Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Two Queens

I recently indulged myself with renting two movies that probably every one else has seen but I'm going to give my pithy reviews anyway.

The first was The Queen starring Helen Mirren. I think this movie should have actually been named "The Prime Minister" because it was really all about Tony Blair and his non-curtsying wife, wasn't it? Don't get me wrong, Prime Minister Blair is one of my hot-pick faves for men in power in the world, but the movie The Queen should have been Less Tony, more Lillibet. I would have liked to have seen more discreetly managed images and insights into the Queen herself. Where were the scenes where she actually comforted her grandsons William and Harry? What about a scene where she interacts with the rest of her family and grandchildren? We barely even got to see the CORGI's who are her constant companions.

If they were going to go into Fantasy with that ridiculous mini-arc about the stag that gets shot and beheaded, why not go into LaLa land and show us a scene between Diana and the Queen giving a little insight into why she was so despised by them? I didn't get the significance of the stag and I didn't get the point of the loathing for Diana.

If the stag was supposed to represent the dying British Monarchy then why were all the Royals so keen to kill it? Of course that explains Philip's peeve at it being gotten by some commoner on the next estate! But if the Stag was supposed to represent Diana then...well, then none of it makes sense. It was just too silly and contrived, I thought.

The writer/director/producers obviously wanted to make a movie of discretion and good taste, that attempted to show a sympathetic and true portrait of Elizabeth Windsor, but they really held back a little TOO much in my opinion. The movie was too short, so they could have made it longer by adding a little substance...and some HATS!!!!!!!!

My main beef with the movie, aside from the lack of content and the silly distancing techniques, was the sheer lack of HATS. This tells me that the movie was designed by men. Men who make movies have no concept of how important costuming and accessorizing are in the telling of a story and the depicting of a character. They just ignore those things. Women who watch movies NEVER ignore those things. We like to see what people are wearing. Especially HRH Elizabeth the II because she does have the worlds loveliest jewelry and the best hats in the Empire.

The queen was recently seen at an archaeological dig in Jamestown wearing this delightful creation:

And later she wore this stunning, modern and brilliant confection:

If this hat was made of frosting I would EAT it, it's so delicious looking!

I found it silly and nonsensical in the movie that they gave her that black patent leather purse to carry INSIDE her home while greeting the Prime Minister and yet failed to do service to the fact that when she is outdoors in public, she is required to wear a hat.

More Hats, less Stag Hunting, that's my verdict on The Queen.

Another movie guilty of Too Much Stag Hunting and darn near too much accessorizing is the second of my two movie pics.

Marie Antoinette as seen through the eyes of Sophia Coppola definitely did not lack in the costuming department. But where was the plot? Where was the dialogue? Someone needed to pry the crack pipe out of Sophia's hand and the I-pod from her ear, because the movie was both hyped up on speed and so over-dubbed with modern BAD music that it really ruined what could have been a lovely dreamlike movie.

I think that not everyone who is ABLE to make a movie should be ALLOWED to make a movie. Or at least there should be other's there to rein in the nonsense of the director. Ms. Coppola just got too carried away with silly cotton candy visions and forgot to tie the pretty balloons to a solid foundation of plot, character development and story line.

Of course she did the same thing in Under the Tuscan Sun. That movie could have been great but it was just ridiculously self-indulgent and had 4 or 5 different endings that she left in because she couldn't decide which to use! At least Marie Antoinette had an ending, even if Sophia didn't show it.

The scene on the balcony where the Queen of France bows her head to the crowds actually happened, and it was one of the more poignant and powerful scenes in the movie. But what was with the endless riding around in carriages while hard rock music plays loudly? You could never make out the dialogue in the film because the soundtrack kept getting in the way.

I was very puzzled by the fact that although Sophia seemed to want to show the human and youthfully ignorant side of Marie, and to dispel some of the more horrible myths about her by showing what a cocoon she lived in so far removed from the realities of the political fury in France, she chose to develop the relationship between Marie and Count Fersen rather than show the Episode of the Diamonds. Maybe she didn't want to interrupt her fun?

Unfortunately the Queen never had an affair with Count Fersen! He was a close and life-long friend, as was the King's younger brother with whom it was also rumored she was sleeping. Count Fersen is the man responsible for almost rescuing the royal family from prison. He arranged for their flight into Austria and it was only because of delays on the road that they were recaptured and then eventually beheaded.

So I was annoyed that Sophie chose to show a sexual liaison with Axel Fersen rather than show us the really lovely sweet budding relationship between the Queen and the King. She did go on to bear him 4 children (the first Dauphin and the second princess die, leaving only Madame Royale and the youngest, Charles-Louis who suffered horribly at the hands of torturers, being forced to publicly call his Mother a Whore.) and after the first awkward years of not knowing what to do with what was between their legs, they became a good, happy, married couple with a healthy sex life. Their devotion to each other was very real and very touching, and I'm sorry that Ms. Coppola went for the adulterous sex instead of with the truth.

I did love Kirsten Dunst in the part. She had the right girlish quality, and came across genuinely sweet and nice. Marie was very young when she became Dauphine of France (that's the French equivalent of becoming the Princess of Wales, married to the heir to the throne) and became Queen at 19. She was a little girl wanting to play and with the wealth of France at her disposal, she lived a life of gaiety, frivolity and heedless pleasure. But once her children were born, she devoted herself to them almost exclusively. She was a devoted and attentive mother. Most of all, she grew up. She outgrew the extravagences of youth. Too bad the French people could not see past the negative propaganda against her. It might have saved her life!

Okay, I adored the lighting, the costuming and the edible props. I even loved the little doggies frolicking about. I only have one bone to pick with the entire wardrobe department, and that is the scene in which we are first introduced to the young Dauphine-to-be. She enters the room with her hair looking like Alice in Wonderland, stick-straight, side-parted with bangs, and a silly ribbon in it. Nonsense! Here is what the young Marie Antoinette looked like at 12 years of age:

As you can see there was none of that sloppy hang-down hair going on in those days! This was her official portrait, of course, but rest assured on an everyday basis hair was worn coiffed and off the face.

Although I loved the visuals of Marie Antoinette, I simply couldn't watch it over and over again unless I muted the sound. I'm sorry that there was not more dialogue and plot, because that movie could have been GREAT, rather than just rich.

Okay, that is my take on The Two Queens!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know you would NEVER say this yourself, but ALL your friends know you are a very astute and amusing movie critic.

Hear, hear!!!!

Queen Q