Welcome to another entry in the “Dashing 5th Avenue” series. As usual, we are your Dashing Gentleman (me) and your 5th Avenue woman, ms. Ashley Lunt, bringing you another foray in the world of the classy, the stylish, and the luxurious. And in what better way is that world immortalized than in the form of media and in particular, the world of cinema? Movies have always been one of the most powerful and strongest representations of the classy lifestyle ever since it’s inception and it’s become such a strong part of most of our lives. As such, the lifestyles of the classy and the luxurious have been embodied and forever captured in some of the strongest and greatest films of all time and the definition of class has been enriched, envisioned, and changed forever by the world of the cinema. Thus, classy films are something that both myself and Ashley have always loved and recently been talking about so this seemed like a great chance to discuss this with the summer movie season hitting as well. So away we go….
1) What do you think of when you think of a ‘classy film’?
Ashley: This, I think, to some degree has to do with personal taste. For some I think something ‘classy’ is something that’s deeply artful and symbolic. For others it’s the black and white classics. To me it can be anything from a movie that boasts a significant amount of money (such as 50 Shades of Grey) sans ‘gangsta’ behavior (like the tv show ‘Ballers’). So, the range is wide but the criteria for me are these three basic elements: 1. Does the film count as something that promotes positive human behaviors or forces you to look into some new ideas or dark human truths? 2. Does it have some klout from age? 3. It better not be a ‘B list’ film.
Michael: For me, a ‘classy’ film can mean a lot of things. Classiness in film and cinema can take on many different forms and shapes and different kinds of films can be called classy. My main definition however is that it usually has to be a film with a certain upscale look and feel with all of its different elements coming together to form a stylish whole. The artistry, wardrobe, cinematography, music, time period, message, etc. Every piece of a film has a part to play in creating this classy immersion for the viewer no matter the genre or the style. It can be anything from the way ’50 Shades of Grey’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ shows off the classier and sexier side of a luxurious lifestyle, the age and beautiful black and white cinematography of something from the 20s or the 30s, the artistry and sophisticated grandure of “Moulin Rouge” or “Pride and Prejudice”, or the dark and often troubling but fascinating ideas of “Alice in Wonderland” or “Cloud Atlas”. I would even classify ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Alien’ as classy films along with ‘Gone with the Wind’ or either ‘Ocean’s 11’ movies simply for retro appeal and overall recognition. It just depends on many different factors, pieces, and (even as Ashley said above) personal taste in that what I might call classy, others might call hipster, bland, boring, or unusual. Either way, the pieces all need to fit together to shape the vision of sophistication in some form, even the overall product is mediocre or bad.
2) Is a classy film necessarily a good one i.e does class influence quality?
Ashley: It’s hard to say, I don’t think so. A movie that I found recently and loved is ‘the loft’ and money is a big part of the plot as a whole but many people found the plot line to be campy and predictable. So, not at all. You could also have a pirate themed movie that though the setting isn’t ‘classy’ the quality of the movie could be incredible from cast and crew and materials used to film. So, I don’t think that the two go hand in hand.
Michael: Definitely not. I have seen bad movies that are extremely classy and supposed good or artsy films that are completely horrible in my opinion. For example, I wouldn’t call “50 Shades of Grey” a good movie by any means but it has such a stylized, classy, and sexy element to it in some of it’s stronger elements such as music, cinematography, and wardrobe that I can’t help but like it some degree and forgive it for a lot. However, a supposed artsy film such as those made by Harmony Korine may be considered artsy but are so bad and utterly worthless that even the name of the director makes me cringe. Class and quality in film in my mind are only tangentially linked.
3) Is there a specific era of film that is classier than others?
Ashley: No, I don’t think so but the 30’s did kill it. They had great wardrobe, super well-known starlets and plots that changed cinema for the rest of time. Gone With The Wind? Yeah. That was epic and we all know it. The period of time in our history as a people have influenced over cinema — back then we cared about what we looked like and how we behaved therefore it’s not a surprise that the movies also followed the same patterns.
Michael: Not particularly. Every era of film has some elements of class in it that makes them different or luxurious in some form and I would say that it depends much more on the film itself than the era contained within. We still have classy movies in this day and age as much as any other in the past and we can get away with a lot more with the way technology and class have advanced since the media of film began. However, I will agree with Ashley that the 30’s were DEFINITELY an era that has some of the greatest classy influence and style. 1930’s black and white films are some of the most fondly remembered, imitated, quoted, and based on for that specific reason. I also personally feel that this could also extend back to some of the films in the 1920’s, particularly the silent black and white films.
4) What are some of your personal favorite “classy” films and why?
Ashley: Rear Window. Hands down, it has Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart. What a beautiful and dynamic duo as human beings they were classy as hell and in these parts they exude success and retro elitism. Wearing designer gowns having dinner from Twenty-One brought to your home. Having your photos on the cover of ultra well-known magazines. It’s all very beautiful and intriguing, thank you Alfred Hitchcock.
Michael: Such a hard question especially as I consider myself a major film connoisseur and have lots of films I would recommend. My favorite films come and go with what I’m watching at the time or where my mind is. My current favorite film that I would consider “classy” is called “Blue” by Derek Jarman. Essentially, it’s 90 minutes of a filmmaker pondering his deteriorating health from the onset of AIDS and the only visual is a screen of pure blue like a blue screen of death on a computer screen without text. It sounds dreadfully dull but its actually FASCINATING where the director goes with it and what perspectives it takes. It’s like going in to another world with an crazy man on his death bed and its so utterly unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I do plan on doing a full review of this when I get there. I also personally love “This is Not a Film”, the black and white Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone, Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado about Nothing’, and the old 1960’s “Ocean’s Eleven” with Frank Sinatra. One that I do want to see soon is “The Artist” at some point as well.
For our restaurant this month, we chose and went to “The Wild Rose” out in South Jordan, Utah. While not uptown necessarily or in the city as it is a little bit out there compared to some of the other restaurants we’ve been to, this definitely has a classy feel of being out in the country at a vineyard in nice clothing before or after an outing in the countryside which I really like about it. The food was very good with much more of an emphasis on the natural and the countryside with grilled salmon topped with pine nuts, assorted cheeses with many different fine wines, and a lot of different greens and touches here and there that really define what it is as a classy place and I really admire it for that. Definitely a place to check out further if you are able to find it.
And that’s all we have for this month. Happy end of Spring and beginning of summer and we will see you, our dear readers in June! From your Dashing Gentleman and 5th Avenue Woman, until next time, ~Geronimo!!