A Handbag?!

Posted on September 18, 2009. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , |

Following on from my recent post about adaptations and free from reading revision-type books, I found myself racing through The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday. The Colin Firth/Rupert Everett film is well known, so having really enjoyed the play (I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever read anything) I was eager to watch it straight away.
I’m happy to say that it is a brilliant adaptation of a brlliant play. Firth and Everett are both perfect in their roles, topped only by the incomparable Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell.

The only real changes to the script were some shifts in the timeline, aided by the freedom a film has over a stage play.  The cinematography is clever too, with Cecily’s fantasies adding humour to an already hilarious script.  It’s pretty much impossible to improve on Wilde’s writing and luckily Screenwriter Oliver Parker doesn’t mess about with it, keeping most lines in tact and just adding a few new ones which blend seemlessly with Wilde’s style.  The result is a great portrayal of Wilde’s dry wit and cutting satire.
The most notable difference was the addition of a song, performed by our male leads. Those of a weak disposition, be warned, you will be exposed to Colin firth singing, and I’m still having counselling after Mamma Mia. Luckily in this instance the duet is performed with much passion, little accuracy and tongue firmly in cheek. especially if you carry on listening throughout the credits.
Both play and film are very good, a great example of Wilde’s genius if Dorian Gray hasn’t quite managed it for you.  I think in this case, it doesn’t really matter whether you read or watch it first, as the adaptation is so close, as long as you do both!

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It’s a comedy: Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s daughter.

Posted on May 20, 2009. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

OK, this should be a quickie, since I have an exam tomorrow and am (clearly) not revising for it, but I wont be able to concentrate until I’ve blogged. (I think it’s becoming an obsession).

Last night a rediscovered a film I hadn’t seen in ages and I wanted to remind you all of it ‘cos I’m willing to bet most of you have forgotten about it too.  Depite the fact it won 7 Oscars.  In fact, the reason for me not watching it for so long was that I only have it on video…that was an old school experience.

The film in question is Shakespeare in Love.  It’s a brilliant movie, imagining how the great writer came up Romeo and Juliet based on his own experience as a star cross’d lover.  With an awesome ensemble cast featuring everyone from Ben Affleck to Geoffrey Rush via Martin Clunes the film is pretty much flawless; both funny and tragic (not unlike the play).  This was the film that gave Gwynnie her Oscar (I think she’s still crying) and also features a brilliant Joseph Fiennes-the far superior Fiennes brother but much overlooked in favour of his irritating brother Ralph (even more annoying because it’s pronounced “Rafe”).  Judi Dench won Best Supporting Actress for the film, all the more impressive since she’s on screen for less than fifteen minutes.  She’s just that good.  Not one member of the cast lets it down, and the (Oscar winning) writing is perfect.  The score (Stephen Warbeck) is also one of my favourites.

The juxtaposition between the on stage rehearsals and the writing process is brilliant, particularly when Fiennes recites Juliet’s lines to Paltrow’s Romeo.  And for Bard scholars (or just people like me who can recite a few Sonnets) the film is littered with references to  the other great works.  Keep an eye out for Sonnet 18, a definite Banquo’s ghost moment and of course, Twelfth Night.  Not to mention some nod’s to the Kit Marlow conspiracy and an appearance from a young (and disturbed) John Webster.

In Shakespeare in Love, you’re really getting two movies for the price of one, as most of the play is also seen.  While it may be a complete work of fiction, it’s beliveable enough that Shakespeare could have been inspried by a muse like Viola, particularly if he looked like Fiennes rather than the bald guy we’re used to.  Having recently watched Moulin Rouge, I have an idea where Baz Luhrmann’s inspiration came from, but as a plot device, having the writing and rehearsal of a play taking place simultaneously is really engaging.  The cast being so good, I always end up wanting to see their version of the great tragedy.  I have a feeling it’d be pretty awesome.

Hmmm....who do we prefer....?

You may well have seen it before, but if you haven’t I defintely recommend it.  In fact, I’m keeping my eye out for a DVD  so that next time I watch it the picture isn’t a bit wobbly (I’d forgotten the dodgyness of the old VHS).  It helps that Romeo and Juliet is my favourite play, but even if you hate Shakespeare I defy you to dislike this film.


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