Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Coppola Wins Cannes Best Director for “The Beguiled”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | July 12th, 2017

For her work on “The Beguiled,” Sofia Coppola was awarded the best director honor at the Cannes Film Festival. She is only the second woman in that particular derby to do so in the festival’s seven decades, following Yuliya Solntseva’s 1961 nod for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.” The title of Solntseva’s film works well as a critique of the gender imbalance at both Cannes and in the film industry in general, so it is no surprise that a great deal of the writing on Coppola’s feature focuses on issues of femininity, womanhood, and sexuality.

Set during the Civil War, “The Beguiled” was first a 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan, narrated in turns by the eight females who reside at a boarding school near a skirmish that produces wounded Sixty Sixth New York Union Corporal John McBurney, a native of Ireland with a silver tongue to match his home country’s finest talkers. Incapacitated by a mangled leg that will figure heavily in the ensuing suspense, McBurney (played by Colin Farrell) is both beguiled and beguiler, casting a heady spell on the household. The novel cranks up the secrets and lies to a level of feverish intensity. It is weirder, richer, and much more satisfying than either movie adaptation.

Basing her script on the book as well as the screenplay for the 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle directed by Don Siegel, Coppola almost always aligns with the latter. Most obviously, she retains the Siegel film’s device of combining two of the novel’s key characters into one. Edwina, played here by Kirsten Dunst, is a student but retains key elements of Harriet Farnsworth, the sister of headmistress Martha (Nicole Kidman). One of the novel’s great pleasures blossoms from the increasingly antagonistic relationship between the bitter and competitive siblings, and the new film version might have been refreshed and invigorated had it restored that key dynamic.

More attention has been paid to the troubling decision to eliminate Matilda Farnsworth, a slave owned by Martha (and also to skip dealing with the issues of a mixed race character who “passes” as white). Renamed Hallie and portrayed by Mae Mercer in the Eastwood film, Matilda is indispensable in Cullinan’s telling of the tale. Coppola’s erasure, which has been called out as whitewashing in Slate, Teen Vogue, the Root, the Mary Sue, the Washington Post, and scores of other outlets, emerges as only one of the movie’s liabilities, but it is the most egregious.

As Charline Jao asserts in her excellent essay on “The Beguiled,” “the ‘Southern belle,’ especially, is a figure that romanticizes the economic prosperity that rises from slave labor -- she cannot exist without the slave. Their so-called ‘proper’ femininity cannot be separated from that of the black woman, as invisible as she is in the film.” Jao goes on to a nuanced assessment accounting for the film’s strengths without excusing its weaknesses. Her comments, like the comments of Clarkisha Kent, illuminate a problematic pattern that stretches far beyond the filmography of talented Oscar-winner Coppola. Unfortunately, Coppola’s Cannes victory will likely be a mostly hollow one; “The Beguiled” is nowhere near her strongest work and will be chiefly remembered for what it didn’t include rather than for what it did.

Recently in:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy, not law, has torn more than 2,300 children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although immigration reform has been a heated topic for decades, the policy of zero tolerance began with a…

Culture

​Dream factory

by HPR Contributor

By Oscar de Leonoscarldeleonjr@gmail.comTucked away near the rolling hills of West Hollywood, Chris Haskell, a former student at MSUM, makes his usual trek into his office where he edits footage to craft trailers to some of the…

Monday, June 25, 7 p.m.Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave N, Fargo It’s no surprise that Q magazine dubbed The Flaming Lips one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die," with their elaborate stage shows and multi-layered…

Just last week Raul and I were driving a rental car on the backroads of Mallorca, a small Mediterranean Island off the coast of Spain. Not gonna lie, my nose may or may not have been pressed hard against the window admiring the…

Ireland Has Sent Pope Francis and The Vatican A Dear John Letter: “It’s Over!”The Irish people and the Vatican have been developing a huge cultural grand canyon for decades over the issues of gender identities,…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Every year the Fargo Moorhead area celebrates its love of food with Restaurant week. Each restaurant involved prepares a special menu to showcase the best of what they have to offer. This year there are seventeen restaurants…

Front Street Taproom has struck up a relation with local record shop, Vinyl Giant. There are two events where turntables are set up and people can play their records. Every Wednesday they host Vinyl Night from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.…

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving,…

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduCome one, come all to the 59th anniversary of the Midwestern Invitational Art Exhibition! This tradition celebrates each year with a preview and awards selection the first night of its showing, with…

Projects have a tendency to take on a life of their own once they’ve reached a certain point. When the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre was established in 1946 to offer other local opportunities for artistic expression outside…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHow lucky we are in the FM area that we have so many craft breweries, but did you know that we also have two cider houses? Cottonwood Cider House is one of those cider houses and is just a short…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Last Word

​Keeping FM C.L.E.A.N

by HPR Contributor

By Paul JensenFargo, as the most populous city in the state with 120,000 inhabitants, added nearly 6,000 20-to-34-year-olds in 2015, just over five percent of the total population. Fargo is attracting well-educated young…