Archive for American Beauty

The Hollow Crown

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , on 2014/04/03 by mattermind

In order to boost my page hits and thus (I hope) internet popularity, I have decided to take off the gloves and begin relentlessly posting the whereabouts and personal endeavors of Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch.

No, not really. But I have noticed that women seem to flock to these two men in inordinate numbers and with all-consuming passion. Must be nice (I guess) for those guys. But they’ve certainly created a mini cottage industry on the pop-culture front.

Mind you, I have nothing against either one of these gentlemen. And women certainly have the right to gush over whomever they choose. I find it funny, though, as an aside, how men are habitually taken to task for objectifying attractive females, while packs of howling females are encouraged with Oprah-esque fist bumps and “you go, girls.” What do I know. Maybe in the end that helps restore balance in the cosmic order.

I already sense what’s coming…I’m going to hear all about how talented these two thespians happen to be…and how female fans have been won over not by physical assets but by profound inward qualities, a reserved thoughtfulness, a je ne sais quoi.

Be that as it may. I’m not here to argue or to criticize. Nor am I actually going to start inserting hunk-of-the-days randomly into blog posts. I just happened to stumble upon what looks to be an utterly fantastic BBC series called “The Hollow Crown,” adaptations of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V.

Yeah, you could say this is fortuitous timing. Now I just have to find a way to get ahold of them in a hurry. 🙂

So call it coincidence, then, that one of the series’ big stars happens to be, ahem, Mr. Hiddleston. Go ahead, ladies, I won’t mind if you swoon. Heck, if he brings (or brought, the series already ran) a bunch of new eyeballs to Shakespeare’s lesser-adapted history plays, sobeit.

Turnabout is, after all, fair play. I’ll adjust, I suppse, to such Amazon reviews as “I’m only watching it for the beautiful men.” Yes, I get the point.

It’s a brave new world, with age-old gender barriers and stereotypes crashing all around us. Though I wonder sometimes how much really changes beneath the surface – I believe we are to a great extent biologically driven and intellectually/spiritually modified – nobody paying a modicum of attention to what’s happening around us can deny that women are redefining norms faster than we understand what they’re being replaced by. Western culture is definitely in transition.

Oh, by the way…Sam Mendes (of American Beauty and Skyfall fame) executive-produced the Hollow Crown series. Just in case, you know, you might feel the need to still justify that next Hiddleston indulgence.

Just sayin’.

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Hamlet Marathon on TNT

Posted in Hamlet, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on 2010/01/22 by mattermind

Actually, no.

In case you hadn’t guessed, that’s an obscure reference to one of my favorite lines from Alan Ball’s American Beauty. With it, Lester expresses his displeasure at being dragged to a high school basketball game to watch his daughter cheer. He’s irritated because the act feels obligatory, plus there’s a Bond marathon on TNT.

And then his world went blonde.

I mention this because I’m in the midst of catching up on a pair of Hamlet movies so I don’t get yelled at for clogging up the Netflix queue.

I watched the Olivier version last night. My initial reaction can best be summed up by this factoid from Wikipedia:

Eileen Herlie, who plays Hamlet’s mother, was 28 years old when the movie was filmed. Olivier, who plays her son, was 41.

Ick.

Hamlet, um, is a student at the University of Wittemburg, people… What’s this creepy fascination to play him so old? I mean, I realize it’s a great part and all but c’mon!

Aside from the obvious age-related casting issues, I liked this filmed version all-in-all. The castle looked a wee bit too Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but then hey, it’s a play with a ghost. I’m down with that.

But what I didn’t like, however, was how the final act played out.

The King’s murder seemed like an afterthought, hardly worthy of a mention. The gory multiple stabbings were decidedly not indicated by Shakespeare’s direction.

Hamlet did not force Claudius to drink from the same cup as his mother. We don’t even get to see the reactions of either Hamlet or the King as all the underhandedness is finally avenged.

Olivier directed it. I praise him for his emphasis on the Queen, bringing out her intential act of what suggests suicide.

But I fault Olivier for staging a flat finale that seemed to be more about Hamlet’s demise and, incidentally, his last soliloquy.

My favorite casting in this filmed version was of Laertes. Unlike Horatio, who was preposterously too old as well and looked a bit like a Latin Lothario; and Ophelia, who seemed a little too blonde for my tastes.

The ghost, it should be mentioned, was superbly done.

The Mel Gibson version “airs” tonight.