Movie Blog Post: THE BEGUILED

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tinsel & Tine's Look at


By Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

So for anyone not familiar, in 2004 Sofia Coppola (daughter of famed “Godfather” director & California Winery owner, Francis Ford Coppola) became the first American woman ever nominated for a best director Oscar for “Lost in Translation” (There haven’t been a whole lot since, congrats to Kathryn Bigelow who won for "The Hurt Locker" & Ava DuVernay's nominated for SELMA). I remember being taken with "Lost in Translation" at the time, although, I haven’t seen it since 2004, so it’s a very hazy memory.  I thought her little Indie film SOMEWHERE (Stephen Dorff & Elle Fanning) had some good moments, depicting a seedier side of Hollywood and the life of a self-involved B actor trying to raise his daughter in a hotel. THE BLING RING was technically well done, and I understood why Coppola wanted to make a movie about a generation so raised on Reality TV that their moral compass is non-existent; but I didn’t really enjoy the movie. I never got around to seeing “Marie Antoinette”, which was the second time she worked with actress Kirsten Dunst - the first time being Coppola’s debut film “Virgin Suicide” which I also have yet to see, which is also about a group of young white women coming into their sexuality, so many are comparing it to her current film ”The Beguiled” - which garnered Sofia Coppola the honor of Best Direction at the Cannes Film Festival.

Did Sofia Coppola WhiteWash The Beguiled?

The Beguiled takes place during the Civil War at a girls Southern boarding school where five young ladies of varying ages and two teachers remain, they are somewhat cut off from everyone; the slaves have all left and the women are managing on their own. This, of course, is where the controversy comes in, as Sofia is being accused of “whitewashing” the movie by removing the slave woman character. And I understand in the book (written by Thomas P. Cullinan 1966), there’s also another bi-racial character, who passes for a white teacher, that character is eliminated from the 1971 version of “The Beguiled” starring Clint Eastwood, and in Coppola’s version, she’s just white, played by Kirsten Dunst.

Coppola says she didn’t want to deal with issues of race, that she didn’t feel qualified, which I understand; and I feel even though the movie takes place during the Civil War, there can still be stories told about people affected by the war, but it not be directly about the issue of slavery. The trouble is, when she said she wanted to focus on the "gender dynamics” rather than “the racial ones.” that made some black pundits upset because it implies to her way of thinking, gender dynamics can only be explored between white males and white females.

Personally, as far as this screenplay is concerned, I can see what she means, that when you add characters of color you add layers that don’t happen when everyone is of the same background. I can’t imagine adding a slave woman’s point of view into the story the way it’s told. It would change the narrative of the movie quite a bit, as the main plot involves one of the students finding a wounded Yankee soldier (Colin Farrell) out in the woods and brings him back to the school to be nursed back to health, as “the good Christian thing to do”; only as the soldier starts to recover, all the women begin to exhibit varying degrees of crushes and downright horny lusting for their handsome patient. And he plays along and manipulates them.

Sofia Coppola and Beguiled white cast at Cannes
The Civil War in many ways is just a backdrop - the overarching aspect is all pretty pastel dresses and luscious cinematography, at least in the first half of the film. Coppola explained “I wanted it to be this feminine, gauzy world that doesn’t look threatening at all, so that it’s a real surprise when the story shifts”.

Bottom Line:   In terms of the controversy, I feel Coppola should have been more aware of how touchy and hot button topics of race are in this current climate; especially if it seems to eliminate or appropriate in any way. She probably should have chosen different source material for the story she wanted to tell. In terms of the movie itself, visually it's perfect, it really depicts that old-time, lovely melancholy of the south. I was drawn into the story & characters, yet, I can't say I whole-hardheartedly recommend the film.

T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 3 outta 5
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This film was also discussed during our weekly movie segment, contributing to 
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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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