Saturday, January 10, 2009

This Week in Handome Women News

In the great varied tableau of the human species, there are few specimens more fascinating and complex as the handsome woman. It is a description that eludes concrete definition. Is female handsomeness based merely on physical appearance, or is there a certain air and manner that exudes handsomeness, or is it mix of both? The label can be both insulting and complimentary. It can be interpreted as describing someone as masculine, attractive, different, refined, aggressive, strong, strange (all of which are subjectively positive or negative qualities depending on who you ask). To the men I ask, would you rather be with a handsome woman or an average looking woman? To the women I ask, would you rather be a handsome woman or an average looking woman?

The reason I've had handsome women on the brain lately is a weird confluence of recent circumstances regarding some of the greatest handsome woman actresses of all time from the past to the present:

The other day I watched the romantic comedy classic "The Philadelphia Story" with, the woman who defined cinematic handsome women, Katharine Hepburn, in the lead. It was a pretty solid piece of old school screwball romance that can't really even begin to work in today's age. I, however, had to suspend some disbelief that Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart would be so mesmerized by Hepburn's character. It must be her iconoclastic, strong will and independent spirit (which in the context of the time, makes her a really pionnerring character) because it certainly wasn't her looks. While the physical beauty is more average and workmanlike than unbearably handsome, she wears perhaps the most unattractive ensamble of clothing for a film not intended to be science fiction. A hideous calavcade of navel height trousers, gigantic man shirts, puffy robes, and shoulder pads aplenty work to completely deny her any additional astetic help. But maybe it's her personality we're suppose to fall in love with...or something like that.

The woman who carried the great handsome woman mantle of Hepburn through the last quarter century is the immoral Glenn Close who, as the round the clock advertisements on FX has drilled into your head, will be returning for a second season of "Damages"; one of those many "best show on TV" Cable serieses that are killing network programming. Call me crazy but I found her traditionally attractive enough for Fatal Attraction to be plausible, but as the years passed and she become more refined, she has truely embraced her handsome womanhood. It's a shame that the usually handsome woman friendly Academy has denied her that elusive Oscar (I feel like she should be allowed to trade in all five of her nominations for an equilvent Oscar). I doubt all the Emmy awards she'll win for "Damages" will ever fill that Oscar shaped hole in her heart.

Bringing it all around is the current piece of well crafted Oscar bait, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". I knew modern day handsome woman star Cate Blanchett was one of the main stars but I was quite surprised when my friend told me that other contemporary handsome woman star actress Tilda Swinton had a supporting role in the film as well. This is essentially the handsome woman equilvent of having Robert De Niro and Al Pachino in Godfather II (at the height of their power, not exploiting them in their diminished twilight years). I would say Swinton is the more handsome of the two in terms of looks and attitude, Cate's handsomeness can be quite curtailed if you actually put her in a dress and "pretty her up". Of course to tangentially tie it all back to the beginning if Cate does get any Oscar love for her role, she can put it next to her Best Supporting Actress Statute she won for "The Aviator" for playing Katharine Hepburn.

1 comment:

  1. I'd take looking like Cate Blanchett any day. I actually think she's very attractive -- she just needs to take a break from playing virgin queens, stern KGB agents and androgynous elves.