Thursday, August 14, 2008

Harder Than It Looked

Chili has been watching the Lawrence Fishburne (above) version of Othello in her literature class. Not surprisingly all that time spent enjoying the man inspired her to request a Hot People post. She wanted hot folk from Shakespeare films. No problemo, right? Oh, I am so conflicted. I hate so much of the verse speaking in Shakespeare films. You'll notice that no one from the M__ G______ Hamlet is here, not even Glenn Close. I could write a dissertation on why I'm so het up about the whole deal but for today's purposes let's just say "I am" and be done with it.

I have not seen Mr. Fishburne's Othello so I'm including him here provisionally. I have high hopes for him but I'm scared, I've been disappointed too often.

Trying to keep it positive, though, here are some folks whose approach to and execution of Shakespearean work I really admire. Below, Kristin Scott Thomas. There are a number of...issues with the updating of Richard III by Sir Ian McKellen but her portrayal of Lady Anne is not one of them.

Sir Lawrence Olivier...and friend. Need I say more?

If it were possible for you to watch Emma Thompson play Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing without having to hear any of the other major players (yes, I'm slagging Branagh, I know, it's with good reason) I would urge you to do that. She is a delight in everything but especially when putting an ass in his place.
Sir John Gielgud, who you probably know from Arthur but whose verse speaking we should all be so lucky to hear in our dreams.
Honestly Christopher Walken creeps me out these days. I like him, though, and that is due in large part to two outstanding performances. The first is, of course, his work in The Deerhunter, which is unmissably poignant and possibly the single best commentary on the Vietnam War ever given. The other was the first play I ever saw at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. He was Iago to Raul Julia's Othello. For his soliloquies he stepped to the edge of the stage in a moonlight-colored spotlight and simply told the assembled hundreds what he felt. I wanted to get up out of my seat and cling to him. It was disturbing in the most thrilling way.
If you think you recognize Fiona Shaw but don't know quite why it's because she plays Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter movies. From what I can tell she does the films so she can get on stage. Her "to be or not to be" is not to be missed, neither is her Medea.
Baby brother Joseph Fiennes seems a bit quirky in real life but he played the pantaloons off of Mr. Shakespeare himself did he not?
He's the inspiration, he gets two spots.

*As always Google Images has my back.


  1. Joseph. Emma. Two of my favorites as well.
    No one does the Shakepeare quote so sweetly.
    Shakespeare in Love... God I must watch it this weekend. Even with Gwen... I can bear it. Because he is so freaking cute!

  2. joseph. Saginaw. SinL...write me well, will. write me will never grow old for me...never die.
    Hell yeah.
    and Emma. She is who I want to be when I grow up.
    for reals.

  3. Ooh, he looks really good as the Moor.

  4. Huzzah! This is just what I was looking for (and thanks for closing up with LF. Mmmmmmmm!)

    Truly; no one does hot people like you. You're my hero.

  5. Christopher Walken, hot person? Hmm. Once upon a time?

  6. Yeah, I know, Christopher Walken is a rough one but go watch Deerhunter or see him when he's really on his acting game and he somehow wins me over.

    Chili, hero? Well, shucks, thanks.

    Joseph really does make a lot of things better, doesn't he?

  7. Anonymous3:40 PM

    That's lovely, thank you.

    Whyfor art thou slagging Branagh? I saw him and Emma do Midsummer's Night Dream live in either NY or in Montreal (oy, my memory!) a very long time ago and have just heard that currently unreachable twin just found the poster. She was magnificent.

  8. O'Mama, you ask why I'm slagging Branagh and then you backhand him too! "I saw him and Emma do Midsummer's Night Dream live" then "She was magnificent."

    She is always magnificent, truly and I'm not surprised she was delightful in the show. He is a Shakespeare advocate and for that I am grateful but he's also a very affected, stilted, ridiculously nasal verse speaker. He's not a great classical actor and he's not committed to casting great Shakespearean actors (unless he's married to them) which I find tiresome. Is it possible to understand even one word that Michael Keaton or Keanu Reeves said in Much Ado? I'm not thoroughly anti-Kenneth, I just wish he were better than he is.

  9. Anonymous12:23 PM

    Er, you're right, of course. I don't recall HIM so much as how SHE glowed. Apparently, not memorable! You're dead on about Keannu as well, but I think Michael Keaton did fairly well with a meatier mouthful than he may be used to, but then I'd done Much Ado with my Freshmen and we studied Keaton's speeches closely. That said, I think I need to see another production of that play!

    I apologize for coming late back to this discussion - I'm catching up!

  10. The beauty of the internet (and my obsession with not deleting anything) is that you can come back any time, no pressure.

    I could at least understand that what Keanu was speaking was English. I recognized the words if not what they were trying to convey. Keaton is to Much Ado (as far as I'm concerned and let's be honest I haven't seen the movie in over a decade) what Paul Sorvino is to Romeo + Juliet. They're speaking, that much is clear, but it's a language unrecognizable. Some of it is that they're mumblers, some is bad accent ideas and some is just fucking bad. The combination makes for a character one has to do without when interpreting the production.

    Heh. Look how snooty I get when people start doing Shakespeare. Of all the things there are to get worked up about in the world I choose this!