Oh, the mad genius of Little Edie Beale. May I please just quote the entire amazing speech she gives the Maysles brothers at the beginning of Grey Gardens? This is of course as she is decked out in one of her iconic outfits, headscarf situation and all:
This is the best thing to wear for today, you understand. Because I don't like women in skirts and the best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt, I think. Then you have the pants under the skirt and then you can pull the stockings up over the pants underneath the skirt. And you can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape. So I think this is the best costume for today.
I mean, what woman doesn't respect a philosophy like that? It's also not hard to see why Albert and David Maysles's incredible documentary, a pinnacle of American independent cinema, has inspired a host of other filmmakers since its release in 1976. Little Edie and her mother Big Edie are sassy as hell even as they wallow in their own familial dysfunction and its attendant host of half-feral cats. The documentarians never seem to be poking fun of the pair, however, and their attitude towards the Beales seems almost tender while laying bare their eccentricities. It all feels very honest and true, and the women's practice of retreating from the world and into nostalgia illuminates cuts through to the very heart of human nature. Again, in the words of the immortal Little Edie:
It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. You know what I mean? It's awfully difficult.