Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
March 2017

It's always interesting to me to run across yet another production of one of Shakespeare's plays. I mean, you can know the story, and even have memorized many (or most) of the lines, of the play, but every production seems to put its own stamp on it, and all of a sudden you'll see things with a slightly different perspective, with different things emphasized and others de-emphasized, and you'll come away with a whole new view of it, however familiar the play may have been to you going in. That said, new productions can often be a bit of a gamble; some are very good, others maybe not so much, and others still can be awful. So that change in viewpoint may not always be worth the watching. The awful ones, however, are a very small proportion of the numbers of productions, and it's usually worth the time to see what you can learn from a new take on one of these old plays. It helps the odds, of course, if the production we're talking about is by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Even if you end up not liking part, or parts, or all, of a play, you know that there's going to be a certain level of competence and professionalism that will set an RSC production to a standard. You can trust that whatever they do with the play will be done well, whether or not you agree with the vision of the director. And that is the case with this month's review of the RSC's 1996 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Starring Lindsay Duncan as Hippolyta and Titania, Alex Jennings as Theseus and Oberon, Finbar Lynch as Philostrate and Puck, Desmond Barrit as Nick Bottom, Monica Dolan as Hermia, Kevin Doyle as Demetrius, Daniel Evans as Lysander, Emily Raymond as Helena, Howard Crossley as Tom Snout and a Fairy, Robert Gillespie as Robin Starveling and Cobweb, John Kane as Peter Quince and Mustardseed, Mark Letheren as Francis Flute and Peaseblossom, and Kenn Sabberton as Snug, the entirely inadequate synopsis for this movie was given as "Hermia, a young woman of high status, must choose to either agree to an arranged marriage or rebel against her family to be with her true love." It's true as far as it goes, but it leaves out so much that it's a lot like saying that the entirety of World War II could be summed up by saying that "Germany overran Poland in September 1939." In each case, the summary is only the underlying foundation upon which so much else was built that one despairs of it being anything like a true synopsis. Fortunately, you should already have a good idea of what the full plot of this movie is, with mixed-up lovers, a fairy land dispute, mistaken identity, magical transformations, and some rustics preparing a play for the Duke's upcoming nuptials. And in this production, the entire night's "Dream" is dreamed by a young boy who moves in and out of the scenes throughout the film.

Good points: Well, it's Shakespeare! And it's by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The wall. The lion (especially when he catches his tail in the door). Peter Quince's hair. The special effects (most of them). The "ET" motorcycle. The literal use of "cheek by jowl." Though filmed on a stage, it doesn't feel quite as cramped as many filmed stage productions do.

Bad points: Simulated sex. The somewhat surrealistic umbrellas, doors, and water may have worked better on stage than they do on film. Or not. They were interesting ideas, but I'm not entirely certain that they worked as well on film (or on stage) as they did in the designer's head.

Zero breasts. One-half gallon of stage blood. Two dead stage bodies. Flower fu. Stage sword fu. Demetrius rolls. Hermia spins. Gratuitous candles. Gratuitous feathers. Gratuitous head butting. Academy Award nomination to Desmond Barrit as Nick Bottom for, as is often the case in productions of this play, making Bottom the central character in the play. A 53 on the Vomit Meter. Three and a half stars. Anna Sue says, "Puck is hot!" Da'ud Bob says, "Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Now playing The Great Wall. A mystery centered around the construction of the Great Wall of China. "1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?" Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Numan Acar. (Period China, with that many white actors?)


Pushed back from March to May 12, 2017 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. (Formerly titled: Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur) The young Arthur runs the back passages of Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword's influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. He joins the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king. Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Katie McGrath, Eric Bana, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.

The fact that they keep pushing back the release date does not bode well for this film. Just sayin'.

No official website yet, just a Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/KingArthurMovie/

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