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Entries in Royalty Porn (13)

Saturday
Sep132014

TIFF: A Little Chaos

TIFF 14 doesn't actually wrap until tomorrow night but my adventure in Toronto has come to an end. There are still a few writeups to come but here, for you, is my take on the Closing Night Film as I zip up the suitcase and head to the airport.

How to describe that thing where you thoroughly enjoy watching something that is neither objectively good, nor enjoyably bad? I imagine anyone who has an inordinate fondness for an entire genre or subgenre, quality be damned, will understand. Sci-fi and horror fans will line up nodding, I'm sure. But for me that genre is the costume dramedy.

Those with allergies to "light" costume period pieces should give this trifle from actor/director Alan Rickman a wide wide berth. For me, prone to enjoy both famous thespians playing dress-up and royalty porn as long as it neither are weighed down by the self-seriousness of Oscar-seeking biopics, this obscure fanciful tale flew by. Alan Rickman plays the King of France who wants a brand new something-he's-never-seen-before as new attraction for the gardens of Versailles. He's about to move the entire court there and the unveiling must be magnificent. A fountain it will be then and his royal gardener Andrè Le Norte (Matthias Schoenaerts in walking romance novel cover form with long luscious locks but broad shouldered manliness) hires the widow landscape designer Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslet) to create it because he recognizes that she's actually a visionary immediately though he can't quite admit to it as he weighs her proposal.

Complicating matters is that the King doesn't handle failure well and Le Norte's future hangs in the balance and he wants things quicker than they seem possible. Also: Le Notre and De Barra are, SURPRISE! (just kidding), falling for each other.

There's a bit of proto-feminism wishfulfillment happening and a bit of romantic melodrama but the movie never totally commits to any one thread. Its paper thin, really, with nothing much in the way of thematic interest that's actually explored or depth of characterization. All hangups aside it was just great to see Kate Winslet on the big screen again but she could've done this in her sleep while blinded by silly hats and short of breath from a corse---oh, wait. But better light and unchallenging than embarrassing which is how things go in the movie's most obvious bid at self-seriousness with a "twist" flashback about Madame Barra's tragic past that the movie teases ad nauseum from early on.

The movie suffers from what looks like underfunding since it skimps on anything that might back up the central subject matter which is meant to convey and continually references about how lush, overgrown, and imaginative De Barra's work is. But again, an easy sit, especially if you're costume inclined. Winslet and Schoenearts work fine together though their romance feels more talent-based than physical. Since their work is dramatic they sometimes feel like they're in their own film. It's not unlike those classic Disney fairy tales, really, where the leads are drawn as "beautiful" realistic-ish humans while the side characters are from another species, with oversized heads or comic limbs. Among the ensemble, most of the actors are delightful even if no one is remotely challenged (oh look Stanley Tucci doing his fun gay sidekick schtick again!). Jennifer Ehle (far on the periphery) and Helen McCrory (near the center of the action as Schoenaerts shady wife) both manage to play into the movies preference for types and caricature while also slyly suggesting actual individual character. As a result their scenes feel like whole new films sprouting up like weeds inside the one we got but that's okay since this garden is wilted. C+

 

Also at TIFF: WildThe Gate, Cub, The Farewell Party, BehaviorThe Theory of Everything, Imitation GameFoxcatcher, Song of the Sea, 1001 Grams, Labyrinth of Lies, Sand DollarsThe Last Five YearsWild Tales, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on ExistenceForce Majeure, Life in a Fishbowl, Out of Nature, The Kingdom of Dreams and MadnessCharlie's Country, and Mommy

Friday
Aug082014

Her Royal Majesty, The Queen of Link

This collection was meant to publish some 24 hours ago. Enjoy these links you might well have seen already!

Decider tracks Channing Tatum's expanding neck 
MNPP Jason calls a Happy Hobbit Ending for Lee Pace within six months. I think this is optimistic. 
Pajiba thoughtfully creates an anti-superhero-movie-diversity Bingo board. Love it!
AV Club Jeff Goldblum participated in a Jurassic Park themed wedding photo. It's great
The Dissolve Epix is airing a color version of Alexander Payne's Nebraska. What the hell?


Arts Beat Helen Mirren to play the Queen again on Broadway. Will the third time be the charm for a first Tony? If she wins she will have won the Oscar, Emmy and Tony all for playing Queen Elizabeths I & II. Quite a specific niche, eh?
The Wire a very bad day for the creator of True Detective Nic Pizzolatto who doesn't handle criticism very well and is now accused of plagiarism as the Emmys approach
The Film Stage shares Akira Kurosawa's 100 favorite films list (originally published in a book from 1999 apparently). Like me his favorite Scorsese is King of Comedy!
The Wrap DC has adjusted its Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice schedule to avoid Captain America 3. That sentence would have unthinkable years ago but Marvel has really made it work.
MNPP "Gratuitous Teddy Sears" I 100% approve and I would like to point out that I raved about him all the way back during his very tiny role on Dollhouse and so glad he got such a plum gig on Masters of Sex 

Ooh look, Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges (Emmy nominated for Masters of Sex) talking about their acting process at an event in LA. (There's also a clip of them talking about The Fabulous Baker Boys but it's not about Michelle Pfeiffer at all - sacrilege - so I lost interest)

There's no point in even linking to a story about this but how terrible is it that they've opted to call the next Terminator film, a needless reboot when time-travel narratives can reboot themselves while also not stupidly pretending that other films didn't exist, Terminator Genisys. That's the actual title, people, purposeful mispelling and all. 

Finally, i09 shares ten lessons we can learn from the surprising success of Guardians of the Galaxy. Even though I think the movie has really pulled off a conjob on critics (it's winning rapturous ignore-the-obvious-flaws praise I think because it gets a couple of important things very right), most of these are bullet points are true. But I have to shake my head and roll my eyes hard at this bit about its cross-gender appeal at the box office:

How can a movie appeal to both of these groups? Because they both want the same thing, more or less — fun adventures in which both the male and female characters are fully realized.

Oy. If Gamora is our new standard for "fully realized female characters" in blockbuster cinema our standards have hit rock bottom and the future is going to be BLEAK. The ongoing gender problems in mainstream cinema have really taken a toll on people's expectations. 

Friday
Mar072014

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Grace of Monaco"

Approaching trailers for movies you're going to see no matter what (i.e. anything with your favorite actor in it) makes the Yes, No Maybe So™ question a strangely hypothetical one. Such is the case with Grace of Monaco which is currently scheduled to open on ____. No, we don't know the date yet but people will be talking about it in May after its Cannes premiere. Let's hope those of us who can't afford $1000 a night for a trip to France in the summer don't have to wait seven months* to form our own opinions; a bit of glam adult counterprogramming in the summer (look at the scenery!) would be a kind thing to do!

But where were we?

Oh yes, Princess Grace. At the beginning of the trailer we learn that she'd like to return to Hollywood -- Hitchcock wanted her for Marnie (1962) but...conflict! Her formerly charming prince won't allow for it; this is not a Disney musical and there will be no Happily Ever After...

the Yes No Maybe So breakdown is after the jump. Non-Spoiler Alert: I'm a "Yes"

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar052014

A Year With Kate: Mary Of Scotland (1936)

Episode 10 of 52 wherein Anne Marie screens all of Katharine Hepburn's films in chronological order.

In which Kate dons some regal duds.

Stick with me, folks. The next three weeks are going to be rough, but if we can get through it together, the last week in March will be Stage Door, and from there on it’s nothing but Kate classics. In the meantime, however, we’ll have to slog through three films which, if I’m totally honest, rightly earned Kate her “box office poison” moniker. But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves.

First we have to get through Mary of Scotland, a misbegotten, misdirected, miscast movie. “Misbegotten” because it dumbs down the political intrigue of Queen Mary of Scotland’s reign into a bad romance novel plot. “Misdirected” because John Ford clearly would rather have been out in Monument Valley with John Wayne and a wide angle lens. "Miscast" because how in the name of all that is holy did we miss the chance to cast Katharine Hepburn as Queen Elizabeth I??

Elizabeth is a great role for actresses, especially redheads with good cheekbones. You know where I’m going with this. Since everybody loves pitting Cate vs Kate Elizabeth I vs Mary Stewart, I decided to rank four stand-out Lizzies and Marys (some good, some bad, all unique).

VS

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct212013

Monologue: Judi Dench in “Shakespeare in Love” (and at the Oscars )

Andrew here. Jose was just talking about Romeo & Juliet so there's our blogging segueway to Shakespeare in Love! I love this movie, despite the less than stellar reputation it's built up since its release 15 years ago. I’d argue that it’s the most successfully executed romantic comedy in the past 20 years. Those that claime that Shakespeare in Love is little more than a bauble often forget that it was penned by one of the finest English language dramatists of the 20th century, Tom Stoppard. Films written by playwrights work well for this column because playwrights are innately aware that monologues are like great set-pieces to show off the acting craft. Shakespeare in Love is filled with monologues and sotto voce asides and it’s not just because of Stoppard’s playwright sensibilities. The very best trick Stoppard plays in Shakespeare in Love is delightfully imping Shakespeare’s technique in the film.

But the monologue. Today we focus on that slight, but effective Supporting turn which won the Oscar.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep222012

NYFF: "Hyde Park On Hudson" Historical Oscar Fluff

Michael C here with my first dispatch from the 50th New York Film Festival. First up is one of the Fall's two big president-starring prestige pictures.

Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson is a perfect example of that particular type of high-end, finely crafted period piece that hits theaters every autumn on its way to an Oscar nomination for Costume Design. These titles exist to provide awards voters with two hours of comfort food nostalgia wrapped in a thin packaging of historical significance. In recent years this subgenre has provided us with films like Finding Neverland, Mrs. Henderson Presents, and My Week With Marilyn. This year it’s Hyde Park on the Hudson, a film on the low end of this particular style. To call it a dud would be too harsh - kinder to say that it’s a missed opportunity.

The story is narrated by Daisy (Laura Linney), FDR’s devoted mistress as well as his fifth or sixth cousin, depending on how you count. Their courtship leads to the presidential handjob scene that America was undoubtedly clamoring for, (ball’s in your court Lincoln) presented in a montage that verges on the unintentionally hilarious in the extent to which it goes to remain tastefully inoffensive. Think close-ups of wild flowers while the sound of FDR’s limo a-rockin’ is heard off-screen.

The set up: With the threat of World War II looming, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) have embarked on the first ever journey to America by British royalty in the hopes a meeting with Franklin Roosevelt (Bill Murray) at his upstate New York getaway can persuade the Americans to intervene. Other major players in the story include FDR’s busybody mother (Elizabeth Wilson), his stalwart assistant (Elizabeth Marvel) and the brash and outspoken Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams) who has little patience for the pomp and etiquette of royalty. All her bows are unmistakably sarcastic.

Of course, the main attraction here is Murray...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul282012

Olympic Weekend: Her Majesty, Mrs Urban, and Mr Bean

Please tell me you're watching the Olympics.

Like many non-sports people of the world, it's the only time I'm ever interested in sports but interested I am. All in! I love that famous film directors often get to direct the Opening Ceremonies and though I can't say that I think Danny Boyle did a memorable job or anything (Zhang Yimou's 2008 spectacle is a *really* tough act to follow), I did enjoy the comic touches. Always love seeing Daniel Craig suited up as James Bond and the evening's best moment had to be Queen Elizabeth's stunt double hilariously leaping out of a helicopter in that grandmatronly pink dress and the Queen's own sense of humor about herself to say yes to all this slapstick in the first place.

Who knew she had a sense of humor?

You'd never know it to look at her. Her Majesty never looks anything less than miserable (I died at her reaction to that ghastly children's choir) If she had said no, one must assume that Danny Boyle had Dame Helen Mirren backstage with costume on, ready to step in like an eager understudy.

My other favorite bit was Mr. Bean's total boredom while playing the Chariots of Fire theme song on the keyboard and his resultant jogging fantasy. It's probably not cool to admit that Mr. Bean cracks me up but he does.

Most of us watch the Olympics on the telly but look who was happy to be in the bleachers!

Love you, Nicki Kidman! You are a true Olympian in our hearts and an actual Gold Medalist to The Film Experience! xoxoxo

Call me maybe?

What are your favorite Olympic moments so far? I live for gymnastics and they keep cutting away from it. ALSO: any suggestions on how to get better gymnastics coverage are welcome -- I feel like I literally ONLY saw the US athletes tonight and I have no idea how their competition is doing or what they look like. I watch the Olympics because its global. I need other countries in the mix. Please and thanks.