Monday, August 07, 2006
After work today I went and saw The Libertine. You know that big cliche that you watch a particularly sordid or squalid movie and immediately afterwards feel like you must take a shower? Well, I could use that one here. It would be appropriate. The movie is about the Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot, an actual historical figure from the 17th Century. He's played by Johnny Depp. Depp has a lot of fun with this character, a cross between his Pirates of the Caribbean character Jack Sparrow, Oscar Wilde and Bob Crane. At the beginning he looks at the camera and tries to rev us up by saying, "You will not like me!" Why would we not like him? Because he's an alcoholic and can't keep his pecker in his pants when a woman is around? Who cares. Many people have those problems. And he's a witty guy, very funny at times, coming up with some cracking one-liners. There he reminded me of Oscar Wilde.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to use that shower cliche was that the movie is set in London, and that was back when there were open sewers, so the streets were awash with mud and shit. The people all looked pale and sick, red-rimmed eyes, greasy skin, so when one of the frequent porky scenes pop up you want to scream, "Don't touch that!". Then because the Earl goes out whoring so much, he gets syphilis. There was no treatment for that back then so he starts rotting, and at one point when he is forced to make a public appearance, he is wearing a metallic nose cover because his nose is either about to fall off, or it's simply so damn hideous and would make everybody throw up.
The plot of the movie is simple: the Earl disgraces himself in front of King Charles (by telling a porno story in front of some important visitors), he is subsequently banished to some big boring country house but then three months later gets called back to the exciting, sleazy, filthy city. He loves going to the theatre and one time sees a new actress who gets fruit thrown at her by the jeering crowd, however the Earl sees some talent in her and tells her he wants to train her to be the best actress in London. See? He's not a bad guy at all. Anyway, she says, "OK! That would be, like, totally cool!" He coaches her and she becomes the hottest thing in London.
Did I mention that King Charles is played by John Malkovich? Well he is, and he is very good. Some very nice, dry delivery of lines right there. King Charles commissions the Earl to write a play to entertain some visiting French aristocrats, but the cheeky Earl instead writes a porno show which embarasses the King so he sends him off to go and rot with his syphilis. But the Earl stumbles in and redeems himself in the end by standing up for a vote in parliament that was going to go against the King, so he gives an awesome and persuasive speech, and everybody cheers. So he did the right thing by the King in the end, after all. See! He's not such a bad guy. He just forgot to read the part about the Seven Deadly Sins.