"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

'Marie Antoinette' & 'Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man' movie reviews

Just a couple of recently seen films I wanted to tell you about, so here goes:


This movie is delicious - a visual tour de force through the palace and lifestyle of the court of Versailles in the heyday of Louis XVI and his young Austrian bride. As a visual and musical piece, this is stunning work, with everything reflecting the pastel tones of the ever-present displayed cakes - the colours of marzipan and sugared almonds - but if you're looking for a history lesson, it's rather light on detail - more like candy floss. Powdered faces and lacquered hair piled high, perfectly symmetrical shots of the manicured gardens of the palace and a post-punk soundtrack that seems absolutely perfect. Suzie and the Banshees' 'Hong Kong Garden' has never worked as well as it did in the masked ball scenes. Inspired.


I love Leonard Cohen. I'd even go as far as saying I've always preferred his music/poetry to Bob Dylan's. And he's still producing good work.This film is based around a tribute concert of his music, performed by some of the "world's best singers" (as we are informed) including Nick Cave, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, Antony Hegerty and Jarvis Cocker, amongst others. The performances are cut with bits of interviews with Cohen himself and some impressions of him, given by artists performing the works. Unfortunately though, members of U2 - Bono and The Edge - have too much to say in this department. And to make things worse, U2 are also given the privilege of doing a separate, filmed performance - in a 'retro-cabaret' style stage setting - of one of the songs, with Cohen also singing a song to their backing, though only a part of it, which was most disappointing. U2 have to be one of the most over-rated, over-represented groups ever, so their presence here seems completely superfluous. Also, what I love about Leonard Cohen's songs is that they deal with the emotional realm - uncertainty, longing, self-reflection, sensuality, pain, guilt etc - themes that are explored poetically and usually ambiguously. They are like unsolved fables that contain a genuine air of mystery. Yet, Cohen's search for meaning, as revealed in this film, kind of tainted this mystery, especially since he is now 'at peace' (so to speak) via his relationship with Buddhism, which kind of wrapped the whole movie up a little disappointingly.

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