Saturday, September 6, 2008

Film Fest: Imported beauty

By beauty I am not a star,
There are others more handsome by far.

My face I don't mind it,

For I am behind it.
It's the people in front that I jar.

My city has been invaded by Beautiful People. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) launched late this week, and we're revved for a glamorama: Clooney, Pitt, Zellweger, McAdams, and that's just last night.

Even the assistant beauty is formidable. Women teeter down Bloor Street past Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and
velvet-rope bars on needle heels, in very short black dresses. Sometimes the only sign someone is not Someone is their clipboard.

Do you remember the Millihelen? This measure of beauty is attributed to Cambridge mathematician W.A.H. Rushton, and refers to the "face that could launch a thousand ships" in Marlowe's The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.

I'd put Cate Blanchett at 990 Millihelens. Negative Millihelens are possible, but you won't see this on the red carpet. The "helen" refers to females, but let's extend it to men also, as male beauty will be on display too. Millihectors? Ed Harris, 950! (Oh Ed, over here!)

This amount of sheer physical pulchritude is unusual in Toronto. We have the normal bell-curve distribution you'd expect in a country where food is plentiful and cheap, medical care universal, and the standard of living high: plenty of presentable-to-attractive people and of course all toddlers score 1000 mini-millihelens!

But head-swiveling, heart-stopping, etheral beauty? You might see one person on a given day, but not fifty in the lobby bar of the Four Seasons. Not stabbing at a pink cell
phone, leaving Cartier with two bodyguards and a gorgeous assistant, not waving, flushed and excited, from a stage at a premiere.

Stardust, sprinkled over a staid Northern city, makes for fascinating people-watching.


11 comments:

WendyB said...

Pink cell phones should be illegal.

Duchesse said...

Wendy: I think they are this year's swag.

Deja Pseu said...

Duchesse - are you going to be able to get in to see any of the films being screened?

La Belette Rouge said...

Millihelen!! I had never heard of this. It is best that we all don't know our Millihelen rates. It is kind of like IQ. It can be inflating or deflating to be reduced to a number that we can't do much about.

Duchesse said...

Pseu: Yes, I'll see some; next year I'm getting a full Festival pass, for the first time.
Belette: My kids' friends have ratings on their Facebook pages: Would You Date Me? Not millihelens- but rating systems abound.

Anjela said...

When I worked in Hollyweird I got to see upclose how maniacal these people can be.Not all...some were so lovely to me.

One woman married to a well known screen writer fed her baby beer in a bottle every day so I had the job of taking a semi comatose child to the studios and his wife was hopelessly drunk. But legions of help and housekeepers and butlers pick up the bodies and make it all look normal.
A wife came flying out through a bedroom one afternoon. Picking herself up and carrying on popping amphetamines so her abusive husband would 'love' her. She had had a baby and put on some weight. But to the crowds this couple were considered golden.

Rod Stewart was about the only really real and nice person to his staff and to fans and family alike. A good man.
He would take over the kitchen and make steak and kidney pie or any food from home. He actually studied the artwork sent in by fans and never threw them out. He genuinely adored his fans.
Money was plentiful. Life was rich and easy but, as a worker one was disposable. I got to see the ugly side of beauty. The drugs. The knocks on the doors at 3 AM The magic mushrooms. The constant sex. Yes, walls were thin. The Who's Who list. The A List. The stench of what remains after the botox and Restalyn. After the perfumes and after shaves wear off.

Duchesse said...

Anjela: The pressure to hold on to that level of beauty must be phenomenal. Lovely reminiscence about Rod Stewart.

cybill said...

Wow, I wish I were there to see it all, lucky you are there to blog about it for us.

Duchesse said...

Pseu: I can find it easily by searching "Jean Vanier Ian Brown" but when I try to link it I get Page Not Found- so if you do the search you will find.

I also recommend his wonderful small book, "Finding Peace".

Duchesse said...

Oops put the last comment under wrong post- it refers to Jean Vanier but what a hoot- Jean Vanier and celebs!

s. said...

And yet... I find Toronto more charming in it's staid anglo glory.