Marie Antoinette, review

This just in: From my favorite critic at Salon.com. Stephanie Zacharek always gets it.

No one-time teenager has suffered more from the cruelty of history’s gossip mill than Marie Antoinette. When she was told the peasants were starving for lack of bread, the Marie Antoinette of lore shot back, “Let them eat cake!” — a great line, straight out of “Mean Girls,” except that the real Marie Antoinette never said it. Imported to France from her native Austria at age 14, she was the brokered bride of a future king, a bargaining chip with a womb. Her purpose was to cement peace between, and solidify the power of, the two nations. Marie Antoinette landed in a country, and a court, that eyed her with suspicion and contempt: She was a callow, uneducated foreigner, barely worth the disdain of oh-so-civilized France, and the fact that she couldn’t immediately produce an heir didn’t help. But because she was a future queen, she had access to — and availed herself of — the grand and costly buffet of opulence that had been the norm in Versailles long before she arrived. To paraphrase a lyric from another Lesley Gore song: You would shop, too, if it happened to you.
There is shopping in Sofia Coppola’s buoyant, passionately sympathetic dream-bio “Marie Antoinette” (which plays the New York Film Festival Friday night, and opens in New York and other cities on Oct. 20). But this is not — as you might have believed if you trusted the reviews out of Cannes, scrawled by critics from the garretlike confines of their hotel rooms as they clutched their Mao jackets tighter to protect themselves from the threat of beauty, pleasure and decadence — a movie about shopping. Nor is it a straightforward biopic or a history of the French Revolution (it never purports to be either of those things).
“Marie Antoinette” is Coppola’s silk-embroidered fantasy sampler of the inner life of a queen we can never really know: It’s a humanist comedy-drama decked out not in sackcloth but in ribbons — instead of flattering our ideas of our own virtuousness, it asks our sympathy for this doomed queen even as we can’t help envying her privilege.

Read on…

The Tudors

I don’t know how I feel about this. Article at New York Times.

I just don’t know why they can’t do something more rock ‘n’ roll and keep the costumes more traditional. Or something. I’m not that stuffy, I’ve loved some non-traditional adaptations. But they have to be good. Like “Titus.” Yarm, yarm!
But I really haven’t liked much of the recent Tudor pix or series, and one of the reasons is their modernist approach and all that “must get the ignorant masses to relate to crazy tudor england” stuff. I love Jonathon Rhys Meyers though. And Jonathon Rhys Meyers in gold lame even better.
I guess after Anne of the Thousand Days it is all downhill.
Also, why “The Tudors”? Looks like it is just one Tudor to me. Meh.

Fashion a History from the 18th to 20th Century

Fashion a History from the 18th to 20th Century: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute (Taschen 25th Anniversary Editions)
by Akiko Fukai, Tamami Suoh, Miki Iwagami, Reiko Koga, Rei Nii

Run, don’t walk. I’ve been trying to order this book for a year! I guess Amazon had several listings, I finally ran across this one that had no thumbnail yet said it was in stock.
It arrived today. Zoink! I had no idea! By the price ($32 discounted) I figured it was typical small format Taschen, but when it arrived Mr. Kallisti thought I had spent a fortune. 24358745 pound box. Double format, hard cover in slip case, huge. And omg, the photographs! First volume 18th-19th century, second is 20th. I’m just sayin’.
Only 4 left as of this morning.

Marie Antoinette

EDIT: Read my review here ^_^
Ok, I’ve waited to watch the trailer til just now. I love suspense. Like pretending Christmas isn’t next week.
And I have to admit I got shivers. Opens October 20th. I am a-quiver.
My passion for history and rococo in general, and the French Revolution in particular, need not be explained. I really adore Sofia. I super crush on Dunst and the little spaces between her teeth (boing!). And I really love the 80’s. If it doesn’t suck, I will so win.
*flutter* Shirley Hendersen, Marianne Faithful, Judy Davis… wah!
And this is as good a time as any to make the announcement official: Décolleté 2.0 is up! The Severed Head Gallery is TEN YEARS OLD! Can you stand it? It originally went up in the winter of 1996, when I was under-employed and living in New Orleans. I’ve now officially moved it from Chapel Perilous to Blastmilk.com. Home is where the heart is, eh?
Check out the Marie Antoinette galleries. And the Guillotine Galleries too! I will need to add an entry for Coppola’s film I’m sure… unless I hate it. Which I hope I don’t. Woo!
Warning: Working out some display issues in Firefox! I’m still working on expanding the galleries, links, and references. I have so, SO much material that is not posted. Hence my whinging about movable type and photogalleries the other week. Well, I’ve made it work, for the nonce. Feedback, corrections and suggestions very much welcomed! Just don’t tell me it sucks in Firefox. I know…

Salome’s Last Dance

salome-russell03a.jpg
Salome’s Last Dance
by Ken Russell

A film by Ken Russell

The moon has a strange look tonight. Has she not a strange look? She is
like a mad woman, a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers.
She is naked too. She is quite naked.

Russell’s 1988 adaptation of Wilde’s “Salome” is exploitation at its most delicious. Russell and Wilde make an indomitable pair exploring the fears/delights of being engulfed by the female body. Russell takes his queues from the Oscar’s lucious text, the result being Salome putting something in her mouth in nearly every scene. From an apple to a large heart shaped lollypop (in nod to Nabokov’s LOLITA, a not-so-distant cousin), Salome mouths the props like a teething three year old. And in the final scene, of course, Salome sups on that “vermillon of Moab”: the lips of the John the Baptist. By this time his head had been removed from his body, which does not seem to deter the ever eager Salome from giving him a thorough schlupping. As the grand finale, Salome lifts her robes and lowers herself over the Baptist’s head, engulfing him in one great dark moist metaphor.
Vagina dentata, indeed.

There is virtually nothing online regarding this film, so I spent an afternoon pointing my digital camera at the television. Unfortunately, close-ups are really the only thing that looks decent using this method. Ah well… bon apetite!

Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell
Salome's Last Dance: A Film by Ken Russell

Link: “Salome’s Last Dance” at the IMDB

The Illusionist

Egads, had a bad day. Going to soothe the savage soul by seeing The Illusionist. 1) It happens to be playing down the street, and 2) they have killer autentico mexican across the street, and nothing says “soothing” like a big plate of carnitas. Haven’t heard anything about it, but my favorite critic is sold, so I’m giving it a go.
This is to keep me from sitting down with a bucket of fried chicken and six hours of the third season of “24.” Which is very sadly my instinct under stress. *stab*

Sometimes you can be perfectly aware of everything that’s wrong with a movie as you’re watching it only to discover, minutes or hours or days later, that the look and the mood of the thing have flooded in and blurred all its flaws. Neil Burger’s somber fairy-tale romance “The Illusionist,” adapted from a short story by Steven Millhauser, is an extremely self-conscious picture: It moves along with the utmost certainty that we’ll be dazzled by it, as if enchantment were a thing that could be enforced. But in the end, “The Illusionist” got me. The picture, set in fin de siècle Vienna, Austria (and filmed in Prague, Czech Republic), is so beautiful to look at that it practically feels like a drug, a little something that you might sip from a miniature crystal glass. I have vague recollections of some of the actors’ trying too hard, and of places where the story dragged like a tired peacock’s tail. But ultimately, by God, I succumbed to the picture’s faux-laudanum haze.

And, wtf, Marie Antoinette isn’t released until October 20th!?!?! I thought with all the reviews, the Vogue cover, the world going Rococo MAD that surely opening night was nigh. But no… I am punished for another two months. Ugh!

Restoration Comedy, or Love’s Last Shift

I dream often of living some place less expensive, where I could afford to buy a house, where the people are a little less politically correct, and the cars are fewer… (insert “Swiss Family Robinson” theme music here)…
But I’ve had such an amazing week, all due to local color and local comforts.

Last thursday we took my uncle to see “Restoration Comedy” at Cal Shakes theater, which neither of us had ever been to. A gorgeous outdoor theater in the wilds of Orinda, nestled amongst the hills in a glade of giant eucalyptus, we were dive bombed by dragonflies throughout the performance, but no mosquitos (pronounced muskeetas if you’re like me and yer mama is from the midwest)!

I’ll let you read more about the play here. It is only playing til the 30th. It was so brilliant and so funny, and oft times so very GAY that I was literally falling off my lawn chair I was laughing so hard. And the costumes! Oy! Lots of costume puns and general fabulousness. If this play comes to your town, SEE IT.

We had dinner downtown at “Casa Orinda”… and old timey relic of a restaurant that has gone a bit upscale but still serves awesome fried chicken and and steak and spaghetti and stuff. And they had REAL GRAVY. Like not brown gravy, or craft service yellow gravy… real gravy. I could bathe in it.
The icing on the cake of a perfect evening: when we dropped my Uncle off he loaded me up with yet another chunk of his ancient library… specifically the Restoration plays (printed late 17th century), a contemporary copy of The Beggar’s Opera (18th century), and a biography of Henry VII by Sir Francis Bacon (16th century). More on those later. After I roll around in them naked for a bit.
Sunday night, in the middle of our little heat wave (yes, it was 94 in El Cerrito) we went to The Merritt Bakery for dinner in Oakland. Another relic, and old diner, again specializing in fried chicken and cake! It was sooper. We then went and saw the pirate movie at The Grand Lake, yet another beloved anachronism: the gigantic gilded movie house. Used to go there quite a bit as a kid.
Last night we drove to the City for a hair cut. And nipped down to 16th Street and Pancho Villas for burritos. It may be hard to believe, but you just can’t get Mission style burritos anywhere but the Mission. Berkeley don’t have it. No sir. It is only fifteen miles away, and there ain’t nothin’ like it no where else. Sigh.
I am replete. Living here is no punishment, despite the high cost of living. I still fantasize daily about Baltimore or Portland or New Orleans or the Wilds of BigFoot Country. Sigh.