Romy Shiller

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

My Week With Marilyn: Or, Marilyn is Sexy, Smart and Sassy

In Film, review on December 31, 2011 at 9:25 am


The October Vogue issue featuring Michelle Williams styled as Marilyn Monroe

If I’d observed all the rules I’d never have got anywhere.

Marilyn Monroe

Director: Simon Curtis

Writers: Adrian Hodges, Colin Clark (books)

Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper, Julia Ormond, Toby Jones, Judy Dench, Dougray Scott, Zoe Wanamaker, Derek Jacobi

This was the best acting I’ve seen in years. Michelle Williams BECAME Marilyn Monroe. What a huge responsibility it is to portray a famous sex-symbol/icon. The responsibility of being accurate and layered must have been huge. The film itself is very good. The aesthetic was wonderful. As good as the film is, it is the acting that stands out for me.

Plot: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl. 

Based on two books by Colin Clark, it depicts the making of the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, which starred Marilyn Monroe (Williams) and Laurence Olivier(Branagh). The film focuses on the week in which Monroe spent time being escorted around Britain by Clark (Redmayne), after her husband, Arthur Miller (Scott), left the country.


A little on Marilyn Monroe:… raised as Norma Jean Baker; (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962)was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s.”


The Prince and the Showgirl is a 1957 American film.

A little on The Prince and the Showgirl: “The Prince and the Showgirl is a 1957 American film … starring Marilyn Monroe and co-starring Laurence Olivier who also served as director and producer.”

Colin Clark is an assistant (3rd director) to Laurence Olivier and this gives him a privileged vantage point to witness the shenanigans between Olivier and Monroe. Olivier is essentially fed up with Monroe who consistently halts scenes to find her character or line. He wants her to play her sex symbol image which she does but you can also see that she wants to add an extra dimension to that image.

Michelle Williams makes excellent film choices which show off her range: From Blue Valentine to My Week with Marilyn. The differences of ‘type’ in these two films are monumental. We came to know her in the television series Dawson’s Creek and she was in the acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain. She is well known as the mother of the late Heath Ledger’s daughter. “Though Williams ended their relationship in September 2007 after three years together, she is devastated by Ledger’s death.”  This might be the film that propels her into stardom. She looks luminescent and her acting is stupendous. She has proven herself to be more than capable in the acting department.

Colin Clark has a thing for Monroe and as she becomes dependant on him as a confidant and trustworthy play-thing, he fall in love with her. She is newly married to the playwright Arthur Miller but she kisses and flirts with Clark. The audience might disapprove of her behavior but her ultimate goal is to be a ‘good’ wife. It is here we see a prevalent dichotomy. She often wants one thing but she apparently sabotages herself by doing the other. Not to get all Oprah on you but there is a life-lesson here – we are rarely only one thing.

It is very cool to see a ‘behind the scenes’ dramatization of an older film. This is not a documentary but its truthfulness is filtered through a story of someone who was there. This is his story contextualized by recognizable people and events.


The film dramatizes how it was made from catering to costumes – yes, it could have been more detailed regarding the production elements but the focus and story would have been compromised if this were so.

It was jarring to see Emma Watson outside of her Harry Potter role – Hermione. She was very good here but it might take a while before an audience can shake off that association. Branagh is a force to be reckoned with – as usual. He did not bring levels or layers to his character though. Redmayne brought a believable sense of naiveté and wonder to Clark. He was a wonderful foil to Marilyn’s experience and bravado.

I really liked this film. It’s not a ‘great’ film but it is very good. The period (1950s) was believable – the sets, costumes and décor were fabulous. The story, cinematography, editing, direction – all good. Williams is a stand-out. If she does not get an acting award I will be very surprised.

Critic Widgett Wells says, “Michelle Williams…let me tell you something: she was Marilyn Monroe. Or…if she’s not playing Marilyn Monroe, she’s playing what we all think Marilyn Monroe is.” Absolutely, but do most people know that she wanted to be considered a serious actress? She was self-tortured, fragile, insecure and torn by her sex-symbol status. Williams brings complexity to an apparently knowable image. Her portrayal could have been flat and one dimensional. Instead it is a glowing portrayal of being caught by a web of stardom, of perception. Bravo!

UPDATE – Michelle Williams: Golden Globe Winner Best Actress Comedy Or Musical 2012


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I’ – Or, “The Twilight Saga: Bite Me! Part 1”

In Film, review on December 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Clearly, today was going to be nightmarish.

Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 3, p.54

Director: Bill Condon

Writers: Melissa Rosenberg(screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner

(Warning – spoilers):

As I said before (review of Twilight: Eclipse), this film’s slim merit lies in its strong appeal to teenagers. I cannot regard it outside of this appeal. “Critiques really have no weight when it comes to films like this. The haters are gonna hate, the fans are gonna love, and everyone else will check the movie listings and their own wallets before deciding if this is the best option for a night on the town.”

I am way too familiar with vampire stuff and that being said, I like Ann Rice’s vampires best. When she felt badly for her vampire characters because Meyer’s Edward sparkled in the sunlight, I laughed but agreed. “A vampire rivalry is brewing. Anne Rice, author of the popular ‘Vampire Chronicles‘ series that includes ‘Interview With the Vampire’, took to her Facebook page to knock the author of ‘Twilight,’ Stephenie Meyer. Rice said her vampires would “feel sorry for vampires that sparkle in the sun,” as the “Twilight” vampires do. She also knocks the fact that the ‘Twilight’ vampires remain in high school throughout the books.”   A sparkling vampire? Really?

Plot: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, commonly referred to as Breaking Dawn, is a 2011/2012 two-part romantic fantasy film directed by Bill Condon and based on the novel Breaking Dawn by, Stephenie Meyer. The two parts form the fourth and final installment in theThe Twilight Saga series. All three main cast members, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, reprise their roles.[ The Quileute and the Volturi close in on… Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.

I found this and thought it was funny.

Top Ten Things In ‘Breaking Dawn’ (book) That Bugged Me
10. The concept of a Bella/Edward lovechild…too bizarre!
9.  Jacob’s entire loss of personality after Nessie was born.
8.  WTF happened to Quil and Embry? No happy ending for Jacob & his best boyfriends?!
7.  Marcus’ boredom…. that guy need’s some “South Park” in his life!
6.  Charlie is on a “need to know” basis!
5.  Charlie is totally hooking up with Seth’s mom!
4.  Leah needs to read COSMO. She can’t keep asking Jacob about her ‘lady problems’
3.  Renesmee’s name. COME ON!
2. Two words….JAZZ & EM?!
1. The Volturi’s dominance over all mythical creatures! Come on, let’s just have Aro hold hand’s with Hermione and Casper and we can all get along!

Top Ten Best Things In ‘Breaking Dawn’
10. Jacob’s Preface. Life Sucks, and then you die. “Yeah, I should be to lucky!”
9.  Leah Clearwater.
8.  Seth’s utter adoration for the Cullens. the kid probably has a ‘Cullen family’ Calendar in his room.
7.  Edward tears lingerie. Nice.
6. Jacob’s chapter names. ‘Waiting for the damn fight to start!’ & ‘Sure as hell didn’t see that one coming’
5. The Wedding. no snide comment here. It was utterly perfect.
4. Emmett and Rosalie can knock down some houses! *wink**wink*
3. “You’ve been holding out on me.”
2. Emmett’s sports announcements, “well it’s about time *someone* scored around here”
1. Edward like’s it rough. He destroys headboards, pillows, and bed frames!

The film is based on the book so this list is completely relevant. ABC News says, “If you’ve already been sucked into this

love story via the book, then perhaps you’ll be interested in whether or not Edward can make love to his new wife without killing her. If you’ve just come to know these two through the movie, you’re hoping the projectionist throws the switch…”

Roger Ebert says, “….the morning after her wedding night she is black and blue with bruises, the frame of the bed is broken, all of the furniture is tossed around and the draperies are shredded. Good gravy! What happened?” Sorry but ha! Virginity is replaced by SM. Schizo much?

So this is part 1 of the final 2. Like the Harry Potter finale I’m sure that there is a sense of loss and overwhelming curiosity for fans. There is a lot to this story about how ‘good’ teens are supposed to behave. For one, waiting until you are married to have sex is crucial – even if having sex might kill you. Sex itself is for procreation. The extremely bizarre conception illustrates this. As I’ve said, the ideology of appropriate behavior is very strong. We self-regulate ourselves and this story fits nicely into the model. We can be twisted – after marriage.

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner have become teen idols because of the Twilight films. Their poor acting skills mean little to most of the fans who will pretty much see them in anything. This is the power of the film. That the author of the novels is a Mormon who brings her own moral compass to the story is irrelevant to most. On Yahoo! Answers  somebody asked if Stephenie Meyer is Mormon. Someone replied, “We believe that any sexual intercourse between persons who are not a man and a woman who are married to each other is a sin”. This answer explains the entire non-sexual relationship between Edward and Bella.

I went to see the film with two persons who are not vampire savvy but who knew that Jacob was a wolf. It ‘helps’ to know the basics. I asked them if this film stood on its own without the others. They both said it did. I believe it is the weakest of the Saga (New Moon, Eclipse, [now – Breaking Dawn 1 and 2]) but maybe in combination with part 2 it redeems itself.

A review says, “It’s time to nail the coffin shut on the Twilight Saga… Save us from the vapid vampires!”  Ok.