Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FoxTrot Presents . . . The Cliffs Cliffs Notes on Hamlet

Amend, Bill. FoxTrot. Exact details of publication uncertain. See the official FoxTrot website listed below.
All the talk about modernized versions of Shakespeare's plays and Cliffs Notes versions and Video Derivative versions of Cliffs Notes versions has reminded me of an important fact:

Bill

Amend

was

there

first.

Peter and Paige discuss "Cliffs Cliffs Notes" (click on the image to enlarge it):


Links: Foxtrot's Official Site.

Merchant of Venice in Third Rock from the Sun

“Hotel Dick.” By Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner. Perf. John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and George Takei. Dir. Robert Berlinger. 3rd Rock from the Sun. Season 2, episode 13. NBC. 29 September 1996. DVD. Mill Creek Entertainment, 2011.
Very briefly, here is one last Shakespeare allusion in 3rd Rock from the sun—once again provided by avid Bardfilm reader and Twitter user @GtThee2ANunnery.

In this episode, the aliens confront human prejudices against them, delivering a riff on Shylock's "Hath not a Jew hands?" speech. Of additional interest is its delivery to George Takei—Mr. Sulu of Star Trek fame, brining to mind Data's use of the same speech in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode (for which, q.v.).

In any case, here it is!

video

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the second season from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shakespeare in Love on Blu-Ray: Enter to Win

Shakespeare in Love. Dir. John Madden. Perf. Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Wilkinson. 1998. Blu-ray. Miramax Lionsgate, 2012.
On Tuesday, January 31, 2012 (for those of you reading this on January 30, 2012, that's tomorrow), Shakespeare in Love will be released on Blu-Ray. And, thanks to the kindness of Miramax Lionsgate and Click Communications, I have three copies to give away to Bardfilm's readers.

First, though, here's a brief scene from the film:


And here are the details of the competition:
  1. To be eligible for the drawing, you must submit a comment to this post. Your comment should contain an idea for another film along similar lines. Would you like to see Donne in Love? Shakespeare in Anger? Queen Elizabeth I in a Mild Snit? Suggest a title below!

  2. Comments must be posted before 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Friday, February 3, 2012 in order to be eligible for the competition.

  3. Shipping addresses must be within the United States and Canada. I apologize to readers from other countries, but those are the rules! These will be shipped directly from Click Communictions and not from Bardfilm this time. Thank you for your understanding.

  4. One submission per person, please!

  5. My decision is final.

  6. Each winner must provide a shipping address by Friday, February 10, 2012. I'll froward the address along to Click Communications, and they will be responsible for shipping the film.

  7. I reserve the right to add to this list of rules.
I'm eager to see what your titles are! I'll put all the names in a hat—either a literal or an electronic one—over the weekend, determine the winners, and announce the outcome on Monday, February 6, 2012.
Note: The winners have been announced!
Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Titus Andronicus in Theater of Blood

Theatre of Blood. Dir. Douglas Hickox. Perf. Vincent Price and Diana Rigg. 1973. DVD. MGM, 2001.
While working on an article that deals with film versions of Titus Andronicus, I remembered Vincent Price's Theater of Blood. I first saw the film when I was in eighth or ninth grade. It was broadcast as a Saturday Morning Film on KPLR-TV (Channel 11) in St. Louis, and what they were doing screening this film I'll never be able to figure out. But the happiest outcome for me was that it introduced me to Titus Andronicus. Before seeing the film, I had no idea that the play existed.

I don't want to say anything too negative about the film—partly because of its plot. The story involves an actor (Edward Lionheart, played by Vincent Price) who has been panned throughout his career by the critics. He decides to take his revenge by killing them off using the same methods Shakespeare used in his plays. The clever-beyond-clever tagline provided on the cover (pictured above) reads "It's Curtains for his Critics!" To give you an idea of the variety the revenge takes, here's the original trailer for the film.

Note: This is a horror film, and the trailer is absolutely horrific. The back of the DVD case boasts that "the filmmakers used over six gallons of movie make-up blood" in making this film, and the trailer gives some indication of that. Watch at your own risk. Or skip this clip and watch the second. That clip is threatening and horrific, but it doesn't show any actual violence.

video

The trailer doesn't show the film's use of Titus Andronicus, but that play enters the plot of this film when we learn that one of the critics marked for destruction has two poodles. Based on that fact and on your knowledge of the play, you can pretty much guess what happens. Here's a clip that introduces that part of the plot.

Note: There's no actual violence in this clip, but Vincent Price's character quotes a threatening line from the play and the policeman attempting to protect the critic provides a rough outline of the plot.

video

The film horrified me (it was intended to do so, after all), but, strangely, it fascinated me as well. On the basis of the film, I re-read all the Shakespeare plays I'd already read and read the ones I hadn't—which number included Titus Andronicus.

Note: If you know of any other allusions to Titus Andronicus in film or television, would you please tell us about it in the comments below? I will be extremely grateful to you, and my article will be all the better for your help. Thanks!

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Monday, January 16, 2012

Tempest Winners!

The Tempest. Dir. Julie Taymor. Perf. Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Ben Whishaw, Reeve Carney, Felicity Jones, and Tom Conti. 2010. DVD. Miramax, 2011.
Thanks to all who submitted their favorite quotes from The Tempest to our recent Tempest Giveaway (for which, q.v.). We have our winners:
  • Christopher

  • CRS

  • B.K.

  • JuliaGiolzetti

  • Becky Myers
Congratulations to all our winners, and thanks again to all who submitted. And thanks, too, to Disney Studios In-Home Entertainment, who provided the DVDs as prizes.

Please e-mail me, winners, to claim your prizes. You can find my e-mail under the "Contact" section of my complete profile. Enjoy!

If you submitted but didn't win, feel free to shout "A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!" Go on—you'll feel better if you do!

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of Foyle's War

"Bleak Midwinter." By Foyle's War. Season 4, episode 3 (in American markets); Season 5, episode 1 (in British markets). ITV. 11 February 2007. DVD. Acorn Media, 2007.
If you're patient with British dramatic television series, they will usually reward you with a Shakespeare allusion or two—or even, if you're lucky, a quotation. For example, I detected no Shakespeare in the first season of the immensely-popular Downton Abbey, but they squeezed a quick quote (or, if you're particular, a quick truism—or even a quick cliché) from The Tempest into the second season's opening episode. If you're keeping score, the quote was "a brave new world" (see image below).

It took four (or five, depending on how you count them) seasons for Foyle's War to provide a Shakespeare quote (unless, as I readily admit may be the case, I missed an earlier one). In the clip below, Samantha Stewart is driving Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle from an interview with a witness back to Police Headquarters. She misquotes Shakespeare—only slightly—and we can see Foyle's hesitation before he corrects her.

video
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war!
Julius Caesar, III.i.273

I always want more, but hearing a Shakespeare quote like that is a bit like meeting an old friend on the street. And that's always nice.

Downton Abbey Quotes Shakespeare.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the episode—and three others—
from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taymor's Tempest as a Trophy: The Great Tempest Giveaway

The Tempest. Dir. Julie Taymor. Perf. Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Ben Whishaw, Reeve Carney, Felicity Jones, and Tom Conti. 2010. DVD. Miramax, 2011.
Thanks to the kindness of Disney Studios In-Home Entertainment, I have five copies of Julie Taymor's Tempest to give away. The last time I had a giveaway, readers were encouraged to compose haiku. This time, I'm just asking for you to provide your favorite quote from the play; I'll then draw five names randomly from those who submit and send Tempests to the winners. When I've determined the winners, I'll post their names and invite them to e-mail their addresses directly to me to claim their prizes.

Here, then, are the details of the competition:
  1. To be eligible for the drawing, you must submit a comment to this post containing your favorite line from The Tempest. If someone else has already submitted your favorite line, you may still submit it, though it would be more interesting if you gave us your second-favorite line.

  2. Comments must be posted before 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Friday, January 13, 2012 in order to be eligible for the competition.

  3. Shipping addresses must be within the United States. I apologize to readers from other countries, but I have to operate within a budget. Thank you for your understanding.

  4. One submission per person, please!

  5. Prizes left unclaimed after ten days will be distributed to others.

  6. My decision is final.

  7. Each winner must provide his or her own teapot in which to keep his or her copy of The Tempest (if desired).

  8. I reserve the right to add to this list of rules.
I'm eager to see what your favorite lines are! I'll put all the names in a hat—either a literal or an electronic one—over the weekend, determine the winners, and announce the outcome on Monday, January 16, 2012.
Note: The winners have been announced!
Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Monday, January 9, 2012

Colin Firth as Romeo and Rupert Everett as Juliet . . . in St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold

St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold. Dir. Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson. Perf. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, David Tennant, Talulah Riley, Tamsin Egerton, Zawe Ashton, and Toby Jones. 2009. DVD.
The film also has David Tennant as miscellaneous evil villain.

Some time ago, I watched St. Trinian's, hoping to find some Shakespeare allusions. It had a grand total of one. For you Shakespeare needs, St. Trinian's II is where the action is.

In this film—one of a number set in an imagined Worst English Prep. School for Girls Ever—we learn that the headmistress' most esteemed ancestor was a pirate sailing the high seas in 1589. Moreover, the ancestor left behind clues to an ancient treasure.

I'll try to avoid too many spoilers, but the search leads to the Globe theater. In order to prevent the evil villain from seizing the treasure, Miss Fritton (the headmistress, played by Rupert Everett) and Geoffrey Thwaites (her on-again-off-again boyfriend, played by Colin Firth) must distract everyone and stall for time by enacting Romeo and Juliet while the girls of St. Trinian's explore a secret room they've discovered below the Globe:

video

I don't know why the film hasn't yet been released to North American audiences in a Region 1 DVD. The cast list is star-studded, and the film, though not a triumph by any stretch of the imagination, is entertaining.

Perhaps audiences in North American aren't quite ready for the revelation that Shakespeare was Pirate Fritton:

The resemblance really is uncanny.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).



Editor's Note: If a video clip on this blog has subtitles, it's a pretty safe bet that I watched the film in question at three times the speed with the captioning on, hoping to save time for other endeavors.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Quick Review of the Young Adult Novel All the World's a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts

Woelfle, Gretchen. All the World's a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts. Illus Thomas Cox. New York: Holiday House, 2011.
Please allow me to throw out a quick review of a book that I read at the beginning of Christmas break.

All the World's a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts has, at its center, an imaginative re-enactment of the events described at the opening of James Shapiro's 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. The book is geared toward younger young adults, and it tells the story of a pickpocket named Kit who is caught in the performance of his duties at the theatre at which Shakespeare's company is performing. The year is 1598, and Shakespeare's company is soon without a permanent home. Kit joins the company (after a fashion—no spoilers on that score here) and helps tear down the Theatre, move its timbers, and build the Globe Theatre with them.

Here's a quick selection from the scene where Shakespeare's company, after long arguments with the man who owns the land on which the Theatre was built (and who thinks he owns both the land and the building built on it), starts the business of tearing the Theatre down:


The book is well worth reading, but the best parts are in the first half. After that, the protagonist tends to suffer from enormous, indecisive angst, and that puts something of a damper on the narrative.
Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Romeo and Juliet in Third Rock from the Sun

“Romeo & Juliet & Dick.” By Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner. Perf. John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Wayne Knight, and Jane Curtin. Dir. Robert Berlinger. 3rd Rock from the Sun. Season 2, episode 14. NBC. 12 January 1997. DVD. Mill Creek Entertainment, 2011.
Following the lead provided by avid Bardfilm reader and Twitter user @GtThee2ANunnery, I glanced quickly at an episode whose title looked promising. Here's what I found: A plot summary of Hamlet delivered by a police officer, a director advising his Mercutio to deliver his lines like Laurence Olivier, and a Lady Capulet traumatically brought to the height of her ability.

video

That's all!

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the second season from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quirky Shakespeare in Being John Malkovich

Being John Malkovich. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener . . . and John Malkovich. 1999. DVD. Universal Studios, 2003.
The odd, delightful, disturbing Being John Malkovich has a few bits of Shakespeare thrown in to the
odd, delightful, disturbing mix. Malkovich, whose brain (in the film, at least) can be entered from an odd, disturbing tunnel, is rehearsing for a performance of Richard III, and we hear a few lines from the play and see a rehearsal interrupted.

But the following use of Shakespeare is far more amusing than those incidental Shakespearean interjections. In this scene, John Malkovich's body, inhabited by a formerly-under-appreciated puppeteer, is watching a documentary about himself. Listen to what the announcer says about Malkovich's future:

video

The key line—"Well, to quote the Bard, 'He's got the world on a string'"—is horrifically delightful on a number of levels. The documentary feels a need to work in a terrible pun, but it desires to give some credibility to its own nonsense. The answer? Shakespeare.

The theme is caught up by Malkovich's next line, in which an unnamed and unreferenced authority called "the poet" utters some more seeming nonsense: "As the poet said, 'The puppeteer's voice need not merely be the record of man. It can be one of the pillars, the props to help him endure and prevail,' and I believe that."

[Editor's Note: The line seems to be a parody of William Faulkner's Acceptance Speech for the 1950 Nobel Prize. The word "poet" in the last line of Faulkner's speech has been replaced by the word "puppeteer" in Malkovich's—and Faulkner the novelist has been given the title "poet" instead.]

The overall effect—like the effect of the film itself—is to break down meaning. But it's able to do so in an odd, delightful, disturbing way.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2012 by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest