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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • December 11, 2006


    The Queen directed by Stephen Frears

    "Tradition prepared her. Change will define her." The poster of The Queen reads. Ken suggested we go see one of the few movies that captures my attention with some of the most marvelous performance. Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) faces the tough decision on how to arrange for Princess Diana's funeral in the wake of her sudden tragic 1997 death in Paris. While the film honors and acknowledges Princess Diana's work, it inevitably reveals her rocky relationship with not only the Queen but also the royal family. It makes me wonder how the funeral and memorial service would have turned out had the recently elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), who favors a public funeral which allows the British people (the populace) to pay their final tribute to their princess, not advised the Queen.

    The Queen, subtle, and often funny, explores the inner-workings of a ruler whose power has become purely decorative. The film stoically basks in the doleful pondering of royal manners and meaning. The sensitive mourning of Princess Diana only accentuates the Queen's realizing of her decorative power. We're let into behind the closed doors of Buckingham Palace and the Balmoral Castle to see how the royal family copes with the death--as the raging public rebukes Buckingham Palace for its lack of remorse in Princess Diana's death. No formal statement has been given. The flag on top of the palace is not lowered to half-mast.

    To the populace, Diana, as real clips inserted into the film suggest, was "the people's princess," hounded to her death by in-laws, the media, and the public; their self-chastising guilt just whips the flames higher. To the Queen, she was a shameless ex-daughter-in-law who wasn't shy about her celebrity. Of course there should not be a state funeral, Elizabeth maintains, since the divorced Diana was no longer a member of the royal family. The drama of the film--and it's both delicious and potent--lies in how the queen comes to understand this error in judgment and how it rattles her as a human being.

    "I've never been hated like that before," she says at one point, and there, very quietly, is the shock of a waxwork startled to realize she's still alive. And the man who helps Her Majesty sail through this tempestuous water of a national disaster that captured the sad ness of the world is Tony Blair.


    Blogger Tony said...

    They said Helen Mirren did a great job in the role. Is that true? I like historicals but tend to wait for them to come out on DVD.

    12/11/2006 12:48 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    I think I liked Helen's performance moreso than the movie itself. Certain parts of the movie I couldn't stop but to laugh out loud. I thought the movie was very entertaining to say the least.

    Oh hello Matt. Hope you had a great weekend.

    12/11/2006 7:53 AM  
    Blogger johnNokc said...

    Given the choice of watching a film about the English monarchy and the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, I would much prefer to do the latter. At least they know they're playing it for the laughs.

    12/11/2006 10:55 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    I can't wait to see this one, and Helen Mirren has already won at least one award for this performance. i think she's one of the top runners along with Penelope Cruz for Volver.

    12/11/2006 11:19 AM  
    Anonymous Greg said...

    We went to see The Queen a week ago. It's playing in a very small theater here and we had to sit in the front row -- an experience I hope I don't have to repeat! I wouldn't have considered sitting so close to the screen, except I was most eager to take the opportunity to see this remarkable film. I had stood some time in a line out in the cold. I'm happy to report that staring up at what appeared to be a trapezoidal screen was, in the long run, worth the effort, though I hope to see the film again in a more normal perspective. Helen Mirren's performance was nothing short of phenomenal, and we felt that the supporting cast also contributed outstanding work, especially Michael Sheen in the role of Tony Blair. The writing was also very well wrought. We both loved the symbolism of the stag, but there were many touching moments, and much humor to savor, as well. Of the films I have seen in the past months, I would rate this one and Brokeback Mountain as the most memorable. I think I shall seek out the recently released DVD of Elizabeth I; H. M's performance in this TV movie has garnered a lot of praise. I'm becoming a big fan.

    12/13/2006 1:43 PM  
    Blogger redtown said...

    RE: Diana's "rocky relationship" with the Royal family --

    Both Diana and her brother, Charles Spencer, suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder caused by their mother's abandoning them as young children.  A google search reveals that Diana is considered a case study in BPD by mental health professionals.

    For Charles Spencer, BPD meant insatiable sexual promiscuity (his wife was divorcing him at the time of Diana's death).

    For Diana, BPD meant intense insecurity and insatiable need for attention and affection which even the best husband could never fulfill.  From a BPD perspective, it's clear that the Royal family did not cause her "problems". Rather, she brought her multiple issues into the marriage, and the Royal family was hapless to deal with them.

    Her illness, untreated, sowed the seeds of her fast and unstable lifestyle, and sadly, her tragic fate.

    12/19/2006 12:50 PM  

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