Marie Antionette and one-night stands.
Long ago I had a one-night stand with a short, muscular, blonde haired, blue-eyed surfer. At least I think he surfed. He did something that made his muscles prominent and thick. Some exercise on a regular basis that gave him a well defined six pack, the kind usually found in museums. Not really my type. I tend to gravitate towards the flabby stoners and drunks, the ones who don't make me feel bad that the last real work out I had was a drunken late night game of kickball. I had nothing in common with this surfer (we'll call him 'Surfer' not to protect his identity, but, because for the life of me, I really can't remember his name). I knew I would never see him again, and it was almost laughable when he wrote his number down before leaving in the morning, I guess it was more of a courtesy then anything else. The Surfer did, however win for muttering the best last words any one-night stand has ever said to me on their way out the door. Before leaving and throwing a pillow in my face, he looked at me and said, "Don't watch anymore shitty movies." Besides having some pretty decent sex, we also spent most of the night arguing about 'Lost in Translation', a movie we had both recently seen in the theater. He hated it, I adored it. I can honestly say that once we started in on these conversations I stopped entertaining any thoughts of seeing him again. In fact, this may have been the most Zen like one night stand I have ever had, I was totally aware of what it was, and so I was completely in the moment with it. I just knew I could never get involved with someone who so fiercely hated 'Lost in Translation’; in fact maybe it was his violent reaction to this movie that cemented it as one of my more recent favorites.
The Surfer's biggest complaint was that nothing happened in it,
"Life isn't like that you know."
"But it sort of is, maybe you just don't want to pay to watch it.”
"No, I really don't, that's my point."
I bring all this up because I've been hearing a lot of the same sort of complaints about Marie Antoinette, Coppola's latest film. I will come out right now and say that I absolutely adored this movie. I thought it was delicious; the music, the food, Versailles, the costumes, the fucking hairpieces, the shoes. It was absolute eye and ear candy. Sure, Jason Schwartzman was unbelievable and stiff, I could overlook this, after all, he muttered about ten lines through out the entire movie. Sure, some of the language felt a little silly, like when Marie Antoinette says the dressing ritual is "sooo ridiculous", but I see where Coppola was trying to go with that language. She wanted us to get that this hated Queen started off as a 14-year-old girl, not really ready to handle what she was being thrown into, and sort of home sick.
I don't know about you, but I don't usually go to the movies for a history lesson. I love dramas, but I have enough to draw from in my own life most days. I like smart, witty films that tell a good story and make me laugh, but I also read a lot of books. Sometimes I want to go to the movies and just fucking sink, forget about the e-mails I forgot to send at work, the cat litter I have to buy, or that one day we're all going to rot and die. And in terms of all that, Marie Antoinette was just perfect.
Sofia Coppola paints movies, sure she uses big wide brushes where lots of folks would prefer some fine lines, but she gives us grand, beautiful pictures. I didn't go to this movie for a detailed account of the history of France during Louis XVI's reign. I went because I knew there was an 80's sound track to a movie that was set in the 1700's, I knew Sofia Coppola would take risks in the telling of the story and I liked the hot pink font on the poster. I will say seeing it made me want to dust off my high school history books and remind myself of the details that weren't in the movie (which were a lot). And that's the thing that gets me with all these reviews saying it was self-indulgent, fluff that didn't tell the whole story of her life and what was going on in France at the time, do we ever rely on movies to teach us real, accurate histories? Unless they're documentaries we shouldn't. Shame on us in fact, if we do.
Perhaps I was drawn to this movie so much because it bore some resemblance to 'Lost in Translation', the isolation Bill Murray's character feels upon arriving in Japan is quite similar to the loneliness Marie Antoinette feels upon arriving in France. There are the same big, sweeping shots and long silences, in fact you hear more music then dialogue in the film. I'm quite certain the Surfer is sitting somewhere cursing Sofia Coppola and her boring movies. No doubt he would call this a chick flick. I'd be surprised if he ever even sees the movie. Thank god for one-night stands and good directors who know how to indulge our senses.