Queens of the Cinema

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"Queens of the Cinema"

It’s been a kind of theme weekend, as I went to see The Queen Thursday night and Marie Antoinette last night. Antoinette has several fantastic moments, but I ultimately found it to be a deeply flawed film with, in particular, some very serious pacing problems that make it dull in parts and rendering it hard to say what’s really supposed to be happening thematically. It’s a very interesting film nonetheless; I liked the occassional dollops of deliberate anachronism and they did an excellent job of portraying the fundamental weirdness of Versailees and 18th century society while also making the characters distinctly human. Also, Steve Coogan is just great in every movie I’ve seen him in.

The Queen, by contrast, is oddly brilliant especially considering that the story — about the response of the Royal Family and the Blair family to the death of Princess Diana — is something I was pretty profoundly not interested in. The cast, however, is brilliant with the exception of Michael Sheen’s Tony Blair, which is pretty good. Director Stephen Frears does a great job of staging scenes where nothing really happens except various people talking to each other, and nicely blends actual footage together with his dramatic scenes. Peter Morgan’s screenplay, most crucially, actually takes this story and turns it into a fascinating movie of ideas with sympathetic portrayals of various different takes on the purpose and nature of the Monarchy and the concepts of duty and political leadership.

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