Saturday, March 29, 2008

During Earth Hour we watched a movie

From w
We went to see the movie ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ – there wasn’t much offering, but I thought a slice of English history might unmake the notions of royal family history drummed into me at high school. It was entertaining and occasionally moving - about sisters - but our own Oz actor Eric Bana, as King Henry was a comic surprise. One reviewer from International Herald Tribune didn’t think much of the film at all, but I thought it was worth watching – and the theatre was crowded. Other people in Geelong turned off their lights for Earth Hour. Street lights even off in some places. As we drove home I noticed the town was still rather dark even at 9.30 p.m.

The review:
Rival sisters duke it out for the passion of a king By Manohla Dargis Published: February 29, 2008

More slog than romp, "The Other Boleyn Girl" tells the salacious story of two hot blue bloods who ran amok and partly unclothed in the court of Henry VIII. Best known for losing her head to the king, first metaphorically, then literally, Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman, saucy), along with her sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson, sedate), entered the court of the king (Eric Bana, brooding and glowering) when he was still wed to Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent). A man of considerable and changeable appetites, the king yearned for a male heir and anything in a frock who wasn't the queen. His sexual wish was their command.

According to this oddly plotted and frantically paced pastiche — written by Peter Morgan, directed by Justin Chadwick — the girls were more or less the Paris and Nicky Hilton of the Tudor court.

In the film's version of the Boleyn family saga, based on the novel by Philippa Gregory of the same title, they were pimped out by their scheming, ambitious father, Sir Thomas (a spidery Mark Rylance), who sought to advance the family on the backs of his daughters while Mrs. Sir Thomas (Kristin Scott Thomas) clucked darkly from the sidelines.

Forced to compete for kingly favors, the women were soon rivals, a contest that, in its few meagerly entertaining moments, recalls the sisterly love in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

The story of Anne Boleyn may sound as if it's been cut from classier cloth than that delirious Robert Aldrich film, but history tells a juicier story. One of Anne's biographers, Joanna Denny, writes that while at the French court Mary got around (she was "passed on from man to man"), which I don't remember from high school or public television. Instead of letting the story rip, though, the film plays it safe and predictable by dividing the sisters into the bad brunette and gentle blonde, thereby displacing the courtly intrigue onto two warring women.

The Boleyn sisters were the kind of trouble that can make for bodice-ripping entertainment, but they were also the kind of unruly women who sometimes risked burning.
Many of the scenes seem to have been whittled down to the nub, which at times turns it into a succession of wordless gestures and poses. Given the generally risible dialogue, this isn't a bad thing, despite Morgan's previous credits (notably "The Queen"). Portman's eyes, Bana's hands and Johansson's chin all receive vigorous workouts.



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