Wednesday, April 1, 2020

CMBA Profile: The Wonderful World of Cinema

CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with  Virginie Pronovost who blogs at The Wonderful World of Cinema.  Virginie loves comedy and recently completed a marathon series of posts on the "Carry On" series.  

What sparked your interest in Movies?

My interest in movies, and especially classics, is all a question of curiosity. If I remember correctly, the first truly old movie I saw and loved was Chaplin's Modern Times. I was 14 at the time, but I didn't get to truly explore classic films until I was 15, I would say. Nevertheless, during summer 2009 (so, when I was 14), I was traveling in Europe with my parents and, as we were in Turin, we went to the Museum of Cinema, which absolutely mesmerized me and piqued my curiosity even more.  Then, I got to discover more classics thanks to this TV channel in Quebec that broadcasts films (classics or not) at 9 pm. As a teen, I came across a few of them that made me stay on the couch instead of going away and made me realize "classics are actually good"! So, aside from Modern Times, the films that started my interest for classic films were Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and High Noon, that I discovered with this TV channel. And there was The Birds, which was a recommendation from my father (and it was unlike anything I had seen before). The last step of that discovery came with a book on movie stars, classic and modern, that I decided to buy although I had no idea whom most of them were. I bought it because I loved the pictures. I would then read that book about twice a day and would show it to everybody (I was rather proud of it!). Naturally, films' titles were mentioned, so that was a good source to know what to watch next. Now my to-watch list is way too long, and I doubt I'll have enough of a lifetime to see everything.

What film genre(s) do you favor?

Comedy is my to-go genre, and more precisely screwball comedies and classic British comedies. They are not only a great form of escapism, but they can be pretty clever as well. And as Chaplin said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted". I agree. Other than that, I have that strong passion for Hitchcockian films (I guess it can almost be considered a genre it itself) and film noir. I know noir is not a genre per se (well, there's a lot of debate around that), but I guess you get the point!

Do You Have a Favorite Film, actor and actress and would You Tell Us Why?

Yes, of course! My favourite film is Some Like It Hot. As I said previously, I always favour a good laugh, and this is the perfect film for that. Plus, the whole cast is terrific as well as the screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. My favourite actor is James Stewart. Is it possible not to like James Stewart? Despite often being labelled as the "regular guy", he had an incredible range and was very versatile. And in terms of actresses, there are three at my #1 position: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman. Those ladies were not only tremendously talented but they also never cease to inspire me.

Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?

It's not necessarily films that I hate because "hate" is pretty extreme, but let just say they didn't reach my interests as expected:
- To Each His Own: I totally lost my concentration while watching this film. I don't even remember what the story was about. Too bad considering it was Olivia de Havilland's first Oscar-winning role.
- Double Indemnity: Don't kill me! I know this is an essential noir, but I've tried, more than once, and it just doesn't work for me. I'm not a fan of Fred MacMurray, so I guess it doesn't help and the two main characters played by him and Stanwyck mostly irritate me. But, normally, I love pretty much anything done by Billy Wilder.
- The Wizard of Oz: I don't think it's a bad film, of course, and it's definitely one of the most important classics, but I watched it once, and I think it's enough. Maybe the fact that I watched it in my 20s and not as a child didn't help because I found it a bit too childish and sometimes grotesque. Sorry!

You recently completed a series of on the classic “Carry On” series. Can you tell us what attracted you to this?

 I heard of the Carry On films a few years ago after watching Please Turn Over, which is a sort of non-official Carry On (same producer, director, writer, many Carry On regulars, etc.). So, these were eventually added on my long watching list. I was eventually inspired by other bloggers to start my own blog series and, therefore, saw a good opportunity to finally explore that franchise. I'm a huge fan of British comedy, as I said before, so I couldn't have made a better choice. Someone told me recently that I should do a blog series on Ealing comedies. I'm seriously considering it!

What movies would you recommend to someone who “hates” classic films? 

Many Hitchcock films are pretty timeless and could be a good introduction to non-classic films viewers. I would go with something like Rear Window or Strangers On A Train. Some Like It Hot would also be a good introduction. I'm not saying that because it's my favourite film but because I've rarely encountered people who have seen it and haven’t liked it.

What do you find is the most rewarding thing about blogging?

So many things! Being part of a blogging community where people support each other's work is one of them, developing my writing skills, feeling that my work is valued, etc.

Do you have an interest in any other arts that you can share?

I live for the arts! Music is one of them, listening and performing (I play the piano). I also love painting, especially artwork by René Magritte and Fernand Léger; vintage fashion photography by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon or Horst P. Horst, and dance (once again, watching and performing).

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