MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006):
This film provoked the most irrational critical response since
In fact, it is worthwhile to contrast the critical reactions to the two movies. Troy was often criticized for being too historically
accurate. It treated the ancient gods as bullshit, but bullshit the
Greeks genuinely believed in, so events could be influenced by the
mortals' belief in those gods, but could not be influenced by their actual
intervention. In other words, the film basically asked "what set of
real events could have inspired Homer's mythological reconstruction?"
Many critics missed the entire point and responded as if the film's creators had somehow
forgotten to include the gods. On the other extreme, Marie Antoinette received the opposite
reaction. Its critics responded to it as if it were supposed to be a
history lecture at Cambridge, and caviled about every miniscule
historical detail which the film misstated. I guess there's no
pleasing them. A film cannot be either too accurate or too inaccurate.
It works like the porridge at the three bears' house. It must be "just
Just as they did with Troy, the critics
seemed to charge naively ahead in the assumption that the screenwriter
of Marie Antoinette (Sophia Coppola, who also directed) simply got all
the facts wrong. That, of course, is crap. She knew the facts. She
researched the script. She based the film on a work written by the
esteemed historian Lady
Antonia Fraser. To the extent that Marie Antoinette's real words are
known, Coppola used them. And she was undoubtedly well aware that her
story was merely the frivolous prologue to Antoinette's life rather than the
dramatic meat of her story, which occurred after the royals were
forced from Versailles. It's a safe bet that when Coppola decided
which part of the story to tell, and when she changed the
known facts, she was aware what she was doing, and did so for a
purpose. I have no problem with that in theory because the facts
sometimes get in the way of a greater truth. My problem with the
script is that I couldn't figure out why she made the changes.
Start with the doggie incident. History has
recorded that when 14-year-old Antoinette traveled from Austria to
France, she was forced to surrender all of her Austrian possessions,
including every stitch of her clothing. She had to undress in front of
her new ladies-in-waiting and get redressed in French clothes. She was
even asked to surrender her beloved pooch, but after much negotiation
between the French and Austrian delegations, she was finally allowed
to keep the dog. It seems to me that Coppola had an excellent
opportunity here. Imagine various and assorted stuffy ambassadors,
nobles, and protocol officers debating for hours, furiously
negotiating terms and demanding concessions, and ultimately deciding
the very fate of nations over a puppy. That could have been a very
entertaining scene. Could have been, but wasn't, because Coppola
decided to change the story so that Antoinette was forced to surrender
her pet, crying, but ultimately conceding when told that she could
have all the French dogs she wanted. Now why, I am wondering,
did Ms Coppola think that was better than the true story?
Another example. The film shows Marie Antoinette
saying courageously that she must stay at Versailles alongside her
husband when all the nobles were fleeing the besieged palace. In real
life, her bags and the children's bags were packed and she was waiting
for her husband's permission to leave. It was Louis who decided that
the family should remain at Versailles. This is a key fact in French
history, because Louis's decision to force his family to remain was
one that he regretted intensely, and one which would cause great
suffering for all the people he loved. Antoinette's desire to leave
was not cowardice, but just good common sense, a characteristic which
her husband famously lacked. (She was not lacking in bravery, as all
her future actions demonstrated.) Point one here is that I'm not sure
why Coppola wanted a different spin in this scene. Point two is that
this particular interpretation angered many people. The French people
reacted to some of these intrinsic changes as Americans might react if
a French movie version of George Washington wanted to chicken out at
Valley Forge but was forced at gunpoint to tough it out. A patriotic
American might get away with that, just as a good Frenchwoman might
have slipped Marie Antoinette past the Cannes audience without being
deluged by a cascade of catcalls. There are just some things an
outsider can't mess with.
I couldn't remember whether Marie Antoinette
actually took on any lovers, so I checked it out and there doesn't
seem to be any truth to it. If there is any nasty rumor which can be
circulated about any human being, there is probably a version of that
rumor about Marie Antoinette. Some of her more notorious
demonstrations of wastrel
behavior spurred an entire cottage industry of exaggerations and lampoons of the most vicious and salacious kind. Some of them were
based at least partly on fact, some of them were negative "spins" of
the facts, and others were just outright fabrication. The rumors of
her sexual appetite seem to be in the latter category. I could find no
justification for any claim that she was unfaithful to her husband,
and I can see no purpose to Coppola's having given weight to the
Having made those points let
me say that Marie Antoinette is actually a fairly thoughtful film. It
is an attempt to portray how Antoinette became whatever she was, and
to offer that portrayal from Marie's own perspective. She came to
France as a 14-year-old girl, the youngest of eleven daughters of the
empress of Austria, and she had never known life outside the court and
her own family. She was immediately taken to Versailles and placed
inside another completely cloistered, shallow, and self-contained
environment, one even more lavish than the one she had left. Exactly
how would we expect her to turn out? The same as any of our own
daughters would turn out in the same situation. She became exactly
what her environment made her. Coppola determined that the best way to
show us what the experience was like for her was to portray it in
completely modern terms. What would happen if Kirsten Dunst, a sweet
and casual all-American girly girl who has grown up in her own
sheltered world, were suddenly transported to the 18th century and
made queen of a country where everyone lived in ornate palaces, abided
by rigid protocol, and spoke with stuffy English accents? It would be
almost exactly like the experience that Marie Antoinette had when she
came to France from Austria. Kiki was basically herself reacting as
she would react in the situations Marie was in. That wasn't bad acting
on Kiki's part. This portrayal is precisely the one Dunst was hired to
deliver, not to recreate Marie Antoinette at Versailles, but to show
Kirsten Dunst at Versailles, to demonstrate vicariously to a modern
female what it would be like if she, the viewer, were transported to
Versailles and made queen. There would be pressures and pleasures,
boredom, frustration, and loneliness. And there would be no way out.
It's a fantasy film. The film is not supposed to be like Becket,
filled with hand-wringing rhetoric about morality and politics, but
rather more like The Wizard of Oz, or A Connecticut Yankee in King
Arthur's Court. In order to make the points resonate deep within
modern audiences, Kiki plays a thoroughly modern woman/child, and the
action is backed by modern pop tunes.
Does all that work? Well,
critics could not have been much more divided, but I think so. The
film held my attention from start to finish. It looks great, and it
gives off the right vibe. The pop music is perfect because it's the
kind of music Marie Antoinette would listen to if she were alive
today. It isn't possible to put modern audiences in Marie's shoes by
using the kind of music she actually liked, because that music sounds
to modern ears like the kind of music a bearded 60-year-old professor
would like, and that would present a "wrong" Marie to modern
audiences, even if it is technically accurate. In terms of the score,
Coppola made a good and daring choice. I understand Marie Antoinette
more after having watched this movie and having thought about its
ideas than I ever did from any "legitimate" history. The film
triggered me to think, "Oh, I get it." That's a good thing, isn't it?
Isn't that one of the reasons we love movies? I know the script has
altered some facts, and I'm not really sure why, but on balance I can
see exactly what it was trying to accomplish, and my verdict is that
(Zipped .avi) Watch the film closely. After they
place the gown over her head, her breasts are clearly visible through
it, but only for a split-second at a time when the fabric touches her
THE BLACK DAHLIA (2006):
reviewed this one here.
THIRD PARTY VIDEOS:
Here's an upgrade of Angela Dodson
in Pledge This! to DVD quality. (Three
avis zipped together)
Pamela Elser in 16 Candles. Well,
it's Pamela's body, anyway. She's the body double for Haviland Morris, whose
face is seen in the close-ups. (Zipped
BEST NUDE SCENES of 2006:
Balloting is finished
Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
As the film opens, a woman commits suicide by throwing herself in
front of a train. The woman was the legendary actress, Fedora, and we
meet our narrator for the story, William Holden, at her funeral. Seems
he was a young assistant director on one of her early films, and had a
brief affair with her. Cut to a few weeks before her suicide. He is an
independent film maker hoping to bring her out of retirement to swing
financing for a new picture. He goes to Corfu, and attempts to make
contact, but is not welcomed with open arms. Fedora claims she is
being held against her will, while those around her claim she lost her
mind and they are protecting her. In act three, we finally learn a
very different version of the story.
Fedora (1978) was written and directed by Billy Wilder, but it's
way too talky. I have seen few worthwhile Hollywood insider films, and
was not overly impressed with this one.
This is not available in the US on DVD, and is probably not a
IMDb readers say 6.5, but reader comments at IMDb are not kind
for the most part.
Ebert was ambivalent at 2.5 stars, praising the style, but not
It is a low C-, with some talent in the cast and Bill Wilder at
the helm, it is technically fine, but does not tell a good story.
Today the Time Machine landed in 1985 for "Private Resort." We have three
lovely ladies who all show us boobs and butt.
Hilary Shepard AKA Hilary Shapiro
and Vickie Benson.
Notes and collages
The Celebrity Shower Series Concludes
Keri Russell in Eight Days a Week
... I recommend this coming-of-age film. In this scene Ms. Russell is
playing with the other "kids" in the spray of the lawn sprinkler not
realizing that her geeky male friend is getting a hard-on while watching
her from the porch steps.
(I was once a geeky male friend in a similar position as a teen so I
empathize a lot with this moment.)
Shannon Whirry in Animal
... this will be the last collage of my "celebrity showers" series: my
skin is getting puckered. Ms. Whirry doesn't really count as an "A" list
actress but if she had a brain to go with that lush body I would be THERE.
... my next series will be less "A" list so that I won't be racking my
brain in terms of the difference between "A" actresses and "B"
... I assure you lots of beauty and my next series won't skip a beat
from this one ...
Two more of Vejiita's famous comic books
Mostly Italian stuff
From "Franck Spadone." a French modern-day noir caper ...
Italian femme fatale Monica Bellucci sexy and
From "L' eclisse," Antonioni's b&w essay on modern life's alienation ...
Monica Vitti sexy + a nipple visible (but it
could be body double)
From "Edipo re," Pasolini's reworking of Sophocles' Oedipus tragedy ...
Silvana Mangano sexy + nipple visible (a
bodydouble most probably)
+ unknown topless
From "Il giorno del cobra," another police and revenge thriller (he
investigates, they kill his son, he takes revenge) starring Franco Nero ...
Sybil Danning nude
From "God's Gun" aka "Diamante Lobo," a rather awful low-end spaghetti
western starring Lee Van Cleef ...
Sybil Danning's tit in a blurry flashback
From "Salamander," a spy thriller
Sybil Danning sexy
Finally a film clip: a full-screen version of Linda Kozlowski in "Back Street
Justice" (Zipped .avi)
Alaina Kalanj in The Pendulum. Here's your girl if you really
like Ashley Judd but wish she had a bigger chest.
Jessica Biel shows off the result of two years of ass-building
Pat's comments in yellow...
Saturday, former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was stopped for driving too slowly,
found to have a suspended license, and was arrested. The suspension was a
clerical error, and he was released after a couple of hours. He's now
threatening to sue the city government and the police,
claiming racial profiling and that he was targeted, humiliated and severely
* They made him miss an appointment with his crack dealer!
* And any man who'd run for city council after being caught on tape smoking a
crack pipe with a hooker doesn't humiliate easily.
New Scientist magazine says the Internet has given rise to a number of new
addictions which are finally getting names. They include: "Ego-surfing," or
compulsively Googling yourself to see who's mentioned you..."Blog Streaking," or
revealing intimate personal info on blogs that should remain
private..."Google-Stalking," or using the Internet to snoop on your ex or
others... "Cyberchondria," or looking through medical sites and thinking you
have all the diseases..."Photolurking," or looking through online photo albums
of strangers..."Wikiholism," or the inability to stop contributing articles to
Wikipedia...and "Cheesepodding," or the urge to download songs so cheesy you'd
be ashamed to admit you own them.
* That last one mostly strikes people who were teenagers
in the 1970s.
A pretty, blonde 29-year-old Australian woman claims she's Mel Gibson's daughter
and is suing for a DNA test. Carmel Sloane told the News of the World that in
1976, her then-17-year-old mother Marilyn was hitchhiking to Sydney when a
handsome young man named Mel picked her up in his station wagon. He made her
hide under a blanket while he went into his mom's house for gas money, and
brought out pillows and a mattress "in case we have to stop for the night." He
persuaded her to sleep in back with him, and they had sex. At dawn, he said he
had to get to work at the orange factory and drove off, never to see her again.
She told him that if she got pregnant, she'd come looking for him; and he said
he was going to be a famous movie star, "so you'll always know where to find
me." Sloane said she doesn't want money; she just wants to meet her father.
* Her mother named her "Carmel" because she was conceived in a car with Mel.
The British government commissioned a report by their chief scientist, Sir David
King, on robot rights. Robotics experts say that by 2056, machines will become
so intelligent, they will attain consciousness, which means they would want
rights and we would have a moral obligation to grant them. This means, for
instance, that it would be just as unacceptable to kick a sentient robot dog as
a real dog, that attacking your computer could lead to assault charges, and that
robots could have the right
* Then Al Gore would finally get elected.