Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ta Dah - Marie Antoinette

Late reviews - but what the hell -

Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola is more enjoyable than is reasonable for such a self-indulgent film; the cinematography and soundtrack, as well as Ms Dunst, are ravishing.

The movie it reminded me of most is Bertolucci's The Last Emperor - both films convincingly depict the effects on the captives of their gilded cages, and both are somewhat tableau-esque in construction. Bertolucci's story is aided by the extreme stylistic changes operating in his history - Imperial China to Art Deco to Mao. Alas, although Sofia does track the development of fashion at Versailles in the period from the stiff and formal panniered dresses of Marie's arrival in France, through the towering wig phase, and onwards to the deceptively simple 'natural' yet equally ruinously expensive flowing muslin gowns of the pre-revolutionary years, this transition is I fear too subtle for a modern audience to comprehend and certainly not enough to carry the plot.

Copolla's triumph is her exquisite, intimate perceptions of a life enmeshed in public royal ritual. I think her choice of near-contemporary music enhances this dimension.

Of course, if she wanted to be truly contemporary, she would have chosen tracks off Scissor Sisters latest CD, Ta-Dah. I think the most flattering thing I can say about it is that I bought it; I must have been the only person in the UK disappointed by their debut. Although some tracks were promising, and Jake Shears's voice was amazing, for me nothing reached the heights of their cover of Comfortably Numb.

I bought Ta-Dah after listening the thing on the band's Myspace page. It's really rather superb - a massive jump up from no.1 and also shows signs their musical development is just beginning. The first track, I don't feel like dancin' has justifiably been hailed as a dance classic, but I think Ooh is even better - in fact everything on the second half is just marvellous.

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