Friday, July 22, 2016

Shakespeare: movies currently available online

There are some movies currently streaming online that I wanted to pass along to readers.

First up is Coriolanus available for free to Amazon Prime members. Directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes while John Logan adapted the play for the screen. I was impressed by the whole production, which was as troubling on the screen as it is on the page. Set in modern times, the action can be graphic and troubling for younger viewers, so discretion is advised. Fiennes brings a simmering intensity to the Roman general who defends Rome until he is banished, a political victim. It's one of the strongest performances I've seen from him lately. It helps that the supporting cast is strong, too. James Cox's Menenius was especially good, while Vanessa Redgrave's Volumnia provided a believable stern mother to Coriolanus. I even enjoyed Gerard Butler's portrayal of Aufidius. I highly recommend catching this while it is available.

I've not seen the 1984 TV adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Timothy Dalton and Lynn Redgrave. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it, although I did want to mention that it is also available for free on Amazon Prime.

The 2013 Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad was released the following year as a movie and is currently available on Hulu. There was a lot of press about the play when it debuted so I won't go into much detail here. There were some nice touches, but the truncation of the burial vault scene (at least in the screen version) dealt a strong blow against it for me. The performances that stood out to me were Brent Carver as a nervous Friar Laurence and Christian Camargo’s Mercutio. Most of the other roles were played by the book. I'd put this production in the middle of the pack of versions I've seen, still enjoyable in places despite the unevenness.

Chime in if you have seen any of the these films!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Still ending, and beginning still

After swearing I'd never work for another startup company, I've agreed to work half-time for another startup. I think we all know what half-time will actually mean, though. Plus I'll continue homeschooling the boys. How all of this is going to work I have no idea. I guess I was worried that I was becoming too complacent or something.

So if the posts are even more sporadic and erratic than they currently are and the focus is lacking (more than normal), you'll understand why.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Romeo and Juliet by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company

Last night I went to see the movie version of Romeo and Juliet presented by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. It was a little eerie being one of only four people in a sizable movie theater watching this marvelous production, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Richard Madden was solid as Romeo, showing progress from self-absorbed youth to a lover and husband, but Lily James as Juliet stole the show for me, one of the most impressive performances in that role I've seen. Interestingly enough, she doesn't seem that ... ahem ... inexperienced at the start of the play, displaying a pronounced amorous side from the beginning. Casting Derek Jacobi as Mercutio might have seemed a little odd, but having an older, more experienced friend works extremely well since his advice and entreaties to Romeo seem more credible. This is a Mercutio that has been around the block, the city, and the state. The rest of the cast was solid. I'll only point out Meera Syal as the Nurse, who adds a frisky quality to the role, seeming to look forward to Juliet's amorous meetings as much or more than her charge.

The setting was moved to mid-20th century Italy. Given that the print was in high-contrast black and white, the play at times had the feel of a Fellini film. I loved the set design of towering columns, with fluid changes between scenes. My only complaint was that the sound was tinny at times, but since this has been a consistent complaint I've had with similar screenings, I guess I wasn't too disappointed.

I wanted to post on this production since Fathom Events sometimes provides encore screenings. If you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.