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Found 18 results

  1. Next week I'll be helping teach a Regent College extension course at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (yee haw! - one of my favourite spots on earth). As well as stagings of ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, RICHARD II, HEDDA GABLER and THE PIANO LESSON, we'll watch some film treatments: Baz Luhrmann's and Franco Zeffirelli's versions of R&J, and Trevor Nunn's TWELFTH NIGHT. (M)Leary, I noticed in your movie journal that you just viewed the Luhrmann. Thoughts? (By the way, I think the brackets around "M" is a very nice touch.) Anybody else want to weigh in on these or other Shakespeare films? Ron
  2. (A&F links to The Best Shakespeare on Film, Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958) and The Trial (1962).) So it's never been exactly easy to obtain a copy of this film. I don't know how long it will last, but I thought it's worth pointing out that it is available now on YouTube.
  3. (A&F links on The Best Shakespeare on Film, Chimes at Midnight (1965), Hamlet (1990), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night (1996), Titus (1999), The Merchant of Venice (2004), As You Like It (2006), The Tempest (2010), Coriolanus (2011), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Cymbeline (2014), Macbeth (2014).) So I almost put this thread in the TV section, but really, these are four films. I've just watched Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and I am very very impressed. Not only are there Oscar-worthy performances in here, but both the two films I've seen so far rank, in my opinion, towards the very top of the best films of 2012. It's an epic story and it's some of Shakespeare's best writing, much of which has rarely ever been seen on film before. I cannot begin to describe how good Ben Whishaw is as Richard II. You don't like him for about the first half of the film, but then he transforms himself into someone on whom you find yourself hanging on his every word. And, do you want to see Tom Hiddleston given directors and a script that actually uses his acting ability to its full extent? Then watch this. Hiddleston is going to grow into a great actor if it can't quite be said that he is one just yet. He needs to stop being wasted in Marvel comic book movies. The cast is so good that it will surprise you. It includes Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart and John Hurt. It also includes Rory Kinnear (Black Mirror, Skyfall), Clémence Poésy (In Bruges, Harry Potter), David Suchet (Poirot, The Bank Job), David Morrissey (Red Riding Trilogy, Sense & Sensibility), James Purefoy (Rome, A Knight’s Tale), Lindsay Duncan (Black Mirror, Rome), David Bradley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter), Simon Russell Beale (The Deep Blue Sea, My Week with Marilyn), Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Becoming Jane), Alun Armstrong (New Tricks, Braveheart), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter), Mélanie Thierry (Babylon A.D., The Zero Theorem), Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men), David Bamber (Rome), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey) and others that you'll recognize. I don't think I've seen Joe Armstrong before, but he makes a great Hotspur - a performance that should start his career. I had forgotten what it was like for the villain of a story to not have to be evil. When Harry and Hotspur meet at the end of the first part of Henry IV, the film makes you believe that both of them are good men and that it is only the circumstances (plus the treachery of someone else) that has led to them to fight each other. Also, Beale is a delight as Falstaff. Again, I've only seen the first two films, but I'm already suspecting that this is a masterpiece that I'm going to treasure for years to come. Tom Sutcliffe on Richard II: "... Wishaw was at the heart of it, naturally, bringing to Richard's slow realisation of his mere mortality a heartbreaking confusion. And here Goold's instincts seemed utterly sure-footed, quietly alerting us to the play's underlying themes (its recurring attention to the gulf that exists between being enthroned and being seated on the ground, for instance) while also bringing an absolutely gripping intimacy to the great set pieces in the play. Patrick Stewart was excellent as John of Gaunt, quivering with patriotic distress as he confronted the King in the "sceptred isle" speech. And Rory Kinnear beautifully captured the necessary double-think of the traitor, who must himself instantly become a scourge of traitors and indignantly defend a divinely appointed sovereignty that he has just exposed as man-made. When the crown passed between them, after Richard's brilliant moment of uncertainty ("Ay, no; no, ay"), there wasn't a shred of the cultural deference that can sometimes afflict Shakespeare on television. It was all hair-raising immediacy, a game of thrones with a script that has already lasted 400 years ..." Ed Cumming on Henry IV, Part 1: “... Though he’s becoming better known for megabudget Hollywood parts in Thor and Avengers Assemble, Hiddleston has Shakespearean credentials too. In Othello at the Donmar in 2007, he managed to make Cassio the most interesting part: which is no mean feat. Like Branagh, he has the gift of reserve, of holding back until it is absolutely impossible for him not to, at which point he floods out of himself. Ideal for Hal. The older actor has been something of a mentor to the younger: casting him in Thor, and acting with him in the Donmar’s Ivanov. And they first worked together on Wallander: Hiddleston appeared as detective Martinsson in the first two series. With Shakespeare on television there is really only one choice to make: either take a big risk and do something strange, or go straight at the material. Though the BBC will plead that it’s part of a season of helping us understand Shakespeare afresh, this was the latter variety; a traditional close representation of the text ...”
  4. Overstreet

    Macbeth (2015)

    Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman in a Macbeth set in the 11th century? Sure, okay.
  5. Ethan Hawke To Reunite With ‘Hamlet’ Director For Modern-Day ‘Cymbeline’ Thirteen years after updating Hamlet to a modern day NYC setting, Ethan Hawke is reteaming with writer-director Michael Almereyda (Nadja, New Orleans, Mon Amour, William Eggleston in the Real World) on William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Hawke will star in the contemporary-set romance set against the backdrop of a war between dirty cops and drug-dealing bikers, in what’s being described as Sons of Anarchy meets ROMEO + JULIET. . . . Deadline.com, July 31
  6. (A&F link to Viola (2012).) Eric Kohn, Indiewire: "... In 2011's concise "Rosalinda," he weaved the plot of "As You Like It" into a tale involving contemporary young lovers, and took a similar approach to 2012's "Viola," which involved an acting troupe rehearsing "Twelfth Night," and sometimes inhabiting it. The resulting interplay of modern characters stuck between their lives and far grander theatrical dramas yielded a fascinating interplay of source materials. For "The Princess of France," the latest entry in a loose trilogy of Shakespearean experimentation, the director incorporates the playwright's "Love's Labour's Lost" into another gentle contemporary fable with similarly compelling results. Piñero's light touch once again provides a keen access point to a secretively advanced narrative technique. ... Piñero's approach is loaded with interpretive possibilities, but he avoids any grand gestures on par with the sophistication implied by his layered concept. As a result, his movie develops an alienating effect that mirrors his protagonist's sense of disconnect, though that occasionally limits the story's emotional ramifications. Still, it's easy enough to roll with director's freewheeling sensibilities. While not aspiring to the heights of the texts underscoring his work, Piñero displays a daring formalism that transcends its many inspirations to find its own unique rhythms. For Piñero's characters, Shakespeare isn't just a creative challenge; it establishes the rules of their universe, even as their director expertly breaks them by forging a new path."
  7. Darren H

    Viola (2012)

    Matias Pineiro's Viola opens this weekend in NYC, so it's time for a thread. I'll be surprised if it doesn't take the top spot in my Best Theatrical Releases of 2013 list. Here's the (not-so-great) trailer: And here's what I wrote last year: The great discovery of TIFF 2012 was Matías Piñeiro’s Viola, a fantasia on love that dances between dreams, theatrical performances and a kind of hyper-sensual reality. “When he was singing, I thought I truly loved him,” the title character says in the film’s closing line. It’s typical of Piñeiro’s fluid perspective — a wistful, past-tense comment on a joyful present. Had I not known Piñeiro is barely 30 years old, I might have guessed this was an “old man” movie. His acute attention to potential love (or infatuation) is almost nostalgic, as if that surplus of feeling is so profound because it was always so fleeting. There are three kisses in the entire film, each significant in its own way, but like the particular scenes from Shakespeare that Piñeiro cuts and pastes into his dialogue, all of Viola is charged with barely-suppressed desire. I don’t know how else to put it: this is a really horny movie. Except for a brief interlude in which we see Viola riding her bicycle through town, delivering packages for her and her boyfriend’s music- and film-bootlegging business, Piñeiro and cinematographer Fernando Lockett adhere to a unique visual strategy throughout the film. Each scene is built from only a handful of shots. Characters are typically framed in close-up, usually from slightly above and with a very shallow, always-shifting depth of field. The camera moves often but in small and smooth gestures. And, most importantly, nearly all character movement happens along the z-axis. That’s all worth mentioning, I think, because the form of the film — or, more precisely, the video; Viola sets a new standard by which I’ll judge other indie DV projects — is so integrated with its content. Piñeiro often builds scenes around three characters. In some cases all three participate in the conversation (my two favourites take place in a theatre dressing room and in the back of a mini-van); at other times, two characters talk while a third remains just outside of the frame, either literally or metaphorically. Viola is a talky movie, and its eroticism (for lack of a better word) is in its language and in its shifting compositions of faces. Piñeiro seems to have found a new form to express the classic love triangle. The closest formal analogy I can think of is the café and tram sequences in Jose Luis Guerin’s In the City of Sylvia (2007), in which faces fold into and out of one another at different depths of field.
  8. (A&F links on The Best Shakespeare on Film, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Hamlet (1990), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night (1996), Titus (1999), The Merchant of Venice (2004), As You Like It (2006), The Tempest (2010), Coriolanus (2011), The Hollow Crown: Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, Henry V (2012), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Cymbeline (2014), Macbeth (2014).) Vulture: Director Julie Taymor has finished the film version of her widely acclaimed, vissually stuffed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (which ran earlier this year at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn). “Many people wanted to tour, but it’s completely impractical,” Taymor told Vulture this week at a screening of Boyhood at BAMcinemaFest. “There were 17 children and 15 principals. It will probably never see the light of day again as a live production, so I feel very good about the film." Taymor says this project is similar to her 1992 TV film Oedipus Rex, shot during a Japanese production of Stravinsky's opera-oratorio. Like on Oedipus, Taymor directed the Midsummer film, shot by Frida cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto during the last four performances of the play. “It’s not like Live From the Met,” Taymor says. “This is even more thorough. We shot all performances straight through, putting cameras in different positions at each show, and then in the daytime we went onstage with handheld cameras. I think it’s fairly unusual, because it is a real hybrid of live theater and film. It’s very cinematic. There are no visual effects — they’re all live.” Taymor, who has played the Toronto Film Festival in the past with Frida in 2002 and Across the Universe in 2007, is hoping to premiere this film there.“I think we’re going to Toronto,” Taymor says. “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say, but I have a good feeling.” New York Times - 11/3/13 Review of the Play: ... The Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, which seats 299, is an elegant variation on the basic black-box theater. The first thing you see upon entering is a lone, spotlighted bed center stage. The unwitting might assume they’re in for a fashionably minimalist production. But as soon as a little fellow in a bowler hat (who turns out to be Puck, played by Kathryn Hunter) crawls into that bed, it starts to grow. And grow and grow, until you expect it to break through the ceiling. The same might be said of the show itself. In retelling Shakespeare’s story of mortal and immortal lovers lost in a bewitched Athenian wood, Ms. Taymor has sought to conjure the sort of Jungian visions that are bred in the fertile fields of sleep. And with the assistance of what is surely the most adventurous design team of the season — and a very large (and largely able) cast — she transforms bed and bedding into a sylvan, starry wonderland. An immense sheet rises, falls and twists itself to become a confining roof, a vast sky, a writhing forest floor and an amorous bower fit for a queen of the fairies. Swatches of gauzy white cloth morph into transporting wings. And when the play’s central romantic quadrangle of Athenian youths turns vicious, the myriad sprites who are always standing by provide the squabblers with an endless supply of pillows to fight it out. The basic palette for Es Devlin’s set is white and black. That color scheme is carried out all the way into the look of the play’s reigning fairies, the ivory-pale Titania (a regally funny Tina Benko with a fairy-lighted bodice) and the ebony-black Oberon (a magisterial David Harewood). Sven Ortel’s projections and Donald Holder’s lighting meld shadow and substance into patterns of ferns and leaves and — for the dazzling and hilarious pre-intermission scene — orgasmic fireworks of floral color. And Ms. Taymor makes (mostly) revitalizing use of some of her best-known tricks, including Asian-inspired shadow and stick puppetry ... And have I mentioned Constance Hoffman’s costumes, which range from fancy cartoon court attire to fairy outfits that might have been fashioned from the underside of a mushroom? Or Matt Tierney’s disorienting astral sound design? Or the ingeniously mixed music of Elliot Goldenthal, which ranges from anxious jazz riffs to sustained, ethereal lullabies? Let’s see, what else? Oh, yes, the cast members. There are a lot of them, including a delightful horde of children. The main players include Max Casella, who does Bottom the Weaver (and great ham actor) as a New Yawk working stiff, and Roger Clark as a patriarchal Duke Theseus, and Okwui Okpokwasili, looking like Grace Jones trying to be subdued, as his Amazonian queen, Hippolyta. The young lovers are portrayed variably by Mandi Masden, Zach Appelman, Jake Horowitz (the son of Jeffrey) and a newcomer named Lilly Englert, who delivers a knockout comic performance as a sexually teasing Hermia. Ms. Benko lends Titania a delicious twist of perversity. (This queen has no regrets about her sexual romp with a donkey.) And the remarkable Ms. Hunter, an Olivier Award winner who appeared here recently in "Kafka's Monkey," creates a genuinely original Puck who is part music-hall comedian, part fairground contortionist. But you don’t go to a Taymor production for the acting, or — let’s be honest — to exercise your deeper feelings. While I think you could make an argument for a sustained thematic interpretation here, this “Dream” exists more as a glittering necklace of breathtaking moments than as an emotionally affecting whole. But when the moments are this beautiful, they take root in your mind and assume lives of their own. Don’t be surprised when they start showing up in your own dreams.
  9. Ralph Fiennes to direct 'Coriolanus' Vanessa Redgrave in talks to join project Variety, February 6
  10. (A&F links on The Best Shakespeare on Film, Chimes at Midnight (1965), Hamlet (1990), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night (1996), Titus (1999), The Merchant of Venice (2004), As You Like It (2006), The Tempest (2010), Coriolanus (2011), The Hollow Crown: Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, Henry V (2012), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Cymbeline (2014), Macbeth (2014).) I fear I might be alone here, but I struggle to imagine any list of "Divine Comedies" that leaves out every film version (let alone the best film version) of A Midsummer Night's Dream. G.K. Chesterton wrote: "On the Alleged Pessimism of Shakespeare", Daily News, April 29, 1905: Shakespeare ... had an atmosphere of spirit - an atmosphere not confined to him but common in some degree to the whole of the England before the Puritans. And about this atmosphere or spirit there is one particular thing to be remarked. It can be remarked best by simply reading such a play as A Midsummer Night's Dream. The quality I mean may be called the comic supernatural. The greater part of that world, like the more thinking part of our modern world, believed in a general way in the existence of things deeper and higher than man himself, in energies beyond his energy, in destinies beyond his ken. In short, they believed in gods, in devils; and they also believed in fairies. We have mysticism in the modern world but all our mysticism is sad mysticism; at the best it is serious mysticism; it is never a farcical mysticism ... We never think of any energies in the universe being actually merrier than we; though it comes quite easy to us to think of energies which are grimmer ... [bold added] "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Good Words, Sept/Oct, 1904: ... The sentiment of such a play, so far as it can be summed up at all, can be summed up in one sentence. It is the mysticism of happiness. That is to say, it is the conception that as man lives upon a borderland he may find himself in the spiritual or supernatural atmosphere, not only through being profoundly sad or meditative, but by being extravagantly happy. The soul might be rapt out of the body in an agony of sorrow, or a trance of ecstasy; but it might also be rapt out of the body in a paroxysm of laughter. Sorrow we know can go beyond itself; so, according to Shakespeare, can pleasure go beyond itself and become something dangerous and unknown. And the reason that the logical and destructive modern school ... does not grasp this purely exuberant nature of the comedies is simply that their logical and destructive attitude has rendered impossible the very experience of this preternatural exuberance ... It doesn't seem as if many here have seen it, but you can watch the whole thing here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P39Fh8JwqPw
  11. The Wrap: The movie's website features this picture and not much else.
  12. Julie Taymor, director of Titus, is bringing more Shakespeare to the screen this December: The Tempest, with a twist. Helen Mirren is in the leading role.
  13. A new version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE hits L.A. and N.Y. just before the New Year with Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynne Collins. Mark Moring at CT Movies pointed me to this article in The Guardian that gets the ball rolling... A Very Jewish Villain Jonathan Freedland The debate is so old it should have its own place in the Shakespearean canon. Is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender who demands a "pound of flesh" from a debtor, a villain or a victim? Every time The Merchant of Venice is staged, the debate is restaged along with it. Does Shakespeare's play merely depict anti-semitism, or does it reek of it? Is the Bard describing, even condemning, the prevalent anti-Jewish attitudes of his time - or gleefully giving them an outlet?... It's clear that director Michael Radford does not want to make an anti-semitic film. But he has big two problems. The first is the play. The second is the medium. ...As the great critic Harold Bloom has declared, "One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to recognise that Shakespeare's grand, equivocal comedy The Merchant of Venice is nevertheless a profoundly anti-semitic work." ...So the film-maker has a problem with the play he has chosen. But - and this may be the bigger surprise - he has deepened his trouble by making a film. For the very nature of the medium aggravates the traditional dilemmas of staging The Merchant of Venice. We may want to dismiss Portia and friends as ghastly airheads, in contrast with weighty Shylock, but that's tricky when they are played by beautiful A-list film stars, in gorgeous locations accompanied by delightful music. How can we do anything but sympathise with Antonio, when he's played by Jeremy Irons - exposing his chest to Shyock's knife in an almost Christlike pose? ...Shakespeare is simply experienced differently on stage. Even when it's not at the Globe theatre, we understand when we see a Shakespeare play that we are seeing a historical artifact, written several centuries ago. Instantly that provides some context: these were the attitudes of the time. That sense is diminished in the most modern of forums, the cinema. To hear the words "dog Jew" shouted on Dolby Surround speakers; to see a Jew fall to his knees and forced to convert to Christianity on a wide screen, cannot fail to have a different, and greater power. ... * There's lots more, and it's well worth reading: he's specific about what he sees on the screen, and perceptive in his contrasts of stage and screen, of Shakespeare's era and our own. Whets my appetite for this one, to be sure! Ron
  14. Persona

    Titus (1999)

    We don't have a thread for Titus, Julie Taymor's epic masterpiece from over a decade ago. I watched the first half tonight for the first time in four or five years. It is such a riveting film -- just giant, chaotic, two words: FULL ON. I knew I wanted to see it again before I saw The Tempest this fall. There's a lot I'd like to say, and I'll try to post some kind of wrap or reaction, but I just wanted to get the thread started, show the links and ask a quick question for those who have seen it. Julie Taymor's film links are Across The Universe (2007) and The Tempest (still coming out in 2010). We've discussed Titus many times, and Frida had its own thread eons ago. You know how these things go. So this is what I want to ask right off the bat: Who, or what, does the little quiet boy represent? And which actor is he? Is he Osheen Jones? I couldn't even tell by looking up the credits -- the picture of Osheen Jones does not look like the little boy in the film. An IMDB thread calls him "little Lucius the grandson of Titus," and says to check out the commentary, which I remember being amazed by years ago. The second part of the same question would be for any of you who actually know about actual Shakespeare outside of film: is the little boy's part in the original writings or is that something Taymor added in? Going back to watch the ending, have a great night! For the search: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Chiron, who is also in one of my favorite comedies from this year, A Film With Me In It), Alan Cumming (Saturninus, who is also in The Tempest!).... Andronicus
  15. Very excited about this! AS YOU LIKE IT in post-production, Kenneth Branagh directing, Kevin Kline as Jacques, Alfred Molina as Touchstone, Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind! As long as this is the Kenny of MUCH ADO rather than HAMFEST, we're laughing!
  16. Ron Reed

    Twelfth Night

    I'm presently immersed in draft four of my play A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR, about George MacDonald's daughter Lilia, who was an actress. I've already woven in rehearsal and performance bits of two plays the family staged, MACBETH and PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, but only now am I really engaging with the challenge of working in a rehearsal section and a performance section from TWELFTH NIGHT, which they performed at Cannes (!) and around which I've organized the climax of my play. In an effort to tease out the resonances of Shakespeare's play with Lilia's life, I spent this evening close viewing Trevor Nunn's film treatment of the play, which is a long-time favourite of mine. Out of that I think I've chosen the scene they'll be rehearsing (V:1, the section with Viola, Olivia, Orsino and the priest - because that allows me to have the right characters involved, and it's maximum lively, and deals with marriage): not sure what to use for the performance excerpt yet, but I've flagged a few possibilities to consider tomorrow. Anyhow, all this has me renewing my appreciation for the tremendous artistry of this film adaptation: deft adaptation of the play into screenplay, glorious performances from Imogen Stubbs and Helena Bonham Carter, and such fascinating subtext and darker colors. Really fascinated by Kingsley's Feste this time. Which led me to a terrifically substantial article on the film, a scholarly piece by a fellow from Oberlin College; Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night: Contemporary Film and Classic British Theatre by Nicholas R. Jones.
  17. THEY all want to play Hamlet. They have not exactly seen their fathers killed Nor their mothers in a frame-up to kill, Nor an Ophelia dying with a dust gagging the heart, Not exactly the spinning circles of singing golden spiders, Not exactly this have they got at nor the meaning of flowers� O flowers, flowers slung by a dancing girl� in the saddest play the inkfish, Shakespeare, ever wrote; Yet they all want to play Hamlet because it is sad like all actors are sad and to stand by an open grave with a joker�s skull in the hand and then to say over slow and say over slow wise, keen, beautiful words masking a heart that�s breaking, breaking, This is something that calls and calls to their blood. They are acting when they talk about it and they know it is acting to be particular about it and yet: They all want to play Hamlet. Carl Sandburg Laurence, Richard, Mel, Kenneth, Ethan... And Kevin. Just out on DVD, the video record of the New York Shakespeare's 1990 production, with the superb Kevin Kline in the title role. I saw part of it, 'twas very fine - though it suffers from the pretty much inevitable "filmed play flatness" syndrome. HAMLET (Kline) (DVD Coming Sep 2/03) (1990) --------------------------------------------- Cast List: Kevin Kline Dana Ivey Diane Venora Director : Kevin Kline / Kirk Browning Formats : DVD Web Link : http://www.videomatica.bc.ca/system/getmov...ie.asp?id=14790 In 1990, the same year that Mel Gibson brought Hamlet to the big screen, Kevin Kline directed and later filmed this New York Shakespeare Festival's live stage production of one of Shakespeare's most touted plays. Among the co-stars are Diane Venora and Dana Ivey. New on DVD this week. See also IMDb: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0099727/
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