Kate Winslet

Quills

Year: 2000
Directed By: Philip Kaufman
Written By: Doug Wright

RYAN’S REVIEW

I studied history in college and during one year took an entire course on The French Revolution and then another on the Napoleonic Era. I had a very enthusiastic and talented teacher and it was one of my favorite courses throughout college. The French Revolution was nothing short of insane and as we progressed through the semester each day was like going in for another chapter to a story that got crazier by the day. It was in that class that I first saw a clip of this film. Our professor showed it to us when we discussed the real Marquis de Sade. Being the movie enthusiast that I am, coupled with my sincere and serious interest in the class, I went out and bought my own copy. This film has been part of our collection for a very long time but isn’t watched that often. It’s never been a film I loved but I find the performances in the film impressive and it gave me the one and only “Q” within our collection giving us at least one film for every letter in the alphabet.

Anyone who wants to say the world is going to hell these days need only look to the past to see that they know nothing of hell. The world is as it always has been but people love to think that when they were growing up that everything was perfect but more often than not that is not the case. Take today for example, in an era when women can discreetly read obscene books like 50 Shades of Grey on tablets and sales sky rocket. It could be said that the success of such a perverse novel could suggest that morals have gone out the door. Yet a movie like this shows us that there has always been a market for perversion in society. The Marquis de Sade was a very real person whose works left a significant mark that will always be remembered in certain circles. He’s not a historical character I have ever cared to research but I am aware of his notoriety.

As the Marquis de Sade Geoffrey Rush gives a performance worthy of the Academy Award nomination he received. I don’t care for the level of perversion in this film, which is all the work of Rush’s character, but you can’t help but marvel over the acting. Rush is a terrific actor who I think wasted too much time at the behest of Disney and those silly Pirate films. He did that for his kids though and I think that’s pretty cool, I just didn’t care for that franchise myself. Nevertheless Rush is a fantastic actor who delivers an impressive performance in this film. As the Marquis he is unrelenting and devious to the most ultimate level. His wit is matched only by his desire to create chaos. His success in creating chaos is the product of his perseverance. It’s as if the devil himself is within the man pushing him to insight the masses and further the madness engulfing the revolution.  He is not the only great actor in this film though.

I have long since been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix despite how strange the man is in his personal life. Phoenix is the type of actor who can make you believe, but he is also the type that dances on the line of life far too much. I have literally feared for years waking up to an overdose story in the news about Phoenix. That hasn’t happened and he might be a completely different person these days for all I know. I hope I am wrong in that impression because I think Phoenix is one of the best there is out there and would hate for him to follow the footsteps of his brother River Phoenix. He delivers a great performance in this movie but he does that nearly every time he takes the screen no matter what kind of role he is playing. In this film he takes what might have been a simple role and brings something extra to it. He has an ability to convey so much more than he can do with just words. In his character you can see his longing and the internal struggle he has within himself. He a strong character haunted by temptations he uses the resolve of his character to resist.

In the role of the lead actress is another fantastic performer in Kate Winslet. Winslet has always been on a level above her peers and not vain enough to force another impossible figure on society. What I have always loved about Winslet the most is her honesty as an actress. I love her character in this film the most because while she s the vessel for the Marquis she is still the most innocent of the characters. She is curious and mischievous in a manner that befits a young lady who is simply testing the waters but she never really does anything wrong. She is the object of the Abbé’s lust and the reason for his tormented internal battle. Her affection for him isn’t wrong though, she isn’t bound by the laws of God to maintain celibacy. She may find the Marquis work interesting but she never acts on any provoked desires herself. Nevertheless it is always the innocent that suffer in these situations as she is the victim of a simpleton who is provoked by the perverted works of the Marquis. It is tragic what happens to her. Those who blame her and allow it to happen are far more evil than any of the crazies in the asylum. She made mistakes but she was just a foolish girl and didn’t deserve what happened to her.

Michael Caine is one of my favorite actors but this is easily my least favorite role he plays. He is top notch in the part, of course, but this character is so wicked. The fact that he can play such a part only shows his range as an actor. As Dr. Royer-Collard he is hard and prudent, but his anger comes from his own hypocritical nature that he keeps in the dark. The man that his young wife sees during the night is the man that he hides from the world as he administers his harsh justice to the insane and perverse. His cruelty comes from his own hatred for who he really is and like all people of that nature he indulges in his desires despite the image he tries to put. A man like the Abbé whips himself to purge away the evil thoughts; the good Doctor simply applies that torture to the victims at his disposal.

If I remember correctly my professor in college said that this movie was a great example of the Marquis and the time period it was set. The only discrepancy I recall was that in the film Napoleon is shown, in typical English fashion exaggerating his lack of height, but Napoleon’s rule did not correlate with the days of the Marquis. Given the opportunity to touch on Napoleon I would like to bring up his portrayal in this film. There is a camera shot at one point from under his chair to show his feet dangling as a suggestion that Napoleon was really short. While Napoleon was by no means tall he was of average height. The common misconception about his height came from the way he was depicted by the English during his conquest. They needed something to criticize this man that beat the pants off of them every time battle was joined so the caricatured as a borderline midget. In history we know that the victors are the one who write the history thus Napoleon is remembered a short tyrant. While we have great historical documentation of Napoleon’s rise to power and rule the British ideas about him still dominate how he is depicted culturally. Napoleon did lose, but it took probably the greatest joint effort ever by an entire continent to stop him, and even then had he had the proper resources he may have won at the Battle of Waterloo. It’s been 10 years since college so don’t quote me on my memory but I would encourage anybody to research Napoleon themselves. As interesting a man as the world has ever seen.

I have owned this movie for ten years or more and never in that time have I ever suggested or recommended it to anyone. This is a terrific movie for anybody who wants to see powerful performances from great actors but a horrible movie for any tender hearted soul. This movie is as vile and perverse as anything I own. I own it for what I think to be very reasonable circumstances but otherwise I think it may sit on my shelf unwatched till the end of time now. I think the movie would be worth the time of anybody bold enough to sit through it but I can’t foresee any reason why I would ever watch it again and won’t suggest that you give your time to it either unless there is a specific reason to do so.

NEXT MOVIE: Rain Man (1988)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Year: 2004
Directed By: Michel Gondry
Written By: Charlie Kaufman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the most interesting films I have ever seen, if not the most interesting. It is like no other movie ever, a true original delivered by one of the most out of the box writers out there.  Charlie Kaufman is on another level when it comes to writing – he is a genius.  This movie is a great example of how imaginative and different he is; it is such a crazy movie. He is more known for his other films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but this has always been my favorite of his films, with Adaptation being an extremely close second. On the DVD cover Peter Travers of Rolling Stones magazine is quoted describing this movie as “A smart, sexy, and seriously funny comedy.” That leads me to wonder if he actually saw the film.  I would hardly call it funny at all much less describe it as “a seriously funny comedy.” This movie is about love and loss, pain and heartache, and the emotional roller coaster relationships tend to be.  I find myself having difficulty trying to categorize it because it is so different than everything else. I considered leaving it as a lone “uncategorized” film before settling on just creating a new category for “love story,” but never once considered placing it in comedy.

This movie is more like a journey than a story. It’s a journey through the mind and memory that is made perfectly.   Charlie Kaufman really outdid himself with this one, and Michel Gondry did an excellent job funneling Kaufman’s ideas onto the screen. I am not familiar with Gondry but this movie alone makes me interested in anything else he has ever made.  He had a great cast to work with on this film as well.  I have always been a fan of Jim Carrey’s efforts to take more serious roles and I think this is his best one. He does an excellent job in this movie and he deserves more recognition for the role.  Opposite Carrey was Kate Winslet, who is such a wonderful actress.  She is beautiful even with those awful colors died in her hair and she brings her talents to the screen in top form.  She is probably one of the most natural actresses I have ever watched and she has the ability to really bring a character to life in unique ways.  Kirsten Dunst is on hand in this movie as well with a great scene where she is braless in a tank top.  I have always admired Dunst, although I think her greatest performance was her first one, when she was a little girl in Interview with a Vampire. Dunst doesn’t do enough movies of late and that is a shame, I have liked many of her films.  Elijah Wood was trying to distance himself from the role of Frodo Baggins around this time to avoid being typecast but I think he made a mistake choosing this one.  He plays such a creepy guy that I think it hurt his image. He then went on to play an even creepier guy in Sin CityI think Tom Wilkinson brought a lot to the film with his role as the doctor who specializes in erasing unwanted memories. Mark Ruffalo did a decent job but nothing distinguishing and I haven’t figured out quite what people see in him as an actor.

This movie has such an interesting story and we can all relate to it.  Who hasn’t been through a messy break-up they would love to forget.  Who hasn’t lost a loved one and been overwhelmed by the grief and heartache? When Carrey’s character finds out what his ex has done it hurts him, he feels the pain of that loss and can’t live with it.  He decides to go through the same procedure and realizes in the middle of it that he made a horrible mistake.  When we exit relationships the reasons for the break-up are the freshest things on our mind and it seems like erasing them would be an easy decision.  It comes with a cost though, Carrey soon gets to the memories that made him fall in love with Winslet and he isn’t willing to sacrifice those. He desperately does everything he can in order to save the love of his life from being erased but ultimately fails, sort of. I think the overall theme of the movie is that true love finds a way, and it does as we see.  Sometimes certain people belong together.  Relationships are a rocky business and they can sometimes take all our strength to persevere.  I think it takes an understanding of that in order to make a relationship work, and all too often people aren’t lucky enough to figure it out.

This movie taught me a lot about love, and even more about relationships.  In an interesting way it has always had a strange ability to make me fall so much more in love with my wife and that makes me appreciate it even more.  This movie doesn’t hold a spot in my favorites of all time but I do think it is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen.  I love this movie and encourage anybody I can to see it.  I know very few people who have seen it though so I would like to take the opportunity to encourage anybody that reads this to go out of their way to see it.  It starts off kind of slow but quickly turns into something completely different, it is an awesome movie that is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ah, finally. We get to my list of all-time favorite movies. This is in my top five. I love this movie with all of my heart. I asked myself what I would say about this strange, original movie and here is what I think. I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I don’t really like the same ol’ same ol’ storyline that you can practically predict. Instead, I like the movie that shows what love is really like. This movie is a love story, but not in the classic way. It is a love story in a true way. The way that real love is nuts. You do things you never thought possible when you are in love. Love is absurd and makes people nuts. This film shows that.

This movie always makes me love Ryan more than I already do. I know how we were at first. All crazy in love. If there were such a technology such as memory erasing, we both would have done it already. But, in my heart I know without doubt we would find our way back together, somehow. It’s sappy, but it’s true. I love this movie so much because it reminds me how much I love Ryan.

Of course I think you should watch this film if you haven’t already. It is clever and witty and includes all the little details that make a movie worth watching and re-watching.

NEXT MOVIE: EuroTrip (2004)