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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Stage Beauty

Saw Stage Beauty last night with benet and commodorified. While we were all expecting to enjoy it, we weren't expecting to like it so much. I think it's one of the best films of the year.

It stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes (reunited from the English language version of Princess Monokoke), he as an actor specializing in playing women in 1660 England, she his dresser who aspires to be an actress, if it wasn't illegal. Only when Charles II (in a brilliant performance by Rupert Everett) overturns the law, he's out of a career and she's a rising star.

"A woman playing a woman? Where's the trick in that?"

As Ebert notes, there are some Shakespeare in Love riffs going on here, and while I do like that movie, this one is harder hitting emotionally. The performances are exceptional across the board, and the writing is razor sharp. I'm sure owlfish will have some comments about the costuming, but I didn't see anything particularly out of place.

Rupert Everett as Charles II was walking a fine line here that he succeeded completely at. Between his six spaniels and the antics of Nell Gwynn (a wonderful performance by newcomer Zoe Tapper) at first he seems in the comic fop role of the Emperor in Amadeus. But there's real steel under that appearance. As the King he gives himself permission to work outside the box, but that doesn't mean anyone else can. And he says to Billy, as consolation over the fact that his career is seemingly over, probably my favorite line of the movie.

And to those of you who like this sort of thing, as commodorified certainly does, there's a full on man-kiss.

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Ooh. This sounds like a movie that I should see then. Even if just to see what the costuming's like.

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