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Capone Wouldn’t Mind Touching THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL!

Published at: Feb. 29, 2008, 7:02 a.m. CST

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. If you believe every damn magazine on the planet that has put these two beauties on their cover, then THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL should have been a slam dunk. Two of the most desirable women on the planet (Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman) in a film in which they are at various times the object of desire for the notoriously libidinous King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). Throw into the mix a screenplay by Peter Morgan (The Queen) and direction from Justin Chadwick, who did exceptional work on the "Masterpiece Theatre" production of "Bleak House," and you really have to wonder how they could go wrong. Allow me to explain: they made it boring; they drained it of all its potential sexuality; and they cast David Morrissey (BASIC INSTINCT 2; THE WATER HORSE; THE REAPING), who I think now officially qualifies as the cinematic equivalent of the kiss of death. Although to be fair, those films probably would have sucked without him. I realize not everyone reading this saw Showtime's exceedingly well-done series "The Tudors," but THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL essentially covers the same timeframe as the first two seasons (if the commercials for Season 2 are any indication). And obviously this love triangle has been covered in films and television productions a great deal in the past. So not only does the film seem like retread to me, it skims over major events in the lives of these three characters. Plus, the series doesn't skimp on the sex, violence and other vices the king displayed during his long reign. But forgetting how much story the two versions of this tale tell, Bana simply doesn't convey the quality that Henry clearly had that made women swoon over him (beyond just what they were duty bound to show him). Critics often complain that they don't ever get to see characters at work because that somehow shows these people as more sympathetic or believable. I had the same complaint with THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL. Granted, the king dismantling religion in his kingdom simply to acquire a divorce from his wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, might be considered "seeing him at work," but just comes across as a powerful man doing what he needs to do to sleep with a desirable woman. But the key relationship of the film is meant to be the one between the sisters, who are clearly as close as two families members can be…when they're not trying to steal Henry from the other or turn on each other to gain some advantage in their social standing. They never really struck me as particularly close. Their father and uncle pimp them out to the king with hardly a second thought; even poor Mary's (Johansson) husband allows the king to sweep his wife off her feet so he may rise in the royal ranks. In other words, you may have a tough time finding people in this film to like. And in a movie that asks us to sympathize with some of its characters, particularly Mary who gives birth to the king's bastard child and is left to raise him alone (there is some doubt in history as to whether this child was Henry's, but it's pretty clear in the film that he is). The biggest crime in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL is that it doesn't teach us anything new about these people, even if such teachings would have been pure speculation. It doesn't offer audiences a fresh interpretation or analysis on the events or of these characters. Worst of all, as I said at the beginning, the thing is just dreadfully dull. Costume dramas are always a risky endeavor, but without an engaging new perspective (on either historical dramas or new versions of classic literary works), they hardly seem worth doing. This film would be Exhibit A in my case against telling this story again any time in the next 50 years. Capone

Readers Talkback

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  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:30 a.m. CST

    First!

    by CeejayNightwing

    So I'm guessing none of these babes get their tits out...? What a waste of a good costume flick! :-(

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:30 a.m. CST

    I just got off the phone with Jimmy Walker...

    by Uncle Stan

    ...the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:55 a.m. CST

    the only thing that could make this interesting

    by bingo the clown

    A catfight between Johansson and Portman, with the inevitable make out session at the end.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Natalie Portman is NOT desireable.

    by Borgnine JR

    I saw her in that Wes Andersen Darleeling crapfest and she was nigh-naked. with her robs bulging out like that she looked like an anerexic greyhound. Johanssen I would throw one into.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST

    The biggest crime in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL...

    by Blanket-Man

    ...is the complete lack of nudity or incestuous lesbianism between ScarJo and Portman. You sign those two up for a "period piece" about a scandalous love affair and neither gets naked?!? Someone needs to be fired...stat. But I agree with Borgnine Jr: Portman is too 12-year-old boyish to be hot. Johanssen is the bee's knees, however.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 2 p.m. CST

    The problem? Johansson CAN'T ACT.

    by ZeroCorpse

    She's not that hot, either. She's an expert at pushing up her tits and pouting so she looks hotter through 2 tons of makeup than she really is, but if you gave me a choice between either of the two female leads in "Ghost World", I'd pick Thora Birch as the real natural beauty of the two-- And she doesn't have to push up her tits to gain the appearance of excellent cleavage. <p> And Bana-- I never got people's fascination with this guy. He's so VANILLA. He's bland. Jonathon Rhys-Myers is just a better screen presence all-around. <p> Natalie Portman is certainly more desirable than that mannikin Johansson.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 3:10 p.m. CST

    Portman's underrated films

    by mooch

    Portman seems to be making a habit of being in underrated movies - this last year there has been Goya's Ghosts, My Blueberry Nights, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Paris Je T'Aime, even the Darjeeling Limited got some some shocking reviews. I'm not saying any of those were out-and-out great films, but I don't think any of them deserved the write-ups they had - I felt they were all worthwhile. Maybe she needs to be in a few films that are more than just "worthwhile," but people can be incredibly harsh on Natalie Portman I find.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST

    Zero-ScarJ's performance in Match Point

    by Kloipy

    was enough to give her a pace for any film. She was so fucking hot in that movie. The rain scene, holy Lord

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 6:32 p.m. CST

    Amen on ScarJo not being able to act

    by WWBD

    The world is slowly realizing this.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Natalie's not desireable?

    by MattmanReturns

    Tell that to my pants.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:18 p.m. CST

    The previews looked shitty.

    by skywalkerfamily

    For something taking place in the 18th Century, everything looked like a store display at Sears.

  • March 1, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST

    that'll be C16th, skywalkerfamily

    by ikkyu

    and ZeroCorpse: Birch>Johanssen?<p> don't be silly.

  • March 1, 2008, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Um, sorry, NEITHER ONE of them can act

    by JiveTalker

    Johansson affects the same blank, lifeless stare and open-mouthed dumbfoundedness in every single role. And mooch, it's not that Portman's films are underrated, it's that she's an extremely limited, stilted, altogether unconvincing actress whose lack of talent is finally, FINALLy starting to catch up to the roles she is being offered. It's interesting you think people are harsh on Portman, cuz I find it to be just the opposite: aside from SW, which everybody gives her a free pass on anyway, people prostrate themselves before her when really she hasn't been good in anything since The Professional. People are a lot harsher on Johansson and on Knightley I think, but Portman is always this untouchable Miss Perfect that can do no wrong, even though she's extremely mediocre in every way. Anyway, who needs these two talentless, uncharismatic, uppity broads now that Ellen Page has arrived?

  • March 1, 2008, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Eric Bana can be very good.

    by Vergil

    I think he is one that needs a director. Look no further than his amazing 2 minutes of screen time in "Blackhawk Down".

  • March 2, 2008, 10 p.m. CST

    JiveTalker...

    by Bass Bastardson

    Portman's performance in TOBG might change your mind. It is really pretty terrific. I was kind of feeling the same as you until I saw this movie today but now I am back on the Portman bandwagon. I can't imagine why you're so exited about Ellen Page though. I mean really? She's not awful - but talk about overrated. The hype for both her and Juno are completely inexplicable to me. It was a mediocre film, saved by some good performances from the adult supporting cast. Ellen Page was actually pretty wooden for most of the film. That it won best screenplay is a travesty. First Akiva Goldsman and now Diablo Cody. The mind boggles. That said, Page was really good in Hard Candy, but that movie was so terrible I almost hate her for just being involved in it. Anyway, The Other Boleyn Girl is not usually my kind of movie, and - given the subject matter - it really could have used some steamier sex, but I actually found it quite compelling. Maybe that is because I am not as familiar with the story as Capone and I am not comparing it to the Tudors, but the theater I saw it in actually applauded at the end.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:02 p.m. CST

    umm...

    by Bass Bastardson

    The way I worded that last sentence it sounds like I was saying that the theater applauded at the end because I was not comparing the movie to The Tudors. Hopefully you can sift through my poor grammar and figure out what I was actually trying to say.