Maria Antonieta On A Midnight...


Saturday. Almost an hour before midnight, my friend Antonio and I were still curled up on his sofa listening to his old bolero tunes.
With lyrics such as ¨I love you so much/ I can’t live without you/ I will die without you / please come back to me¨, the room is filled almost suicidal boredom, so thick, you can cut it with a knife. We planned on going out for a drink just like normal Saturdays but because his stomach was in outrage because of the cake he ate that morning, we opted to do something else. That something else is called nothing.

I suggested maybe a glass of whiskey will do him fine. He resented.

Actually, there are ways to spend a cold night without going out. A good book, a glass of wine, or the telly are always good alternatives but because because of the long holiday season until now work was quiet, in fact, the whole world was quiet, I needed some distractions or I else, I might go ballistic and end up in an asylum.
And then Antonio´s phone rang.
It was Jorge (pronounced hor-he not George), our Argentinean friend inviting us to go to the movies. I was delighted.

¨So what are we gonna watch¨, I asked him.

¨Maria Antonieta¨, he said

¨Huh?¨

Then I suddenly remembered I was in Spain.

So after a 5 minute shower (at least I showered), we were off to the cinema in Jorge’s car. We call Jorge ¨La Divina¨ (the divine) because that’s what he is---the seemingly cultured, socialite, knows-everything-type of fag. He works in a gay sauna (hahaha!) as an architect and during the afternoons he does his usual rounds to each room with only a towel wrapped around his waist (now that’s a dream job for a gay man, really) but obviously he’s been doing that for so long, he now knows everyone, slept with practically everyone, he can even tell you the card numbers of the members by heart. He is so bored with his job; he recently applied as a pastry chef. Bless him.

So we got in the mall. I freaked out when we checked the popcorn stand. They only had plain popcorn! When I asked Antonio if could ask for cheese flavoured ones he looked at me as if I was asking for coffee from the North pole or mangoes from Africa. Flavoured popcorns do not exist in Spain. So obviously, I settled with what´s available and promised myself I would eat as much barbeque or cheese flavoured popcorns as I could in G4 when I get back to
Manila.

The Cinema was practically empty for the last full show at 12:30am. I was not surprised to see that majority of the viewers were either girls or gay men. I mean, what to do you expect from a movie about Marie Antoinette but frivolities---shoes, gowns, wigs and yes, cakes and sweets. Well, maybe a little bit of French history but honestly, who cares about history on a cold Saturday night? So amidst 17 year old girls and their equally eye-candy boyfriends and a bunch of Dolce and Gabbana muscled Marys, we were off to the beautiful city of Versailles.

The Movie
The opening scene of Kirsten Dunst on a recliner surrounded with pastel coloured cakes and an attendant fixing her shoes is stunning. Her expensive gowns are marvellous. The scenery—the castles, the luscious greenery, the production design in general—is breathtaking. The movie is moving; but only on its first 20 minutes.

I admit I am an admirer of Ms. Coppola´s films. In fact, I am a fan of hers. With her first film, The Virgin Suicides, she captured the loneliness and depression we all, in one way or another, experienced when we were in our teens. It was a tragic film but a GOOD tragic film. Her first film proved that her Coppola blood is alive and potently running through her veins and that she´s got talent, not only a name.

With Lost in Translation, she made me cry. It is one of those movies which encourage the viewers to think, to participate and to make their own ending. Her documentary type treatment to the movie was fresh, making it worthy for an Oscar. Aside from that, I believe, the actors were fantastic. I remember I had to see this film twice to hear what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johanson´s ear just to realize, there was actually nothing (that you can hear).
With Marie Antoinette, Ms. Coppola bored me to death. The first time in my life (being a movie maniac myself) I was about to sleep in the moviehouse; and I promise you I haven’t slept during a movie in my 28 years.!

What´s so boring about it ? Let me tell you.

This is a movie of a girl walking. She walks to and fro…on and about…up and down…from one side of the screen to another. Of course she sometimes sits. She sits for her meal, maybe dance with friends and such and then…she walks again. She walks inside the palace, the hills, the grass, and everything but a tightrope and on the water. During the movie, I was like…¨where the F&”% is she going?¨ There was a bit about French revolution but I think Ms. Coppola was just lazy to elaborate it. I don´t care at all about history in movies, anyway. If I want history, I´m gonna read a book, not go to a movie. It is more precise and accurate but with this movie, I was just appalled with the lack of it or the at least the very little that they showed. What she (Ms. Coppola) was showing was the pains and struggles of the beheaded queen. How sad it is to wear different Manolo Blahniks everyday, how lonely it is to eat all the cakes that you want in the world and how painful it is to have a hot Swedish lover that she had. Yeah right! Very minimal dialogues too. In fact, it is close to a silent film. I´m sure the director wanted the viewers to feel the emotions through visuals instead but when you analyze Kirsten Dunst’s face, you see nothing but flawless skin. Good thing there was Madamme du Barry which was the saving grace of the movie, aside of course from the production design and costume. However, the hilarity of Madamme du Barry´s character did not last long. She was thrown out of the palace after the first King, her lover, died. Too bad.

Music by New Order, The Strokes and Bow Wow were provided which is rather cool, but it is just too much it made the film look like a looooong music video.

In the end, everybody was like ¨That was it? ¨

I spent almost 10 euros (600 pesos) for this movie with an additional 1000 calories gained from popcorn and coke and I was left confused? Well, just before the credits come up, the divine Jorge (again, pronounced hor-he) was shrieking, ready to join the war in Iraq. Obviously he was doing all the bashing so I decided to shut my big mouth up (you know me i´ve got a BIG mouth. Imagine HIS). Meanwhile, Antonio´s stomach got worst. I didn´t know if it is because of the ice tea that he had, or the film.

However, looking back and thinking about the film, I mean, REALLY thinking about it, what Ms. Coppola was trying to achieve was to use Marie Antoinette´s life as a metaphor in our too-much-too-soon world. It is about how sad life can be in the world of Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans; how depressing it is to be on top and be on it forever; that behind those Manolo Blaniks, coutoured gowns, perfect skin and a closet full of money, is an empty person, searching for the true meaning of happiness and love. Too bad only a small portion of the society will understand that; for the majority of the human population gets depressed for the lack of food and money.
If the director’s goal was to show how boring it is to be on top, I think she´s done perfectly well on that part. So good, in fact she bored the audience as well. The goal is good. However, the execution failed.

But…but…but!!! Since the director is THE Sophia Coppola, she can obviously do whatever she wants to do with her movies. She can show a pair of converse on the background while the young queen. was trying on her new shoes (yes, it was there, you wouldn´t miss it), or use 80s music for a period movie for all she cares. With this, I give Miss Coppola a thumbs up. Her attempt to break Hollywood’s conventionality with her rebel attitude is admiring.
Anyway, the movie left a sour taste in my buds, I ended up salivating for a pastel pink cake.