Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

11 November 2006

A Few Brief Thoughts on Things I've Seen This Week

Before I go off to the office to compose a lecture for Monday morning...

Running with Scissors is alright. Actually, it's not that good. I mean, I liked it okay, but it isn't nearly as shocking and outrageous as the book, and the film has trouble finding Augusten Burroughs' voice. The book is awkwardly written in the first place, and lacking in an overarching narrative, so I understand why it would be difficult to film the book, but the fun thing about Burroughs' book is how outlandish everything in it is. The ridiculous things that go on in that doctor's house are so funny and so horrifying at the same time. In the book this really comes through, but in the film it doesn't work. I think this is due to cinematography, frankly. The movie is too pretty, and the audience never really gets an idea of the squalor that exists in that doctor's house. I don't know. I was never shocked or surprised in the film, and although it's funny in parts, it's no great shakes. Annette Bening is wonderful as usual, and Alec Baldwin is great, but I think the movie is awkwardly done.

The Queen is a brilliant movie, though. I saw it yesterday and absolutely loved it. Helen Mirren is superb and surely getting an Oscar nomination (she'll probably take the statue home, too.) Michael Sheen as Tony Blair is also really great. This film (directed by Stephen Frears) is a subtle, fascinating portrait of the monarchy and of human nature. I highly recommend it.

I also saw FSU's production of As You Like It. Blech. I think I've decided, after discussion with Roomie, that I hate this play. I think it is probably the most difficult of Shakespeare's plays to direct and though I don't think it's very poorly written, I do think it's boring and over-written. The characters are fun, but the play is no good. The ridiculous deus ex machina at the end, the silly cross-dressing construct: I'm over it. And FSU's production... sheesh. Let me not say too much about it, but I actually think it was worse than Six Degrees of Separation.

And this morning I watched Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Barefoot Contessa. Mankiewicz followed A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve with this nonsense? Whatever. It was a strange star vehicle with an incoherent plot, like something Gene Tierney would have done, only the star was Ava Gardner. Humphrey Bogart is good (this is the same year he made Sabrina), but the film is too long and too bloated... and frankly, not very interesting.

Am I being unkind this morning? Did I say how much I loved The Queen?

Off to write a lecture...