Important question: If you could only wear clothing designed by one actor for the rest of your life, would it be Matthew McConaughey or John Malkovich? If you chose the latter, get a head start by shopping the actor’s summer men’s capsule collection. Available exclusively on Yoox.com starting tomorrow, the 17-piece range was designed under Malkovich’s Technobohemian fashion label, which he founded in 2009.
What’s that sound, you say? Oh nothing, just my brain exploding. Yes, well unbeknown to me, great American director Robert Altman—who gave us 3 Women, Nashville, Gosford Park, The Long Goodbye, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, etc.—directed a television special in 1987 for ABC entitled Basements. Made up of two programs, the halves were both adaptations of plays The Room and The Dumb Waiter by Noble Prize-winning, beloved English playwright and poet Harold Pinter. And after hiding for two decades, The Room recently surfaced online via a ripped VHS recording of the special.
As the first play by Pinter, The Room was written and produced in 1957. Establishing his "comedy of menace" signature brand of theatrical brilliance, the play is filled with biting dialogue that feels at once familiar and absurd. Always surprising, bitter, and deliciously written, The Room is filled with a dire sense of unease that walks the line between tragic and hilarious.
In Altman’s adaptation, the unsettling chamber drama centers around a woman (played by Linda Hunt) living in her apartment with her close-mouth and cold husband. She becomes consumed by paranoia, fearful of the fellow tenants in the building. A young couple (Julian Sands and Annie Lennox) stop in and that’s when things take a turn for the bizarre and dark, culminating in the woman meeting the man who has been occupying the basement.
Back in November, I got the chance to see Julian Sands’ A Celebration of Harold Pinter—which was, by far, one of the more interesting and attractive things I have ever witnessed. Directed by John Malkovich and performed by Sands, we watch as he speaks of Pinter’s work, reenacting stories from his life, and dramatically reading his poetry and short works.
Check out the 48-minute Altman special below, watch an interview with Sands on his work with Pinter, and let your heart melt as you watch Colin Firth read Pinter’s "Poems for A."
Thirty-one minutes might sound like a lot of time to sit and chat with someone, and in an age of 30-second gets, it’s an extraordinary allotment. But when said someone is John Malkovich, thirty-one minutes isn’t even time enough to crack the surface of his multitudes. Not that I’m ungrateful, mind you. Hell, I’ll be indebted to The Webster‘s John Joseph Lin for arranging the tete-a-tete for as long as there’s an eternity.
However, It does mean that we didn’t get to touch upon many of the subjects I’d meant to mention. Still, to bemoan what wasn’t said would be to belittle what was said, and what was said came via Malkovich’s insidiously beguiling voice and ran the gamut from (mostly) fiction (“I did manage to finish all of Roberto Bolaño’s books this year”) and non-fiction (Gomorrah is a “spectacular book, just spectacular”), to finds (20 years ago he picked up one of my pal Venissac’s jackets at New York’s old Grand Street Flea Market) and favorites (Charlie Kaufman “just gets better and better,” and “I really like that little Swedish film Let the Right One In”).
Mostly, though, we talked about a rather exquisite clothing line called Technobohemian. Why? Because it happens to be Malkovich’s own line, that’s why. And it’s as elegant and graceful as the man himself.
What’s Technobohemian and why should we love it? Well, it’s not for me to say people should love it, but Technobohemian is a line I do, and the sample line of the third collection is upstairs [at The Webster] now. I make it in Tuscany, outside of Florence in a town called Prato. That’s where the studio is. I work with Ricardo Rami – it’s his studio; he’s a fashion consultant, and he works on the line with me. I did a line quite a few years ago but I stopped doing that because of production frustrations. They asked me to start a new line, and, after a year or two, I finally said Yes. Like I said, it’s hard for me to say what people should love or not. That’s up to them to decide.
What made you get back into the trade? I’d guess that you wanted to make things that you couldn’t find anywhere. No, I wanted to make things that I like, or that I would like to see. You know, everybody has their vision, their style of doing things. Everybody has their own aesthetic. Obviously, I have mine. Me, I shop a lot at second-hand stores, The Gap, Banana Republic, just like everybody else. But I wanted to make pretty things. And it’s not so much different to what other people make; it’s different by definition because I am a different person.
Right. There’s a throwback element to the line. It harks back to a time when – I don’t wanna say when men were men and dames were dames – but to a time when everyone actually cared about clothes and dressed accordingly. It evokes a certain romanticism. Yeah, I think that’s accurate. It’s a pretty romantic line. I put a lot of thought into each piece, into the design itself, into the fabric that’s chosen for each piece, into the correcting of the prototypes… If someone wants a skinny black suit or whatever, they know where to go. And it’s probably not to me.
But first and foremost these are items that you would wear right? I mean, would you design a suit or a hat that you wouldn’t wear yourself? Sure, yeah. But I’d wear just about anything anyway. I won’t necessarily wear super fashion-forward stuff. That’s not my style. They always use the word fashionista, which I think is pretty irritating. It’s an incredible amount of work to do a fashion line – it’s unbelievable. And I applaud anyone who gets one done. You mentioned a previous foray into design, but was creating a line something you’ve long thought about? No, not really. I’d gone to tailors a few times, and designed stuff, blah, blah,blah, and of course costumes for the theater and stuff like that. I’d studied it in college and I’d always had a sense of it. I had worked in fashion with good friends who are designers, so I knew what kind of workload it was, and how difficult it was. So I never thought of pursuing it. Then a young Italian man who was my partner the first time asked if I’d do it again. So having known them, and having worked with them…I also worked with Bella Freud, who’s a very gifted English designer. I wrote and directed three fashion films with her, so I knew how tough it was. I had even met a few times with someone I liked who was a friend of Todd Oldham…
A friend and I were just talking about him – he’s such a nice guy. He’s a helluva designer. That’s how tough the business is. I mean, Todd had a lot of success.
I interviewed Todd again a couple months ago… What’s he doing?
Well, at the time he had just done a Joan Jett monograph through Ammo Books, this boutique art house out of San Francisco, for whom he also does a series called Place Space, which features wild locales like John Waters’ house and Bedrock City. It’s a dynamite set. He’s such a sweetheart.
Todd is also partnered up in this restaurant called Wish, which is in The Hotel right across the street. I took the liberty of calling the publicist and hooking you up, so if you get hungry later, Todd Oldham’s restaurant is waiting. Thank you! Is he still designing?
From what I’ve gathered, he’s taking a break. He’s done some art projects, and he seems to be having a blast with these books. Good, good.
I think he got fed up. You see what it is, the lost invoices and the other mundane matters… That’s not what bothers me. It’s just an incredibly frustrating business.
I noticed you had eight flicks come out in ’08, and five in 2010, two of them still to come. You launched the line in Milan in 2009. Did you spend that preceding year on Technobohemia? I must spend 90% of my time on the line because, up to a couple of weeks ago, not only did I design it all and choose all the fabrics and blah, blah, blah, but I was also the one selling it. The one making the contacts.
Cementing the deal. Yeah. Or even dragging it around to show people. But I worked in 2009. I did a film that turned out to be a disaster called Jonah Hex. After I did The Changeling with Clint Eastwood. I directed a play that opened in Paris in 2007 and that ran into 2008. Then I redirected it for the tour of France. I also worked on producing a bunch of stuff. And I also directed a play in Mexico City at the end of 2008.
Wow! Do you ever sleep? I sleep now and then. But I almost never not work. Somebody once said, ‘If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I mean, forget Lou Gehrig. I am the luckiest guy in the world. I’ve always just done what I’ve liked. What percentage of the people in the world can say they do that? Not even half of one percent. Not even close.
You’ve got to thank your lucky stars every morning. That’s right.
● Snooki probably leaked naked pictures of Snooki for fame and money. [The Superficial] ● Not only did New York governor David Paterson not sleep with any hookers — he didn’t do anything scandalous at all. The much-hyped New York Times “bombshell” story sucks because it’s about his closest aide. [NYT] ● Taylor Swift might have ripped off a song or two from an unknown artist named Saving Jane, leaving Team Gaga fans salivating and out for blood. Can the Grammys do take-backs? [ONTD]
● The insane amount of Photoshop used on Spin‘s Courtney Love photos has the beleaguered rocker aging like Benjamin Button — basically regressing into Taylor Momsen or Ke$ha. [SPIN] ● Martin Scorsese is in the “get money” stage of his career, like Bob Dylan circa Victoria’s Secret, and will direct a set of Chanel commercials, hopefully not starring the woman with the horrible hairline from the Shutter Island trailer. [HuffPo] ● John Malkovich launched a menswear line yesterday, because who doesn’t want to look like an old, badass kook? [Page Six]
Now that the Coen Bros. have proved Fargo was no fluke, theyre out to do the same with their cult bro-pus, The Big Lebowski. Thats the kind of vibe were getting from the new trailer for Burn After Reading, their star-crammed CIA dark comedy. Brad Pitt and George Clooney in a movie that isn’t Oceans Fourteen is promising enough, but tack on Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, and J.K Simmons, and youve got an early favorite for SAG’s Ensemble of the Year award. And the trailer proves that Pitt, who already looks like a mimbo, was born to play one too.