I first experienced the genius of Peter OToole when I was 13. I was in Pittsburgh, visiting family for Thanksgiving and had a horrendous tooth problem. As abscess or something. All I know was, I was in an immense amount of pain and it being a holiday, getting into a dentist was not likely, so my family took me to see My Favorite Year, I guess in the hopes that a comedy would take my mind off the pain. I don’t think it did much good, but I loved the film anyway and my admiration for O’Toole was born.
He was a striking man. After seeing David Lean’s 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia, in which O’Toole gained stardom (and his first of eight Academy Award nominations), Noël Coward famously remarked to O’Toole: “If you’d been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia.” It was those eyes…
I don’t care that Sofia Coppola‘s Marie Antoinette presents us with yet another spin on the “poor little rich girl” theme, although it is a played out genre and hasn’t really been done well since Clueless. I also don’t care to analyze how much Ms. Coppola did or did not identify with Marie A., due to her privileged upbringing. Apparently many critics have a problem with that potential aspect. “Write what you know,” is an early lesson taught in class, so why anyone should criticize Ms. Coppola for that is beyond me. Also, I actually liked that this historical “drama” was set to 80’s New Wave music (I did, after all, come of age in the 80’s) and I was only mildly irked that the film completely trivializes the actual events of the times and nary a revolutionary is spotted in the film’s slightly more than 2-hour running time. After all, the film isn’t called The French Revolution and no one claimed that it was going to be a serious retelling of the times. All of these are things that have irked critics since the films bow at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (where it was reportedly greeted with a fair amount of boos mixed with a smattering of applause at its first press screening) and none of them are on my “Reasons Why I Hate Marie Antoinette” list. What is on said list, you might ask?