Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cinematic rundown

"The Departed" - Totally engrossing, much easier to follow than I thought it would be. Incredibly violent (apparently that's a Scorsese hallmark...what I don't know about his movies could probably fill a warehouse) and profane, but also filled with so many good one-liners I lost count. Outstanding performances by all the principals. Went to a 10 p.m. screening; so good I didn't care that it let out at almost 1 a.m.

"The Queen" - Good movie. Great sense of the frosty, stuffy air that surrounds the royal family in England. I didn't know that anti-royalist sentiments ran so high during the aftermath of Princess Di's death. Great performances by Helen Mirren as QEII and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair (talk about a dead ringer!). Also, the addition and editing of news broadcasts from the time (was it really nine years ago?) really add a lot, though I must say, the Brits could teach our newscasters a lot about enunciation and convincing delivery.

"Borat" - Funny and shocking at times, but slightly underwhelming. I get that Kazakhstan is supposed to be a third-world backwater and that Borat has no sense of the outside world, but the idea that he's not housebroken, that he would defecate in a bag and present it to his hosts? It's neither funny nor believable. And the political points that the movie makes - how Americans tacitly go along with anti-Semitism and homophobia - get drowned out by all the naked wrestling and Pamela Anderson-worshipping.

"Marie Antoinette" - Visually stunning and well-paced. I didn't mind the long periods without dialogue; Sofia Coppola is skilled enough to let the sets and camerawork tell the story. Kirsten Dunst has the right poise and expression for the regal part, but her delivery seems too willowy and too casual (almost Valley Girl-ish) at times. I expected to be jarred by the anachronistic music (Gang of Four, Bow Wow Wow), but the tunes were chosen artfully and to great effect. I loved "Lost in Translation" and some of the long, lingering shots in "Marie Antoinette" - especially Dunst's face at the end, as the queen makes her last trip to Paris - reminded me of the cinematography. I'm excited to see what Coppola does next.

To come - recent readings, latest listenings, some ponderings on my performances.