De-Lovely: The Cole Porter Story
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"The most unusual and enchanting musical in years" (Roger Ebert), this cinematic ode to legendary composer Cole Porter is at once buoyantly fun and "heartbreakingly beautiful" (Liz Smith). OscarÂ(r) winner* Kevin Kline (The Ice Storm) is "perfection" (Rolling Stone) as the elegant and deeply complex Porter in a film that offers "knockout performances" (Gene Shalit) from Natalie Cole, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette and Robbie Williams, and "melancholy, wit and style to burn" (The Philadelphia Inquirer)! From Paris to Venice to Broadway to Hollywood, the lives of Cole (Kline) and Linda (Ashley Judd) Porter were never less thanglamorous and wildly unconventional. Though Cole's thirst for life strained their marriage, Linda never stopped being his muse, inspiring some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century.*1988: Supporting Actor, A Fish Called Wanda
Director Irwin Winkler weighs in on two commentary tracks, one with Kevin Kline and one with writer Jay Cocks. Both tracks are thoughtful and filled with details about Cole Porter's life, how the pop singers joined the film, and how their numbers were conceived. As might be expected, a lot of stories are repeated, but they're good stories, such as how "Be a Clown" was ripped off for Singin' in the Rain's "Make 'Em Laugh." There's a very good 25-minute making-of featurette, plus a 15-minute music featurette that mixes clips and performances from the film with brief comments by the pop artists performing them (the Broadway re-creations are only mentioned in passing). Two other featurettes go behind the scenes of two numbers, and the eight deleted scenes include Kevin Kline's short performance of "You Do Something to Me." Because the musical numbers have the most replay value, it's convenient that they're listed on the scene-selection menu. --David Horiuchi
- 30-minute making-of featurette
- Behind-the-music featurette
- Anatomy-of-a-scene featurettes: Be a Clown, Love for Sale
- Eight deleted scenes
- Never-before-seen alternate ending
- Theatrical trailer, TV spot
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My real objection to the movie was the style of singing and playing in it. For the most part, people were performing in a style more appropriate to the 1950s and beyond than the late-1920s and 1930s (for those scenes set in the 20s & 30s), and there was far too much "belting out" the songs (a generally more recent trend). In some cases, the guest performers seemed heedless of the elegance and subtlety of Porter's music, choosing to showcase themselves. This was off-putting, to say the least.
The most historically accurate, and best in my opinion, performance in the whole movie was Elvis Costello singing "Let's Misbehave." I was very pleasantly surprised by this. The band was pretty spot on and Costello seems to have done his homework on the performance style of the period. Kudos to Mr. Costello!
His lifestyle is something that is hard to understand but his sexuality was accepted (more or less) by his wife Linda although I think Linda had regrets toward the end of her life. It's not depicted as such but really, a husband that goes out at night to sleep with other men was probably torture for her.
Porter was a gifted songwriter but in my opinion, a lousy human being. His artist life and bisexuality were what defined him according to the movie. I read his autobiography and although there were similar incidents in his life depicted in the movie, (horse riding accident, bisexuality, his successful Broadway shows) he was more nuanced than what was presented in the movie.
Overall, the contemporary artists that had a part in the movie had me compelled. Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Robbie Williams, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and Natalie Cole were given specific characters who sing Cole Porter songs integrated in the movie. It's a good movie but I believe it did not do well in the box office because of poor reviews. Nevertheless, if you like Cole Porter's music, you are going to love this movie. In my humble opinion, I would have liked the movie more had they treated it as a regular movie and cut out the Gabriel character and the absurd Broadway treatment!
I've always been a huge musical lover but I had always overlooked Cole Porter. What I've discovered is how different and complex his melodies and especially his lyrics are.
De-Lovely features many of Cole Porter's popular songs. Many sung by recent pop and jazz artists. The lead actors also sing a few of the songs. Kevin Kline, as Porter has a mediocre singing voice, but then again, so did Porter. My absolute favorite Cole Porter tune is "So in Love", and De-Lovely features the best version I've ever heard. The song itself is such a pure love song and this arrangement is heartbreakingly beautiful. I could listen to it over and over again. And I could watch De-Lovely over and over too.