Pearl Wisdom … Cape Fear

Pearl Wisdom

Sometimes a great motion picture arrives and, for whatever reason, the public doesn’t take notice.

Such a motion picture may be Pearl Harbor . Filmed for a modest $140 million, Pearl Harbor is a spare, unflinchingly honest account of the Japanese attack on U.S. forces in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. It was directed by filmmaker Michael Bay, who directed another quirky, overlooked gem, Armageddon, and it stars a number of unknown talents, like Ben Affleck and Jon Voight.

Despite these attributes, there are legitimate fears that Pearl Harbor will die a quiet, unnoticed death at the box office when it opens on Friday, May 25. Pearl Harbor doesn’t cheaply cater to audiences with word play, as You Can Count on Me did, or shallowly overemphasize plot, like Traffic . Rather, Pearl Harbor challenges the moviegoer with state-of-the-art digital-imaging technology from Industrial Light and Magic and elaborate pyrotechnic explosions filmed on life-sized warships.

But the company behind Pearl Harbor , the Walt Disney Company, has spent very little to promote the film–a dubious decision, considering it’s up against fare like The Luzhin Defence . Over the weekend, Disney did spend $5 million flying thousands of journalists into Honolulu to watch Pearl Harbor on an aircraft carrier, but that limp effort may be too little, too late to save this little movie.

And that’s just sad. If Pearl Harbor cannot survive in a universe where Memento and With a Friend Like Harry rake in enormous receipts, it says a lot of about the depressing climate in today’s Hollywood. So do yourself a favor: Rise up to movie mindlessness. See Pearl Harbor , again and again.

–Jason Gay

Cape Fear

One solution to the old spring quandary of “What the heck do I put on my bare shoulders when it’s breezy or air-conditioned?”: the cape.

Jacqueline Onassis, whose White House wardrobe is currently drawing throngs to the Met, was fond of capes–and, for evening, their little spawn, capelets–which underscored that “regal yet kicky” look she cultivated as First Lady. The late designer Bonnie Cashin, recently rediscovered by the fashion press, was also fond of the cape’s practicality: It left the arms free for driving, etc. And befitting the sexlessness of the new millennium, capes can be worn by men or women. Condé Nast editorial assistant Kirk Shannon-Butts, 28, has been thoroughly enjoying a green cape he rooted out for eight bucks at a Goodwill in the Gramercy Park area recently. “It’s very Connecticut, very J. Crew–it’s so cool!” he said.

Yet there are perils: 1) Capes that are cut too big and too swooshily suggest something dark and Gothic, making one feel like an Edward Gorey drawing in some stone courtyard–not what you want for spring. 2) A cape is just a few tassels away from a poncho. 3) Remember Kate Hudson at the Oscars.

–Alexandra Jacobs

My Li’l I.P.O.

In a drastic move anticipated by Wall Street, the LaRose Corporation (Nasdaq: LROC) announced today that it would lay off its entire staff of one employee.

A diversified company, LaRose Corporation had operated as an Internet consultancy and content publisher and was headquartered in Manhattan. Company chief executive Lawrence LaRose–who, until his dismissal, also held the offices of C.F.O., C.T.O. and executive assistant–attributed the massive layoff to a revised corporate strategy of extending the company’s “fundamental competitive advantage of being an omni-media company and would-be father.”

Founded in 1998, LaRose Corporation showed promise with early double-digit growth, but in recent months its numbers had begun to decline precipitously. Earnings for the first quarter 2001, projected at $1 million, fell short by $1 million. Mr. LaRose partially blamed the negative earnings on a “really bad calling plan.”

Mr. LaRose acknowledged that the economic slump hurt employee morale. “It got tough with no money coming in the door,” he said. “No more free Snapple. No more pool table or massage therapist.” Then, he said, “the finger-pointing started.”

The firing wasn’t a complete surprise, Mr. LaRose said. “To be honest, I sensed something was up.”

In the interim, control of LaRose Corporation will be assigned to Susan Lamontagne, Mr. LaRose’s partner. Last September, LaRose Corporation entered a strategic relationship with Lamontagne Amalgamated. The deal was underwritten by Chase Manhattan and Little St. Luke’s Church by the Sea. A source close to LaRose-Lamontagne said the reconfigured company plans to de-emphasize slow-growth areas, such as children.

Ms. Lamontagne had no comment.

–Lawrence LaRose