Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A new look for Shakespeare?

I’m going to start by saying that I have yet to see any adaptation of Macbeth, but I hear that it is a savagely good story and so I’m really anxious to get my hands on something, anything, at this point.  Any suggestions as to which version to check out first would be appreciated.  That out of the way, I’m sure most of you have heard this by now, but new casting news has broken and I’m actually excited about this even more.

First off, I’m talking about the latest adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Helmed by director Justin Kurzel, it was announced yesterday that Michael Fassbender was snagging the lead role.  Now we all know that I’m a BIG fan of Fassbender’s.  He’s probably the best actor of his generation, and despite my absolute allegiance to Russell Crowe, he may be the most consistent actor working today (bring me back to the 90’s Crowe, please!).  Kurzel has directed ONE film, last year’s devilishly intense ‘The Snowtown Murders’ and with that debut film he stole my undivided attention.  He’s a force behind the camera, and has already snagged Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen for his next film, ‘Our Kind of Traitor’, which is adapted from John le Carre’s novel.  Yes, it looks like he’s carving out a pretty good resume right off the bat, and it’s well deserved!

Now all day yesterday and today I’ve been following a certain online debate as to who the lead actress was going to be in this version of Macbeth, and the consensus seemed to assume it would be either Kate Winslet, Jessica Chastain or Nicole Kidman.  Now it appears we’re getting Oscar winner Natalie Portman!  I may not be a fan of her Oscar winning performance, and I’ve grown a tad underwhelmed by her career as of late, but there was a time when Portman excited me.  I still remember her early aughts favorably, especially her work in ‘Closer’ and ‘Cold Mountain’.  Now, the accent work on her behalf has been sketchy in the past, but I’m excited to see her delve into something with real meat and give us something ferocious. 

Yes, I really wanted Winslet or Kelly Macdonald to get the part, but I really okay with this news.

Still, my favorite part of this whole thing has less to do with the actors involved (although Fassbender’s name should and could be attached to everything) but more to do with the director himself.  I have a lot of faith and expectations for Kurzel.  He has a distinct point of view, which was evident with his first film, and he works wonderfully with his actors.  What he pulled out of Daniel Henshall last year is still my favorite thing about the movies last year.  This gives me hope that this won’t be another ‘by the numbers’ take on Shakespeare.  We have too many of those.  It is a rare thing to see a visionary filmmaker try his hand at something different.  Maybe that is a good thing.  If every adaptation were as inspired as Baz’s 1996 masterpiece ‘Romeo + Juliet’ then they wouldn’t be as special.  Still, we are in need of a revitalized take on Shakespeare, and I have the highest of hopes that Kurzel will deliver.

How does this news strike you?


  1. I wasn't a big fan of The Snowtown Murders, but this looks intriguing. Fassbender is great news, and I'm a Portman fan. While I'd give her wins for Closer and Black Swan, I think her best performance is still Alice in Closer. She nailed that role. I hope she gets back to those kind of performances.

    1. Yeah, I'm hopeful, although the more I think about this casting the more I wish they had gone with someone like Carey Mulligan :-P