Archives for Bard Greats

RSC’s “The Shakespeare Show” in select movie theatres, May 23

Here’s a great way to go to a nearby movie house and see some of the greatest Shakespeare actors on the planet all on one screen: Cumberbatch, McKellen, Dench, Tennant, Mirren… Fathom Events is showing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, “The Shakespeare Show,” on select theatres May 23. To see which theatres will be hosting the event, and buy tickets in advance, go here. Here’s the trailer: 550
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Twelfth Night (1996) directed by Trevor Nunn

  Starring Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ben Kingsley, Toby Stephens, and Nigel Hawthorne reviewed (again) 2010 by John Murphy (for John’s 2004 review, click here) One of the nice things about writing a blog is that nothing is set in stone. A review in print tends to make an author’s opinion (arrived at via contingency’s endless byways) seem inevitable and complete, like a Papal Bull or a design etched in acid. We all know this isn’t the case, but since writers rarely have the chance to revise opinions after publication, the printed opinion must stand, rather like an awkward-looking sentinel
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Much Ado About Nothing (1993) directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh

Shakespeare for Groundlings Much Ado About Nothing was a minor sensation upon its release in 1993. By that time, Kenneth Branagh had come to be regarded as a cinematic Wunderkind, gene-splicing Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier. Flush from the success of heavy-hitters like Henry V and Dead Again, the tireless auteur released this sunny show, appropriately enough, in the spring of 1993 and scored another deserved mini-smash. Thankfully, jealous Time and Branagh’s subsequent slip-ups have not dulled its sheen. The movie is a joyous, energetic romp; a happy reminder of Branagh’s unique talent for making a four-hundred year old text
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Looking for Richard (1996) directed by and starring Al Pacino

In his directing debut, Al Pacino has given us one of the most accessible Shakespeare spinoffs ever for the screen. Smart, witty and energetic, Looking for Richard is a delight to watch, offering insight into Shakespeare and his iconic Richard III, and giving the viewer a behind-the-scenes look at how a production of the play might be mounted. Pacino intercuts between his “film” of Shakespeare’s Richard III and documentary-style scenes and interviews on the making of same. The “real” movie (or at least portions thereof) is fabulous: Pacino plays Richard as an intellectual with a conscience, the effect being all
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Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh

I Get a Kick Out of You Love’s Labour’s Lost is an entertaining mash-up of a 1930’s era musical with one of Shakespeare’s slighter comedies. The combination is less seamless than one might have wished, but Kenneth Branagh and his photogenic cast coast on creamy charm. This flighty flick has all the nutritional value of a flute of champagne, but who says Shakespeare has to be good for you? After Branagh’s epic, unabridged Hamlet — a four course meal if ever there was one—no one can blame him for whipping up this frothy dessert. The fact that Love’s Labour’s Lost
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The Merchant of Venice (1973) starring Laurence Olivier

directed by John Sichel, based on the Jonathan Miller stage production at the National Theatre I watched this 1973 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice on the heels of viewing Michael Radford’s recent film and, I’ll tell you, the comparison doesn’t flatter the former. Most who seek out this version are probably curious as to how the legendary Laurence Olivier fares as Shylock, the Jewish money-lender, and one of Shakespeare’s most memorable “villains.” I put that word in quotes not because it was equivocal for Elizabethan audiences, but because modern audiences are naturally troubled by Shakespeare’s apparent anti-Semitism. Actually, Shakespeare
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Richard III (1956) directed by and starring Laurence Olivier

© 2005 John Murphy Many excellent actors have tackled that “foul lump of deformity,” the hunchbacked Duke of Gloucester, a.k.a. Richard III. Among them such acting greats as Ian Mckellen and Al Pacino. Say “Richard the Third,” though, and I immediately think of a human spider with hooded eyes, a pageboy haircut, sharp nose, and halting chicken legs in black tights. In other words, I think of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. This ranks as one of Lord Laurence’s greatest performances, if not the greatest. It’s certainly his most darkly sardonic and deliciously self-confident. Olivier was really at the top of
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Romeo and Juliet (1968) directed by Franco Zeffirelli

A Pair of Star-Cross’d Lovers Ah, the Sixties — the tie-dyed era of youth and rebellion. An age when the word was Love, hope sprang eternal, and the world seemed perfectible. Franco Zeffirelli’s lush and energetic adaptation of #shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, released in 1968, touched a deep chord in the audience of its day, becoming a phenomenon nearly on par in scope and influence with 1997’s Titanic, James Cameron’s latter-day spin on the timeworn tale of star-crossed young lovers. But this 1968 Romeo and Juliet is no quaint artifact from a bygone era, no cringe-inducing embarrassment like the beehive
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