Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Much Ado About Shakespeare on Film

That's Will Shakespeare's favorite knick-knack and a balled-up page of an abandoned first draft, two memorable props from the witty, tirelessly entertaining Shakespeare in Love (reviewed here), by far the more delightful of the two films that Nathaniel and Goatdog and I discuss in this week's episode of our Best Pictures from the Outside In series. The other film up for discussion is the old Warner Bros. fossil The Life of Émile Zola (reviewed here). Some people will tell you that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. You cannot accuse the three of us of holding to that rule, but I don't hate Zola. It probably helped that, since I had just seen it recently, I re-watched it at 1.5x its normal speed as my refresher for this discussion. This is an old studying trick for boning up on familiar films, and while some of them are unwatchable at this accelerated pace (Shakespeare in Love would fly by mercilessly), I learned that William Dieterle may actually have made an 80-minute movie that has been wrongly projected all these years at 120 minutes. The long pauses, the stuffy performances, the actors' awkward navigations of physical space: all of it hugely ameliorated by a little flick of the DVD remote control. You can bet I'll be doing the same months from now for The Greatest Show on Earth and Around the World in 80 Days.

Shakespeare in Love also emerges as our collective favorite Best Picture winner from 1998-2002, and thus moves ahead, as does It Happened One Night, to the next round in our ongoing Best Pictures Tournament. Please don't forget the associated reader polls, and make your choices heard! Especially if you're a Cavalcade fan. It could use the extra push.

Shakespeare and Romeo & Juliet specifically also surface in that Top 10 Films of 1968 series that I trumpeted a few days ago over at the Encyclopedia Britannica blog. Raymond Benson's first three choices have been The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (#10), Romeo and Juliet (#9), and The Producers (#8), with energetic responses following each selection. Click over and gab; extra points if your comment is in iambic pentameter.

This Week: Nathaniel's transcript and Goatdog's poster

Previously: ep.1: Wings & No Country; ep.2: Broadway Melody & Departed; ep.3: All Quiet & Crash; ep.4: Cimarron & Million Dollar Baby; ep.5: Grand Hotel & LOTR:ROTK; ep.6: Cavalcade & Chicago; ep.7: It Happened One Night & A Beautiful Mind; ep. 8: Mutiny & Gladiator; ep. 9: Ziegfeld & Beauty

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Blogger Dame James said...

I mean no disrepect to Mr. Benson, but for his Top 10 of 1968 series, I expected something a little more in depth about each of his entries than his Youtube clip and one paragraph summary that we are given. Was it too much to expect 10 in depth and thoughtful reviews like the ones on this site? Instead, it just seems like a random list I would construct on my stupid little blog a couple of hours before I posted it instead of the serious, Encyclopedia-worthy work of a published author I expected. On the positive side, however, I'm very happy for the inclusion of Stolen Kisses and Romeo and Juliet.

By the way, when should we expect a new Best Actress installment? I know you're busy and everything but I absolutely love that series and eagerly await a new one.

4:43 PM, September 25, 2008  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

I tend to agree with james... i really wasn't expecting a list of youtube trailers.

but still. I'm a sucker for lists.

8:31 AM, September 26, 2008  

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