Saturday, October 21, 2006

I Liked It!
My main fear, on entering a screening of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette was that it would portray the pre-Revolutionary French upper class as glamorous and interesting. The moment Gang of Four's "Natural's Not In It" started blasting from the theatre soundsystem, I knew I had nothing to worry about.

Sofia's aristocrats are an unattractive bunch, for the most part: they're privilege cushioned by a smug sense of entitlement; they're indulgence desiccated by a regime of strict social ritual; they're senses eroded by years of petty sniping and gossip; they're minds numbed by the reassuring mundanity of the socioeconomic order;
reveling in the banality of their evil and the crapulance their of repulsive Anti-Glam.

Much like the contemporary ruling class, naturally. Of course, most of them can't be blamed, exactly. Like the rest of us, the truly privileged are generally just happy to play their little parts in perpetuating the status quo. They're just lucky to actually benefit from it more than we do, objectively speaking.

Anyway, into this unappealing milieu comes Marie Antoinette - a dreamer whose Pro-Glam can't be crushed by the machinations of The System. Clearly Sofia has more important things on her mind than historical accuracy.

The film
sounds great too, by the way: important dialogue is audaciously buried into the general ambient hubbub; pivotal scenes are soundtracked by new wave hits remixed by Kevin Shields(!)

What's remarkable is how un-pop it all is - in spite of the music and the punky graphics. It's more stylized than stylish; more thought provoking than thrill providing. It's brilliantly, subtly realized and the middle-brow film critics will never understand it.


Grimmer said...

This is good to hear. I had a bad feeling about this one despite liking both of her earlier films.

Saelan said...

Crapulence is such a great word. I'm glad that I can look forward to this movie now.

Samuel said...

Does this mean that I now have the power to officially declare that things are Okay To Like? I'm not sure I can handle the responsibility.

I'd have to say that I don't think this movie is for everyone. Put it this way... If your idea of quality cinema is "Garden State", then forget it. If it's "The Shining", then give this one a try and let me know what you think.

Grimmer said...

Hey now, there's nothing wrong with "Garden State" a time machine and a shotgun couldn't fix.

Samuel said...

I think there'd have to be a SEVERE KICKING somewhere in the mix too, wouldn't you say?

crys said...

i'm afraid... i watched the trailer for Marie Antoinette last week and felt so completely turned off. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes and couldn't even force out a snicker...

So, was the trailer totally misleading or am i missing something???
(i suppose there's only one way to really know)

Samuel said...

Well, I saw two trialers...

The first was entirely dialogue and voiceover-free - just a lot of quick-cuts set to a New Order song.

The other was the typical "In a time when..."-type voiceover crap. Those things make EVERYTHING look laughable.

There's a lot of obvious stuff to like about his film - the visuals, the sound, the frankly astonishing cast - but the reasons that one might be able to feel sympathy for an overspending Austrian princess...? Well that's a little less obvious.

If you're prepared to engage with it, this is a really interesting film. If you want everything spelled out to you in foot-high letters, well there's a million-and-one faux-serious Sean Penn/Hilary Swank-style epics out there.

Roo said...

I dunno... I thought it was VERY pop. I think that Sofia Coppola has some vague points to make about celebrity, but is ultimately more interested in trying to capture the glamour of a different age, and I don't think that detracts from the intelligence of the film. I loved it, but y'know, I love lavish sets and pastels.

You can see why the French hated it, though. It's like Matthieu Kassovitz making a sympathetic portrait of Paris Hilton - 'she couldn't help being born into this life! She's a victim!'.

Samuel said...

That's because you still love pop. I've turned into a Modernist snob in my old age. To me "pop" means Fergie, not "The Shining." Maybe this movie recaptures the power of pop better than any music has this year.

Apart from Scritti Politti, obviously.