Film Review: Hamlet (dir by Michael Almereyda)


What if Hamlet was a hipster douchebag?

That appears to be the question at the heart of the 2000 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s most famous play.  In this adaptation, a young Ethan Hawke plays a Hamlet who is no longer a melancholy prince but who is instead a film student with a petulant attitude.

As you probably already guessed, this is one of those modern day adaptations of Shakespeare.  Denmark is now a Manhattan-based corporation.  Elsinore is a hotel.  Hamlet ponders life while wandering around a Blockbuster and, at one point, the ghost of his father stands in front of a Pepsi machine.  While Shakespeare’s dialogue remains unchanged, everyone delivers their lives while wearing modern clothing.  It’s one of those things that would seem rather brave and experimental if not for the fact that modern day versions of Shakespeare have gone from being daring to being a cliché.

At the film’s start, the former CEO of the Denmark Corporation has mysteriously died and his brother, Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan), has not only taken over the company but he’s also married the widow, Gertrude (Diane Venora).  Hamlet comes home from film school, convinced that there has been a murder and his suspicions are eventually confirmed by the ghost of his father (Sam Shepard).  Meanwhile, poor Ophelia (Julia Stiles) takes pictures of flowers while her brother, Laertes (Liev Schreiber), glowers in the background.  Polonius (Bill Murray) offers up pointless advice while Fortinbras (Casey Affleck) is reimagined as a corporate investor and Rosencrantz (Steve Zahn) wears a hockey jersey.  Hamlet spends a lot of time filming himself talking and the Mousetrap is no longer a player but instead an incredibly over-the-top short film that will probably remind you of the killer video from The Ring.

I guess a huge part of this film’s appeal was meant to be that it featured a lot of people who you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being Shakespearean actors. Some of them did a surprisingly good job.  For instance, Kyle MacLachlan was wonderully villainous as Claudius and Steve Zahn was the perfect Rosencrantz.  Others, like Diane Venora and Liev Schreiber, were adequate without being particularly interesting.  But then you get to Bill Murray as Polonius and you start to realize that quirkiness can only take things so far.  Murray does a pretty good job handling Shakespeare’s dialogue but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s totally miscast as the misguided and foolish Polonius.  One could easily imagine Murray in the role of Osiric.  Though it may initially seem a stretch, one could even imagine him playing Claudius.  But he’s simply not right for the role of Polonius.  Murray’s screen presence is just too naturally snarky for him to be convincing as a character who alternates between being a “tedious, old fool” and an obsequious ass kisser.

Considering that he spends a large deal of the movie wearing a snow cap while wandering around downtown Manhattan, Ethan Hawke does a surprisingly good job as Hamlet.  Or, I should say, he does a good job as this film’s version of Hamlet.  Here, Hamlet is neither the indecisive avenger nor the Oedipal madman of previous adaptations.  Instead, he’s portrayed as being rather petulant and self-absorbed, which doesn’t necessarily go against anything that one might find within Shakespeare’s original text.  Hawke’s not necessarily a likable Hamlet but his interpretation is still a credible one.

At one point, while Hamlet thinks about revenge, we see that he’s watching Laurence Olivier’s version of Hamlet on television.  There’s Olivier talking to Yorick’s skull while Hawke watches.  It’s a scene that is somehow both annoying and amusing at the same time.  On the one hand, it feels rather cutesy and more than a little pretentious.  At the same time, it’s so over-the-top in its pretension that you can’t help but kind of smile at the sight of it.  To me, that scene epitomizes the film as a whole.  It’s incredibly silly but it’s so unapologetic that it’s easy to forgive.

I Watched The Phenom


The Phenom is a movie that really took me by surprise.

It’s about a pitcher named Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons), a kid just out of high school who has a 100 mile fastball and a big future in major league baseball.  However, after a promising start, Hopper is struggling.  He has control issues.  He’s throwing wild pitches.  He’s losing games.  The team finally sends Hopper to see Dr. Mobley (Paul Giamatti), a sports psychologist who say that he can help Hopper regain his focus.

Hopper has a lot to deal with.  He’s still just a teenager but he feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He promised his mom that he’d buy her a new house and, at the same time, the press is constantly hounding him and demanding that he give them a good quote every time that he loses a game.  Meanwhile, Hopper’s father (Ethan Hawke), who has always put tremendous pressure on his son, is failed ball player himself and a drug dealer.  Hopper finds himself torn between two philosophies, his father’s belief that winning is the only thing that matter and Dr. Mobley’s more gentle approach to the game.  The problem is that, with everyone wanting someone from him, Hopper doesn’t know who he can trust.

The Phenom is a baseball movie and the main character is a pitcher but hardly any of the action takes place on the mound.  Instead, most of the movie takes place in either Dr. Mobley’s office or in Hopper’s head.  The Phenom does a good job of showing the type of daily pressure that Hopper is living under.  All of his life, everyone has told Hopper that he has a special gift and now, he’s so scared of not living up to his potential that he can’t get the ball across the plate.  At the same time, the film is also critical about the the emphasis that society puts on celebrities and professional athletes.  While Hopper goes into the major leagues straight out of high school, his valedictorian girlfriend struggles to pay for college.  Because Hopper can throw a fastball, no one has ever cared about whether or not he actually got an education.  But what’s going to become of Hopper and all the professional athletes like him when they can no longer play the game?  Hopper is a kid who was always told that he would never have to grow up and now, he’s expected to make adult decisions about the rest of his life.

Johnny Simmons does a really good job playing Hopper and the film really makes you think about the pressure that society puts on professional athletes to constantly win.  Most people can get away with having a bad day but, if a pitcher or a quarterback does it, the whole world wants their head.  The next time I want to yell at whoever’s pitching for the Rangers, I’m going to remember Hopper and this movie.

The Phenom was directed and written by Noah Buschel and it is currently streaming on Netflix.

6 Actors Who Will Soon Hopefully Win Their First Oscar


Remember how, an hour ago, I listed 6 actresses who I hope will soon get the role for which they’ll win their first Oscar?

Well, now it’s time to look at 6 actors for whom I have the same hope.  Some of the actors listed below have been nominated in the past.  Some of them have not.  Some of them will probably win an Oscar at some point in their career.  And some of them, sadly, probably will not.

However, what all six of them have in common is that all six of them deserve at least one more opportunity to take home a gold statuette.

Ethan Hawke

I’m still stunned by the fact that Ethan Hawke wasn’t, at the very least, nominated for his performance in First Reformed.  It was certainly one of the best performance of the year and probably one of the best of his career.  Ethan Hawke has been nominated a total of four times (twice for supporting actor and twice for adapted screenplay) but has yet to win.  Hopefully, that will someday change for both him and his frequent director, Richard Linklater.

Jake Gyllenhaal

How the Hell was Jake Gyllenhaal not nominated for Nightcrawler?  Ever since Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal has been one of the most enjoyably unpredictable actors around.  He’s even managed to become a star even though it’s obvious that the mainstream film industry has no idea what to do with his eccentric persona.  While Gyllenhaal can occasionally be miscast (as evidenced by films like Demolition and Love and Other Drugs), both Nightcrawler and Stronger showed just how special an actor Gyllenhaal can be.

Ryan Renolds

The next time you find yourself enjoying an R-rated comic book movie that features nudity, profanity, and grotesque ultra-violence, you better take a few minutes to thank Ryan Reynolds.  Reynolds will probably never win an Oscar for playing Deadpool but just imagine the acceptance speech he would give if he did.

Hugh Jackman

Amazingly, the multi-talented Hugh Jackman has only one nomination, for his performance in Les Miserables.  He probably deserved a nomination for his performance in Logan, though that film has the misfortune to be released before Black Panther legitimized the idea of a comic book film as a genuine Oscar contender.  Jackman seems like he’s destined to win an Oscar someday.  Hopefully, in the future, he’ll chose better films than The Front Runner.

Kyle Chandler

Despite appearing in several best picture nominees and giving an award-worthy performance in The Spectacular Now, Kyle Chandler has never received an Oscar nomination.  It’s hard not to feel that the right role is somewhere out there, waiting for him.  Someday, someone will write the perfect script about a small-town sheriff solving the biggest case of his career and the next thing you know, Kyle Chandler will be accepting his first Oscar.

Giovanni Lombardo Radice

Someday, someone is going to write a great role for the greatest living Italian horror actor, Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

What If Lisa Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2018 Edition


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations. Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated. The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are starred and listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

Best Picture

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blindspotting

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Leave No Trace

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

 

Best Director

*Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade

The Coen Brothers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Debra Granik for Leave No Trace

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind

 

Best Actor

John Cho in Searching

Jason Clarke in Chappaquiddick

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Daveed Diggs in Blindspotting

*Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

 

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

*Regina Hall in Support the Girls

Anna Kendrick in A Simple Favor

Thomason McKenzie in Leave No Trace

 

Best Supporting Actor

Peter Bogdonavich in The Other Side of the Wind

*Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Josh Hamilton in Eighth Grade

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Michael Palin in The Death of Stalin

 

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

*Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Zoe Kazan in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blake Lively in A Simple Favor

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

Best Voice Over or Motion-Capture Performance

*Josh Brolin in Avengers: Infinity War

Jake Johnson in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Holly Hunter in The Incredibles 2

Shamiek Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

John C. Reilly in Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2

 

Best Original Screenplay

Blindspotting

The Death of Stalin

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Game Night

Support the Girls

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

If Beale Street Could Talk

Leave No Trace

*A Simple Favor

A Star is Born

 

Best Animated Feature

Early Man

Have A Nice Day

The Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Ralph Breaks the Internet

*Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Documentary Feature

Avicii: True Stories

Recovery Boys

Shirkers

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

*Three Identical Strangers

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Battle

Gun City

Happy as Lazzaro

Have A Nice Day

The Most Assassinated Woman In The World

*Roma

 

Best Casting

Blindspotting

Eighth Grade

Mandy

Mid90s

Roma

*Support the Girls

 

Best Cinematography

Aquaman

Avengers: Infinity Wars

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

*Mandy

Roma

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

*Black Panther

The Favourite

Lizzie

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

 

Best Film Editing

Avengers: Infinity Wars

Eighth Grade

Mission Impossible: Fallout

*The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

Searching

Best Makeup and Hair Styling

*The Favourite

Lizzie

Mandy

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

Best Original Score

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Death of Stalin

If Beale Street Could Talk

*Mandy

The Other Side of the Wind

Best Original Song

*“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“Limitless” from Second Act

“I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star is Born

“Is that Alright” from A Star is Born

“Shallow” from A Star is Born

 

Best Overall Use of Music

Bohemian Rhapsody

Eighth Grade

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Mid90s

*A Star is Born

Three Identical Strangers

 

Best Production Design

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

The Commuter

*The Favourite

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Quiet Place

Best Sound Editing

Annihilation

*Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

12 Strong

Best Sound Mixing

Annihilation

Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

*A Star is Born

Best Stuntwork

Avengers: Infinity War

Beirut

Black Panther

*Mission Impossible: Fallout

12 Strong

Upgrade

Best Visual Effects

Annihilation

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Aquaman

*Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

First Man

Films Listed By Number of Nominations:

11 Nominations – Avengers: Infinity War

9 Nominations – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Favourite, Roma

8 Nominations – Eighth Grade, A Star is Born

7 Nominations – Black Panther, The Other Side of the Wind

6 Nominations – A Simple Favor

5 Nominations – Leave No Trace, Support the Girls

4 Nominations – Blindspotting, Mandy, Mission Impossible: Fallout

3 Nominations – Annihilation, The Death of Stalin, Mary Queen of Scots, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

2 Nominations – Aquaman, Have A Nice Day, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Incredibles 2, Lizzie, Mid90s, A Quiet Place, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Searching, Three Identical Strangers, 12 Strong

1 Nomination – Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avicii: True Stories, Battle, Beirut, Bohemian Rhapsody, Chappaquiddick, The Commuter, Early Man, First Man, First Reformed, Game Night, Gun City, Happy as Lazzaro, Isle of Dogs, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, The Most Assassinated Woman In The World, Paddington 2, Recovery Boys, Second Act, Shirkers, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Upgrade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, You Were Never Really Here

Films Listed By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Eighth Grade, The Favourite

2 Oscars – Mandy, A Star is Born, Support the Girls

1 Oscar – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, First Reformed, Leave No Trace, Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Other Side of the Wind, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Three Identical Strangers

As for the real nominations, they’ll be announced on Tuesday morning!

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December


Well, it’s that time of the month!

It’s time for me to post my Oscar predictions.  With precursor season in full swing, the Oscar picture has become a lot clearer.

If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the year, be sure to check out my predictions of January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

Also, keep in mind — these are not necessarily my picks for the best of the year.  I’ll be posting those during the second week of January.  Instead, these predictions are based on the precursor awards and just my own guesses based on the Academy’s past picks.

Best Picture

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

The Favourite

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

Best Director

Ryan Coogler for Black Panther

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Adam McKay for Vice

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Vice

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams in Vice

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Thomasin McKenzie in Leave No Trace

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

The Phoenix Critics Circle Lifts The Favourite Out Of The Ashes


On Sunday, the Phoenix Critics Circle announced their picks for the best of 2018 and The Favourite was their favorite!

Click here for a full list of nominees and check out the winners below!

BEST PICTURE
The Favourite

BEST COMEDY FILM
Eighth Grade

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM
Annihilation

BEST HORROR FILM
Hereditary

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Roma

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

BEST MOVIE BASED ON A COMIC BOOK OR GRAPHIC NOVEL
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

BEST ACTOR
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

BEST ACTRESS
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

BEST SCREENPLAY
Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite

BEST SCORE
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Swings Into The Hearts of the Utah Film Critics!


On Sunday, the Utah Film Critics reminded me why I love awards season.

After a few weeks of the same three or four films winning award after award, the Utah Film Critics decided to go against the conventional wisdom and, as best picture of 2018, they selected the animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!

Obviously, the Utah Film Critics aren’t as influential as the National Board of Review or the Golden Globes or even the Critics Choice Awards.  If I had to choose between the two, I’d say that Black Panther has a far better chance of becoming the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture.  Still, it’s always fun to play what if.

(Also, Utah deserves credit for giving acting awards to both Elsie Fisher and Hugh Grant.)

Anyway, here are all the winners out of Utah!

Best Picture: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (RU: Roma)

Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (RU: none)

Best Documentary Feature: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (RU: Minding the Gap)

Best Non-English Language Feature: Roma (RU: Burning)

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma (RU: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther)

Best Actor: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (RU: Christian Bale, Vice)

Best Actress: Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (RU: Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born)

Best Supporting Actor (tie): Hugh Grant, Paddington 2 and Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give

Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite (RU: Elizabeth Debicki, Widows)

Best Original Screenplay: Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade (RU: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (RU: Audrey Wells, The Hate U Give)

Best Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma (RU: Rob Hardy, Annihilation)

Best Original Score: Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury, Annihilation (RU: Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk)