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Julia Ormond (#110 of 2)

New York Film Festival 2011: My Week with Marilyn

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New York Film Festival 2011: <em>My Week with Marilyn</em>
New York Film Festival 2011: <em>My Week with Marilyn</em>

At the Q&A following the press screening of My Week with Marilyn, director Simon Curtis said he fell in love with the two Colin Clark memoirs the script is based on because of the insights they provided into Marilyn Monroe. A funny thing must have happened on the way to Film Forum though. Either those insights just didn’t make it into the screenplay or else Curtis knows a lot less about Hollywood’s Lady of Perpetual Sorrow than I had thought was possible for any reasonably well-educated citizen of the developed world.

Michelle Williams’s Marilyn is a thinking, feeling human being, but My Week with Marilyn’s script is so banal (“I’m not a goddess. I just want to be loved like a regular girl,” the poor girl has to say) that she relies almost entirely on body language and facial expressions to convey Monroe’s essence. Viewed from a distance or with dark glasses on, she looks remarkable like her, especially when she recreates the funny little dance Monroe’s character performs to amuse herself when she’s left alone for a bit in The Prince and the Showgirl, the god-awful romantic comedy Monroe was filming under the direction of her co-star, Laurence Olivier (brayed by Kenneth Branagh), during the week of the movie’s title.

Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s Inland Empire

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Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s <em>Inland Empire</em>
Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s <em>Inland Empire</em>

“A little girl went out to play, lost in the marketplace as if half-born…” — Reflection of an old Polish folk tale

Reflections and rhymes abound in David Lynch’s Inland Empire. Consider its first image: the light of a film projector glaring (and blaring) outwards. For a brief moment, just before the beam angles sideways to illuminate the all-caps title card, the very screen we are watching is a perfectly aligned mirror—fact projecting fiction, fiction projecting fact. The extra-textual meaning is clear: this is Lynch’s first feature on Digital Video (shot entirely on the Sony PD-150 consumer camera) and so we must adjust our expectations accordingly. Fact the first: Inland Empire, with its muddy, grain-laden textures and sensuously bleeding hues, does not, as some have said, look ugly; it looks like it was shot on a camcorder, which is a crucial and necessary distinction. Fact the second, simply put: Lynch’s previous film, Mulholland Drive, was about a failed actress; Inland Empire is about a successful one. And even that’s too much of a reduction, a near-futile attempt at codification, which might very well inspire the writer/director to crinkle his nose and proffer, as he did with maximum sincerity to an explanation-obsessed audience member at a recent New York Film Festival press conference, that “the words coming out of your mouth are very beautiful.”