Viper X has seen Helen Mirren's Prospera in Julie Taymor's theatrical adaptation of William Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST!!!
Published at: June 3, 2010, 11:40 p.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here, momentarily, before flying to Aruba for the Aruba International Film Festival. Yeah, I know. Terrible job, eh? Well, here's something we should all be thrilled about. From a Helen Mirren pitch to Julie Taymor... gave birth to what I'm anticipating being a very serious competitor for the Best Actress Oscar. The concept of Helen Mirren playing the witch, Prospera... after having seen her fuck her brother in EXCALIBUR... well, color me interested. THE TEMPEST was the basis for FORBIDDEN PLANET, where Walter Pidgeon turned Prospero into a Moebius, an intellect enhanced translator/Mad man... the adaptation worked well there too.
THE TEMPEST is one of my fave works of Shakespeare, simply because there is so much room to play with the characters and themes. Taymor giving Mirren her dream role? FUCKING A! This can not get released soon enough for me. This was a very early test screening. The film doesn't even have a release date hard lined in yet, but you can bet Disney will be eyeing an awards campaign. Taymor's design aesthetic nearly guarantees that - Mirren does as well. At this stage, it probably wasn't color timed, tightened up for editing and it probably didn't have a real score in place yet. That said, this sounds amazing. Here ya go...
I just got home from an advanced screening in New York City of Julie Taymor's newest movie, The Tempest. I thought I'd chime in on how I felt for all the Taymor and/or Shakespeare fanatics out there.
So here's a woman who thought it would be a good idea to team up with Bono and the Edge for a Spiderman musical, which is currently in the shitter due to her two big leads walking away form the project. Before that, she subjected the world to the most inane pile of garbage known to man in the form of a Beatles musical (I'm sorry, but if you enjoyed Across the Universe then you seriously need to sit in a chair for about an hour and just think about your life and the choices you've made.) But remember before these two gigantic mistakes? She made one of the best biopics I've ever seen and rocked the shit out of Titus Andronicus. So now she's returned to Shakespeare and put her mark on The Tempest and let me tell you that she is back to her roots in the best possible way.
The first thing that should be said about The Tempest is the impeccable casting. She made a bold choice in turning ProsperO into ProsperA and giving the lead role to Helen Mirren. I was very skeptical with this idea walking in, as the relationship between Miranda and her father has always been one of the most enjoyable parts of this play. But whenever someone walks up to Helen Mirren with a piece of paper and says, "Say those things" and she does, there is no way you aren't going to be blown away. She sells the role like the goddam fox that she is and frankly, steals the show. Every little moment she has is pure genius. The change in sex adds a completely different and interesting take on the story of a girl who has spent her entire life isolated from all men. The rest of the film is chock full of incredible actors including Alfred Molina, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper, and Djimon Hounsou (who nails the role of Caliban against a wall). Russel Brand is the hot new guy right now so everyone is going to want to know how he does in the role of Trinculo. The guy can actually act. What impressed me the most about Russel Brand was the complete respect he showed to his role and the text. He wasn't merely pulling out the "Russel Brand kinda funny British guy who can riff like the Apatow folks can" thing. He came across as an actual classically trained actor and he was a great Trinculo. Huge honorable mention needs to be given to the immensely talented Ben Whinshaw as the eunuch, Ariel. This guy is going to be really big really soon.
What's also impressive about this film is the perfect balance Taymor finds in giving it her signature visually striking flare and letting her actors simply just do their work. Scenes involving Ariel give us our Taymor fix and the special effects work brilliantly. But what we also get are tons of simple scenes where nothing is added and nothing is layered and we are able to relax into a bunch of talented people speaking some of the best words ever written. It's not overly rushed and pumped up like a Baz Luhrmann flick, and it isn't too flat like a lot of Kenneth Branagh's work. It lies right in the middle.
Faults of this movie include some motherfucker named Reeve Carney who must have blown several people to land the role of Ferdinand. Imagine a plank of wood.
Also, I had a bit of a problem with the editing. Scenes didn't often seam together and you got the idea that the cuts they made to the text got them into a bit of trouble when piecing together the scenes. Scenes stood out a bit too much as "scenes" and the movie didn't flow as well as I wanted it to.
The screening audience seemed to like it as I stayed after for a focus group and most everyone agreed they had a great time watching it. I'll be interested to see how the clean it up in the coming months before it is finally released later on this year. If you're a fan of Taymor's best work or enjoy a faithful and entertaining adaptation of Shakespeare, this is right up your alley.
TASTE MY MURDERFIST!!!