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Episode 101 - Shakespeare in Love (w/ David Ehrlich)

Shakespeare in Love: Joseph Fienne-lly in The Canon?  

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  1. 1. Should Shakespeare in Love be invited into The Canon?



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Indiewire’s Senior Film Critic David Ehrlich joins Amy this week to discuss the 1998 Best Picture winner, “Shakespeare in Love.” David points to the film’s ability to straddle the line between fantasy and reality, the nuanced appearances by Colin Firth and Ben Affleck, and the expressed theme of “performative love.” Then, Amy and David figure out what Shakespeare and BuzzFeed have in common.

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I had to vote yes on this one hearing them discuss it.

 

Not having seen this since the theatrical release, I was reminded what a tight, clever, well acted movie it is. On some level wanting to include it in the Canon is a slight corrective vote, if only because there are a lot of movies in there because they’re super fun, but those tend to genre fare (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Re-Animator as much as the next guy). But yeah, this one is super charming and my yes vote is mostly without regret.

 

Two side notes:

 

- How did they not mention Geoffrey Rush’s totally ridiculous (and very entertaining) scenery shewing turn? He we SO broad, but killed it.

 

- Being dismissed next to Private Ryan always bugged me as, in a LOT of ways, this is actually a better constructed movie and just as impressive a feat (if not as loud about how it goes about it). It feels to me like people are snowed by the incredible opening sequence and forget some of the other glaring issues; i.e. the god awful framing narrative, clichéd characters (southern crack shot anyone? Gruff captain with a heart of gold, so on) and the jaw droppingly misjudged/cruel speech that Matt Damon gives about the ugly girl his brother gave him as a “present”. Ewwwwwwww.

Edited by tabletopjoe
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- Being dismissed next to Private Ryan always bugged me as, in a LOT of ways, this is actually a better constructed movie and just as impressive a feat (if not as loud about how it goes about it). It feels to me like people are snowed by the incredible opening sequence and forget some of the other glaring issues; i.e. the god awful framing narrative, clichéd characters (southern crack shot anyone? Gruff captain with a heart of gold, so on) and the jaw droppingly misjudged/cruel speech that Matt Damon gives about the ugly girl his brother gave him as a “present”. Ewwwwwwww.

 

SPR has the advantage of Spielberg, meaning that as many issues as the script may have, they are covered up by bravura filmmaking left and right.

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I have no idea how this Easter egg hunt isn't every bit as flagrant as La La Land. Shakespeare in Love plays like really lazy medieval fan fiction. The production design is outstanding, and the performances are strong, but the direction is so flat and lazy, and the writing is so bad. By no means is there anything wrong with accessible, middlebrow filmmaking. Shakespeare in Love just isn't good.

 

Easy NO.

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I find Shakespeare in Love to be far too slight to merit inclusion in The Canon. I'm not saying that pure entertainment can't be included, but I don't particularly think that this is good enough as a romantic comedy or historical drama to be much more than the sum of its parts. I'm also not too big on movies in which the entertainment industry pats itself on the back.

 

On a semi-related note, has anyone ever pitched Anne Hathway on starring as Anne Hathaway in a similar historical romantic dramedy that tells the story of how she and Shakespeare got together?

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I voted yes. I knew I would vote yes as soon as it was announced. I can't even pretend to be unbiased about this film, I love Shakespeare in Love. Ben Affleck in probably his best performance. Gwyneth Paltrow's basically coming out as an actor. Geoffrey Rush doing his scene stealingest best. Tom Wilkinson as this sort of medieval Renaissance British gangster. Joseph Fiennes as every writer's dream while also inhabiting their greatest fears and insecurities. Judi Dench COMMANDING every scene she's in. Colin Firth as this awesome sleazy Billy Zane level villain-COLIN FIRTH! Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's brilliant script that pays homage to the truth of Shakespeare while at the same time poking fun at it (in one scene, when Marlowe helps rewrite Will's script does more then Anonymous did in planting the seeds of doubt about how much Shakespeare wrote) and on a third level poking fun at modern Hollywood.

 

As a young theater major who knew would never be a professional actor and so was beginning to dabble into playwrighting, who then didn't pick it up seriously until 10 years later, this movie spoke to me at the time. Revisiting it as a struggling, "unsuccessful" (depending on how you define success) playwright, it still holds up for me.

 

Easy yes.

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Would have loved to see a Shakespeare In Love / A Knight's Tale showdown. And I would have voted for A Knight's Tale, which does the whole anachronistic history thing but has a lot more fun with it.

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I vote yes. It's the closest thing the world will ever get to a William Shakespeare/Ben Affleck collaboration.

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I am a soft no on this one. I won't argue with anyone defending the smart script, or its merits compared with Saving Private Ryan, which, I agree, has got some pretty big issues after the beach sequence. What didn't work for me is the overall direction, some of the pacing and the music. Great discussion, by the way.

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I have no idea how this Easter egg hunt isn't every bit as flagrant as La La Land. Shakespeare in Love plays like really lazy medieval fan fiction. The production design is outstanding, and the performances are strong, but the direction is so flat and lazy, and the writing is so bad. By no means is there anything wrong with accessible, middlebrow filmmaking. Shakespeare in Love just isn't good.

 

Easy NO.

"Middlebrow" is just what I thought. Not so dumb that Anthony Jeselnik can mock them for being unfamiliar with Shakespeare, but dropping lots of well known lines & titles so such people can feel smart for recognizing them.

 

Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's brilliant script that pays homage to the truth of Shakespeare while at the same time poking fun at it (in one scene, when Marlowe helps rewrite Will's script does more then Anonymous did in planting the seeds of doubt about how much Shakespeare wrote) and on a third level poking fun at modern Hollywood.

I was disappointed in part because Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead was a fantastic "fan fiction" which also explored a lot of more post-modern ideas in an entertaining way. And it's not just Marlowe in this film: the religious fuddy-duddy says the Rose theater "by any other name" would be just as foul. Shakespeare seems to take names & ideas from a number of characters.

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Passionate avowals of true love, turning your loved one into a muse (and not treating them as a person) and falling in love at first sight work in Romeo & Juliet, because the protagonists are dumb children who don't know anything about mature relationships. When it's Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow acting that way, it just comes across as annoying, even if it's supposed to be a comment on that falseness.

 

On a whole, this movie was like eating a peanut butter sandwich. It's not terrible, but there are so many better sandwiches out there.

 

No.

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I enjoyed the movie, but I have to say no as it's just missing something to make it really really stand out as something special. Gwyneth Paltrow was really good, Judi Dench was fantastic, and I love the shit out of both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, but Joseph Fiennes failed to impress. I liked all the little Shakespeare references and the double entendres, but there were a lot of moments of pretty spotty writing as well. I didn't like the little "the show must go on" line or Judi Dench's "Don't wear it out" thing (if that was meant to be a version of "That's my name, don't wear it out"). It's also maybe too long; Lord Wessex finding out about the affair felt like the climax but the movie still had about 40 minutes left from there.

 

None of this means the movie is bad, but I don't think any of it was spectacular enough to overcome those. I still laughed at a good number of moments in the film (Tom Wilkinson loving being an actor I thought was great), and Gwyneth Paltrow managed to make the romance pretty endearing by herself, but I still have to say no.

 

Please let this be an end to the La La Land bashing, at least for a while. It's getting old.

 

EDIT: Accidental early submission

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I was disappointed in part because Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead was a fantastic "fan fiction" which also explored a lot of more post-modern ideas in an entertaining way. And it's not just Marlowe in this film: the religious fuddy-duddy says the Rose theater "by any other name" would be just as foul. Shakespeare seems to take names & ideas from a number of characters.

 

Speaking again as a playwright thats what we (or at least I do) nuggets of ideas here and a turn of a phrase tjere and a name over there. Just today i finished up a writing project and sent it off to someone. He called me with we talked out some ideas, like Marlowe and Ned both do with Will. It all just really rings true to me.

 

I know this is probably a losing battle. SiL is the film that beat SPR. It has a rep for being overally sweet and sentimental. It isnt as smart as Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead, but it just works for me.

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Not good enough. Not important enough. Not bad, but not canon.

 

I'm leaning this way too, but might give the movie another watch this week to see how it plays (it's on Netflix!).

 

The movie doesn't deserve the slagging it gets, but I'm not sure it's great or important enough to be Canon.

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It's a no simply because it has Gwyneth Paltrow (who can't act) and Ben Affleck (who doesn't belong anywhere near W.S.).

 

While it's an amusing story and does have some good moments, it just doesn't hold up over the years.

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Look it's a very well crafted movie, but it's too fluffy for me to bother with it in the canon. I never had any strong emotions watching this, just sort of mildly entertained, which is less than I can say about La La Land (which I liked).

 

Amy should start a La La Land podcast already. Fans of the movie will download it, and then she can shame them for an hour. Good times.

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This felt like a great conversation that left me thinking Shakespeare in Love might be a good movie. But I remain unconvinced that it's Canon material. It really feels like another "Oh I know that reference" movie, and not in any exceedingly clever way. I don't find SiL great or important in any particular way which is the minimum a Canon movie should be, in my opinion. I've always been a small Canon kind of person.

 

So a hard no for me.

 

This all made me excited for the idea of more actual Shakespeare in the future though. Polanski's MacBeth vs Throne of Blood would be a dream episode.

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This all made me excited for the idea of more actual Shakespeare in the future though. Polanski's MacBeth vs Throne of Blood would be a dream episode.

 

We could vote on all the Hamlets!

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We could vote on all the Hamlets!

 

There are only two Hamlets that matter, Branaugh's and Oliver's

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This is an easy and hard NO. Some have mentioned this reads as fan fiction, and I couldn't agree more. I was rolling my eyes throughout. Sure, the production and costume design is exquisite, but everything else is incredibly cornball. This is a high school theater geek's idea that never should have seen the light of day.

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It's a perfectly fine film, just not quite sold that it needs to be in the Canon. I literally hadn't thought of it once since I first saw it. Outside of Oscar trivia, no one talks about it (aside from David Erlich apparently)... and for a movie whose greatest strength is that it's a "middlebrow crowd pleaser", that's bad. Regardless of what you think of them, American Beauty, Forrest Gump, and The Shawshank Redemption at least make more sense for inclusion. Shakespeare in Love doesn't. I voted no.

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There are only two Hamlets that matter, Branaugh's and Oliver's

 

Sadness for Mel Gibson and Ethan Hawke.

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