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Monday, May 01, 2006

Gretchen Shines as Bettie Page

Okay, this busy gal finally got to see The Notorious Bettie Page last night. I give it a big clits up! (Clits up is Susie Bright's phrase, but I don't think she's ever used it in this Roger Ebert-type context...)

I've been a Bettie Page fan for many years, and have read snippets about her life here and there. I've tended to stay away from the biographical books, partly because I didn't trust the sensationalism, and partly because I like the pedestal I've put her on. Has she been violent? My gut says no, Bettie denies it, and I'm on her side.

The Notorious Bettie Page covers her rise to fame, up to her exit while still at the top of her game. The movie is clever, intelligent, nicely photographed, well acted, and avoids obvious exploitative pitfalls. Gretchen Mol is luminous, playful, and nuanced. She is beautiful and a lovely choice for a Bettie portrayal.

I can go on and on about all sorts of points about the movie.... but I'm on a kinky sex blog and I'm sure y'all are wondering about the kinky themes. It is apparent to me that the makers of this movie- from the writing to the directing and acting- practiced respect and an open mind when tackling the topics of pornography laws and fears about kink and BDSM. Bravo!

Irving and his sister Paula Klaw (Lili Taylor rocked as usual with her subtle performance) were portrayed as sweet, reasonable business people who sought to fulfil a need- that need being kinky photographs. The consumers of these photos were varied- lonely, eccentric, intelligent and cultured. Bettie put on these costumes of leather and high heels and played like a bouncy kitten with her co-stars. I giggled out loud when I saw her pout and shake her finger and pretend to spank the lovely ladies. She was no natural dom, but she sure provided a lot of pleasure for those who loved the dom photos.

I also loved the movie's portrayal of the photographer Bunny Yeager and her work. I am a huge fan. The leopard photos are my favorite. I love all the models Bunny captured in her shots. I adore the homemade bathing suits and all the spectacular ocean-side shots.

And I am always a sucker for a pro-nudity, no shame message. Even after her religious conversion, this movie made it clear that Bettie had no regrets about showing off her gorgeous birthday suit. It is always refreshing to hear that message.


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