With everything going digital there’s something about Vanity Fair Hollywood issue that makes it a necessary purchase. Every February I wait in anticipation for that tri-fold cover, wondering which icons and newcomers will grace the cover. This year’s selection did not disappoint. Many of my favorite actresses are glitzed and glammed including Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara, Paula Patton, Mia Wasikowska, and Elizabeth Olsen.
This year I have to say the cover belongs to the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain and the surprising Shailene Woodley. Chastain embodies that Old Hollywood glamour while standing out from the rest with her flaming red tresses. Her slight smirk reminds me of the pin-ups. Woodley steals the other panels. I hardly recognized “The Descendants” star in her starlet finery. Her train takes up much of the frame, almost as if she’s ascending out of a pink cloud. Woodley seems to be standing in her personal spotlight demanding your attention.
The magazine is full of wonderful Hollywood substance and puffery. I particularly enjoyed S.L. Price’s profile of the making and influence of Barry Levinson’s “Diner.” The piece convincingly argues Levinson’s film about Baltimore bros inspired writers to think differently about dialogue and make movies that sounded more like how people actually talk. Price finds traces of “Diner” in TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “Entourage” and the movies “Reservoir Dogs”, “Swingers”, and everything by Judd Apatow. Making a movie about guys talking to each other about nothing was novel then, but connected with so many artists. Price included funny antidotes from filming, including Mickey Rourke giving Steve Gutenberg acting advice (stop wanking off to be in constant tension).
Judd Apatow also gets mentioned in James Wolcott’s piece on male nudity in cinema. Apparently, Apatow vowed to show a penis in every one of his films after test audiences shrieked at a visible member in “Walk Hard.” Wolcott waxes lyrically on Michael Fassbender’s anatomy and unpacks why male full frontal isn’t often shown on screen. He makes just about every penis pun known to man, while making me feel the tiniest bit sorry for the guys.
Tucked away is a wonderful little piece on Angelica Huston and her role as matriarch to a whole new clan of Huston talent. I’m excited to see her in a new role in “Smash” and audibly gasped when I read she’s the aunt of Jack Huston; the laconic and brilliant Richard on “Boardwalk Empire.” No wonder he’s so talented, he’s got genius genes.
I salute you Hollywood issue, the highlight of my magazine loving year.