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MODEL SHOP (1969)

Model Shop - CoverArrow Academy’ have recently released a digitally enhanced version of ‘Model Shop’. It was directed by Jacques Demy; it starred Anouk Aimee, Gary Lockwood, and Alexandra Hay; and it lasts for 95-minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-ray edition comes with the original theatrical trailer, an isolated music and effects track, a visual essay by Philip Kemp, a French version of the opening and closing titles, as well as a brand new commentary track narrated by the actress and writer, Illeana Douglas. Please enjoy.


Model Shop [Blu-ray]


THE STORY:
What am I doing with my life? Seriously, what am I doing with it? One moment I’m having a pointless argument with my poxy girlfriend, Gloria (Alexandra Hay), and the next, I’m driving around town trying to find someone to lend me some money. Which I get, after a while, but instead of spending it on what I wanted it for - namely, to pay off a loan - I spend most of it on something completely different.

You see, during my travels, I accidentally bump into this gorgeous looking French lady, wearing a tight-fitting white dress and a pair of Jackie O sunglasses. In fact, she was so gorgeous to look at, that I decided to follow her wherever she went, both by foot and by car, until I finally confronted her, face to face, at her place of work. A model shop, situated off of the Sunset Strip, which is where I told her my name: George Matthews (Gary Lockwood); what I was doing there: hoping to take some pictures; and what I was trying to achieve from this encounter: snap-snap-snap! So in turn, she told me her name: Lola (Anouk Aimee); as well as what I had to do next: go away.

But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires goes to war when I find out that I’ve been drafted into the army. As a trip to Vietnam looks like a right drag - an unusual friendship hits a notable snag - an open discussion leads to a memorable shag - and at the end of the day, please remember, while some people drive in a straight-line, others, zigzag.




THE REVIEW:
If you want to watch a fast-paced, action-packed adventure, where a squad of soldiers jump behind enemy lines and shoot everyone dead, Bang-Bang-Bang!, then please, for the love of God, don’t watch this film because it’s slow, methodical, and as moody as a teenager who’s lost their iPhone. In many ways, ‘Model Shop’ is a character piece, and as such, it’s about a certain type of individual who’s living in a certain type of environment. Which in this case, is California during the late sixties, during a time where the U.S. Army was still enlisting recruits to take part in the Vietnam War. A war, I hasten to add, that scared some, concerned others, and left the rest neither here nor there.

Model Shop - Anouk Aimee
So, as you can see, from a certain point of view, this film is fairly politically minded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a political film. If anything, it’s an emotional film, a cultural film, and a historical film, which manages to utilize these three components to tell a story about nothing. Not completely nothing. Otherwise, we’d just be watching a blank screen without any sound. But rather, it’s a story about a man who doesn’t want to do anything productive, apart from driving around town and speaking to his friends about his financial problems and his fear of being enlisted into the army. After a while, though, he does manage to break this rather repetitive cycle, but only because of a chance encounter he has with a French woman who he immediately falls in love with.

Yes. That’s right. I said, 'love'. As in, kiss-kiss, hug-hug, and, you know, jiggy-jiggy boom-boom! But please be warned, it takes quite a bit of time before these two establish a meaningful encounter. In fact, it took so long for the two main characters to finally meet up and have a decent conversation — emphasis on 'decent' — that upon my first viewing, I genuinely thought this film was about a man trying to find someone who can lend him some money so he can save his car. But no, it’s not about that, it’s about love, passion, and what it takes for certain individuals to commit to living life, rather than drifting through it, as if they were a plastic bag floating in the breeze.


Model Shop - Gary Lockwood and Alexandra Hay


Now, where the overall style is concerned, and visually, everything we see on screen can be placed in either one of two categories. On the one hand, most of the internal scenes featured things like shabby chic furnishings, cheap and tacky decorations, as well as the usual sixties ephemera made famous by the era, ranging from monotone posters to plastic paraphernalia. Whereas, on the other hand, most of the external scenes were rather pleasing to the eye, as they generally boasted nicely framed panoramas of the city, cleanly choreographed sequences of people driving through the streets of L.A., as well as a number of notable shops, parlors, or joints that either stood tall or blended into the background. Similarly, the music heard throughout this film can also be placed in either one of two categories. Although, in this instance, the music in question was either classical in composition or rock and roll by design, usually filtered through the speaker of the main protagonist’s car.

Model Shop - Poster
Anyway, that’s enough of that for the time being, because I think now would be a pretty good time for us to sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘Columbia’ first released this $1 million production in New York, New York, on the exact same day Jennifer Aniston was born. It was on the 11th of February, 1969. (2) This was Jacques Demy's first English language film, and he was smart enough to connect it to three of his other films, ‘Lola’ [1961], ‘Bay of Angels’ [1963], and ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ [1964]. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled ‘Fashion Salon’ in Hungary, ‘Lola’s Inner Secret’ in Brazil, and ‘The Lost Lover’ in Italy. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states: ‘A touching love story with the touch of now’. (5) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of California. This includes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, Hawthorn Avenue, Thrasher Avenue, Windward Avenue, La Brea Avenue, Selma Avenue, The Coronet Theater, The Former Headquarters of Playboy Entertainment, as well as select parts of Marina Del Rey, Venice, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles. (6) Originally, Harrison Ford was going to play the part of George in this movie, but 'Columbia' eventually decided to replace him with Gary Lockwood because Gary was a bigger star. (7) ‘Spirit’, the American rock band, composed the soundtrack for this film and also made an appearance in it as well. (8) After this flick combed its hair, Anouk Aimee starred in the drama, ‘The Appointment’; Gary Lockwood starred in the TV show, ‘Love, American Style’; and Alexandra Hay starred in an episode of, ‘CBS Playhouse’.


Model Shop - Gary Lockwood


In closing my review of ‘Model Shop’, I would now like to rank each key performance in order of preference. So, at the top of my list, I'm going to select the star of the show, Gary Lockwood, because I thought his portrayal of George Matthews was slightly cerebral and moderately mannered, even though sometimes he did come across as a whiny little git. Up next, I’d like to single out the gorgeous French actress, Anouk Aimee, who played Lola as if she were a wounded swan waiting to be saved. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, but I did find her performance considerably less energetic than her previous depictions of Lola featured in the other films. And as for the rest of the cast? Well, with all due respect, the vast majority of them were visually memorable but tonally inept, including Alexandra Hay, who played George’s girlfriend, Gloria, with a stiff acting style and a slender physique.

Model Shop - Anouk Aimee and Gary Lockwood
Funnily enough, this last point brings me quite nicely onto something else I would like to mention. Namely, why George wasn’t able to commit to Gloria but was willing to commit to Lola! Well, as far as I’m concerned, I think this is because of what Lola represents (something fresh, wild, and rather exotic), as opposed to what Gloria represents (something traditional, wholesome, and requiring a certain amount of commitment). After all, Lola is a very pretty lady and she has experienced a rather rich and adventurous lifestyle. Whereas Gloria, on the other hand, is equally as pretty, but she has a definite aim and objective that George isn’t ready to pursue. Not yet, anyway, on account of him needing to grow up a bit more and live by society's rules, instead of his own.

Anyway, all that aside, and overall, I would just like to say that this film was a pretty good film and I would highly recommend it to fans of Parisian melodramas, sixties stories, and character pieces set in Los Angeles.

THE RATING: B-

MODEL SHOP (1969) MODEL SHOP (1969) Reviewed by David Andrews on December 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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