Director: John Williams
Cast: Hirotaro Honda, Noriko Eguchi, Yoji Tanaka
A Japanese sci-fi rock musical version of The Tempest. Now there’s a sentence you don’t here every day. But Sado Tempest is just that: a bonkers idea for a film that screams ambition, creativity and shiny haircuts. The really impressive bit (apart from the hair)? It actually pulls it off.
Anyone who knows me will already be well aware that I’m a Shakespeare nut. Born and bred. I’ve done the birthplace tours, the theatre visits, the endless hours of studying at school and uni. I even went round London’s Globe Theatre while it was being built and put my name on a star that’s now stuck somewhere underneath the stage.
What you lovely folks here are already well aware of is that I’m also a fan of digital theatre. You know when two people you know meet each other for the first time and have nothing in common and things get horribly awkward until one of them shoots the other? That’s not going to happen with Shakespeare and cinemas – probably – because Globe on Screen looks properly impressive.
Oh, did I mention that bit? The Globe Theatre is broadcasting Shakespeare plays into cinemas. Isn’t it cool?
Hot on the heels of the recent NT Live The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Shakespeare’s Globe will beam its innards into 65 cinemas in the UK – and a ton of screens in Australia, America and New Zealand too.
(Image via BBC iPlayer)
I was blown away by the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony last night. A celebration of Great Britain, it showed rather than told the world what our nation is and what we can do. Shakespeare and Milton. Brookside and James Bond. Mr Bean. From music and film to industry and technology, it was as much a celebration of creativity as sport: a colourful, ambitious, batshit crazy piece of multicultural humanist theatre.
After all, what else would you expect from Danny Boyle?
Boyle's dynamic energy has always been matched by a spiritual heart. It's what elevates Sunshine above what appears to be a messy descent into horror and turns it into a five-star metaphysical masterpiece. It's what brings together the visual assault of Aron Ralston's struggle for survival into a rousing, coherent finale.
Combine that with his taste for Steampunk and apparent synergy with Underworld and you get a filmmaker with a flair for the theatrical and a love of physicality; a director with the volume and excitement of Michael Bay and the heart and sensitivity of Terrence Malick. Just look at Akram Khan's moving, primitive dance sequence against a burning orange stage and accompanied by (note this) every single verse of Abide with Me. No wonder he was so keen to have a say over the positioning of the cameras for the BBC broadcast.
A superb choreographer, he positions props and people with a tangible enthusiasm and sense of humour - the kind of man who nails the raw intensity of Frankenstein at the National Theatre, then bounces up and down like Tigger when he collects an award. How much more British can you get?
Some people have missed the point of the whole ceremony or politicised it to pieces, but between the shout-outs for the NHS and the showcasing of Tim Berners-Lee, what Danny Boyle has achieved demonstrates a simpler message: that the arts still have an impact upon, and vital role to play in, modern society. 10,000 volunteers uniting millions of folks around the world? There's a continuing importance to culture, media, sport and - above all - imagination. And it took nothing less than a British filmmaker to prove it.
Imagine what he could do with the Eurovision Song Contest.
Read on for the amusing - and perfectly judged* - Bond and Mr. Bean videos that popped up during the ceremony.
* Don't talk to me about CGI Winston Churchill.
Anonymous is out in cinemas this week, revealing the truth about William Shakespeare’s identity. If by truth you mean “silly rumours that have no basis in reality unless you spend all day blowing things up in Photoshop".
But while its theories are so ridiculous that no-one could ever take its conspiracies seriously, some people are. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, bless them, are so riled by Roland Emmerich’s bit of nonsense that they’ve started a campaign to remove Shakespeare from all road signs in Warwick. And they all seemed like such rational people when I was studying English in Birmingham.
"This film flies in the face of a mass of historical fact, but there is a risk that people who have never questioned the authorship of Shakespeare's works could be hoodwinked," the Trust's head of research, Paul Edmondson, told the Guardian.
As a Shakespeare nut, I'm just pleased to see any film (no matter how daft) getting people talking about old Bill. But just for those who have never questioned the authorship of Shakespeare and will supposedly believe any old guff, allow us to lay some true historical non-facts on your face.
Here are five people who could have been Shakespeare:
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall, Vanessa Redgrave
That Shakespeare didn't write the plays he's credited with is not a new idea. The fact that disaster movie veteran Emmerich has made a film about it is quite honestly bizarre. The film posits that Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Ifans), is the true author of Shakespeare's work; as a nobleman, it would, of course, be unseemly for Oxford to be publishing his work. And so he badger's Benjamin Johnson into performing his plays as part of a cunning plan to sway the populous and get ailing Queen Elizabeth (Redgrave) to name the Earl of Essex heir and wrest the crown away from Scottish King James.
You may have heard by now that Ralph Fiennes' adaptation of Shakespeare's Coriolanus boasts a stellar supporting role from one Channel 4 news presenter (cleverly taking on the Messenger lines in the play), a casting choice which prompted a major title change in my mind:
Given this excellent use of the multi-coloured-tie-wearing broadcasting legend, which you can see for yourself tonight at the London Film Festival, here are some other newsreaders that we want to see tackle Shakespeare...
"My name is Caius Martius Coriolanus..."
That's all you need to hear of Raiph Fiennes in the UK trailer for Coriolanus to know that his directorial debut, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's political play, has a lot of promise.
Moving the scenario into the present day, the film sees Coriolanus rise in popularity in Rome after great military victory, but end up betrayed and banished from his city after refusing to glad-hand the public. Cue a possible alliance with Rome's enemy as Coriolanus hungers for revenge.
Topical? Yes. Exciting? Definitely. In fact, it looks like one of the most exhilarating takes on old Billy Shakespeare's work since Ian McKellen in Richard Loncraine's sublime Richard III.
Coriolanus is out in the UK on Friday 20th January next year. It's got Brian Cox, it's got Gerard Butler, it's got Vanessa Redgrave, and it's got one heck of a trailer. Read on for the full video. Then start getting excited.
Director: Julie Taymor
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina
Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. Or, in Julie Taymor's case, misery acquaints a woman with Russell Brand. With the latter's involvement, it's almost easy to overlook the fact that Taymor's flipped the genders about from Shakespeare's The Tempest, turning Prospero into Prospera. It makes some difference to the play, but the main 'P' on show here is Photoshop.
"Sorcery. Passion. Stupidity. Treachery. Revenge."
That's how Miramax are pitching their take on The Tempest - which, if you recall, stars Helen Mirren at the manly sorcerer Prospero. Or, ahem, Prospera. Directed by Julie Taymor, the adaptation of Shakespeare's late play is playing up its key strengths. Namely, some flashy visuals and a brilliantly impressive cast.
With Ben Whishaw as the magical Ariel (hell yes) and Djimon Hounsou as the angry oppressed Caliban, Taymor's ensemble even manages to put Russell Brand to good use - the perfect choice for a bawdy bit of comedy Shakespeare sub-plotting. Filling out the rest of the roles are Alfred Molina, Chris Cooper, David Straithairn, Alan Cumming, Tom Conti and Felicity Jones.
Aiming firmly for the genre of mystical thriller, The Tempest will dazzle Americans on Friday 10th December. There's no word of a UK release date yet. But with its epic special effects and excellent acting talent, I'll pay to distribute this movie myself. And I don't even like the original play The Tempest that much.
Read on for the full video.
There are a lot of Hamlet projects flying around at the moment, mostly on stage, but there's one film version that won't be happening any more: Emile Hirsch and Catherine Hardwicke's take on Shakespeare's play has been called off.
Their adaptation (called Haml3t) was aiming to be a modern and young version of the story, playing it out like a suspense thriller with the Twilight and Lords of Dogtown director keen to focus on a musical angle. She told MTV last year:
"It’s a modern-day film, set at a liberal-arts college where words matter — so people are careful and talk in beautiful language, and Hamlet tries to express himself through music. So, we’re using some of the cooler Shakespeare language, in a musical way. Hamlet is like an [aspiring] rock star. He’s got six people that go to his performances, go to clubs and listen to him. It’s like an early Kurt Cobain."
The concept came from Emile Hirsch, who indicated that the film would be shot in Boston in the fall. It obviously wasn't. He explained at the time that he wanted to "lower the ages of everyone in the cast, make it much younger and see how that affects the story". It sounds a bit like Ben Whishaw's acclaimed performance many years back. But now the whole thing has ceased to be, for reasons that aren't exactly clear - probably to do with money.
The last cinematic take on Hamlet came from Ethan Hawke's modern re-imagining. And while we don't exactly need another (it could always turn out closer to O than 10 Things I Hate About You), it's a shame that we won't get to see Hirsch sink his teeth into one of literature's greatest roles. At the very least it would give GCSE English students something to study other than Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet.
Those needing a Hamlet fix can grab their next hit in Sheffield, where John Simm plays the Dane at the moment. Rory Kinnear's Hamlet follows at the National Theatre in October. And then next year, there's Michael Sheen at the Young Vic to look forward to.