November 08, 2006
Cate Blanchett and I don't always agree on fashion -- not that she ever asks, of course -- but I'll give her this: She often pulls off things that, on their own merits, leave me quite cold.
For example, this getup from a while ago:
I do not care for this. I bristle at the absurdly ethereal collar that makes it look like her head is the centerpiece in a macabre gift basket. And I don't see the point in having sleeves so big you could use them as purses. And yet... maybe I'm going soft in the head, but at the time, I had to hand it to her -- she looks confident, she's standing tall, and she is working it, and that certain Cate Blanchett Aura ended up overshadowing my initial distaste for the clothes. I shrugged it off, ignored this ensemble, and moved along with other fugging.
However, this Cate Blanchett Aura is not impenetrable. It is not a free pass. And it thereby will NOT save her from being roundly chastised for the following grossly misguided piece of whimsy.
She looks like the drum major for the Greenwich Regional Institute for the Musically Curious Yet Criminally Insane, where unbelievably preppy people who are both crazy and crazy for matching sweater shells and ties can rehabilitate. There, they let the power of music, marching, and airborne batons -- plus of course the annual trip to the Denny's Moon Over My Hammy Bowl to play the halftime show -- cure their broken minds.
And in fact, the way I see it, the only way Cate can repay us for putting us through this kind of ordeal might be to play that exact role in a movie -- entitled, say, Drum Crazy, if it's a slapstick departure from her normal gravitas, or The Beat Of A Different Drummer if it's a stirring adult drama in which she has to fight for her sanity and the love of the young child she left behind in the emotional wreckage of her mental break. While she makes kooky friends at the asylum (Kristin Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy, and Rhys Ifans), her mother (Blythe Danner) and her mother's dishy, gruff, wounded-bachelor neighbor (James Denton, in his first breakout big-screen performance) help rebuild the kid's sense of security. Then, at the climactic halftime performance at the bowl game, music teacher Christopher Plummer gives Cate a critical solo, then falls for Blythe while Cate and James shake hands for the first time and realize they share a love of the child... and maybe, just maybe, of each other.
See, all that comes to pass, then we can write off the outfit to "research," and never speak of it again.