Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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She Must Be The Queen!

I took in the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age this evening. It is a sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth. Both starred the luminous Cate Blanchett in the title role. I do not choose my adjectives lightly here – many complimentary ones came to mind in composing that phrase, but I will settle on “luminous” for the time being. She owns this role for now and ever. I feel sorry for the next actress to play the Virgin Queen whose name is not Cate Blanchett. It is, of course, true that Judi Dench took on the role for Shakespeare in Love, but her character was more of a punch line and a plot point in that film; the two portrayals cannot be compared in any meaningful way. And by the way, I mean no disrespect to either Ms. Dench or her film; it is one of my all-time favorite movies, but it’s an entirely different kettle of fish and chips from the film I saw tonight.

But let me start in the middle. By the middle of tonight’s viewing, I was ready to throw my popcorn at the screen. That I did not may be attributed to the simple fact that I didn’t have any popcorn tonight, but the sentiment was there just the same. One thing after another was ticking me off and distracting me – everything from bad special effects, to lines that sounded like clichés even if they weren’t, to mystifying stylistic choices. But then, something happened – my resistance drifted away to the rafters of the darkened theater and I became drawn in, beguiled, and finally dazzled. And now, in spite of my carping earlier in this paragraph, I’m prepared to say that this just might have been a truly fabulous film.

It’s all kind of reminiscent of my reaction to the 1998 film. I remember being initially distracted by the stylistically anachronistic undercurrent running through that film – I remember that the phrase “rock star” kept echoing through my mind while watching it. But by the end, I’d left those misgivings behind and completely bought into director Shekhar Kapur’s approach. That undercurrent isn’t as strong in this new film, but it’s still there. It occurs to me that the story Kapur really ought to tell in this style is the story of Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII – now there was a rock star, guilty of all the bloated excesses one normally associates with such characters.

But back to Ms. Blanchett – she and the lens have quite the love affair going, in public and for all the world to see. The camera loves her face; loves probing it for every quiver of an eyelid, every purse of her lips. She, for her part, loves the camera in return, giving it all that her considerable talent is able to conjure. Let me go on just a little bit longer about that face – it’s a face of great character, and it is a face that is capable of great beauty. I put it that way because it is not one of those faces whose beauty cannot be concealed. You know the kind I mean – Hollywood is always well stocked with such unsubtly beautiful faces. No, Cate’s is more interesting than that. She can be as plain as corn meal on white bread on one occasion, and a breathtaking beauty on the next. But always, always, she must be watched, and this film is probably as fine a showcase for her talents as she will ever have.

Another thing to love about this film is the way the camera moves during the interior scenes. It circles and navigates through rooms with an energy that is just pure fun. This approach also gives us a powerful sense of the space being inhabited by the characters. And I would be remiss if I did not single out the costumes for praise, especially those worn by the Queen. Particularly on the big screen, it was a delightful parade of eye candy. While CC, with whom I saw the film, was able to point out various historical inaccuracies in the costumes, she still enjoyed the pageantry of it all.

I’m not going to go into any sort of plot summary, and I’m not going to say much at all about such talents as Geoffrey Rush (Lord Walsingham) and Clive Owen (Sir Walter Raleigh). That’s the advantage of writing about a movie in one’s blog, as opposed to writing a balanced and comprehensive movie review. The fact is, I’m not here to write about a movie; I’m here to write about myself. This is, after all, the closest thing to a diary that I’ve ever written, and so, generally speaking, feelings come before facts in this journal. Now if the Tribune ever wanted me to fill in as a movie critic – well, my writing style would change rather dramatically. But I do want to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you who have derived some interest and/or enjoyment out of this way station on the information superhighway!

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