Many have praised designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man. The most common thing I hear is, “although the main character is gay, this is not a gay movie”. Excuse me critics. All wrong. True, this is not a gay movie. This is a Smooth Fox Terrier movie — maybe the best we’ve seen this decade! Yes, Tom Ford should be lauded — lauded, I tell you — for having the courage to make a movie where the noblest terrier breed is so accurately portrayed without the usual cliches and stereotypes.
Just a quick side rant here: How many people read this blog and FAILED to alert me that this excellent terrier movie existed? Why am I only finding out, after the Oscar nominations and weeks after it came out on DVD? No, it took a fellow Smoothie owner, of the excellent dog blog Raleigh Pop, to tip me off. In her own post, she casts the discerning eye of a real film critic and deconstructs the note-perfect and naturalistic acting of the two canine stars:
…they seemed like natural, non-movie star terriers in the film, instead of the heavily coached stars of sitcoms. (Ahem, Eddie from Frazier.) In both scenes with the dogs, they seem to pretty much do their own thing and refuse to stare straight into the camera. I feel this best captures the typical terrier ADD, because unless the lens is made of bacon, I assure you, no terrier has that sort of attention span for a close up.
Even Roger Ebert missed this crucial aspect of the film! To that let me add that one of the dogs wees on a particularly obnoxious child character, and when another character is getting into a deep philosophical discussion about how dogs can teach us to live in the moment, the male terrier imitates one of Oscar’s favorite “whatever” gestures. While lying on his side, he simply lifts his leg and shows his crotch. Now what Method Actor could improve on that?
Raleigh Pop’s Owner has also done the legwork for me and terriered out the fact that the two Smoothies in the film are actually Tom Ford’s own dogs. No wonder he gets it. He is certainly not the kind of director who would substitute the inferior Jack Russell Terrier in a movie version of a famous literary Smooth Fox Terrier. (Which is why, after the unforgiveable My Dog Skip, all films by Jay Russell are banned from our house.) On the basis of this evidence, Owner and Raleigh Pop have declared the Smooth Fox Terrier the Official Dog of the Overstyled Gay Man.
Well, of course! Any outfit looks that much better when accessorized with a Smooth Fox Terrier. They come in three wardrobe enhancing color schemes — all of which, according to breed standard, must feature predominantly white. With that caveat, you can choose from brown and white, tri-colored or, the perennial favorite, an Art Deco black and white. (And we know how gay men are the people who kept Art Deco alive and relevant for the rest of us. It’s no accident that the world’s largest Art Deco structure, that beautiful span, is the emblem of San Francisco.)
Yes, the Smoothie is definitely the perfect accessory for The Overstyled Gay Man. Because if you are seriously into wardrobe and grooming for yourself, how can you sacrifice precious time on the styling needs of a dog? The great thing about Smoothies is that they have what appears to be Teflon fur. They can jump in a mud puddle, give a few good shakes and they are back to brilliant show ring-ready white.
Another crucial detail that makes the Smoothie a must for The Overstyled Gay Man: they smell good. Always. You know how a Labrador or a Golden Retriever can “doggie up” a room in less than a quarter of an hour? Not a Smoothie. Even Oscar, after rolling in a particularly ripe deer carcass will soon be back to his pleasant signature scent. Again, that Teflon fur.
Tom Ford gets this. And to prove it, he has Colin Firth plant a more passionate kiss on a Smooth Fox Terrier than he ever gave to Lizzie Bennett back when he was in Regency trousers and boots. The Firth character even notes that the terriers ears always smelled of buttered toast. That’s not entirely true. Well, maybe Tom Ford’s dogs smell of toast. We’ve found that a Smoothie’s ears always smell of the the most pleasant scent around. It could be your laundry detergent, your perfume or that bunch of lavender you just picked. Whatever is best ends up on a Smoothie’s ears. That’s the dog for an Interior Designer’s home. I rest my case.
Naturally, I’m now Tom Ford’s biggest fan. Any movie he produces, directs or even gives a thumbs up to, I’m watching, buying and treasuring. Because I can’t imagine this man will ever not work Smoothies into the plot in a big way. My only bone to pick with him — and I’m not giving anything away here — practically the first scene shows the shocking dream sequence of a DEAD Smooth Fox Terrier lying in the snow. And a bit later another character reveals that the other terrier was never found, presumably running in fear from the car accident and dying in the Colorado winter.
Listen up, Tom, if you start a movie with a dead Smooth Fox Terrier, it better end with the dog zooming back into the frame with angel’s wings, a celestial dog bone and a heavenly choir. I’m just saying, you’ve got fans and real critics who are watching for these things.
Fun Smoothie facts:
•Raleigh Pop is in fact our Oscar’s niece. Great terrier minds think alike.
•Tom Ford’s female terrier, India, placed in Westminster 2007 along with some of Lucy’s terrier relatives. Alas, it was not a good show. The Springer Spaniel won Best in Show. (Probably a fix!)
•If you want to catch that Method Acting Leg Lift, The Daily Terrier has a clip.