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Marquis Value: The Marquis de Sade on Film

‘Quills,’ with Joaquin Phoenix and Kate Winslet, and ‘Sade’ both document the life of the infamous writer

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Forget Shakespeare. This fall’s lit-movie It Boy is an 18th-century pornographer with a notorious fondness for the lash. Cover your eyes, Lynne Cheney, it’s the Marquis de Sade — the subject of two new so-hyped-it-hurts flicks: Sade, a French drama, and Quills, a sumptuous period pic starring Geoffrey Rush as the agony-lovin’ aristocrat. Grove/Atlantic, which publishes Marquis tomes, anticipates a sales surge when Quills comes out in November, but what will politicians make of a film that shows a priest (Joaquin Phoenix) having sex with a dead laundress (Kate Winslet)? Rush says the national decency dustup makes it timely: ”It brings into the arena of debate all these issues about what should be censored and what shouldn’t.” Sounds like fodder for a painfully good controversy.