Don't be alarmed by the title this column has nothing to do with college basketball (yawn!). March is a very eventful month. St. Patrick's Day and the beginning of spring are upon us, and there are more fish fries than you can shake a stick at.
As March is Women's History Month, I'm putting the focus on brazen broads for the first portion of this column.
GIRLS ON FILM
On DVD: "Coco Before Chanel"
"Coco Before Chanel," very recently released on DVD, depicts Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's hardscrabble life prior to becoming one of the most influential designers of all time. I didn't know much about Chanel before seeing the film and assumed she simply designed her way out of poverty that's not exactly how it happened. Instead, she befriends a very wealthy gentleman, Etienne Balsan, while singing cabaret in a seedy club. After he returns to his mansion just outside Paris, Chanel packed her things and dropped in on him. She doesn't mention that she has no home to return to; he tells her she can only stay two days and she simply doesn't leave. I guess this is one way to acquire new, extravagant digs no rent or mortgage required and perhaps, for a poor orphaned seamstress in turn-of-the-century France, there weren't many other ways to do so. Balsan becomes a benefactor of sorts for Chanel, helping her to achieve status and allowing her to rub elbows with the rich and fabulous.
What is most remarkable about Chanel a point the film tries, and succeeds, in driving home is how ridiculously far ahead of her time she was. Instead of trying to blend in, Chanel dared to be different when she had everything to lose by doing so. She found simplicity beautiful long before it was in fashion. She eschewed corsets and chose to wear pants and tailored tweed jackets while other women wore lavishly embellished gowns. In the film, we can see where she gathered her inspiration from: menswear, from the closet of her wealthy male companion; striped T-shirts, seen on sailors during a walk on the beach with her lover. It's very easy to see why she still continues to influence the way we dress. There isn't a colorful montage of pretty dresses to be found in "Coco Before Chanel," but fashion fans will still adore the meticulous attention to detail in the costume design (for which it was nominated in this year's Academy Awards).
Audrey Tautou ("Amelie," "The Da Vinci Code") stars in the title role and she is marvelous. It's not the most exciting biopic it's a little too somber and serious but her performance (and the clothes) make it worth watching.
Be forewarned that it is in French with English subtitles I know some fools out there are revolted by having to read and watch a movie at the same time, probably the same sort that won't watch anything in black and white. Get over it!
On Your TV
"Female" is a movie that must be seen to be believed and, lucky for you, it will be on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, March 15! Just like Coco Chanel herself, the woman in this film broke all the rules. Made in 1933, Ruth Chatterton stars as a female CEO who lures her young, male employees to her home, has her way with them and, when she no longer has any use for them, has them transferred. The fashion is insane and the ending is completely ridiculous. It was one of the best pre-code movies we watched in my History of the Motion Picture Code class. Do yourself a favor, record it and watch it later it's on at 8:30 a.m., which is way too early to be awake unless it is absolutely vital. Just prior to "Female," another pre-code film about an extraordinary woman, "Baby Face" (1933) starring Barbara Stanwyck, will be on at 7:15 a.m. that morning record that one, too.
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH
I've done lists of holiday-related fun facts in the past but these St. Patrick's Day-related facts are actually quite fascinating. Everything you think you know is probably wrong. Courtesy of the Interweb, with additional sass by yours truly:
The luck of the Irish refers to the good fortune - literally - found by Irish descendants during the 19th century gold and silver rush in America.
The "O" in many Irish surnames is Gaelic for grandson.
The color green was actually thought to be unlucky for the Irish - folklore stated that Irish fairies (called the "Good People") stole people, primarily children, who wore excessive amounts of green. If only the same applied to overly-rowdy drunks downtown on St. Patrick's Day!
Leprechauns are not cute, mischievous, gold-toting creatures. Folklore depicts them as downright loathsome - just like that atrocious '90s horror film which originated horrific images that caused me many nightmares when I saw that trailer as an 8-year-old.
St. Patrick was not Irish, he was born in Britain. He also did not drive away any snakes from Ireland, as snakes have never been native to the country.
It's a little early for most St. Patrick's Day plans to be made. However, I was informed by a reliable source that Rookie's will again be running the Shamrock Shuttle between Dunkirk and Fredonia from 2 to 11 p.m., helping to keep our fair citizens DWI-free. Now you can rest assured that you will have the means with which to travel in a boozy haze next Wednesday!
Last Call will provide live tunes at the Beaver Club on Friday from 9 p.m. to midnight.
41 West will feature 1/2 Heard of Buffalo, with Randy and Mike, on Saturday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Karaoke is Tuesday and Thursday starting at 9 p.m.
King Rail will play the Wine Cellar in Jamestown on Saturday, starting at about 9:30 p.m. Also on Saturday in Jamestown, you can have breakfast with a leprechaun at 8 a.m., with the annual St. Patrick's Day parade at 11 a.m. After that, the aforementioned leprechaun will turn the Chadakoin River a festive green. A Jamestown native tells me that's not much different than the Chadakoin's usual shade but I'm not here to judge.
Starting tomorrow, the JCC Uncommoners will stage their production of "Of Mice and Men" at Scharmann Theater in Jamestown, running through March 20. Call JCC's box office at 338-1187 for tickets.
A visit by fiction writer Laura van den Berg will kick off SUNY Fredonia's Mary Louise White Visiting Writer Series today in McEwen 202, with a presentation on writing at 4 p.m. A reading from her collection of stories will follow, with a book signing at 7 p.m.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Give her the dish on what's happening at firstname.lastname@example.org.