THE SLINGS AND ARROWS Reviewing Shakespeare

Two writers on the Bard and pop culture

There’s a bear in there: The Winter’s Tale

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herbert-west1The Winter’s Tale is a welcome breath of fresh air after the tonally strange Pericles and the stuffy Cymbeline. Shakespeare had quite clearly mastered the art of the romances by this point, and the resulting play is pretty damn great, infusing the weirder melancholic and soap operatic tides of his earlier romances with confidence and considerable technical polish. The play also contains my very favourite stage direction, not just in Shakespeare but the whole of theatre itself: “Exit, pursued by a bear”. I love it! I even homaged it in the penultimate issue of my comic book series Hamlet vs Faustus, in which overweight dumbass police officer Javert is chased out of the narrative by a bear.

The mind spins with possibilities. Did Shakespeare’s crew dress up an actor in a bear costume and have him stumble around stage after whoever played Antigonus, in the very best vintage Doctor Who style? Or did they actually use a real-life bear (bear-baiting was a form of recreational entertainment after all) on the stage? Either way, it’s awesome. I regret that I’ve never actually seen The Winter’s Tale performed live: I hope to do so one day, as I want to see how a theatre company handles this oddball exit, which, let’s be honest, is almost Family Guy-esque in its randomness and ultimate inconsequentiality. I have seen a BBC Shakespeare version of the scene though, which pleased me greatly as it conformed to the aforementioned Doctor Who aesthetic.

In honour of “Exit, pursed by a bear”, I’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate some other great bears in popular culture. For the sake of brevity I’ll limit this list to just four others. On any list of this modest size it goes without saying that some feelings will be hurt, so please don’t be too upset that I don’t discuss Paddington Bear or Rupert Bear or Winnie the Pooh or Fozzie Bear or South Park’s Sexual Harassment Panda, all of whom brought me great pleasure in my younger years, or the bear that roughs up Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in The Edge or does, well, bear stuff in The Bear. If it’s any consolation, you may wish to look at Wikipedia’s List of fictional bears. Yes, that’s right, Wikipedia has a list especially devoted to fictional bears. That’s almost as awesome as “Exit, pursued by a bear”.

Anyhow, to the list…

Ted (Ted, 2012)

Ted, the star of Seth MacFarlane’s movie of the same name, is a heavy-drinking, pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear. He’s a former celebrity and Bostonian with a voice like Peter Griffin, a fear of thunder, and a thing for Flash Gordon. It boggles the mind that nobody ever thought to do a heavy-drinking, pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear movie until now, but now that it exists, it’s a thing of beauty.

Teddy (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, 2001)

Another teddy bear, this time a robotic one. Teddy is the companion to Hayley Joel Osment in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, accompanying H.J.O’s orphaned robot kid David as he navigates a somewhat dystopian future. I’m not the biggest fan of this film, and can’t shake the feeling that veteran filmmakers Spielberg and co-creator Stanley Kubrick were a little off the mark in what they wanted to do (see my previous post on artists disconnecting as they grow older for related thoughts). But you can’t deny the wizardry that went into making Teddy such a compelling and human character, way more moving than the film’s titular futuristic Pinnochio.

Sooty (The Sooty Show, Sooty & Co, Sooty Heights et al)

A soft-spoken yellow magician with a hand permanently lodged up his butt, Sooty has been entertaining British kids for over 60 years. I grew up with the Matthew Corbett incarnation of the show, and as I’ve never seen any other version I’m going to say with ignorant and egocentric gusto that the Corbett years were and always will be the very best in the show’s history. What makes Sooty so great is that he’s basically an evil little bastard who used his adorability to deflect blame and punishment after committing heinous crimes against his owner (or pet) Matthew. Sooty could put pin-pricks in condoms, causing unwanted pregnancies, or swap your cocaine with your heroin, causing unwanted ODs, just to amuse himself, and all he’d have to do is wave at the camera or pretend to cry to get off the hook. There’s much we can learn from this furry little demon.

Brody (Grizzly Park, 2007)

The only bear in the conventional sense (i.e. real) on this list, and a murderous one at that. I first sought out the film Grizzly Park because CHUD’s Nick Nunziata, one of my favourite film critics and commentators and a bit of a hero of mine, is credited as a co-producer on the film (and since went on to associate produce Don’t be Afraid of the Dark). It deals with a bunch of juveline delinquents doing community service at the titular national park and being picked off by a bear. Based upon that premise I think it’s safe to say you know precisely what you’re getting into when you sit down and watch the film, and if you can roll with that, then it’s a lot of fun. Most of the horror is in the last fifteen or so minutes, so you need a high tolerance level of young people moaning and bitching at one another for the first 75 minutes or so, but if you’ve watched a lot of horror you’re probably already acclimatised to that. It’s fun schlock, and the bear, played method-style by one credited Brody the Bear (with fake appendages standing in at various points), is good value.

There you have it. Four great bears. I’ll be back some time in the near (or at least not too distant) future to toast Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage, The Tempest. Until then…

*Exit, pursued by a bear*

Ben

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December 19, 2012 at 5:25 am

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Cymbeline and the Bard’s twilight years

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herbert-west1

Don’t let the title of this post put you off: at no point do I discuss the works of Stephanie Meyer…

In my last piece on Pericles I expressed some hesitancy about navigating the romances, and wondered if that was purely a result of that very peculiar and, to my mind, somewhat ‘off’ play or merely circumstantial. Having now read Cymbeline for the first time too, the second of this quartet of romances, I’m still not entirely sure. It has the same melancholic tone with neat resolution, and its narrative of a weakling King, his scheming wife, an Iago-esque manipulator, and absent and returned sons is soap operatic, though not as weird tonally as Pericles. In retrospect, some of that Pericles weirdness might’ve been added value; as it stands Cymbeline comes across as rather sluggish and ornamental.

So is Shakespeare at fault, or am I a bad reader? I remain undecided, but pondering this question and thinking about Cymbeline’s place in the canon as one of the last performed plays got me thinking back to an article I read recently.

The article in question features snippets from an interview with Quentin Tarantino where he muses that he would not want to continue directing into his twilight years. The director’s logic was that he did not want to lose touch with audiences or muddy his filmography. He stated “I just don’t want to be an old-man filmmaker… I want to stop at a certain point. Directors don’t get better as they get older. Usually the worst films in their filmography are those last four at the end. I am all about my filmography, and one bad film f***s up three good ones. I don’t want that bad, out-of-touch comedy in my filmography, the movie that makes people think, ‘Oh man, he still thinks it’s 20 years ago.’ When directors get out-of-date, it’s not pretty”. While it would be easy to dismiss Tarantino’s comments as ageist, the fact remains that so many great filmmakers do lose their touch as they grow older. Francis Ford Coppola made four masterpieces within the space of a decade in the 1970s – The Godfather I and II, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now – and while he has made many interesting and fascinating films since he has never replicated those highs. Filmmakers like George Romero, Woody Allen and Brian De Palma, to name just several, are capable of great things but much of what they’ve done over the last decade could be regarded as interesting failures. And last year I saw the first theatrically released feature films (on DVD alas) in however many years of John Carpenter, John Landis and Joe Dante – The Ward, Burke and Hare, The Hole – and while these films had their virtues their shortcomings were also quite apparent. 
 
As intimated above my mind gravitated back to this article when I was thinking about Cymbeline’s station in the canon. It came after a pair of lesser known and rarely performed (nowadays at least) tragedies, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens, as well as the first of the romances, Pericles, a somewhat rough play tonally. Cymbeline itself is not without its problems, and like these three plays isn’t performed very frequently. If one were to apply Tarantino’s logic to Shakespeare, these could be considered “old-man” plays, slightly out of touch, and evidence that the fire that previously burned within and drove their author – he had after all penned Othello, King Lear and Macbeth just a few years earlier – had died down somewhat. Was Shakespeare past it then? Was he writing with one foot in London and the other in Stratford, where he would retire to within a few years?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no. Given that both The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, much better plays, were percolating I think it’s safe to say the fire was still burning, and while he may well have seen the end in sight he wasn’t lounging on the job. Rather, Cymbeline along with Coriolanus, Timon of Athens and Pericles are what we might call transition plays, representing the author’s transition from his shattering tragedies to more subdued and melancholic dramatic tides. The scale and emphasis of the plays was shifting, and it shows. That transition is rough in places, as evidenced by the plays themselves, but in these same texts we can see the author adapting and acclimatising to his new genre and eventually, with The Tempest, marching off stage in triumph. And just as I’ll happily take a lower quality Romero zombie film over the best zombie films that two dozen other filmmakers have to offer, or a sub-par thriller from De Palma or sub-standard comedy from Allen over the best that younger specialists in those fields can conjure up, likewise I can roll with the worst of the Bard, especially in lieu of the fact that one of the very best is waiting in the wings.

Ben

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December 18, 2012 at 7:30 am

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Pericles in five minutes

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F$@#!!!

You know what it’s like when you lose a piece of work you’re really happy with? That just happened to me with my piece on Pericles. Six months in the making (a couple of hours to be more precise, but still a good amount of work), my grand return to blogging here at Slings and Arrows was lost in mere seconds due to a lapse in technical aptitude on my part. So… rather than attempting to rewrite the piece in full, for the sake of forward progress I’ll simply sum up my main impressions regarding this play.

Pericles is a weird piece of work, for lack of a more graceful description. I’ve thrown the term soap opera around a lot on this blog to characterise certain Shakespeare plays, especially some of the histories, and I stand by that. As 21st century readers we inevitably read Shakespeare’s work through a contemporary filter and draw on modern texts to help us decipher the plays, regardless of how knowledgeable we may be about their historical context, Renaissance theatre and beliefs et al. Thus I think it’s perfectly reasonable to evoke the spectre of soap opera or Star Wars (another common shorthand I use a lot on this blog) to help interpret certain plays. But where, say, the Henriad is a soap opera in the best sense (e.g. a prestigious BBC drama or a gritty HBO series), Pericles is the sort of soap opera where people supposedly die and resurface years later and characters get kidnapped by pirates and sold into prostitution. These things have happened in soap operas I’ve watched, and they sure as heck happen in Pericles too.

The last two plays I reviewed on this blog, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens, I found striking because they were sustained meditations on single themes: pride and vanity respectively. Pericles is more interested in narrative variety than thematic coherence, and it certainly achieves that variety, as my point above attests. It also has a bizarre tonal shift midway through which I guess makes it the Shakespearean equivalent to From Dusk Til Dawn, the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino film that switched from crime thriller to splat-tacular vampire action horror at halftime. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tonal shift here is quite as interesting or entertaining, and it gives the play a somewhat ‘off’ quality.

Of course, Pericles is also one of Shakespeare’s romances, the first of four we’ll be reviewing on this blog, and much as the problem plays are famous for their ‘off’ quality, so too are the romances acquired tastes for many readers (I’m probably a little more partial to the former, since I don’t especially like the happy resolutions of the romances, but that’s purely subjective). There are some Shakespeare plays that are like gigantic T-bone steaks with baked potatoes coated in sour cream, epic meals that are meaty, weighty and filling to the point of overstuffing: Hamlet, King Lear etc. Then there are plays that are like schnitzels with chips and salad: less challenging to get through, a little plainer and simpler, but very satisfying for their recognisable beats: Henry V, Julias Caesar etc. Then there are plays with weird ingredients mixed to create unusual new flavours, not necessarily bad but not necessarily great, like a veal marinated in a lime sauce. That’s Pericles, or at least that’s how I reacted on this reading (my very first I should point out) of the play. This reaction could be symptomatic of the fact it’s been six months since last reading & blogging on the Bard, the change in tone and tempo that comes with the romances, and/or this play’s own unique ingredients. I’ll be interested to see where things go with Cymbeline, another first for me…

Once again apologies for the brevity of this (second attempt to) post. Hopefully my next post on Cymbeline will survive the publishing process and have more time for niceties…

Ben

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November 11, 2012 at 10:48 am

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My Car Park For a Horse…

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Many in literary and historical fields were fascinated recently to hear that everyone’s favourite hunchback king may indeed have been laid to rest in what is now a city carp park. I’ll let the specialists offer the analysis, and it is in no way conclusive, but if their suspicions are correct, then King Richard III’s remains may have been discovered… or at least that of another poor, bludgeoned hunchback.

While the finding piques our collective curiosity, it raises a larger question, namely, what to do with the corpse now we have it. We’ve dug it up. We’re gonna have to put it down somewhere. So pending more analysis, many are calling for the monarch to be reinterred in a more appropriate location. In fact, Richard III’s bones may see a state funeral more befitting a King of England.

This notion is initially surprising. To our imaginations Richard III is a Machievellian murderer, the progenitor of all moustache twirling villains. However, first and foremost, Richard III was a man of history, and the anti-hero of vindictive wit we have come to know and love (reviewed by myself here, and Ben here) was just another fiction from a wool merchant’s son.

Over his brief rule, history proved Richard III to be a noteworthy and progressive king, legislating legal support for the poor and enabling the free trade of English literature. We may cherish the villain we see on the stage, but given the facts, a royal burial may indeed be a better end for a fair leader and the last English king to die in battle…

A

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September 24, 2012 at 6:26 am

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… aaaaand we’re back.

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Geez, mea culpa.

Too long without posting here indeed. I apologise. Forgive me, but I’ve been rather busy with things and while our ‘year of Shakespeare’ looks to become years of Shakespeare, there are a number of reasons for my distraction. Let’s have a look.

First, cheers to Ben for the congratulations on Justice Squad (and for those wondering from Ben’s last post, yes, his character ‘Speedo-man’ is exactly what it sounds like). I co-wrote Justice Squad seven years ago with friends in an attempt to make a feature length mockumentary about Australian superheroes. After many years, director Dan Lawrance has brought the film to completion.

Justice Squad recently premiered at Oz Comic-Con here in Melbourne, and will debut in the United States at Gen Con Indy in a couple of weeks. The film has also screened at Av Con in Adelaide, soon have its official SA premiere at the Barossa International Film Festival in October. There is also an exciting WA premiere soon to be announced, hopefully with NSW and Queensland dates to follow. The film was a labour of love, a cheap and cheerful tribute to the things we enjoyed growing up. So for fans of independent film and superheroes, go check out the Facebook page.

Second, I write a steampunk pulp adventure comic for good friend and illustrator Chadwick Ashby. This comic, titled Aviator Gold, has been something of a learning curve but the first half of our debut story is coming together and there is now a site and Facebook page for news and progress reports. So if you like steampunk, fighter jets, dragons, milkshakes and kung fu, then you shouldn’t hate this book entirely.

To be honest, 2013 looks to be an even bigger year with more personal projects in development. Whilst these books and films are often more Titus Andronicus than Hamlet, they do steal some of my otherwise Shakespeare-intended time. After all, writing about an author should really come second to writing as an author (I know for a fact Ben’s been busy getting a book out as well). Given the title of this blog, we knew reading and reviewing the works of William Shakespeare was not going to be easy, but we continue, no matter the outrageous fortunes along the way.

Coming up soonish, fingers crossed, some thoughts on King Lear and our second part in a larger overview of Shakespearean tragedy, with liberal measures of obligation and procrastination in between.

A

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August 4, 2012 at 2:08 am

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Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, and Sylvester Stallone

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First off, I’d like to take this opportunity to extend congratulations to my co-blogger Anthony Castle. Anthony is the co-screenwriter of a film titled Justice Squad which has just completed post-production. You can read about the film’s origins, production, post-production, and first unveiling on his blog. I haven’t seen the film, but it looks like a smart, savvy, funny superhero comedy, and I’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled on the film festivals in your area in case it plays there. So congrats and kudos Mr Castle (and while I’m slightly miffed I was not invited to bring my super-character Speedo-Man back to vivid, pale, pastey, flabby, unflattering life as part of your production, I anticipate that should a sequel materialise I’ll be near the top of the casting, or indeed counselling, call sheet).

Anyway, onto business. Coriolanus and Timon of Athens are not exactly headliner tragedies – where plenty of people would recognise the names Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth to some degree, these chaps are a bit more obscure – and to be frank neither the plays nor their titular heroes are especially endearing. However, they’re fascinating plays and – somewhat uniquely for Shakespeare, an author whose works are more akin to Whoppers and Big Macs than plain old cheeseburgers – are sustained meditations on single important themes: in the case of Coriolanus pride, and in the case of Timon of Athens vanity. Coriolanus believes he is above the feral hordes and refuses to play nice with them, or anyone else for that matter, while Timon is intensely egocentric, failing to see his friends are just brown-noses and later cutting himself off from others completely.

In many ways, these character portraits got me thinking about Sylvester Stallone. That’s not a hard thing to do – I’m a fan, and most things get me thinking about Stallone, from people wearing sunglasses (hey, Stallone wore sunglasses in Cobra) to people wearing reading glasses (hey, Stallone wore reading glasses in Tango & Cash) to people with beards (hey, Stallone had a beard AND sunglasses in Get Carter). But the particular catalyst for this association was reading the news (or old news… yes, we’re a bit behind schedule with our blogging) that Walter Hill – the great director of The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders et al – had been relieved of active duty overseeing the editing of Stallone’s latest star vehicle Bullet to the Head, and that Stallone – the generally good director of Rockys II-IV, Rocky Balboa, John Rambo, The Expendables, and Staying Alive – was now overseeing the editing. It was later announced that this was all empty hyperbole, and that Hill was still in charge, but it still got me thinking about the way Stallone has managed, sometimes micro-managed, and sometimes mis-managed his career and his collaborators over time in ways that conjure up imaged of Shakespeare’s foolish and flawed tragic heroes.

While today we tend to think of Stallone as a fully fledged action hero, as the condom full of walnuts to borrow Clive James’ term of endearment, Stallone did not begin as a fully fledged action hero, but evolved into one over time. Rocky was released in 1976, and although today you’ll find it (and its sequels) in the action aisle of 99% of video stores, it’s not an action movie per se. Neither are F.I.S.T (1978) nor Paradise Alley (also 1978, which I’ve never seen), though they both have fisticuffs, nor Rocky II (1979). Nighthawks (1981) is in some respects his first action vehicle, but it’s a whole lot more grounded than the super-heroic escapades that followed, and it’s the sort of role Al Pacino or James Caan could easily have played at the time. Victory (1981) sticks close to the inspirational sports movie mould, as does Rocky III (1982). First Blood (1982) is certainly an action movie of sorts, but it’s really more a survival thriller, and while I can’t imagine Pacino or Caan in that role it’s still got a strong dramatic core. Rhinestone (1983): fuck Rhinestone. It’s really Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) where Stallone became the roided-up warrior of the unwashed masses, and the superhuman heroics of Rocky IV and the Dirty Harry-wannabe escapades of Cobra in quick succession afterwards compounded and irrevocably sealed the deal. But there’s that 9 year period between Rocky and Rambo: First Blood Part II where hypothetically Stallone’s career could have gone either way, though he was increasingly playing to his strengths, namely physicality and decisiveness. Had Rambo: First Blood Part II not been made, or had it been closer to the team-of-mercenaries-on-a-mission movie envisioned by original screenwriter James Cameron (yep, the same one who made Avatar and just journeyed deeper into the ocean than anyone has before), Stallone’s career might’ve gone in a different direction, maybe alternating between thrillers and more dramatic tides in the vein of, say, Al Pacino or Michael Douglas. Ultimately, though, I think Stallone enjoyed looking ripped, holding a gun, and being cheered on by the audience too much not to take that ultimate plunge into action stardom. There’s something very Timon-esque about that.

But what about Coriolanus, you ask? Coriolanus despises the unwashed masses, while Stallone plays to them because they flatter his ego. What Stallone shares with Coriolanus is his destructive pride, and I think that’s reflected in the sorts of people he’s made movies with. I’ve spoken before about the fact Stallone’s rarely worked with filmmakers of any class or consequence. If you look at the career of Tom Cruise, love him or hate him, you can see he’s worked predominantly with directors of class or consequence: Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ridley and Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Neil Jordan, Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, John Woo, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Edward Zwick, Paul Thomas Anderson, and so on. Say what you will about those directors – some are clearly better than others – but they’re all either directors with strong voices and authorial signatures or simply directors who make solid, sturdy films. Stallone’s action colleague Arnold Schwarzenegger has similarly worked with fairly distinguished folks – James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven, John Milius, John McTiernan in his prime, and indeed Walter Hill – though he’s also worked with a few lesser filmmakers. Same goes for Bruce Willis, who’s worked with McTiernan, Hill, Quentin Tarantino, Terry Gilliam, and Luc Besson. Stallone, though, with a small handful of exceptions – John Huston, Richard Donner, John Landis – has worked largely with competent journeymen, or unknown or underling directors without the clout to stand up to him. The fact that many have faded into obscurity since working with him is revealing. What happened to Marco Brambilla, director of Demolition Man? He went on to do the Alicia Silverstone comedy Excess Baggage and episodes of Dinotopia. Luis Llosa, director of The Specialist? He made Anaconda and produced a whole lot of TV. Danny Cannon, director of Judge Dredd? He went on to make horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and a whole lot of CSI. Basically, Stallone’s too proud to get along with anyone who might question his authority or his judgment, in much the same way Coriolanus fails to get along with his peers and his people, which lead to him leaving Rome. Moreover, due to his ego and difficult ways, Stallone surrounded himself with yes men only to find himself on the outside of Hollywood rather than the inside when his career began falling apart in the late 90s and early noughties. Timon anyone?

When Bullet to the Head first entered my radar, I was excited to hear that Stallone would be working with Walter Hill. Hill’s one of the most consistently good and most underrated directors of action films, thrillers and Westerns of the past few decades, and a guy who could use a break commercially and critically: his last major theatrically released film was 2000’s Supernova, from which he ultimately removed his name (replaced with the pseudonym Thomas Lee) due to creative differences, and while he’s directed some television (including the superb pilot to Deadwood) since then, things have been far too quiet on the Walter Hill front. Seeing Stallone working with a talented filmmaker seemed a win-win situation, and in some ways seemed too good to be true, so naturally the rumblings of post-production kerfuffles were a concern. Had Hill been shafted yet again? Had Stallone’s Shakespearean flaws of ego, pride and vanity led to clashes with the director and, based upon his successes with his last three self-directed films (Rocky Balboa, John Rambo, The Expendables), had he taken on creative control? Had the studio failed to see the merit in Hill’s famously minimalist, spartan style, and in a panic sought to flesh out proceedings with more action noise and trite character moments? Thankfully, that doesn’t seem the case, and I hope it stays that way. Stallone’s an icon and a self-made success, but one who would benefit from strong directorial handling from time to time. He does good stuff when he’s calling the shots, as his recent trio of successes attests, but I want to see what other filmmakers – in particular, good filmmakers – do with him when he relinquishes authorial control. Working with Hill is a good step in that direction, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll continue working with filmmakers like Hill, or second-tier journeymen like Simon West, who’s currently overseeing The Expendables 2. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic that Bullet to the Head will make its way to the screens with minimal fuss and maximum impact, and that Stallone will not meet the same tragic ends as Coriolanus and Timon due to pride and ego, but will persevere to make friends and influence people.

The morals of this story? Pride and vanity equal social death, Shakespeare’s lesser known tragedies are thematically fascinating, Stallone is a Shakespearean tragic hero, and fuck Rhinestone.

Ben

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April 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

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Some briefer thoughts on Othello…

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I don’t love Othello. I’d like to say the race issues are a turn off, but if anything, I find it all a little curious (case in point). Perhaps it’s Iago’s villainous ambiguity, but a predator without clear rationale also seems more of a hook. My suspicion is that the issue may lie with our core couple.

Our Moorish general seems not to deserve the deception to which he is subject, though manages to become unlikeable once it undoes his character, first abusive then suicidal. Desdemona is weakly virtuous and frustrates with all the wrong notes. The secret marriage falls apart once Roderigo spills the beans, then war and storm descends and I begin to wonder what brought these two together to start with.

Trite, I know. If I am to offer some brief thoughts on the play, then my lack of devotion is the primary response. The play is certainly well written and there’s surely the usual fist shaking at our tragic protagonists. The theme of the green impulse is historically effective and its execution is seamless… but that doesn’t mean I have to dig it like chocolate cake.

Of course, tragedy is not intended to entertain in the usual ways. It is cathartic, not popcorn, and in that sense The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice will long be celebrated as esteemed work long after my episode of mediocre apathy gathers dust. Othello doesn’t have the spooks and gore of Macbeth or the epic doom of Lear, it has racism and desire and jealousy, far more mundane, and far more tragic…

A

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March 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

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