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Screenings photo

See Macbeth early and free

Washington DC screening
Dec 04
// Matthew Razak
Shakespeare. Being smart. Acting. You can experience these things by going to see Macbeth for free. Who wouldn't want to be smart and see acting? It's just an easy decision to make, especially when Justin Kurzel is direc...
Shakespeare photo
The damn spot is out
Get ready for an Oscar nomination, folks. We've only see a pretty dull international clip for the upcoming Macbeth adaptation, but now with a U.S. one we get to see what the film is really about. It's about some striking...

Macbeth posters photo
Macbeth posters

First clip for Justin Kurzelís adaptation of Macbeth

All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king
May 14
// Matthew Razak
It's been a bit since we've landed some good ol' Shakespeare on the big screen and even longer since we've had a solid Macbeth so it's easy to see why folks are getting excited for the Michael Fassbender and Ma...

New images from Macbeth

Fassbender and Cotillard are The Macbeths
Apr 28
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
It's been a year since we last saw any images from Justin Kurzel's Macbeth, but with a Cannes-screening next month, we've received three new stills from Empire, showcasing Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in costu...

The Cult Club: Tromeo and Juliet (1996)

Feb 13 // Hubert Vigilla
Narrated by Lemmy from Motörhead in the first of his Troma cameos, Tromeo and Juliet follows Romeo and Juliet semi-closely. The Ques and the Capulets made low-budget skin flicks together, but their partnership ended poorly. Our star-crossed lovers (Will Keenan and Jane Jensen) live in Manhattan, though it looks more like Long Island City and Brooklyn since the Manhattan skyline figures in the background of many shots. Schlock ensues. Before going to work for Troma, Gunn received a creative writing MFA from Columbia. He purportedly tried to write Tromeo and Juliet in iambic pentameter before giving up, which is just the sort of unnecessary yet amusing formal constraint that an MFA student would attempt. There's a smattering of actual Shakespeare in the film, and used sparingly it's oddly effective. The meet-cute between our heroes culminates in a touching recitation of the "holy palmer's kiss" exchange. The couple spins on a Lazy Susan in front of a chintzy backdrop of stars, and the camera rotates in space, and for little money and textual faithfulness, Tromeo and Juliet captures the vertiginous joys of love at first sight. Ample bad taste is used to reconfigure much of the familiar story. The balcony scene takes place in a black box sex dungeon that Juliet's father has used to punish his little girl since childhood. Instead of biting thumbs, they flip birds. Instead of dueling with rapiers, one guy has a tomahawk with Hitler's face on it. The apothecary's drugs work differently--less like death, more like The Toxic Avenger. Bawdy puns are placed throughout, and also classy fart sounds and sophisticated boings. In Act V, the attempt at Shakespearian verse sounds more like Dr. Seuss. And there's loads of sexual repression in Juliet's bad dreams, which features a bizarre use of popcorn that recalls Troll 2. [embed]218947:42221:0[/embed] I noticed that Tromeo and Juliet hits some of the same notes as Gunn's later film Super. As Tromeo spends a lonely night looking at pornographic CD-ROMs, he cries as he climaxes over a fantasy of domestic bliss, repeating "I love you" as he hyperventilates. Later in the film, Juliet is so taken with her passion for Tromeo that she dials a phone sex line, her operator played by the morbidly obese and dispassionate Michael Herz. Herz sends her into ecstasy while he, bored and possibly hungry, eyes a Famiglia pizza box on his desk. That ugly yet honest desperation is all over the place in Super, with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as two psychotic and lonesome goofballs looking for approval and acceptance, sublimating their desire through grim vigilante justice. Super might be the most enjoyable Troma-esque movie in the last decade or so. Tromeo and Juliet could technically be counted as Gunn's first work as a director. According to an interview on Gunn's official website (not updated since December 2012), he associate directed the film while Troma's leader Lloyd Kaufman was the credited director. In an odd inversion of job duties, Kaufman handled the camera and the extras while Gunn got to work closely with the actors and supervise sets and special effects. If Gunn's fingerprints are on the performances like the screenplay, he gets a good amount for what he had, which was very little. Both Jensen and Keenan are fine as leads, Keenan especially since he has such a strange squirrely look to him. The best performance, however, is William Beckwith as Cappy Capulet. He vamps around, devouring scenery, shooting stuff with his crossbow, and he plays his role like Robin Williams on crack trying to be Shakespearian. Beckwith was a "real actor" (i.e., SAG), so he worked on Tromeo and Juliet under a pseudonym in order to get around union rules. Comparing Tromeo and Juliet to later Troma films like Terror Firmer and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, there seems to be a shift in overall tone. Given, I haven't seen Terror Firmer or Poultrygeist in a long while so I may be off on this, but Tromeo has the attitude of a snotty, sex-starved 15-year-old boy while the Troma movies that followed have the creepy demeanor of a dirty old man. That tension might be present in Tromeo, with the younger Gunn's writing merging with but ultimately succumbing to the sensibilities of Kaufman. Tromeo doesn't gross out or indulge in T & A as much as later Troma entries either, though some of the sex scenes run a bit long, and in my mind I picture some obnoxious 15-year-old boy getting uncomfortable while watching this on VHS--the maturing moment when something that was once hot becomes suddenly uncomfortable. At least the scenes are tasteful for Troma, for what that's worth. I tend to come back to the idea of misfit love stories since those are the best kinds of romances and the most meaningful. Rather than having two lovely people just like everyone else, the misfit romances have two oddballs against the world. That sense of opposition is obvious here in Tromeo and Juliet (even in the snotty and youthful demeanor it projects), though maybe it's also what's at play in Super and Guardians of the Galaxy. These are all misfit movies, with misfit relationships, and misfit characters, and all of them, in their own ways, are shown in opposition to the world that doesn't get them. Troma is, even still despite a sense of decline, a misfit company, and Gunn has remained faithful to Kaufman even now, giving the man who gave him his start cameos in his own films. Maybe the path from Tromeo to Guardians isn't so unlikely after all. Who better to make a movie about misfits than someone who loves misfits so much? [embed]218947:42219:0[/embed] Next Month... Am I the meanest? Sho'nuff! Am I the prettiest? Sho'nuff! Am I the baddest mofo low down around this town? Sho'nuff! The Last Dragon (1985) turns 30. PREVIOUSLY SHOWING ON THE CULT CLUB Samurai Cop (1989) El Mariachi (1992) Six-String Samurai (1998) The Warriors (1979) Funky Forest: First Contact (2005)
The Cult Club photo
Shall I compare thee to a penis monster? Thou art more lovely and covered in less slime.
[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pa...

Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Jun 07 // Matthew Razak
[embed]215029:39763:0[/embed] Much Ado About NothingDirector: Joss WhedonRating: PG-13Release Date: June 7, 2013 (limited); wider release June 21, 2013 Since I enjoy Shakespeare's comedies more than his dramas, because I'm uncultured and such, Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite of his plays (followed closely by A Midsummer Night's Dream). I've seen it on stage a few times and, of course, watched the Kenneth Branagh version a few times over (Keanu ain't that bad). So the idea of Joss Whedon gathering together all his favorite actors and making my favorite Shakespearean play into a movie was better than almost everything ever. It's easy to report that Shakespeare's writing still stands the test of time, and a pleasure to report that Whedon has put together a fantastic interpretation of the play. Shooting entirely in black and white and in his own home over the course of a week in what the cast has basically described as a party, Whedon creatively interprets Much Ado About Nothing into a darker and more sexually charged story than we're use to. While the comedy points are definitely the main thrust of the movie, Whedon take s a lot more care to develop the character's motivations and interactions while updating the play to a modern context (though it could have easily taken place at any time). I'll eschew plot description since you should already know the classic tale of absurd misunderstanding and quick witted dialog. In case you were confused there's plenty of great lines here that are still hilarious despite having been written many, many years ago. Whedon imbibes them with new life, however, turning even some of the most banal scenes into either comic wonders or powerhouse dramatic sequences. There are some seriously impressively done scenes throughout the film that lend a new depth to the play and a bit of fun. It helps that the cast is clearly having a blast. Comprised of a bunch of Whedon's favorite actors from his plethora of films and shows (Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz), it's basically a walk down Whedon memory lane. Most of the cast does admirably, though for some it's pretty clear that Shakespeare isn't their forte. The most surprising successes are Fran Kranz, who busts out of his typecast nerdiness into a surprisingly strong romantic lead; and Nathan Fillion, who is beyond hilarious in his role as a bumbling police office. Acker and Denisof are also perfectly matched as the constantly bickering Beatrice and Benedick. The most disappointing is Sean Maher who doesn't seem to get comfortable with the evil Don John until halfway through the film, though he does get one of the best sight gags.  It's not all his fault, though. The movie was shot in a week, andthat is pretty clear. It's a simple fact that you need a bit more time to get Shakespeare down, especially with the majority of the cast having never performed it professionally. What this leads to is it being very obvious which scenes were shot early and which were shot later. The cast clearly got into a rhythm as the shoot went on and it makes some scenes far better than others. It's hard to fault them for not mastering Shakespeare right away, and once they do get into a groove and during some of Whedon's more impressively done scenes, it is easily some of the most enjoyable Shakespeare you'll see. The downside is that the movie never really goes above being enjoyable to being truly great, but considering the time frame and DIY nature it probably was never meant to. What's obvious here is that Joss Whedon is a great director, Shakespeare is a great writer and if you get a cast together that really clicks you're going to make a fun movie. While it's easy to interpret Shakespeare in a variety of ways that I wouldn't deign to call any version of a play the definitive version, this is definitely one you'll want to see. Hubert Vigilla: There's a strange and undeniable joy in Much Ado About Nothing. From scene to scene, from beginning to end, there's a sense that everyone involved in the production was having a great time. The 12-day shoot was probably more like a 12-day party, and I almost got the sense that the production embodied the old-fashioned ethos of those early Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films: let's get our buddies together and make a gosh darn movie! The two couples -- Beatrice (Amy Acker) & Benedick (Alexis Denisof), Hero (Jillian Morgese) & Claudio (Fran Kranz) -- are well cast and serve as solid examples of Shakespeare's parallelism and contrast when romantic pairs are used. Nathan Fillion bumbles about and steals his scenes when Dogberry arrives. I think my only gripe is that some of the score sounds like it's from a made-for-TV movie, but even this helps feed into the quick and playful spirit of the film. Much Ado About Nothing is a source of constant delight. 81 -- Great
Much Ado Review photo
Whedon takes aim at the bard
How do you follow up the biggest blockbuster in cinematic history? One crammed full of superheroes and special effects and big name actors? A film that epitomizes Hollywood in all its glory and all its faults? If you're Joss ...


Baz Luhrmann wants DiCaprio for Hamlet

Shakespeare is perpetually rolling in his grave
May 09
// Logan Otremba
As most of you probably already know, Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio have already done another Shakespearean adaptation called Romeo + Juliet. With The Great Gatsby releasing tomorrow May 10th, this will be the second lit...
Macbeth adaptation photo
Macbeth adaptation

Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman join Macbeth

May 01
// Nick Valdez
The next Shakespeare play ready to hit the big screen joining the likes of Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, is Macbeth. The new version of the film will be an adaptation of the classic play (not a re-imag...

A playful poster for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing

Apr 12
// Liz Rugg
I feel like "playful" is a pretty good way to describe director Joss Whedon's newest movie, a Shakespeare adaptation called Much Ado About Nothing. Even though it's coming from one of the most fiercely loved directors of our ...

Trailer: Much Ado About Nothing

Whedonites and Shakespeare fans rejoice!
Mar 08
// Liz Rugg
After director Joss Whedon's mega block-buster The Avengers last year, he decided to tone it down a bit for his next project. It's a bit of a palate cleanser - Much Ado About Nothing is an adaption of the classic Shakespeare...

Anne Hathaway to tame shrews in Taming of the Shrew film

Jan 16
// Nick Valdez
And the Anne Hathaway hype train rolls on. After knocking it out of the park at the Golden Globes for Les MiseraBLUH, and generally being the cutest Disney Princess ever, The Wrap reports that Hathaway is looking to star in a...

Pictures from Whedon's Much Ado remain Branaghless

Aug 02
// Jason Savior
Having shot the film Dr. Horrible-style, independently and in under two weeks, professional cool-guy-you'd-like-to-hang-with Joss Whedon has put out some new shots of his forthcoming black and white adaptation of Much Ado Abo...

Review: Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish

May 10 // Alex Katz
[embed]210160:38231[/embed] Romeo and Juliet in YiddishDirector: Eve AnnenbergRelease Date: May 11th, 2012 (LA)Rating: UR Ava (Eve Annenberg, who also wrote and produced) is a lapsed Orthodox Jew/graduate student moonlighting as a nurse that's given an unlikely assignment: update a very old Yiddish translation of Romeo and Juliet into a more modern Yiddish. Realizing she's got nowhere near the Yiddish mastery to complete such a task alone, she enlists the help of two outed Hassids, Lazer (Lazer Weiss) and Mendy (Mendy Zafir). Being "outed" in the ultra Orthodox sect of Judaism means they've essentially been ejected from the religion. Think of is as Jewish excommunication, and you won't be too terribly far off. With no real skills from a lifetime of religious study, and English as a distant third language, Lazer and Mendy have been living out of a moving truck and pulling small cons to get enough money for food and drugs. With this translation gig as their only chance to make some money for the immediate future, they don't have any choice but to help. In so doing, they "modernize" Romeo and Juliet into something Hassids might understand better, setting the story in Williamsburg and casting the Capulets and the Montagues into the Satmar and Chabad sects of Orthodox Judaism. There's a litany of philosophical differences between the two sects that I haven't the time or the patience to discuss, but to use the quick visual reference from the film, Satmar Jews have the little side curls called payot, and the Chabad do not. At any rate, through the translation of the text, the secular Ava and the thuggish-yet-traditional Lazer and Mendy begin to learn more about the others point of view, often illustrated through sequences of the Yiddish translation of Romeo and Juliet, featuring Lazer and Romeo and a young girl who, in reality, is trapped in an arranged marriage, Faggie (Melissa Weisz), as Juliet. One thing the film does absolutely well is the juxtaposition of these Jewish values being explored with the story of Romeo and Juliet and how the two intertwine rather wonderfully, much to the surprise of Lazer and Mendy. It's a world of rigid, warring sects that really aren't too terribly different, arranged marriages, and the young people caught in the maw of it all. You come out of the film with a greater appreciation for the source material, something that is probably lost after decades of having it crammed down your throat across every medium your entire life, and a greater understanding of the world of ultra-Orthodox Judiasm, something many people only know through its oddly-dressed practitioners.  This is the key place where Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish redeems itself despite a litany of otherwise damning faults. Even with a character who claims he's studied Kabbalah so much that he's now leaking magic and goes around "enchanting" people's homes (who was really the only part of the movie I out and out dreaded), the film feels authentic and unique in a way that's hard to pin down. I've seen film after film featuring Jewish people bemoaning their own culture, but these films tend to feature more secular Jews. Hell, basically every Woody Allen film that he stars in has some level of commentary on secular Jewish culture, but it's rare to find the camera pointed at a group of Hassidic Jews. It's clear Eve Annenberg has a fair amount of contempt for them (her character in the film speaking a lot of that contempt quite plainly), but the film makes the attempt to pierce this almost impenetrable veil of mystery behind the culture and shows something that's as relatable as, well, Romeo and Juliet.  I don't think Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish is going to be a film everyone can enjoy, especially those that have trouble seeing past the technical difficulties. Yeah, the acting is a little poor, but considering this is from a cast of non-actors with parts that are, in some cases, entirely in Yiddish, a language that the film even calls irrelevant, there's decent mileage. It's an honest, funky look at Judaism here that you're not going to find anywhere else.

The more I've sat and thought about it, the more I realize there's something pretty special about Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish. There's a fair share of problems, don't get me wrong. It's plagued by amateur acting, poor cinemat...


Joss Whedon secretly shot a Shakespeare adaptation

Oct 24
// Alex Katz
[UPDATE: Joss Whedon confirmed to THR that this is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, and that it was shot in twelve(!) days in Santa Monica, CA. Whedon described the project: "The text is to me a deconstr...

Trailer: Coriolanus

Aug 10
// Glenn Morris
One of the lesser known flavors of Willy Shakes, Coriolanus is about a dude who hates democracy and stuff. Military commanders are often the central preoccupation of Shakespeare plays, but this might be a tough part to make ...

Trailer: Anonymous

Aug 08
// Alex Katz
Here's the second trailer for the Roland Emmerich "herp derp Shakespeare wasn't real" film Anonymous. It still relies on using "Everything in its Right Place" for effectiveness, but it's a very different beast from the ...

Mysterious William Shakespeare film trailer: Anonymous

Apr 08
// Tom Fronczak
Does anyone else find it funny that Sony Pictures uploaded this trailer for an unrelated movie named Anonymous in the middle of the "Anonymous" army attacking them over GeoHot? No? Good, me neither. Much like Romeo and Julie...

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