Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Styling an Icon

Behind the Scenes of Angelina Jolie’s September 2017 Vanity Fair Cover Shoot

“This is a proper icon claiming her place in the firmament of Hollywood.”

Whether rolling up her sleeves behind the scenes and calling the shots from the director’s chair or stepping into the spotlight as a leading lady, Angelina Jolie is constantly playing different roles. So it was natural that her chameleonic persona came into play in Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott’s cover shoot for the September 2017 issue of Vanity Fair, which finds the 42-year-old in her element on a backlot in Burbank, California.
“It was really all about the idea that she’s not one thing—she’s not a director, she’s not a humanitarian, she’s not a mother, she’s not an actress,” says V.F. fashion and style director Jessica Diehl, who styled Jolie for her cover appearance. “She’s all things, all at once. And she’s not really defined by one more than the other.”

The portfolio cements Jolie’s status as a modern-day Hollywood Renaissance woman. One shot finds her channeling her inner femme fatale against a spooky, twilight sky, wearing nothing but luxurious, black leather Sermoneta gloves as a delicate cobweb of black lace drapes across her face; in another, she eyes the camera head on, beaming with preternatural confidence and dressed à la Katharine Hepburn in Alexander Olch suspenders, a bespoke white shirt by Emma Willis, Ralph Lauren pants, and Parlanti riding boots.
An equally striking shot opens the portfolio, with Jolie posed as an elegant cinematic swan, wearing a wide-brimmed hat by relatively little-known Georgian designer Djaba Diassamidze and a shimmering choker by Tiffany & Co. Of her choice to include a major millinery moment, Diehl notes, “There’s not that many people making hats. Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones, and Albertus Swanepoel come to mind. But that specific shape that would allow a little light through the weaving was really important, and [Diassamidze] happened to have done it.”

Reference points ranged from classic film noir stills to snapshots of the most glamorous actresses of all time. Most important to Diehl, though, as it is for each Vanity Fair shoot she styles, was conjuring a perennial appeal. “That’s always the challenge for us. Whether or not it’s a style issue is irrelevant. I still don’t want to look at those images and go, ‘Oh, that was fall/winter 2017,’” she explains. “I think it’s important for the images we have in this magazine to—sure—reflect the times, but to sit just a little outside of true fashion pictures.”
Even a shot that features a decidedly of-the-moment designer like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele—whose irreverently playful dress strewn with black sequined ribbons Diehl paired with a jade-green Charvet headscarf and Cartier earrings—maintains a timeless quality befitting a woman with true staying power in a notoriously fickle industry.
Diehl was pleased to encounter an eager and active collaborator in Jolie, whose keen director’s eye rendered each shot distinctly her own. “Angelina’s very engaged,” Diehl says, calling Jolie’s instincts “very spot on.” “It’s not like she shows up on the day and that’s really the first time you talk about it all. She’s involved from the word go. And that’s what actually made it really, really fun.”

Setting the shoot at Warner Bros. Studios (on the same stage where Casablanca was filmed, no less) tied the concept together—and even led to some unexpected moments of backstage magic. As Vanity Fair photography editor Cate Sturgess, who produced the shoot, reveals, “Mert [Alas] even tried on one of the extra’s costumes at one point, making his cameo as an astronaut.”
Having also worked with Jolie for her star turns on V.F.’s October 2011 and December 2014 covers, Diehl found it refreshing to watch Jolie fully embrace the mantle of Hollywood icon this time around. “I think it was important and fun for her to reacquaint herself with that side of herself, without the sort of early, young woman angst around Hollywood,” she says. “This is much more a proper icon claiming her place in the firmament of Hollywood.”

Random Fuzzy

-- Angelina has always been very open but here, since they're not out of it yet and were not close to it at the time, as the writer noted she spoke cryptically.   The VF interview took place 6 weeks ago since they left for Africa June 17.  "we’re just kind of coming up for air. "  They would have made even more progress since esp. after flying back together from Nice two weeks later on a private plane  -- the exact same flight they took last Sept.

-- She didn't want to use the word "bad" -- she preferred to say that "things got difficult"  -- in the summer of 2016 or the months immediately preceding their plane ride back in September.   In his GQ interview Brad said, "But even this last year, you know—things I wasn't dealing with. I was boozing too much. It's just become a problem."

-  "We care for each other and care about our family and we are both working towards the same goal."

She avoided using the word "love" but it is implicit in how she phrased what she said.  It would have been different if she had said we care for each other and love our children.  The feelings they have for each other and their family are the same.   

Our family -- one unit, intact.

The "goal" that she couldn't say outright is obviously to get their normal, happy family life back.  The "joy" that Brad was dreaming of.

-  "I'm putting my family first, and I'm in charge of my life and my health. "

My family not just my children.

-- “We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing . . . They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some . . . from life, from things in life.”

Again, choosing her words carefully to emphasize that events led to the filing.   Which is very different from saying events led to the decision to divorce.  There was no decision to divorce as an end goal but a decision and a need for the filing while Child Services had a Child Safety Plan in effect and the children needed time to recover.  They are not healing from divorce because theirs is not a real divorce situation and their time apart was temporary and needed by the children themselves.

-- As with Brad's GQ  interview there is no mention of the children's trauma, no mention of the therapeutic process they needed to undergo.

--  "I had to do a therapy meeting last night"

Given the level of trauma the children experienced and it's effect on their relationship with Brad they likely find therapy and family therapy sessions a useful exercise for managing all issues -- probably for the foreseeable future.

Her protectiveness over the kids has become all that more fierce

-- All this, the secrecy, the current divorce narrative, is mainly about protecting the kids by shifting attention away from them and the "events that led to the filing."  But she is also protecting Brad.   "In times they needed to be.... from things in life -- without giving so much as a hint that they needed to be brave and are healing from things he did, the consequences of his boozing.  She made no reference to any of the problems he admitted to having.

-- "Jolie has no interest in working on another film at this particular moment"

 Not then, but now she is.  Which gives us a further hint that they are close to getting out of this.

-- Some obvious questions surrounding the DeMille:

She explains the deal with the big empty mansion....the living room, which a set-decorator friend furnished on the fly, with two creamy-white sofas and some big throw pillows. ...” Decorating, house stuff, “that was always Brad’s thing.”

She's not into decorating but she did not retain any of the previous owner's furniture -- just the lawn furniture.  They're using former set decorations for the time being.  Which suggests that Brad will be busy redecorating the DeMille and they just wanted things temporarily that they could easily return.

"She needed a good place fast, somewhere secluded, with a lot of rooms; "

There are many homes listed in Beverly Hills and Bel Air that fit the bill and would not have been considered overpriced at $24.5M the way the DeMille was.  After nine months in rentals, she suddenly needed this particular house quickly.

"[This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”

The DeMille evidently plays a big role in the healing process.  Part of their effort to do their best for us and our family.

Her carefully worded statements are consistently inclusive.  Designed and intended to subtly include Brad.

-- Perhaps by the time the Harpers Bazaar spread appears they will be out of it and we can get more complete answers.  That interview would have to cover new ground.

-- Fussy

The interview took place June 16, the day before they left for Africa.

There’s the Angelina Jolie who’s now a single mother—managing the day-to-day chaos of six kids, and the trauma of her split from Brad Pitt—and there’s the Angelina Jolie whose latest movie, a groundbreaking Netflix original about Cambodia’s genocide, is also a thank-you to the nation that transformed her. At her new L.A. mansion, Jolie reveals the tension between the two Angelinas and the reason her life will never be normal.

Evgenia Peretz

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

Like most things involving Angelina Jolie, stepping foot into her house is an experience so heightened one wonders if it’s for real or the product of careful orchestration. The large gates to her recently purchased Los Feliz house—an 11,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts mansion once owned by the epic filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille—slowly swing open, revealing rolling lawns, lush trees at the perimeter. No one’s there, and all is quiet except for the delicate sound of fountains, arched in a row over a swimming pool. A number of doors to the house are open, as if posing some riddle from a fairy tale—which one to enter? Inside, the vibe is airy and calm: all open windows and cross-breezes, creamy-white unlit candles, soft creamy-white furnishings. Finally she emerges from the other side of the house and glides across the room in a creamy-white, floor-length caftan. Her hair is down, her feet bare, only a touch of makeup, her skin luminous. She smiles widely—a beneficent, ethereal wood nymph.
But as soon as she starts speaking, you realize that your preconceived notions about Jolie aren’t quite right. She’s not a celestial goddess. She’s not the high-and-mighty do-gooder. She’s not the intense control freak—or at least not obviously so. She comes across, rather, as normal-person friendly and practical, even chitchatty. She explains the deal with the big empty mansion. She moved into this space just four days ago with her six kids. It wasn’t for the prestigious history or the architecture. She needed a good place fast, somewhere secluded, with a lot of rooms; this one, which was listed for around $25 million, has six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Following her September 2016 filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, she and her children spent nine months in a rental, basically living out of suitcases. And so she hasn’t really unpacked, barely knows her way around the place, has never had a real visitor, and isn’t sure where the best spot is to sit and talk. With that in question, she roams from room to room—the fabulous kitchen, worthy of a Nancy Meyers movie, charming gray library with a library ladder (her favorite room in the house), the generous landing at the foot of a sweeping staircase, anchored by a round table with a bouquet of white flowers. She finally settles on the living room, which a set-decorator friend furnished on the fly, with two creamy-white sofas and some big throw pillows. She looks at them curiously. “I didn’t even know I needed ‘throw pillows.’ ” Decorating, house stuff, “that was always Brad’s thing.” On cue, as if taunting her, Jolie’s large Rottweiler, Dusty, soaking from a trip to the pool, jumps onto the sofa, soiling it. She sighs, amused, half tries to wipe it off with her bare hand, then gives up and sits somewhere else.

Life in her household is apparently like this—messy, relaxed, normal. The kids are polite but not phony polite. Zahara, 12, whom Jolie describes as “the rock” of the family, comes downstairs. “Zaz!” Jolie cries, midsentence. They discuss the whereabouts of everyone else. Zahara hugs the wet dog. Jolie laughs and tells her daughter about the swim Dusty just took. We move to the kitchen, where Jolie fixes herself a cup of tea. Vivienne, nine, comes in with a friend, having just been at a sleepover. She’s wearing a jean backpack covered with pins. Jolie envelops her in her arms. I ask the girl if she’s called “Viv” or “Vivienne.” “Either one!” she says with a smile. She dumps her stuff on the counter and goes out to play with her friend. Jolie picks up a small piece of a blanket, shredded to death, and explains, laughing, “She has 32 blankets. She is very into her blanket, and she gets very mad if you wash her blanket. She actually said to me the other day, ‘Mom, I can taste my blanket.’ ‘That, honey, is a sign that it really, really needs to be washed.’ ”
Jolie tidies up Vivienne’s things and promptly spills her entire mug of tea all over the counter. We step outside and there’s Shiloh, 11, and Knox, 9, hanging out. Shiloh, who likes to dress like a boy, is wearing a camouflage jacket, long shorts, and heavy black sneakers, despite the blazing heat. Knox immediately wants to know when Jolie’s going to put up the waterslide. “How about a ‘Hello, Mom’?” she says, with a hug, sounding like just about every other loving, exasperated mother in America. So far, there’s only one piece of personal artwork up—a black-and-white photograph on the mantelpiece of the six children, smiling and holding their various pets—dogs, reptiles, and rodents.

Jolie and Pitt, who’d been together for 12 years and appeared to be the most gloriously evolved couple in Hollywood, split last September. She filed for divorce suddenly “for the health of the family,” according to her lawyer, and announced she was seeking sole custody of the children, three of whom are adopted (Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, and Zahara), three of whom are biological (Shiloh, Vivienne, and Knox). Things had been rocky for some time, but the last straw was a dramatic trip on a private plane, where there was reportedly a physical and verbal altercation between Pitt and Maddox. When they touched down, Jolie went home with the kids, effectively kicking him out. This was no “Conscious Uncoupling.” An anonymous phone call was made to authorities. The F.B.I. and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services began investigating Pitt for child abuse. He was soon cleared and later said in an interview with GQ Style that he was smarting from the pain of his suddenly broken family and admitted he had a serious drinking problem.

There were rumors he was having an affair with Marion Cotillard (denied by both Pitt and Cotillard). Jolie got the early jump P.R.-wise. But Pitt won hearts and minds with the mea culpa in GQ Style. The two are still negotiating the terms of their divorce.
As for Jolie, a life already bursting at the seams—with acting, directing, humanitarian work, parenting six kids, and guest-lecturing on women’s rights at the London School of Economics—just got exponentially bigger and more complicated, because she’s now doing it alone. There’s the chaos surrounding the practical day-to-day—playdates, doctors’ appointments, packing and unpacking, and organizing mealtimes. And there’s the deeper, emotional chaos. “It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air. [This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”
As it happens, the personal trauma has coincided with her most personal film yet. Jolie has directed a moving, large-scale adaptation of First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir of the Khmer Rouge genocide, in which Ung’s parents and two of her siblings perished, along with an estimated two million other Cambodians, a quarter of the country’s population. Shot entirely in Cambodia, and in the Khmer language, the film, a Netflix original, is the largest production the country has witnessed since the war, and according to the reports of several Cambodians who’ve seen it, it’s one of the most revelatory pieces of art about that chapter in the country’s history, a history that’s still difficult for Cambodians to discuss. But if Cambodians consider the film to be something of a gift, then it’s surely a thank-you gift. For Jolie, Cambodia is where she started her family, and it’s where she made a cathartic personal transformation, becoming the woman she is today.

Recall, if you can, the Angelina of the late 90s, the era of Angie Peak Crazy. Specializing in dark volatile characters that seemed extensions of her wild-child restless self, Jolie won three Golden Globes for her roles in television movies and a best- supporting-actress Oscar for her portrayal of a young woman with apparent borderline personality disorder in Girl, Interrupted. She talked freely about having dabbled in heroin and self-cutting, and her love of knives. She and new husband Billy Bob Thornton wore each other’s dried blood in pendants around their necks, and publicly bragged about their wild sex. At the 2000 Oscar ceremony, she talked provocatively about being “so in love . . . right now” with her brother, James, and kissed him with unsettling intimacy. To be sure, Jolie had legitimate pain in her early life—her father, actor Jon Voight, had been unfaithful to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, and the two split up early on. But it was First World pain. Being Hollywood’s newest “It girl” landed Jolie the title role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, based on a popular video game. As it happened, the movie, an example of Hollywood’s most vacuous, commercial, shoot-’em-up instincts, was filmed on location in Cambodia. There, Jolie, who’d grown up in privileged bubbles in Los Angeles and New York, witnessed what real suffering looked like: poverty, the loss of limbs from land mines, a generation of relatives wiped out. In this world there was no room for free-floating malaise or self-indulgent antics. And in spite of their profound trials, “I found a people who were so kind and warm and open, and, yes, very complex,” recalls Jolie. “You drive around here you can see a lot of people with many things, but not often expressing happiness. You go there, and you see the families come out with their blanket and their picnic to watch a sunset.”

She suddenly became curious about the world—starting with the country she was in. One day in Siem Reap, Cambodia, she picked up a book that was being sold on the side of the road for $2: Ung’s memoir. It was among the factors that inspired Jolie to find a greater purpose. In 2001, equipping herself with as much knowledge as she could, she contacted the United Nations and eventually became a goodwill ambassador for the High Commissioner for Refugees. On one of her first U.N. missions, in 2002, she returned to Cambodia to meet up with NGO workers who were dealing with land-mine issues. Among them was Ung, the author of that transformative book, who had moved to America since the war but had spent her adult years working on Cambodia’s troubles. She had never seen an Angelina Jolie movie, but Jolie certainly didn’t seem like anyone’s vision of a movie star. “She was just a really cool human being,” recalls Ung. “And she didn’t mind getting dirty.”

She and Jolie clicked and made a plan to travel together to a land-mine-filled part of Cambodia where Ung hadn’t been since the war. Thus began a sequence that sounds as though it must have been written for a movie—but it wasn’t. They met up with a bunch of de-miners, took off on mo-peds, with only a flashlight and some extra toilet paper as supplies, when a monsoon started. Soaked, they went to bed in hammocks. Before going to sleep, Jolie realized she already trusted Ung enough to ask her about something personal, something big she’d been thinking about—adopting a Cambodian orphan. “I asked her as a Cambodian orphan if she would be offended for somebody like me, an outsider, [to do that], or if that would be a nice thing,” recalls Jolie. Ung was wholeheartedly supportive. “Angie was maternal to everybody around her, not just children, but adults included. I wanted her to adopt me,” says Ung. “I was orphaned when I was eight years old, and so I think, when you’ve gone through experiences like that, there’s always a part of you that craves to have full parent figures in your life.” Jolie says that Ung’s enthusiasm for the idea of her adopting was a deciding factor. Had she responded differently, explains Jolie, “it might have changed my decision. It might have made it very hard for me.” Ung has been in Jolie’s life ever since and is now one of her few close friends.
Jolie immediately set the adoption process in motion. A couple of months later, she visited an orphanage in the provincial town of Battambang, having promised herself that she’d go only to one, that she wasn’t going to shop around. But Jolie felt uneasy as she wandered the rooms, meeting the children. “I didn’t feel a connection with any of them,” she recalls.

They then said, ‘There’s one more baby.’ ” Baby Maddox was lying in a box that was suspended from the ceiling. She looked at him. He looked at her. “I cried and cried,” she recalls.And thus began a 15-year project, in which Jolie rebranded herself, expanding her world, her family, her career, and her image. She bought a house in Cambodia and became a citizen. In 2003, she started what became the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, focusing on Cambodia’s environmental conservation, health, education, and infrastructure. She intensified her U.N. work, going on dozens of fact-finding missions, to such global hot spots as Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Haiti. (She’s now been on more than 60 missions.) She split from Thornton, who didn’t understand her newfound passion. She adopted her second child, Zahara, from Ethiopia.
In 2004 she met Pitt, on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, when he was still married to Jennifer Aniston. For Jolie, dating Pitt—Hollywood’s gorgeous, laid-back golden boy—catapulted her to another level of fame. Though she has maintained that they didn’t become romantically involved until he and Aniston had split, the couple wasted no time in exhibiting their romance for the pages of W, which did a 32-page spread of them playing house, with a pretend brood of five. Aniston was devastated. For Pitt, dating Jolie meant doing it her way, at least at the outset. It marked the beginning of his own philanthropic life—in Africa, Haiti, and New Orleans—and he formally adopted Maddox and Zahara. He persuaded Jolie to have biological children. She gave birth to Shiloh in 2006, in Namibia, then the twins, Vivienne and Knox, in 2008. In between they adopted Pax, then three, from Vietnam. They bought more homes—in France, Spain, New York, and New Orleans. While Pitt, as a producer and actor, churned out one prestige movie after another (Moonlight, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, 12 Years a Slave), Jolie took a new chance with directing—with In the Land of Blood and Honey, about Bosnia, a project inspired by some of the U.N. work she’d done there.
Together, they appeared unstoppable, the most creatively alive citizens on the planet. Nothing seemed beyond their abilities. They traipsed around the globe as a nomadic clan of eight, making art, doing good, and setting up home wherever they happened to be. They tied the knot in 2014, mainly because the kids wanted them to. They had the means to take along tutors for the children wherever they went. But Jolie’s idea of an education meant immersion in the real world, to bring an understanding of one’s “small part in the bigger picture.” For a time, it all worked beautifully.

It was 2012, and Jolie had recently finished In the Land of Blood and Honey. She wanted her next project to be just as meaningful, and Ung’s story had at this point been with her for a decade. By the time they had a completed draft, the chance for Jolie to direct Unbroken, based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, had come along, and they put the script aside. After that, Maddox, who knew “Auntie” Loung’s story, brought it up. “He was the one who said, ‘It’s time to do it,’ ” says Jolie. She knew that Maddox would be deeply involved in the production, that he’d be “standing there watching horrors that his countrymen did to each other. [So] he had to be ready.”
Jolie and Ung dived back in. Credited on the film as an executive producer, Maddox read draft after draft, giving comments. Jolie took it to Netflix, where chief creative officer Ted Sarandos signed on without hesitation. “In the room, she created a visual experience of what this film could be,” recalls Sarandos. “The film is in many ways about the death of beauty, about the way the Khmer Rouge had killed all things beautiful, color itself, which becomes part of the joy of life. . . . That’s what hooked me more than anything.”

Despite Jolie’s Cambodian ties, she felt she needed a Cambodian filmmaker to help shepherd the project. So she reached out to Rithy Panh, one of the most famous filmmakers in Cambodia, who had lost family members to the genocide and had chronicled the Khmer Rouge in several documentaries, including The Missing Picture, which was nominated for the best-foreign-language-film Academy Award in 2014.
She and Panh agreed that the only way this film could be made was if Cambodia wanted it to be—not a foregone conclusion, given that Cambodians are still somewhat reticent about their painful history. (The Killing Fields, Roland Joffé’s 1984 film about the Khmer Rouge, had to be filmed in Thailand and elsewhere.) The war tribunals, which were set in motion in 2009 and are ongoing, have helped open up the topic. Still, Jolie was trepidatious and approached the country’s culture ministers gingerly, explaining that they were telling not just Ung’s story but also the story of a people. Jolie’s Cambodian track record made the difference, says Ung. “In a country like Cambodia, respect is very much elevated—respect for each other, respect for the culture, respect for the history, respect for the elders. Angie walks in Cambodia with this respect.”
Cambodia went all in—closing off Battambang for days, giving the filmmakers permits to land in remote zones, providing them with 500 officials from their actual army to play the Khmer Rouge army. “It’s not a poetic thing to say—[this film] was made by the country,” says Jolie. Between cast and crew, some 3,500 Cambodians participated.

To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship. In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, the casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie. “Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie says. “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.” Jolie then tears up. “When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”

That authentic connection to pain was awakened in everyone involved, says Jolie, making for a film set like nothing she’d ever seen. “There wasn’t a person who was working on the movie who didn’t have a personal connection. They weren’t coming to do a job. They were walking in the exodus for the people whom they had lost in their family, and it was out of respect for them that they were going to re-create it . . . It completed something for them.” Some had flashbacks and nightmares. For this reason, a therapist was on set every day. And then there were the odd bystanders who hadn’t been aware that a movie was being made, and were traumatized. In one scene, recalls Jolie, “when the Khmer Rouge came over the bridge, we had a few people who really dropped to their knees and wailed. They were horrified to see them come back.”
Given the size and complexity of the production, a different Hollywood director might have, consciously or not, muscled in and flexed her power in a way that might have seemed boorish. According to Ung and Panh, Jolie knows Cambodia so well she’s internalized the country’s character traits. At lunch, she waited in line like everyone else, recalls Panh, and she never raised her voice. “Here we don’t shout. We talk,” he says. In Cambodia, yelling is not just disrespectful—it’s also considered a sign of weakness.

Many eyes were on Maddox, who is as famous in Cambodia as Jolie. “It was a way for him to walk in the steps that most likely his birth parents walked,” says Jolie, who wasn’t sure how he’d ultimately react to the experience. Would he connect? Would he want to flee? Jolie was thrilled one morning during the shoot when she heard Maddox say, “Can I go sleep in my house with my friends?,” referring to their house in the jungle, which she had bought back in 2002. “I hadn’t heard him refer to it that way. You can’t push it. You can’t say, ‘Isn’t this great?’ You just have to kind of keep bringing them there, putting it in front of them . . . and hope that they find the pride and find the comfort.” She considers the endeavor to connect Maddox to his homeland—as she does Zahara to Ethiopia and Pax to Vietnam—a family effort, not a solo one. With that in mind, while Pitt was in the Middle East working on War Machine, the other five kids also went to Cambodia and played a role, official or not, in their mother’s movie. Pax did still photography. The other four were on set every day and became close playmates with the child actors.
In February, the film premiered for an audience of 1,000 at the outdoor amphitheater near the temple complex of Angkor Wat. According to numerous reports, it was a screening filled with tears of recognition, remembrance, and catharsis. What moved Jolie perhaps more than anything was that “the Cambodian people had a big movie premiere. They saw a movie for which they made the sets. [It was] their actors doing a great job, their country looking beautiful even through all the horrors.”

Alas, while she was making film history for a country, her relationship with Pitt was suffering. By the time First They Killed My Father was in postproduction, in the summer of 2016, “things got bad,” says Jolie. “I didn’t want to use that word. . . . Things became ‘difficult.’ ” There has been Hollywood talk that their lifestyle had taken its toll on Pitt, and that he was craving a more stable, normal life for the whole family. When I bring this question up to her, it’s the one moment when Jolie becomes a bit defensive. “[Our lifestyle] was not in any way a negative,” she says quickly, adamantly. “That was not the problem. That is and will remain one of the wonderful opportunities we are able to give our children . . . They’re six very strong-minded, thoughtful, worldly individuals. I’m very proud of them.” Jolie has indicated that, for the sake of the kids, she doesn’t want to talk about the breakup. And yet it seems she wants to get her point across, which calls for a careful choice of words, something of a high-wire act. “They’ve been very brave. They were very brave.”
Brave when?
“In times they needed to be.” Other statements are similarly cryptic. “We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing . . . They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some . . . from life, from things in life.”
I mention Pitt’s mea culpa in GQ Style. Did it surprise her? “No,” she replies, looking unmoved. I refer to tabloid reports that suggest their communication has improved, and ask if that’s true. There’s a long pause. She looks down, formulates an answer. “We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal.” There’s anger and pain right there beneath the surface. But she’s trying to keep the emotions at bay. “I was very worried about my mother, growing up—a lot. I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”

OLIE’S JOURNEY Angelina Jolie, here with photographer Mert Alas (who tried on an astronaut costume), photographed at Warner Bros. Studio, in Burbank, California.

Her protectiveness over the kids has become all that more fierce due to her recent brushes with the specter of ovarian cancer; the disease took her mother’s life when she was just 56, as well as those of other family members. In a 2013 New York Times op-ed column, Jolie chronicled her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after she learned she had the BRCA1 gene. Two years later, while working in the editing room on By the Sea, she got a call from the doctor saying that he was concerned about certain levels in her blood work that potentially suggested cancer. “Ten minutes later, the room’s spinning, and you just think, How . . . ?” She kept the news from the kids, did further tests, and waited a few agonizing days. When she finally learned she didn’t have cancer, “I dropped to my knees.” She made an appointment to get her ovaries taken out. “I went into the actual surgery happy as they come. I was skipping. Because at that point it was just preventative.” She instantly went into menopause.
Last year, in addition to hypertension, Jolie developed Bell’s palsy, a result of damage to facial nerves, causing one side of her face to droop. “Sometimes women in families put themselves last,” she says, “until it manifests itself in their own health.” Jolie credits acupuncture for her full recovery from the condition.
Lately, her skin has become drier, she reports, and she has extra gray hairs. She quips, “I can’t tell if it’s menopause or if it’s just been the year I’ve had.” The idea that she could still be anyone’s idea of a sex symbol is laughable to her. But she says, “I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I’m being smart about my choices, and I’m putting my family first, and I’m in charge of my life and my health. I think that’s what makes a woman complete.”

Apart from promoting First They Killed My Father, on Netflix this month, Jolie has no interest in working on another film at this particular moment—her life just doesn’t have the space for it. Right now, “I’m just wanting to make the proper breakfast and keep the house. That’s my passion. At the request of my kids, I’m taking cooking classes. As I go to sleep at night, I think, Did I do a great job as a mom or was that an average day?” (But it is rumored she is negotiating to star in Bill Condon’s remake of the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein.)
She’s reconnected with her father, from whom she’d been estranged. “He’s been very good at understanding they needed their grandfather at this time. I had to do a therapy meeting last night and he was just around. He knows kind of the rule—don’t make them play with you. Just be a cool grandpa who’s creative, and hang out and tell stories and read a book in the library.”
Her main source of comfort has been Ung. “She’s that girlfriend who rolled up her sleeves, got on a plane, and helped me on Christmas morning,” says Jolie. “She’s been my closest friend. I cried on her shoulder.”

Tomorrow, Jolie and the kids are headed to Africa. They’re visiting Namibia, where Shiloh was born, and Kenya, where Jolie will be checking in with a project connected to the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, an organization she co-founded with British former foreign secretary William Hague. Specifically, members of the British military and peacekeepers will be receiving training in how to protect women from sexual violence in crisis zones. It’s not the obvious dream itinerary for a kid, and Jolie admits that she’s started to get a little pushback with the older ones. “I’m conscious that the boys are teenage boys, and maybe they’d rather be watching TV with their friends, and they’ve been to Africa, and they may not be as excited as the little ones. But they don’t really challenge me. They just kind of sit on the edge of my bed and say, ‘What are we going to do there?’ ” She assured them that she’d planned fun activities for them, like sandboarding. In any case, “they know that it’s important, and they know that Mom thinks that it’s going to be important when they’re older.”
She knows it sounds a little strange, but Jolie can’t help who she is. “I never woke up and thought, I really want to live a bold life. I just can’t do the other. It’s the same as I can’t make a casserole. I cannot sit still.” For all her earlier talk about being interested in keeping house, now, as the conversation turns to Africa, she’s champing at the bit, desperate to flee. “I’ve been trying for nine months to be really good at just being a homemaker and picking up dog poop and cleaning dishes and reading bedtime stories. And I’m getting better at all three. But now I need to get my boots on and go hang, take a trip.” She believes that her personal will is infectious. The other day she made some joke to Knox along the lines of “Pretend to be normal.” “He said, ‘Who wants to be normal? We’re not normal. Let’s never be normal.’ Thank you—yes! We’re not normal. Let’s embrace being not normal!”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Randon Fuzzy

-  The Breadwinner is having its World Premiere at TIFF but FTKMF is only having its Canadian Premiere at the festival.  That means it will be having its North American premiere earlier -- at Telluride.   FTKMF and The Breadwinner are only Special Presentations at TIFF so they will not be getting the full gala, big red carpet treatment. There will still be a red carpet, but it will be smaller.

TIFF runs from Sept. 7 to 17

Telluride Film Festival runs from Sept. 1 to 4 (slate is not announced before hand)

Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9  (announcement on Thursday, July 27)

- She will be going to two, maybe three festivals.  Telluride is a much more intimate affair and may be her preferred choice if she intends for the family to tag along with her to at least one.

-- Fussy


The Breadwinner | Nora Twomey, Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg
World Premiere

First They Killed My Father | Angelina Jolie, Cambodia
Canadian Premiere

Also of note: It appears that, unlike the Cannes controversy its inclusion ignited in May, Netflix is welcome at all the fall festivals. Mudbound, the streaming service’s Sundance pickup and awards hopeful from Dee Rees, is heading to TIFF, as is Angelina Jolie’s drama First They Killed My Father, which had its world premiere several months ago in Cambodia, where it was filmed. That film, by the way, is listed as a Canadian premiere, which means it likely will turn up first in Telluride (could a Jolie tribute also be in order there?). Of course, Venice has already announced the Jane Fonda-Robert Redford Our Souls at Night, another Netflix product.
Whether inclusion in these prestigious fall festivals helps ease Oscar voter prejudice against Netflix movies (other than docus) is an open question, but it certainly can’t hurt the streamer’s efforts to crack the Oscar race in a much bigger way than before. I was a little surprised not to see Netflix’s acclaimed Cannes competition entry The Meyerowitz Stories from Noah Baumbach not make today’s announcement for TIFF, but perhaps that one makes more sense for the New York Film Festival, where it would seem a certainty.

Brent Lang, Senior Film and Media Editor

Films by Joe Wright, Angelina Jolie, Darren Aronofsky, George Clooney, and Alexander Payne will hit the Toronto International Film Festival, hoping to build buzz as they head into a crowded awards season.
Jolie will be on hand with "First They Killed My Father,” a drama about the Cambodian genocide that she made for Netflix. Aronofsky will present “mother!,” a horror film he made with Jennifer Lawrence; Clooney will offer up “Suburbicon,” a Coen brothers’ scripted crime comedy; and Payne is presenting “Downsizing,” a satire in which Matt Damon will shrink to the size of a saltine cracker.
None of those films will get gala presentations, however. That’s either because they have previously stated that they will premiere at other film festivals“Downsizing” will bow at Venice, for instance — or they’re in line for a Telluride or Venice berth.
The gala section boasts Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” a biopic with a heavily padded Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill; Andy Serkis’ “Breathe,” a romantic drama with Andrew Garfield as disability rights advocate Robin Cavendish; and “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” a drama about Gloria Grahame’s last years with Annette Bening as the Oscar winner. Other films premiering at Toronto include “Kings,” a film about the L.A. riots with Daniel Craig, and “Stronger,” a Jake Gyllenhaal drama about a man who loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Mudbound,” a historical drama about a black and white family living in an impoverished section of the Deep South, debuted to raves and standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival. Despite already having a world premiere, it will be screened as part of the gala events.
The Canadian festival takes place between Sept. 7 to Sept. 17. It is seen as an essential stop for films hoping to score with Academy Awards voters, because it has a long track record of highlighting films that go on to awards glory. Previous Best Picture winners such as “Spotlight” and “Moonlight” have boosted their Oscar campaigns after enjoying a warm reception from Toronto crowds. Not every film benefits from a trip North, however. Last year, films such as “American Pastoral” and “Bleed For This” faded quickly after receiving middling reviews at the festival.
With summer winding down, only Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” has emerged as a surefire awards candidate. That means that Oscar-ologists will be dissecting Tuesday’s Toronto announcement as they try to game out what films have what it takes to pick up the big trophies this season.

Brad Pitt acts out scene for live Frank Ocean performance

The performance at FYF Fest in Los Angeles was reportedly filmed by Her and Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonze; he was also spotted filming Ocean’s performance at Lovebox festival in London, though no project has been officially announced.

Pitt is on record as a Frank Ocean fan. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Ocean. I find this young man so special,” he told GQ. “Talk about getting to the raw truth. He’s painfully honest. He’s very, very special.” Ocean returned the compliment by wearing a Brad Pitt T-shirt for his gig at Parklife festival in Manchester earlier this year.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Random Fuzzy

-  Directed and shot by Spike Jonze, this was a planned, rehearsed appearance.  

-  Per Pride&Joy, Ocean sang a similar version at another festival and he apparently modified the 1st line of the lyrics (below) for Brad -- from "I missed you" to "I wish. "

- Ocean's Close To You from his album "blonde" had slightly different lyrics and does not include any portion of Never Can Say Goodbye although it has an intro from Stevie Wonder's cover of the two songs.  This was Ocean's rendition of the Stevie Wonder cover.

- The lines "don't have much longer baby" and especially "you know I love you more and more" elicited the most animated and emotional "reaction" from Brad.  He smiled and mouthed some words with the former and he swooned with the latter -- leaning over, eyes closed with a passionate expression, nodding and mouthing agreement.  Again, he would have rehearsed this ahead of time and he knew and anticipated the lyrics.

- And Ad Astra reportedly starts production in L.A. Aug. 10,  5 days after Maddox's birthday on Aug. 5.

-- Fussy


Thanks to Pride&Joy

lyrics of what Ocean sang at another festival, with what was modified for Brad in FYF 2017

Intro: Just like me, they long to be close to you
Honey I missed you wish
I wasn’t devastated
But you could’ve
Held my hands through it baby
Let my mind
Run underneath warms jets, jet jets
I run my hands through what’s left
But we’re getting older baby
Don’t have much longer baby
Why am I preaching
To this choir, to this atheist?
But just like mine
Versions of these belong to you
And after while
For keeping me close to you
And that is why
I never can say goodbye, Oh no no I
Never can say goodbye
Even though the pain and heartache seems to
Follow me wherever I go
Try to hide the feelings but they
Always seem to show
You say "Turn around you fool
You know I love you more and more"
Tell me why is it so?
I don't wanna let you go
I never can say goodbye, no no no no no I
Never can say goodbye, ooh yeah yes
I never can say goodbye, no no no
I never can say goodbye, no
No no no no no
Never can, never, never can say, nev-nev-never can say
Never can say goodbye

timeout LA

Frank Ocean gets a little help from Brad Pitt on Saturday of FYF Fest 2017

Maybe Frank Ocean’s last-minute withdrawal from FYF Fest 2015 was for the better. Because here in 2017, Ocean has the stellar album Blonde under his belt back as well as the support of famous fan Brad Pitt—who, looking forlorn and talking on his phone, made a brief cameo as the Saturday night headliner performed “Close to You.”

While Pitt's appearance is just too bizarre to not consume every FYF headline, we shouldn't gloss over just how compelling Ocean's performance was. The stage extension and lo-fi visuals kept the massive performance intimate, while Ocean's strength and vulnerability as a singer complemented his increasingly personal—and superb—songwriting. 

A post shared by k r i s t e n (@krcool) on

Richard “Richie” Malchar


Film Productions

Posted: January 14, 2017 at 6:13 am EST
Updated: July 21, 2017 at 9:17 am EST

Title: Ad Astra
Category: Feature Film
Genre: Sci-Fi
Shoot Date: August 10, 2017
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Story: The film is about the slightly autistic space engineer Roy McBride. Twenty years after his father left on a one-way mission to Neptune in order to find signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence, McBride travels through the Solar System to find him and understand why his mission failed.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Hollywood Rethinks Key Movie Franchises Amid a Mixed Summer at the Box Office

6:30 AM 7/21/2017
by Rebecca Ford, Borys Kit , and Carolyn Giardina

Humdrum numbers leave some brands in question, with lower budgets and younger casts likely for those that return.

The mixed box-office bag for this summer's tentpole films is forcing studios to revisit their strategies for keeping individual franchises going.

Even before Homecoming hit theaters, Sony ordered a sequel for July 5, 2019, with Jon Watts now in negotiations to return as director.

The sequel will spin out of the events that unfold in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War (May 4, 2018), which also will star Holland.

But the real test will come as Sony expands its Spider-Man universe without Marvel's help. Venom (slated for release on Oct. 5, 2018) shoots this fall with director Ruben Fleischer and star Tom Hardy; and the female-superhero-led Silver & Black (which doesn't have a release date yet) will be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. The studio is convinced that emphasizing Homecoming's high school setting was key to the reboot.

"It’s a trap to mistake extra bombast for heightened emotion,” says Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman. "Even huge spectacle, absent of great characters, is ultimately numbing. Making the audience care is a lot harder than making things blow up."


The fifth installment, The Last Knight, opened to a series low ($69.1 million in its domestic debut over the Fourth of July holiday weekend). While it has seen more action abroad for an international gross of $392.4 million, it is still expected to be the lowest-grossing entry in the Transformers franchise to date, and has only earned $517.3 million worldwide in four weeks.

Now, Paramount is cutting costs. Its Bumblebee spin-off is pegged at $70 million-plus (according to sources), compared to Last Knight's $217 million.

A younger cast, headed by Hailee Steinfeld, 20, will be directed by Travis Knight when filming starts in August. The story, centered on the yellow bot, will be set in 1987.

"We are trying to please the fans and also give them a new experience," says producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "Plus, there’s a new audience introduced to the franchise every 10 years, and we have an obligation to that new audience."

Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

By waving a feminist flag, director Patty Jenkins breathed new life into the DC universe. Wonder Woman has earned $765 million to date, and not only earned critical praise, but, eight weeks in, boasts the best hold of any superhero film in more than 15 years at the North American box office.

Warner Bros. quickly started negotiations with Jenkins for a sequel (star Gal Gadot already has signed on for multiple DC films), which it will officially unveil July 22 at Comic-Con.


Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant dropped 71 percent in its second weekend, and has earned $232 million worldwide. Sources say Fox will have to reassess two intended sequels Scott has pitched while he is off helming Getty kidnapping movie All the Money in the World and then drug lord drama The Cartel.

The Mummy

Despite the film's lackluster performance ($389.6 million worldwide to date), Universal is moving forward with its monster-filled Dark Universe, but slowly, to allow for more script development. The stories will be tied together by Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll.

Convinced Tom Cruise saved Mummy from being a bigger flop, the studio is betting on names, prepping an offer to Angelina Jolie for Bride of Frankenstein (slated for release on Feb. 14, 2019) and polishing the script for Van Helsing, aimed for Channing Tatum. Johnny Depp is attached to star in The Invisible Man.

Planet of the Apes

The current trilogy has run its course as War for the Planet of the Apes opened lower domestically ($56 million) than its predecessor. But while director Matt Reeves has moved on to Warners' The Batman movie, he is still interested in returning for a spin-off based on one of the other apes.

"The whole idea of Bad Ape is that there are other apes out there, and those apes don’t have the benefits of Caesar's leadership. The conflicts of the future are not going to be humans and apes, they will be apes and apes," Reeves told THR. "I wanted to seed that idea because I thought there were a lot more stories and there are characters that I have grown to love."


Cars 3's $54 million domestic opening was a franchise low, and there are no official plans for a sequel, though Disneytoon Studios (which made the Planes films), planning an untitled movie about fighter jets for 2019, isn't giving up on anthropomorphic transport. At the D23 convention on July 14, the studio debuted some early footage that had a feel similar to Top Gun.

Fast & Furious

With The Fate of the Furious' $1.2 billion worldwide gross, the franchise appears impervious to fatigue. So it’s no wonder that the studio is chugging ahead with the ninth (April 19, 2019) and tenth (April 2, 2021) installments and exploring a spin-off movie that would star Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

Despicable Me

Although Despicable Me 3, which opened on June 30, is trailing behind Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 in box-office revenue (at press time it had earned $191 million in North America and $625 worldwide), Illumination Entertainment is already well on its way to extending its popular, $3.3 billion franchise with Minions 2, which is slated to arrive July 3, 2020

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Random Fuzzy

Angelina may be wearing a diamond pendant constantly now but it isn't the first time she has worn one. 

High res straight front photos of what she wore previously show that it is what is called pear shape. Unfortunately we do not have any high res straight front shots of what she is wearing now.   But from what we do have, it appears to be round cut. 

I don't think its the same stone.

It is likely that both pendants were gifts.  From Brad.

But what she is constantly wearing now is apparently more special and meaningful to her because she has hardly gone out without it.  Second only to her engagement ring.

-- Fussy

Thanks Felicity

Left column top June 15, bottom July 15, Right column top 2014, bottom 2015

Clockwise from top left, July 11, June 20, July 15, June 15



Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Build-A-Bear Workshop, last Tuesday, July 11.

-  If the date above is correct, this was the same day as their visit to Disneyland, so they may have gone to the one in Downtown Disney.

Thanks Pride&Joy

Posted earlier, at the Electric Parade:

Vivienne's outfit is different but everyone else seems to be wearing the same clothes

and sandals

Monday, July 17, 2017

Random Comment

I greatly appreciate the hard work to find and share with us reports and photos such as those below.

On the other hand, there are those who bring over things I am not interested in: what the tabloids have concocted, other people's theories, sniping between fans or rants against anyone.  I skim through the comments and any that appear to be along those lines, those that are trollish in nature and those from commenters obsessed with the same theme get swiftly deleted unread.  It is a wasted effort to post those here.   I consider once a troll/nuisance, always a troll/nuisance and all their subsequent comments get summarily deleted regardless.  This is true for new and old commenters.  One strike and you're out.  My thinking on comments has evolved so as not to waste my time while still keeping the comments section open.  As it says above, this blog is highly selective and opinionated.  I am sure there are many other sites where such comments / commenters are welcome but I don't need or want that kind of traffic. 

-- Fussy

Thanks to Pride&Joy

Groen: Namibië - bringing wild magic to kykNET yet again from 12 July. This third season of the ever-popular conservation television series is set to wow audiences with wildlife wonder every Wednesday at 8:30PM South African time (7:30PM Namibian time) on DStv's KykNET channel. Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren of the N/a'an ku sê Foundation will take viewers on a captivating journey over 13 weeks ... from the fascinating world of the N/a'an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary itself, the enthrallment of Namibia's desert horses and their tenuous hold on life sharing a harsh terrain with hyenas, the lure of Africa's gentle giants, to the ancient and enchanting culture of the San Bushmen (with a myriad of exquisite content in between). This third season, sponsored by Namibia Breweries Limited, also showcases the natural history of Namibia's wildlife at its best. South African conservation endeavours also spice up the program, with our dynamic duo immersing themselves in the exceptional everyday life of a rhino sanctuary and relocating lions (for very valid reasons) to the beautiful and conservation savvy Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in the Western Cape. Don't miss the first episode tomorrow night at 8:30PM South African time (7:30PM Namibian time) on kykNET - you're in for some striped surprises in the amazing realm of the aardwolf: #naankuse #volunteerafrica #GroenNamibië #kykNET #MarliceVanVuuren #WildJobsNamibia #NaankuseWildlifeSanctuary
A post shared by N/a'an ku sê Foundation (@naankuse_foundation) on