By Nikki Giovanni
(for Art Jones)
there are no reservations
for the revolution
no polite little clerk
to send notice
to your room
saying you are WANTED
on the battlefield
there are no banners
to wave you forward
no blaring trumpets
not even a blues note
moaning wailing lone blue note
to the yoruba drums saying
strike now shoot
strike now fire
Since this state can't decide exactly to what degree to take MLK weekend seriously -- we have trash and recycling pickup on Monday, though no school -- younger son had Hebrew school on Sunday morning meaning we couldn't get out early and do something before the rain arrived. By the time he was home, it was 65 degrees again but raining, and since we are going downtown next weekend to the family Medieval Merriment Day at the Corcoran and the fantastic creatures at National Geographic, we decided not to schlep down there this weekend and opted to go to the movies. I had very nearly talked the family into seeing Dreamgirls, for which I even had a free ticket at a local theater -- and, I mean, I have been waiting for this musical on film since I was very young, I could have pushed harder -- but sensing the general apathy around me and playing a hunch, instead I pushed in a different direction and we went to see The Queen. There were two overriding factors here for me: one was that I have never seen a Stephen Frears movie that I thought was less than wonderful -- The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons being two of my all-time top five -- and another was, you know, Helen Mirren as HRH OMG rule over me PLZ! *ahem*
Now, despite that last, I expected to admire this movie and her performance, but I did not necessarily expect to love it. I thought it might be rather dry and I didn't see how it could possibly be sympathetic to the Queen, Diana, Charles, Tony Blair, Cherie Blair and the average mourner touched by Diana all at once, which it is. I certainly did not expect to walk out
What I like so much about Frears' sensibility in this film is that he manages both to show the appeal of having someone in that role and to scoff at it at the same time, without ever seeming like he's criticizing the Queen as a human being or even particularly as a figurehead. The only person who comes off looking unforgivably stupid in the movie is Prince Phillip, whose solution to everything is to go hunting or have tea at Balmoral. (Oh, I have never before envied the Queen anything either -- she can have Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace -- but if the movie's version of Balmoral bears any resemblance to the real one, I envy her that!) Diana is always off in the distance, the glowing glorious myth who can't be touched even by those who knew her at her ugliest, and it's interesting how her position parallels Phillip's, the parent of a future monarch who must somehow remain above reproach. I know some Brits who find Cherie Blair disrespectful, but I identify with the way she's characterized in this movie and I adore her analysis of Tony's desire to protect the Queen, which she thinks is a mother complex -- something Tony and Charles have in common, hahahaha. And an ongoing theme for Frears, given The Grifters.
I want to know whose gardens stood in for Buckingham Palace's and Balmoral's. There are so many moments I love, particularly Blair dealing with his staff and the Queen dealing with hers, all the contrasts...even the overblown stag metaphor works, mostly because Mirren is so good in those scenes. Though it's sort of annoying that while she is deservingly cleaning up acting awards on both sides of the Atlantic, Michael Sheen seems to be getting buzz mostly in the UK...I found him moving, sympathetic and a really strong, interesting contrast with her. Charles seemed rather more human than I generally think of him, but of course I've only ever seen the public Charles, so I don't know whether this is based on things the filmmakers know that I don't or if they're just giving him the benefit of the doubt. I really want to see this film again.
fridayfiver: ...if it happened to you...
1. When is your birthday? December 11th
2. How old will you be? 41
3. Do you prefer to throw a party or attend a party? Usually to attend...I'm terrible at the Martha Stewart thing!
4. Presents: take'em or leave'em? Oh, take'em, though generally most of what I want is little silly stuff and am perfectly happy to have donations made to charities.
5. Best birthday so far? I've never made a big deal out of birthdays. The year before last, we went to Philadephia to see October Project and spent the evening in the city, which was very nice, but this year we saved our money for when we're in England in the spring.
thefridayfive: Mish Mosh!
1. favorite cereal and why? I eat plain old bran flakes nearly every morning and am very happy, but my favorite indulgence is Kelloggs Cocoa Krispies.
2. what is the best thing about summer? Walking on the beach barefoot.
3. would you rather have a slurpee or a milkshake? Malted milkshake!
4. If you could be a member of any band/musical group, past or present, what band would it be and why? Some little folk group.
5. Who is your idol? What are they famous for? I don't know that I have an idol exactly. I think Amelia Earhart is awesome, for one, though I wouldn't have wanted to share her fate and early death, and if you don't know what she's famous for, you need to spend a bit of time looking her up.
fannish5: Name five totally self-indulgent story ideas. (The fanfic you would write if you didn't care if you had an audience and also had no shame.)
1. The one where Kirk, Spock and the Romulan Commander have a three-way...not a half-assed one like the Marshak/Culbreath version where there are two Kirks and one ends up with the Romulan Commander and another gives Spock a massage, but a real one.
2. The one where Lucius Malfoy switches sides and saves Snape, Draco and Harry, in that order. ldybastet and I might sort of have started that one.
3. The one where Boromir is brought back to life by some Elven magic and works his way to Minas Tirith, where he is greeted with the deepest enthusiasm by Aragorn and Faramir. I might have written bits of this with ashinae but they were always crack.
4. The one where Damar isn't really dead and he and Kira fall in love and...oh wait, betareject and I started that one.
5. The one where Janeway and Chakotay get back to Earth and get together and...hmm, I wrote most of that all by myself.
...a snake in an aquarium...
...and a turtle in an open indoor pond.
Outside, geese and gulls on rocks in the Potomac River...
..and a rider on one of the trails.
And huzzah, Rome is back! The first episode had more violence than I'd prefer and not enough sex, though I was so happy to have a new one that I didn't mind all that much. And, I mean, Antony declaring that he's not getting out of bed until he fucks someone, then getting his robes put on with that grin! He got a bunch of good lines, too: "Twelve mangy dogs can kill a lion." "I will crucify every last one of those sons of bitches." Since he's supposed to be the great orator who stirs Rome against the Senators, it's only fair. I was sorry Servilia didn't have more zingers (though not sorry to see Calpurnia spit on her repeatedly!) and Atia spent more time freaking out than I would have preferred -- I love her best in scenery-and-man-chewing mode -- but it was neat to see Octavian suddenly an adult, and a better one than Brutus. I don't want to say suddenly a man because being a man is a pretty violent thing in this culture...poor Vorenus, I don't believe that his children are actually dead (that little boy is still a gun onstage and I expect him to be back) but I don't know how he's staying upright at this point, even with Pullo to hold him up. I love that there are some characters whose fates are historically unknown to me, given what I know is going to happen to others!
Plus Orlando Bloom playing an obnoxious version of himself on Extras that was hilarious! Playoffs: Patriots and Bears won, which is all to the good as far as I'm concerned (will be happy either way in the NFC, was going to root against the Colts either way in the AFC). Monday we are taking younger son to see Happy Feet on the IMAX screen at the Maryland Science Center, and it's supposed to be 65 degrees again, so I shall be enjoying the harbor in Baltimore in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here in case you want to read it is "I Have a Dream".