Love, Hate, Love, posted October 22, 2006 at 08:57 PM
I saw The Queen. I loved it. It's beautifully paced and well-written, and Helen Mirren will win an Oscar for her role. She's great--making a totally unreal person real. I wish the Philip character hadn't been so outrageously written--he's more of a caricature than a character, though I suppose it's totally possible that this is a case of reality being so extreme that what's written as a fictionalized character is actually less extreme than the real man. But since the audience (well, most of us) have never met nor will ever meet the actual Philip, I think the movie suffers slightly from this one bit of over-the-top characterization. Anyway, it's no surprise that the movie is so well-built and well-acted, since Stephen Frears is the director. This stands right up there with his best movies (My Beautiful Launderette, Dangerous Liaisons, Dirty Pretty Things).
I saw Marie Antoinette. I hated it. I was totally prepared to love it, despite the mixed reviews it's received. Part of my reaction is having too many expectations. I was truly expecting a punchier, crazier, more rock-and-roll telling of this story. I suppose that was stupid of me since it turns out the movie is just like Sofia Coppola's other movies--gauzy, slow, quiet, muted, pretty. Problem is, I loved Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation for those qualities, but for this poorly written movie those qualities conspired to create a big boring mess. Yes, much of the film is gorgeous to look at--stunning visuals that effectively use light and color the way French painters a century after the Marie Antoinette tale takes place would use them. And the sets, it goes without saying, are phenomenal--bringing Versailles back to life right there at the actual Versailles. But so what. Tell me a story. Or make a poetic character study. Or sing quietly a distant French chanson. But don't try to get me to understand the poor little rich queen's boredom by boring me. There were two or three moments in the script where this silly little girl suddenly turns and speaks with the measured, entitled, mannered words and voice of royalty. And those moments capture the frisson that Coppola should have been entirely basing her movie on. This young queen was brought up in one of the most powerful European courts of all time. She may have been immature and selfish, but one has to assume she also knew what her surroundings were all about, despite the young age at which she was shipped off to a foreign relations merger of a marriage. Had the script played with that tension between Marie Antoinette's knowledge and her defiance all those Sofia Coppola touches of gauze and light and shadow and color would have illuminated a real and human story. Instead they're just window dressing trying to hide a poorly conceived script.
I saw The Departed. I loved it. Leonardo DiCaprio has once again risen to the upper ranks of my celebrity crushes. The boy he was was so skinny and cute, but the man he is is hot hot hot. Doesn't hurt that he's a terrific actor on top of it. He almost, but not quite, steals the show from Nicholson. The movie is classic Scorcese--violent, twisted, driven, riveting good v. evil plot, sharp dialogue, solid acting, fabulous use of music. Don't read the reviews--the less of the plot you know the better. This movie is extremely solid entertainment, with a lot of art in it to boot.