Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Rufus Norris
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Rory Kinnnear, Anne-Marie Duff, Kevin Harvey, Stephen Boxer, Trevor Fox, Hannah Hutch, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Beatrice Scirocchi, Parth Thakerar, Patrick O’Kane,
Seen on: 10.5.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Rory Kinnear) and Banquo (Kevin Harvey) just fought successfully for King Duncan (Stephen Boxer) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Anne-Marie Duff) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This version of Macbeth has its strong moments and I have definitely seen worse productions, but I’ve also seen better.

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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Polly Findlay
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Niamh Cusack, Luke Newberry, Raphael Sowole, Edward Bennett, David Acton, Mariam Haque
Seen on: 11.4.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Christopher Eccleston) and Banquo (Raphael Sowole) just fought successfully for King Duncan (David Acton) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Niamh Cusack) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This take on Macbeth is interesting and mostly well done, but it doesn’t work in all regards, ultimately turning out weaker than I had hoped and expected from Findlay.

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Fantastic Shorts Competition at the /slash Filmfestival 2017

A short note on all the short films at the /slash Filmfestival 2017 that were part of the Fantastic Shorts Competition. The winner was Rémy Rondeau for his short J’aime Eva Marsh.
Seen on: 22.9.2017, 25.9.2017, 26.9.2017

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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus
Director: Blanche McIntyre
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: David Troughton, Patrick Drury, Nia Gwynne, Martin Hutson, Marcello Walton, Hannah Morrish, Jon Tarcy, Kristin Atherton, Sean Hart, Tom Lorcan, Anthony Ofoegbu, Stefan Adegbola, Joseph Adelakun, Tom McCall, William Bliss, Amber James
Seen on: 9.8.2017

CN: rape and a whole lot of violence

Plot:
Titus (David Troughton) returns home after waging a brutal war which cost him his children. He finds that he is expected to take over as emperor, which he’s actually not interested in doing. What he wants is to exact revenge on the Goth queen Tamora (Nia Gwynne) and her three sons, all four of them his prisoners. But revenge only brings more revenge.

This production of Titus Andronicus uses a modern setting for Shakespeare’s bloodiest play and at times this falls into the category of trying too hard. Given that the play itself also isn’t really my thing, this made for mixed feelings during the performance.

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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra
Director: Iqbal Khan
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Antony Byrne, Josette Simon, Ben Allen, Patrick Drury, Lucy Phelps
Seen on: 24.5.2017

Plot:
Mark Antony (Antony Byrne) is one of the triumvirate of Rome, but he has spent most of his time recently in Egypt, where he has begun a torrid affair with Cleopatra (Josette Simon). But now Rome – in the form of Octavius Caesar (Ben Allen) – is calling for him to return, so that he can take up the fight against pirates. Against Cleopatra’s wishes and his own, Antony follows that order. But the demands of Rome are not easily fulfilled.

I’ve seen quite a few RSC productions by now (thanks to broadcasts) and there were few I actually liked. Antony and Cleopatra was the point where I decided to leave the broadcasts be for now, because I really could not stand this production.

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Die Komödie der Irrungen [The Comedy of Errors]

Die Komödie der Irrungen
Director: Herbert Fritsch
Writer: William Shakespeare, translated by Sabrina Zwach
Cast: Sebastian Blomberg, Simon Jensen, Dorothee Hartinger, Stefanie Dvorak, Mavie Hörbiger, Petra Morzé, Klaus Pohl, Falk Rockstroh, Michael Masula, Marta Kizyma, Merlin Sandmeyer, Dirk Nocker, Hermann Scheidleder
Seen on: 26.2.2017

Plot:
Merchants from Syracuse are currently forbidden from entering Ephesus. To Egeon’s (Klaus Pohl) he is discovered in the city. Moved by the sad story of how many years ago, Egeon’s twin sons were separated, together with the twin servant boys and how Egeon search for his lost son has brought him to Syracuse, Solinus (Michael Masula) grants him a day to find the money needed to buy himself free. Meanwhile Egeon’s son Antipholus (Sebastian Blomberg) and his servant Dromio (Simon Jensen) also arrive in Ephesus. Once there, their paths cross the Ephesus versions of Antipholus (Sebastian Blomberg) and Dromio (Simon Jensen) – only they don’t know it. Confusions ensues.

The Comedy of Errors is an absolutely nonsensical play – and Fritsch’s hyped-up brightly colored production of it sets the perfect tone to make it fly.

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The Tempest

The Tempest
Director: Gregory Doran
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Broadbent, Jenny Rainsford, Joe Dixon, Mark Quartley, James Tucker, Tom Turner, Daniel Easton
Seen on: 11.1.2017
[Here’s my review of the Julie Taymor movie version.]

Plot:
Many years ago Prospero (Simon Russell Beale) was betrayed by his brother Antonio (Jonathan Broadbent). Antonio sent him and his daughter Miranda (Jenny Rainsford) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Joe Dixon), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Mark Quartley) who both have been enslaved by Prospero’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (James Tucker), his brother Sebastian (Tom Turner) and his son Ferdinand (Daniel Easton), but also Antonio. Prospero knows that his time has come at last.

The Tempest was a gorgeous production with a strong cast and nice use of video projections. It still had a couple of issues, but I did enjoy it very much.

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Идеальный муж. Комедия [An Ideal Husband. Comedy]

Идеальный муж. Комедия
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Writer: Konstantin Bogomolov
Based on: Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Anton Chekhov‘s Three Sisters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s Faust and William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet
Cast: Nadezhda Borisova, Andrei Burkovsky, Rosa Khairullina, Svetlana Kolpakova, Alexei Kravchenko, Maxim Matveev, Igor Mirkurbanov, Darya Moros, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko, Yana Osipova, Artyom Panchik, Vladimir Panchik, Aleksandr Semchev, Marina Sudina, Pavel Chinarev, Sergei Chonishvili, Pavel Vashchilin
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2016

Plot:
Lord (Igor Mirkurbanov) is a famous Russian singer, about to be honored for his life’s work in the Kremlin. The prize is delivered by his friend Robert (Alexei Kravchenko) who is the Minister for Rubber Goods. But their partying finds a quick end when they are contacted by Cheavley, the main rival of Robert’s wife Gertrude. Cheavley has video evidence that Lord and Robert are actually lovers and threatens to expose them. In the world of Russian politics, intrigue and bigotry that cannot stand.

An Ideal Husband is a sometimes haphazard but always enthusiastic amalgamation of various texts that are full of political barbs, irony and sarcasm. While it was a bit long and seeing it in Vienna made it feel a little diluted, I did enjoy most of it.

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The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Julie Taymor
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Helen MirrenFelicity JonesDavid StrathairnAlan CummingChris CooperBen WhishawDjimon HounsouRussell BrandAlfred MolinaReeve CarneyTom Conti
Seen on: 16.3.2016

Plot:
Many years ago Prospera (Helen Mirren) was betrayed by her brother Antonio (Chris Cooper). He sent her and her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who both have been enslaved by Prospera’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (David Strathairn), his brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and his son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), but also Antonio. Prospera knows that her time has come at last.

The Tempest is a visually impressive film with a great cast, but it never quite takes off – there are simply too many things that don’t work.

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