Thanks to Netflix and all the other streaming services out there, I don’t buy many DVDs these days. But sometimes, something comes out that I just have to get my own physical copy of. In this case, it was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and MacBeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. I do love Shakespeare, and finding a well-done movie or theatrical production will make my month.
I wasn’t really looking forward to the premier of The Force Awakens last fall, but I ended up seeing it twice in the theater. It was great! Funny when it needed to be, with sidekicks that didn’t suck, and the action sequences were propelled by the story instead of feeling like ads for video games (I’m looking at you, overly long podracing scene).
It also provided something that is still too rare in science fiction- a female hero who doesn’t need to be rescued. As much as I adored Princess Leia as a kid, there came a point where she was captured and needed Luke’s intervention to get away from Jabba. While Rey gets herself into some predicaments, she gets herself back out of them again, no external help required. As a pop culture hero, Rey is definitely a character I won’t mind introducing to my nieces.
The new version of MacBeth, with Michael Fassbender as MacBeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady MacBeth is, I think, the most stripped down Shakespearean play I’ve ever seen on the screen, and it’s fantastic. It was filmed in Scotland and England, and uses the landscape and ever-present mists to its advantage, especially when it comes to the witches, who appear and disappear in the fog like the spirits they speak for. Cotillard’s Lady MacBeth is the driving force for the first part of the story, egging MacBeth on to commit terrible deeds in the name of ambition until he commits and act so terrible she’s ultimately overwhelmed by guilt, while Fassbender’s MacBeth becomes so obssessed with protecting his ill-gotten throne that he sets up his own downfall.
Everything about this production is gorgeous- the score, the costuming, the cinematography- and I love it. I just wish I could have seen it on the big screen, but it either didn’t come here, or I straight up missed it.
My public library system is wonderful in many ways, and one of those ways involves their DVD selection. They have a lot of classics, and a lot of new movies, as well. Since I managed to miss seeing The Martian when it was in theaters last year, I requested a copy from the library, and watched it last night. It was great! It’s a science fiction movie with profound consequences for the characters themselves, and for the space program in general, but it doesn’t take itself so dreadfully seriously that it collapses under its own weight. It’s funny. It’s about using science and problem solving to save yourself and save your friends. And it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen recently.