What links Marilyn Monroe to Nick Cave and Vincent Gallo?
Like Elvis, we’re never really far from a Marilyn Monroe revival. Between Kim Kardashian fitting into (and being wrongly accused of damaging) the infamous 1962 JFK “happy birthday” dress for the Met Gala in May, and the biopic, Blonde, based on Joyce Carol Oates’s novel and coming to Neftlix in September, we appear to be in the midst of another Monroe moment.
The new film, with Ana De Armas leading the line, seems like a departure for its director, Andrew Dominik, though perhaps like his excellent The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, it will explore underlying myths of American culture, in whatever way they take shape. Dominik, an Australian, has also made two documentaries about compatriot Nick Cave.
The latest, This Much I Know to Be True (Mubi), follows 2016’s One More Time With Feeling. Neither of these is to be confused with 20,000 Days on Earth, another film about Nick Cave which came along in 2014.
Cave was once in a relationship with PJ Harvey – its dissolution was the inspiration for his 1997 album The Boatman’s Call. Harvey, meanwhile, pressed on with the electro-infused Is This Desire? and the unencumbered rock of 2000’s Stories of the City, Stories of the Sea. Harvey has generally kept her cards close to her chest when it comes to her personal life, though around that time she was rumoured to be in a relationship with Vincent Gallo. They said they were just pals and occasional collaborators. The Cave and Gallo episodes, and Harvey’s entire oeuvre, are explored in depth in a recent episode of the podcast Bandsplain, featuring the rock critic Ann Powers.
Gallo, one of the original hipster provocateurs, has bounced around music, film and fashion for decades (with various controversies and contrarian outrages). He featured in Angela, the 1995 debut of writer/director Rebecca Miller. She, of course, comes from storied stock, with her father being one Arthur Miller, who married her mother, the photographer Inge Morath, a year after his divorce from Marilyn Monroe was finalised; how any of this is represented on film will be revealed in the coming months.
Watch Before Blonde arrives, remember one of Monroe’s finest roles in the 1953 musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Drink The martini has also been enjoying a moment this year and seems a suitably Monroe-vian drink. “They’re not good for you, they’re just good,” as one chef put it.