Movie Review: “The Revenant” (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, USA 2015)

“‘Tis unnatural
Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,
A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.
And Duncan’s horses–a thing most strange and certain–
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
Contending ‘gainst obedience, as they would
Make war with mankind
‘Tis said they eat each other.
They did so, to th’ amazement of mine eyes
That looked upon ‘t.”
Macbeth Act II, Scene iv

Such is the response of nature to Macbeth’s sin against it in murdering his king. In Shakespeare, nature is often responding to man’s actions. In this case, killing a king who rules by divine right was such an unnatural action that nature responded with unnaturally powerful storms and a series of odd violent actions by non-human animals. This idea of the interconnectedness of nature with man’s actions permeates The Revenant, a Shakespearean revenge drama as bloody, obvious, and tense as Titus Andronicus. Continue reading

On the Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Death

Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (UK/USA 1996) is suggested viewing for everyone (just remember that you need four hours). Like pretty much all film Shakespeare productions, it’s stagy, but any one of Kate Winslet playing Ophelia, Julie Christie playing Gertrude, or Branagh himself as Hamlet would be worth the price of admission alone, and here you get all of them. If you thought I was over-praising Kate Winslet before, watch this and you won’t anymore.

A simpler Shakespeare suggestion for the day is the quasi-documentary Looking for Richard (Al Pacino, USA 1996). It’s messy and impossible to explain but it’s a fun watch and Pacino is just a perfect Richard–everything that has made him something of a self-parody in the last 20 years works in that role.