Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Film notes: Spurlock, Coppola, Maxwell

I went to see Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (at Landmark’s Main), a letdown after his 2004 Super Size Me. Super Size Me was innovative because, although everyone knows junk food is bad for you, Spurlock had the bravery (or stupidity, he might say) to consume nothing but McDonalds’ fare for an entire month and see what it would do to his body. The onscreen evidence is proof! The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is about brand placement and how the movie industry sells its soul putting advertising or product placement in scenes. Spurlock takes this to its ridiculous limit by having the film become chocked full of placements while he delivers a searing critique of corporate labels. Problem is, what he’s telling us is hardly revealing. Yes, there are a few laughs in the film and the story is enough to keep minimal viewer interest. But Spurlock provides no solution. Government grants?.....Just finished reading historical author Antonia Fraser’s memoir about life with husband and famous playwright Harold Pinter, who died in 2008. Fraser’s book Marie Antoinette was adapted for the screen by Sofia Coppola in her movie version (2006) starring Kirsten Dunst. It’s a dazzling film in terms of sets, costumes and depicting the sheer material sumptuousness of the 18th century French aristocratic class. But what was hilarious was Fraser’s description of when she and Pinter watched the film for the first time and almost fell out of their seats (her words) when they heard the movie’s rock music score.....And finally, as I watch – mostly chronologically – the early James Bond movies, I was surprised (I’m probably the last one to know) that the famous minor role of Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny was played by Lois Maxwell, a Canadian. She cemented the role in 14 Bond films from the first Dr. No (1962) to A View to a Kill (1985). Maxwell, who died in 2007, was a classmate of Roger Moore at the UK’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She eventually wrote a column for The Toronto Sun newspaper during some of her years as Moneypenny.

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