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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Icons of Cool #1

Okay, I don't consider myself cool by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I know enough to observe it from a distance. The subjectivity of the word "cool" really works in my favor for a post like this, since no one can really call me out on my choices if they disagree with me, since one man's James Dean is another man's John Cazale (and just for the record, John Cazale is one of my favorite actors, and I sure as hell am not knocking him, but I've never really thought of him as cool, per se. More intensely moody in a fragile, heartbreaking "it was you, Fredo" sorta way).

So what is cool to me?

Tall order to be sure, and it's not like I have a list of criteria in front of me with boxes to check, so I'm just going to go on a gut instinct. I'll ask myself would I be in absolute awe if I ever was in the presence of this individual because of their overwhelming embodiment of cool?

If the answer is yes, then there you go.

So, onto my first icon of cool.

Marcello Mastroianni Italian actor born 1924, died 1996.

The glasses, the cuffs. the look. 
The first movie I saw with Marcello Mastroianni was Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963). In it, he plays a film director struggling to overcome a mental block of creativity while dealing with the various women in his life, past and present. Fellini and Mastroianni worked together on La Dolce Vita as well, where he embodies the callousness and extravagance of the titular "sweet life" of upper crust Rome during the late 50’s. Both roles require Mastroianni to be a commanding presence while retaining a sensitive, wounded persona. He also has to look as though he can attract the attentions of Anouk Aimee, Anita Ekberg, and Claudia Cardinale without any audience members scoffing at the verité of such a ludicrous notion, for how can one single man seduce one of these otherworldly beauties, let alone three? But Mastroianni does it effortlessly, and I believe thats what his embodiment of cool really boils down to. The unquestionable effortlessness of this man coasting through beauty and glamour, debonaire and sophisticated at every turn, and you never once even believe he's acting.

He just is.

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