Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shaun & Chéri

I've had a slew of bad-to-mediocre movies from Netflix lately; the notable exception was 8 episodes of Shaun the Sheep: Back in the Ba-a-ath. It's another claymation masterpiece I've seen occasionally on the Disney channel. The DVD was laugh out loud funny. If you're a fan of Wallace & Grommett or Rex the Runt, don't miss Shaun.

It's not often I recommend a bad movie, but here's a real stinker for you: Chéri, starring Michelle "Duck Lips" Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates. Based on a tale by the infamous Colette, this is the story of an old ho (Bates), her son Chéri, and a not-quite-as-old ho (Quacky). In her early retirement, Quacky* takes in Chéri and they live together for five or six years, but when he agrees to an arranged marriage -- to the daughter of yet another wealthy old ho -- Quacky decides maybe she really did love Chéri after all.

There's lots of tedious posing and brooding, but most troubling to me was Rupert Friend, the actor who portrayed Chéri. He wasn't just "not my type," I found him repulsive. Maybe it's a Continental thing, but I do not get the attraction for these wormy-white, sunken chested, dirty-haired, uber-effeminate types. I guess I am waaay out of touch with what's sexy nowadays. Gimme a beefy Gregory Peck or Cary Grant any day. Anyways, his sulky, androgynous, wooden character made it impossible for me to believe this was a love story or anything close to it. It doesn't seem possible that this film reunited the writer, director and actress who collaborated in Dangerous Liaisons, another rich period piece but one that was filled with passion and drama.

So why on earth am I recommending this stinkbomb? Because despite all of the above, the movie is gorgeous. It is set at the apex of La Belle Époque, the gilded age. I'm actually swooning as I remember the clothes, the jewelry, the hats (such hats!), the furniture, the cars, and more. The gap between the haves and have-nots was becoming a huge chasm during this period, but oh, to be a have! It is a sumptuous visual feast... I recommend watching it with the sound off.

*Quacky's character was named Len, or Leah, or Lee, or Laird, depending on who's speaking.
"Okay, Aunt Crankypants, are there any actresses you do like??"  You betcha! Diane Lane, Sandra Bullock, Susan Sarandon, Tea Leoni, Audrey Tatou, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, just to name a few.


Beth said...

My TiVo is set to record anything with Cary Grant and Gregory Peck in it. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

La Cootina said...

Amen. No earrings, no "hair products," no sulking and pouting. Bona fide MANLY men. Ooooh...