REVIEW | Macbeth

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“O, full of scorpions is my mind!”

I walked into the cinema with expectations high. Michael Fassbender is rapidly becoming one of those rare actors whose touch seems gilded. Winning critical acclaim for films such as ‘Hunger’, ‘Shame’ and ‘Prometheus’, he now is given the chance to portray one of the greatest characters on the biggest stage. Alongside Fassbender, playing Lady Macbeth is the mesmerising Marion Cotillard.

So far, so starstruck.

To cut to the chase, I sat through a completely engrossing adaptation. Visually, the film is striking, stunning, even haunting. I have noticed that in screen adaptations of Shakespeare, there is often a great emphasis on the cinematography. In Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 ‘Romeo + Juliet’, we were given a lush, almost cartoonish version of fair Verona.

Starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, 2011’s ‘Coriolanus’ was a grey, gritty modern day retelling of the titular character’s fall from grace, set in a modern day war-torn state.

In the same way as films before it, the archaic nature of Shakespearean English almost plays second fiddle to the visual. Battle scenes play out in near silence, the screen saturated with reds and yellows. The highlands of Scotland are dour, harsh and unforgiving, you practically hear the gales howling between the cinema seats.

That being said, the powerful delivery that Fassbender and Cotillard deliver is worth of much praise. Both actors play their characters which a wonderful sense of duality. Macbeth begins as humble and loyal, yet descends into madness after the murder of his King, Duncan. Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth may begin as the Machiavellian influence behind her husband, yet soon comes to fear the man she has played a part in creating.

 

I can’t praise this film highly enough. To take a relative Shakespearean novice, and leave such a lasting impression on me is no mean feat. It is a rich, captivating adaptation that will surely spark a revives appreciation of Shakespeare’s works.

5/5

If you’re in Newcastle, get tickets to see Macbeth here.

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My Week in Film.

In the past week I’ve journeyed twice to my local independent cinema, the outstanding Tyneside cinema. Firstly, if you live in Newcastle I’d implore you to start going to this venue more often. If the wonderful decor, deep, cushioned seats and charming staff aren’t enough to persuade you, the adjoining Tyneside Café’s array of delicious food should.
The kind of experience you get here leaves you questioning why you ever set foot into a generic, sticky-floored multiplex of doom that dot our high streets.
That’s my plug over.

So anyway in the past week I’ve been to see two of the films that are battling it out for Oscars this season. Based on the performances that I saw, I understand why. Thought provoking and engrossing, these films left me pondering some profound questions.

The first film was Wild. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon in perhaps the performance of a career. Vallée was the director of the Oscar winning film Dallas Buyers Club, which as we know started Matthew McConnaughey – we know how his career has gone since that.

I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, but Wild is about grief, redemption and the anger that the loss of a loved one can cause. Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed – whose memoir this film is based upon – is one of a woman completely lost. I think one of the best things a film can elicit from a person is when it makes you contemplate your own emotions and fears. As the credits rolled I was forced to contemplate the inevitable feelings I am going to have to face when my parents die. Needless to say I walked away quite upset.

Hopefully you can go and see this terrific film, if anything to see Reese Witherspoon’s fantastic performance, or at least to enjoy the beautifully shot landscapes and hear the memorable soundtrack.

The second film I saw was Whiplash. First of all, wow. It’s a punishing film to sit through. The very tight style in which this film is shot, and the throbbing nature of the soundtrack trap you into the very intense experience that viewing this film is. I happened to see this in the smallest screen (Roxy) the Tyneside has to offer, which only increased the atmosphere.

J.K. Simmons seems a dead cert for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar – surely deserved. His performance is a brutal one. As a teacher he is more Gunnery Sergeant Hartman than anything. Some of the expletive filled (and brilliant I might add) rants that pepper his performance both induce laughter and horror.

It won’t matter if you are a fan or not of jazz or drumming in particular as this isn’t a film about either. It’s a film about how far one is willing to push, and be pushed in the pursuit of ‘greatness’. It makes you wonder at what point does the end stop justifying the means.

There are some exceptional films on release at the moment, it’s amazing that we’re only one month into the new year.

In the next week I’d like to try and see the much hyped Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year and perhaps Birdman. Fingers crossed.

Happy watching!

30 Day Challenge, day 19

List of all the places you have lived:

This is a day late. My apologies but yesterday I got Total War: Rome II and haven’t stopped playing on it!

Just as well I missed yesterday as this post is a boring one!

I’ve only ever lived in two places for an extended period of time in my life. I was born and still live in Newcastle upon Tyne. I’m a Geordie through and through, (but not one of the ones you see on Geordie Shore, even though I love the programme.)

I lived for three years in Colchester whilst I was at uni. I’ve already waxed lyrical on how amazing that time was, so even though the town is a bit (a lot) boring, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it. 

Told you it was a boring post!