest coup yet; one of the most comprehensive exhibitions ever to explore Marilyn Monroe’s legend.
Despite the screen siren’s untimely demise (she died from an overdose aged 36), she appeared in more than 30 movies and left an indelible mark on cinema and pop culture (everyone from Andy Warhol to Lady Gaga has paid tribute).
One of the exhibition’s highlights is the opportunity to have a peek inside Monroe’s wardrobe. The exhibition boasts 40 of Monroe’s high-glamour outfits, covering costumes (including the satin, hot-pink floor-length sheath of fabulousness that she wore for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ), and items from her personal collection, including Erno Laszlo face cream and the Mexican Arts and Crafts' tiles Marilyn used to redecorate her kitchen in 1962.
Tansy Curtin, the exhibition’s senior curator, says that there has been a lot of detective work behind the scenes, particularly because the exhibition draws extensively from private collections. “There was a lot of cold calling, emails and poring over old catalogues," she says. "But once we started putting feelers out, collectors would put us in contact with others and it turns out that there is a really collegiate atmosphere amongst Marilyn collectors – they’ve been incredibly generous and have a wealth of knowledge.” Once such collector includes Scott Fortner, the president of the LA chapter of the Marilyn Monroe fan club, who has kindly opened his Norma Jeane treasure trove.
One of the objectives of the exhibition is to encourage people to look behind Marilyn Monroe’s public façade – something that Fortner heartily approves of. “Many people think the “dumb blonde” was who she really was in real life,” he says. “Actually, Marilyn Monroe was a character created by Norma Jean. In real life she was a smart, contemplative and sensitive person. It was an act and she actually referred to Marilyn Monroe in the third person.”
Fortner now owns one of the most extensive private collections of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia in the world, including the green Pucci blouse that Marilyn wore when she was rehearsing ‘Happy Birthday’ for JFK. However, his collection had a humble beginning. “In junior high I bought my first Marilyn book and also my first Marilyn Monroe collectible, which was a poster composed of a collage of Marilyn photos. I still have that poster today.”
You might be able to catch one of her films here
The announcement Palace Cinemas chain had reached a deal to take over Melbourne’s famous Astor Theatre was good news for local film buffs. But given the Astor’s fraught and uncertain history, some scepticism remained. These concerns have been allayed by the announcement of the Astor’s new general manager, Zak Hepburn. Hepburn has ten years of cinema experience and, perhaps most importantly from the point of view of the Astor’s loyal fan base, a long association with the cinema. “I grew up in Bacchus Marsh, where there was no cinema,” recalls Hepburn. “My mum first took me to the Astor to see The Beatles: Yellow Submarine. I was constantly asking my mother to drive me to the Astor, which was well over an hour and a half away and I’ve been a regular patron ever since.” Hepburn re-affirms that Palace Cinemas is committed to maintaining the key aspects of the ‘Astor Experience’: a single-screen theatre with a program of new and classic films in 35mm, 70mm and digital formats. “The focus is very much on establishing a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features and remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.” After minor refurbishment, the Astor re-opens for business on Sunday, June 7. Hepburn is finalising the new program, but it will include Kenneth Branagh’s four-hour plus Hamlet, an Astor favourite, and a digitally restored cut of the original The Terminator. There’ll be a 50th anniversary screening of spy thriller
Did you ever wonder why France’s film culture is so rich and varied and full of big-name stars? Simple: for every cinema ticket sold in France, whether for a local film or a Hollywood blockbuster, the state gets money to invest into French films. The latest fruits of this vibrant industry screen in March, spanning comedy, biopic, drama, war stories, animation and romance. They include new movies from the Dardenne Brothers, Anne Fontaine and Bertrand Tavernier, featuring stars such as Isabelle Huppert, Daniel Auteuil, Omar Sy, Audrey Tautou and many, many more. Gender equality is especially strong in the French movie world, with 17 new movies from women directors. And here’s another drawcard: the festival is running a competition this year with prizes for attendees of a trip for two to France and a trip for two to New Caledonia. Here are Time Out’s 12 picks of highlights to look out for. The Alliance Française French Film Festival is set to take place across Palace Cinemas throughout Melbourne including: the Kino Cinemas, the Astor Theatre, Palace Balwyn, palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth and Palace Cinema Como.
WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Scrap The Oscars, The Emmys, The Tonys – the only awards that matter is The Dukes, The Astor Theatre's award show for cat videos. Named after the cinema's boss cat, who can often be often weaving his way through the lines for the candy bar or sitting on his kitty litter near the theatre entrance, the Dukes award will be an annual event and the first event will take place on Sunday October 2 at 4pm. On the day of The Dukes, feline film fans will be given score cards to vote for their favourite cat videos screened at the award event. The Astor team has put together an hour's worth of cat videos, from the obscure to the classic, featuring cats from the streets of St Kilda to the hills of LA. The results will be tallied and the audience's favourite video will be presented with the very first Dukes award. May the best moggie movie mogul* win. We have our money on this keyboard cat reincarnation. *Ed's note: I'd very much like to make my cat Tiger (pictured below) a star, but his greatest accomplishment to date is to sit in the recycling box. We've got a bit of work to do. Want to learn more The Astor's resident cat Duke? Check out our interview with this feline film buff.