Some of the more fantastic portfolios brought to us by VF!
WEST SIDE STORY REVISITED - 2009
BORN TO IT
With this pose Jennifer Lopez captures the essence of Anita, the defiant Latina immigrant. Rita Moreno won an Oscar for her Anita in the film version—and would go on to win an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony in a show-business maneuver so rare that it is now referred to as “the Moreno sweep.” While Lopez’s mantel isn’t quite that full, she is equally at ease on-screen, in the recording studio, and onstage.
The Sharks and the Jets mark out a piece of urban turf while simultaneously expressing the joy of being young, vigorous, and able to kick ass. As Bernardo, in red, Rodrigo Santoro (Behind the Sun) leads fellow Sharks played by Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder) and Jay Hernandez (Grindhouse, Hostel, Ladder 49). The Jets’ leader, Riff, in yellow, is played by Chris Evans, equally hot-headed in the role of the Torch in the Fantastic Four movies. Rounding out his crew are Cam Gigandet (The O.C., Twilight), Drake Bell (yes, the Drake, of Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh), and Robert Pattinson (Edward in Twilight, Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). They are not fully visible but they don’t mind, because they know the maxim, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”
THE DRESS SHOP
Bernardo (Rodrigo Santoro), is focused on his girlfriend, Anita (Jennifer Lopez), whose far-off gaze suggests she dreams of moving beyond the confines of the seamstress’s life. Bernardo’s little sister—the heroine of the film’s Romeo-and-Juliet drama—is Maria, here brought back to life by ingenue Camilla Belle, who played a fetching cavewoman in the would-be international blockbuster 10,000 B.C. Maria’s initial disappointment with the white dress sewn for her by Anita soon gives way to anticipation as she realizes the dress will cause her to stand out at the dance, where trouble shall begin in earnest.
Between Maria (Camilla Belle, far left) and Tony (Ben Barnes, far right, also known as Prince Caspian), it is dancing, dancing, dancing. Latin steps predominate on the left, as the Sharks and their ladies give America a taste of the culture to come. On the right, we have a series of funky Anglo moves, as the Jets and their gals go rhythmically at it. On either side, our two tragic protagonists have eyes only for each other. The lead Sharks dancers are Anita (J.Lo, in an incredible pose) and Bernardo (Rodrigo Santoro). The Jet girl dancing with Riff (Chris Evans) is played by Ashley Tisdale (of High School Musical fame). Rounding out the Sharks, left to right: Minka Kelly (she’s Lyla on Friday Night Lights), Jay Hernandez, Natalie Martinez (Death Race), Brandon T. Jackson, Melonie Diaz (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints). On the Jets’ side: Sean Faris (Never Back Down), Shane Lynch (she’s gonna be big), Robert Pattinson, Cam Gigandet, Trilby Glover (88 Minutes), Brittany Snow (Hairspray), Drake Bell.
Before West Side Story takes its tragic turn, Anita (Jennifer Lopez, amazing in purple) drives the film’s most effervescent and sexually charged scene: the rocking rooftop song-and-dance sequence set to “America.” The lyrics, by a young Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, etc.), give Anita all the ammunition she needs to top the verbal thrusts and parries delivered by Bernardo (Rodrigo Santoro, to the left of J.Lo) and his band of toughs. From left to right: Jay Hernandez, Brandon T. Jackson, Sean Faris, Shane Lynch, Melonie Diaz, Minka Kelly, Natalie Martinez.
Tony (Ben Barnes) is trying to leave behind his old street-fighting ways … which is tough for him to pull off, now that he has fallen in love with Maria (Camilla Belle), who happens to be the sister of top Shark Bernardo. But tonight is a night for a serenade. A fire escape takes the place of a Veronese balcony, but the underlying emotions that have brought Tony and Maria out of their enemy camps are the same ones that fired Romeo and Juliet, not to mention James Carville and Mary Matalin.
THE KNIVES COME OUT
At Tony’s urging, the Sharks and the Jets agree to an old-fashioned street fight, no weapons. But on a night so charged, it’s inevitable the knives will come out. Shark leader Bernardo (Rodrigo Santoro) delivers the fatal blow to Jets kingpin Riff (Chris Evans) as helpless Tony (Ben Barnes) bears witness. By the end of the scene, Bernardo is on the pavement, killed by Tony. And so the musical’s male romantic lead is now a killer, which is part of what makes West Side Story revolutionary.
After a Shark flunky named Chino rubs out Tony, Maria (Camilla Belle) mourns alone at the grim murder scene, in the film’s final image.
HITCHCOCK CLASSICS - 2008
Dial M for Murder, 1954
Charlize Theron. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
The scene in which Charles Alexander Swann (Dawson) attempts to strangle Margot Mary Wendice (Kelly), only to be himself stabbed with a pair of scissors, caused Hitchcock great anxiety. Although the entire film was shot in just 36 days, this single scene required a full week of rehearsals and multiple takes to get the choreography and timing right.
Rear Window, 1954
Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
The film has been called a superb commentary on watching films, on loneliness, and on obsession, as well as a sharp critique of the male psyche. But at its essence, Rear Window is a paean to old-fashioned snooping. “Sure he’s a snooper, but aren’t we all?” said Hitchcock. “I’ll bet you that nine out of ten people, if they see a woman across the courtyard undressing for bed, or even a man puttering around in his room, will stay and look; no one turns away and says, ‘It’s none of my business.’ ”
Naomi Watts. Photograph by Julian Broad.
It seemed to many on the set that Hitchcock was concerned less with the production of Marnie than with his efforts to woo its star. He sent champagne to her dressing room every day, and freely confessed his love. After Hedren finally rejected him, he dropped her, and refused ever to utter her name again. Did we mention that Marnie is a psychodrama about frigidity?
Keira Knightley and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Photograph by Julian Broad.
Rebecca was the first film Hitchcock made after producer David O. Selznick lured him to Hollywood with promises of a large budget and a high salary. Hitchcock proposed several alterations to the ghost story, adding elements of irony and dark humor. Selznick demanded a re-write faithful to the novel. Although Hitchcock later dismissed the film as “not a Hitchcock picture,” it was one of his most successful, and the only one to win best picture at the Academy Awards.
Strangers on a Train, 1951
Emile Hirsch and James McAvoy. Photograph by Art Streiber.
Hitchcock may have exaggerated when he called “the ineffectiveness of the two main actors” one of the film’s main flaws, but had Guy (Granger) been played by a stronger figure (Hitchcock’s first choice was William Holden), he might have been more sympathetic as a hero. It’s hard not to root for the villain (Walker), especially when he has his hands around the neck of Guy’s fat, loathsome, unfaithful wife, and begins to squeeze. Then again, that may have been Hitchcock’s intent all along.
Renée Zellweger. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
Hitchcock’s blackhearted valentine to San Francisco is perhaps his most fully realized portrayal of the themes that haunted his films—obsession, paranoia, the transference of guilt, spurned love. And, of course, necrophilia: “I was intrigued by the hero’s attempts to re-create the image of a dead woman through another one who’s alive,” said Hitchcock when asked to describe the plot.
To Catch a Thief, 1955
Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
Grace Kelly was the quintessential cold Hitchcock blonde. Hitchcock called her sexual appeal “indirect.” “Sex should not be advertised,” Hitchcock said. “An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man’s pants open.”
From left: Tang Wei, Josh Brolin, Casey Affleck, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Foster, Omar Metwally, and Julie Christie. Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Lifeboat presented a difficult challenge to Hitchcock’s determination to appear in a single shot in each of his films. “I thought of being a dead body floating past the lifeboat, but I was afraid I’d sink,” he said. Hitchcock was sincerely worried about his weight at the time, and had undertaken a strenuous diet. His solution to the cameo problem: he appeared in a newspaper read by one of the boat’s passengers, photographed before and after his diet in an advertisement for a fictional weight-loss drug.
The Birds, 1963
Jodie Foster. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
Hitchcock said he made the film in order to “scare the hell out of people,” but Hedren may have been more scared than any audience member. During the filming of the movie’s climactic bird-attack scene, Hitchcock put Hedren in a giant cage and had two men throw live birds at her face. He shot the scene all day long, every day, for an entire week. It was only when she suffered a gash underneath one of her eyes that filming was stopped. “Really the worst week of my life,” said Hedren.
North by Northwest, 1959
Seth Rogen. Photograph by Art Streiber.
The idea for the famous cornfield scene came about when Hitchcock determined to reverse, as dramatically as possible, the clichéd movie trope in which a man is forced to run for his life from some sinister force. “How is this usually done?” asked Hitchcock. “A dark night at a narrow intersection of the city. The waiting victim standing in a pool of light under the street lamp. The cobbles are ‘washed with the recent rains.’?” So Hitchcock instructed his production designer to put his hero in a wide-open expanse in which he couldn’t hide—a completely flat cornfield in the middle of nowhere.
Marion Cotillard. Photograph by Mark Seliger.
A lot is made of the influence on Hitchcock’s films of his father, “a rather nervous man” who once locked his six-year-old son in a local jail for misbehavior. Less is known about Hitchcock’s mother. We do know that they had a close relationship; so close, in fact, that she accompanied him on holidays with his wife. Older women in Hitchcock’s films are rarely treated with kindness, however, and tend to be scolding, obnoxious, doddering. But it was not until Psycho that a mother was treated as a homicidal maniac, even if by proxy.
BRIGHT YOUNG HOLLYWOOD - 2008
Amanda Seyfried, Emma Roberts, Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart
Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zoe Kravitz, Emma Stone, Olivia Thirlby
The Cast of Gossip Girl: Jessica Szohr, Penn Badgley, Blake Lively, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester, Taylor Momsen
Jay Baruchel and Kat Dennings
The Jonas Brothers: Kevin, Nick, Joe
Rob Brown, Michael Angarano, Summer Bishil, Hunter Parrish, Josh Peck.
Rachael Taylor, Jonah Hill, Amber Heard