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Wednesday Round-Up: Defending “Marie Antoinette,” Debating “Man of Steel,” and Keeping Up With Patrick Bateman

Marie Antoinette

The middle of the week means it is time for my usual round-up of some of the articles I’ve been digging this week, including a handy list of “movies to see” at the mid-point of 2013. I’ve seen my share, but I have plenty of catching up to do …

First: I’m not sure what it is about Sofia Coppola’s films that seems to garner such strong reactions. I’ve met few folks who are in the middle about her work — it’s a love/hate thing, it seems. Her latest, “The Bling Ring,” starring Emma Watson, appears to open Friday in Buffalo (there is some confusion, but it is listed on Fandango), and it seems to be as glossy and surface-oriented as the rest of her films. But I have actually liked that about them. “Marie Antoinette” seems to be the most love-it-or-hate-it of the Coppola filmography, and on the occasion of “Bling”‘s release, New York Magazine’s Vulture website is mounting a spirited defense.

As author Amanda Dobbins puts it:

To be fair, not everyone hated Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” New York’s David Edelstein called it “one of the most immediate, personal costume dramas ever made”; 55 percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes sided with him, to varying degrees. But seven years later, “Marie Antoinette,” loosely based on the best-selling Antonia Fraser biography, is probably Coppola’s least-loved film. It’s the one that got booed at Cannes (though of course it did, Cannes is in France); it is the one that didn’t live up to “Lost in Translation.” And if you are anti-Sofia, then it is probably the most obvious example of her worst tendencies: style over substance, minimal plot, overprivileged young women who refuse to speak in full sentences or really at all.

But I think I’m with Ms. Dobbins here: “I happen to love ‘Marie Antoinette’; it’s probably my second favorite of Coppola’s films, right behind ‘Lost in Translation.’ And while I understand some of the criticisms (specifically the part about no one using words, ever), most of its so-called weaknesses — even that famous pair of Chuck Taylors — are the reasons I enjoy it. For all its historical trappings, ‘Marie Antoinette’ is just a painfully hip period film about how annoying and fun and terrifying it is to be a teenage girl. It is a high-school movie transplanted to Versailles.”

And the rest:

  • Speaking of Sofia Coppola, Movie City News has posted her debut short from 1998, “Lick the Star.”
  • Bret Easton Ellis himself said “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” “star” Scott Disick would be an ideal Patrick Bateman in an “American Psycho” remake, but it took Kanye West to make it so.
  • I finally saw “Man of Steel” last night, and I’ll share some thoughts soon. (Let’s say I enjoyed it, with reservations.) The Playlist offers a solid breakdown of the best and worst of Zack Snyder’s Superman epic, and there are lots of good points here.
  • Roger Ebert’s birthday was yesterday, and his website offered up a nice list of films for which his review “made the difference,” including “Hoop Dreams” and “Dark Skies.”
  • Pitchfork’s new movie website, The Dissolve, has not launched yet, but its Tumblr site has, and the great Scott Tobias has posted the aforementioned “movies to see” so far in 2013 list, along with DVD and Blu-ray release dates for some.
  • Now the Rob Ford scandal is impacting the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Will Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” flop? This writer seems to think so, and offers some convincing reasons why.
  • Yet another trailer for Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives,” starring Ryan Gosling.
  • Interestingly, after a mixed — well, mostly negative — response at Cannes, the filmmanaged to beat “Stories We Tell” and “The Act of Killing” for top honors at the Sydney Film Festival.
  • Lastly, Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is finally set to open in Buffalo this weekend. Here is a nice Guardian interview about that film, “The Avengers,” his career, and more.

 

Photo Credit: Sofia Coppola
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Coming Attraction: Aaa-hooooo! Werewolves of Wall Street, Scorsese-Style

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Seemingly during the middle of last night, the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” dropped, and it’s a good one.

This re-teaming of the filmmaker and his late-period De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, is the story of the rise and fall of a brash Wall Street stockbroker during the 1990s. Some thoughts on the “Wolf” trailer, which might features more cutting than any other released this year:

  • This thing MOVES, and feels a bit like the coke-fever segment of “Goodfellas” stretched to feature length. I’ve enjoyed every Scorsese movie post-“Goodfellas” to some degree, but “Wolf” feels more adrenalized than anything he’s done in ages.
  • It seems to revisit the dark comic tone of Scorsese’s “King of Comedy” and “After Hours.” As Jeffrey Wells puts it, “The cutting on this ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ trailer is brilliant. Accurately or otherwise, it persuades you that this … apparently is not a dramatic scolding exercise as much as a kind of dark existential comedy about living the life of madness when you can…go for it now, take the bust later.”
  • I attempted to read Jordan Belfort’s book, but found did not find it particularly gripping; I gave up, but vowed to try again before the movie is released. It seems to me that the film captures the book’s tone well, but also softens the snide a bit via the casting of the perennially likable DiCaprio. (It would not work with, say, Jeremy Piven in the lead. He can be a jerk, but he has to be a jerk with a dash of caddish likability.)
  • This looks like a return to “light Leo,” and not a moment too soon. (Yes, you could argue that “Django” featured an occasionally comic Leo, but it was comic Leo playing a slave owner …) Consider the films DiCaprio has starred in since his last real comedic role, in 2002’s “Catch Me If You Can”: “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Blood Diamond,” “Body of Lies,” “Revolutionary Road,” Shutter Island,” “Inception,” “J. Edgar,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Great Gatsby.” Pretty grim lot. (It is hard not to first think of Jay Gatsby when watching the trailer race along; Badass Digest Tweeted “How Gatsby got his dough.”)
  • Some interesting physical notes here: This is a slightly heavier Jonah Hill than we saw I “21 Jump Street,” and Matthew McConaughey appears to have begun his dramatic weight loss for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” (According to the web, the sprawling cast includes Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau, Cristin Milioti, Rob Reiner, and, of course, Joanna Lumley and Spike Jonze.)
  • The soundtrack, Kanye Wests’s new song “Black Skinhead,” could NOT be more perfect.
  • Finally, I know Scorsese used Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” to memorable effect in “The Color of Money,” but I’m pulling for its usage here. Lyrically (“I’d like to meet his tailor,” “His hair was perfect”), the song is just right. I’m sure Zevon would approve.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” draws blood on November 15.

 

Photo from New York Daily News/Paramount Pictures