Thursday, March 29, 2007


Two movies in Craig's Netflix queue were of interest to me recently. And now I'm going to review them, even though I have no qualifications whatsoever.

We watched Marie Antoinette (with Kirsten Dunst, whom I adore) in two sessions (between basketball games), and I was completely transfixed.

I would never claim to be a history buff by any means, but I do think history is interesting. I knew a little (very little) about late eighteenth century French history, but my understanding of Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, was pretty much based on the whole "Let them eat cake" thing.

The shortest summary of the movie would still have spoilers. It's gorgeous. The use of late 20th century and early 21st century alterna-pop in the soundtrack (a la "A Knight's Tale" a few years ago) was refreshing: too many historical movies have sweeping soundtracks that keep the film's subject at arms length. The film depicts Marie Antoinette from ages 14-30, and the film's action is set to music I loved at the same ages: at a ball, the characters are dancing to the same songs I danced to in younger days. That universal common denominator, music, puts me in relationship with the characters in the film.

Craig made an interesting comment late in the film. He said, "It's as if the filmmaker [Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, wrote and directed the film] is descended from royalty." The film does, indeed, feel like an apologia of the late French court. Perhaps that perception is colored by our fairly recent viewing of The Queen, which deals with today's British royal family.

At any rate, Marie Antoinette is fantastic, and probably appropriate for viewers over age 11 or so (there are long stretches of plot that would bore a younger child, and a brief sexy frontal nudity and no violence).

On the other hand, not at all appropriate for sensitive viewers is the other film we viewed: Shortbus. I'll admit that I thought this movie was something else. See, actor Krispin Glover is working on a project right now that involves mentally handicapped people. I thought that Shortbus was that project. (Craig laughed his head off when I realized that the movie we were watching had nothing to do with mental retardation.) (But you get the confusion, right? Short bus being the transportation for special education students?) (Anyway.)

Shortbus is not at all about mental retardation. It's about s-e-x. And relationships. And feelings. And dysfunction. And it's all depicted quite frankly (meaning, yes, lots and lots of nudity and there's penetration and it sure didn't look simulated to me). (But it's not a porno. Really!) It was made by John Cameron Mitchell (of Hedwig and the Angry Inch). If you liked Hedwig, you'll probably like Shortbus too.

The story focuses on a few people, who, at the beginning of the movie are strangers. Couple Jamie and James (both guys who look a lot alike...) meet couples therapist Sofia, who is having her own intimate difficulties with husband Rob. Jamie and James, in their therapy session, suggest that Sofia visit a club named Shortbus.

We explore Shortbus with Sofia, and we meet more characters, all with their own stories, secrets, and issues. Sexuality plays a big role in this film, but I won't say the film is about sex. (Yes, I know that just two paragraphs ago I said it was, but that was for shock value! Because how else will I get all the sickos to google my page for nasty dirty sex talk?) I don't know if I can really tell you what the movie is about, but I'll say this: if very real depictions of sex and bodies (okay, the bodies are definitely idealized...I don't think anyone in this movie had more than 5% body fat) doesn't bother you, see it. But if guy-on-guy action is not your cup of tea, don't. Because you'll then hate me and think I'm disgusting that I could even watch such a thing.

(And don't even get started there, because that forces you to this one: I'm a trained sex educator!) (Seriously. The youth of America? Learn about sex from me. Well, some of them. Like ten every two years. But it's a start!)

Marie Antoinette A+, fine for any viewer except kids who might get bored
Shortbus A+, fine for degenerate viewers who love to look at naked people doing "it"

Wait, what?


Paul said...

Shortbus was awful. I thought that it would have some redeeming qualities but alas, it did not. The only novel thing about that movie is that the sex was real and the actors were first-time actors-one could suggest that they weren't really actors at all. The stories were weak, the acting worse, and who's this CRAIG character?

kinsi said...

I just saw Marie Antoinette two days ago myself. I was hoping we'd get to see the I was slightly disappointed by the ending.

I left not knowing to hate or to like Marie. I love movies like that.