SHAKESPEARE by Bill Bryson (Harper Press, 2007)
Do we really need another book about William Shakespeare? The answer is, of course, a resounding ‘NO’.
In fairness, Bill Bryson is fully cognizant of this fact. He is honest enough to admit that this book contains not so much his own opinions “but is instead about what I learned of William Shakespeare from people who have spent a lifetime studying and thinking about him”.
Bryson makes the accurate observation that the Bard of Stratford-Upon-Avon is “not so much a historical figure as an academic obsession”.
He is in his element when debunking some of the unsubstantiated claims the so-called ‘experts’ have made in an attempt to uncover the man behind the myth. Continue reading
THE HATEFUL EIGHT directed by Quentin Tarantino (USA, 2015)
Pretty well every Tarantino movie has been accused of being gratuitously violent. By now viewers should know that at some point there’ll be some splatter.
Get used to it or stay away, I say.
But his 8th movie is hateful for other reasons. I found certain scenes distasteful because the sadistic elements were so plainly included for shock value alone.
I’m thinking in particularly of the flashback scene [spoiler alert] near the end. Continue reading
HAMLET directed by Laurence Olivier (1948)
HAMLET directed by Franco Zefferelli (1990)
How about this as a summary of Shakespeare’s most famous play turned movie?:
“This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.”.
If that seems too reductive, how about this:
“A guy comes home from school to discover that his father’s dead. To top it all off his mother is horsing around with his uncle. Add to that, the ghost of the old man comes back to tell him that it was his uncle who knocked him off so he could run off with the Queen. The guy goes off his nut”.
The first is Laurence Olivier’s voiceover before the main action begins.
The second is from an interview with Mel Gibson included in the extras on the DVD of Zefferelli’s film.
Frankly, neither really cuts the mustard but both are obviously aiming to pitch the story in an accessible fashion. Continue reading
INTIMACY directed by Patrice Chéreau (UK, 2001)
Sex in movies or music videos is mostly more concerned with titillation than realism while in porn its primary function is stimulation.
The makers of Intimacy, based on a short story by Hanif Kureishi, adopt a less glossy and therefore more adult perspective.
In the movie, scenes of coupling are explicit, including un-simulated fellatio. Little is left to the imagination but, equally, nothing is particularly arousing.
On the contrary, the sex act is reduced to the level of a basic human need (like eating and sleeping but more energetic).
This is fucking not lovemaking and seems more akin to an act of penance than passion. Once the desire is satiated, words are unnecessary and the two go their separate ways arranging only to meet again the same day (Wednesday) the next week. Continue reading
Not surprisingly, the creators of the National Youth Theatre’s cancelled production of Homegrown smell a rat.
The official explanation given by the London-based company is that the play was not ready and would have failed the meet the theatre group’s high standards. The fact that neither director Nadia Latif nor playwright Omar El-Khairy were given prior notice of this decision means that this seems more a case of censorship than quality control. Continue reading