Wednesday, December 23, 2015

FF Holiday Post

Macbeth (2015) 
As some of you may be aware, I have a part-time job in retail that has been taking up a lot of time in the past five weeks due to Christmas/holiday time shopping. I worked my last 15 hour day yesterday and I'm still kind of 'hung over tired'. So this blog entry will cover several things to close out updates for the remainder of this week. But first things first, my review of Macbeth. Well, it's not actually a full review but just my quick thoughts about the film.

Firstly, I'm not a gigantic Shakespeare fan. It's not that I don't appreciate his work, I do, and like most people, I have seen adaptations of his work. I've only seen an ancient Ian McKellan version of Macbeth, and I know the cliff notes about Macbeth.  So that's why it was all the more important and interesting for me to watch the Justin Kurzel interpretation of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. In promotional interviews for Macbeth, Michael gave an insight into the mind of Macbeth that I don't think most people made a connection with. Macbeth is a solider warrior who has for years protected Scotland under King Duncan. And like the soldiers of modern times, after so many bloody combat battles - where killing people is normal under the circumstances - Macbeth is a man suffering from extreme Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was an unknown mental condition during the time of this fictional story. And combine that with suffering the lost of his only child and being separated for long spells from his supporting and loving wife, Macbeth is a power hungry man with a seriously undiagnosed mental illness.

From the moment we first set eyes on Macbeth, we see a man who is under constant stress and threat. The visions he sees of prophetic witches and dead people that he betrayed, are so real that it makes you wonder if anyone else around Macbeth see them too. So in a way, you empathize with Macbeth because immediately you see a physically and mentally wounded man who is at the point of no return. With Marion as Lady Macbeth, her desire for her husband to reap the rewards of his brutal devotion to Scotland, leads her to plant the seeds into a diminished mind to have Macbeth murder Duncan in order for him to ascend to the throne, with Lady Macbeth right by his side. As partners in crime, they rise and fall together in the pursuit of power and happiness.

I'll be honest in saying that it was difficult to follow some of the dialogue. It's already a challenge to listen to true Shakespearean conversation, and it's another layer of challenge when it's spoken in whispers and low tones. But, it's Olde English and I do appreciate Kurzel not resorting to subtitles because it would have cheapen the theatrical experience of watching this fine film. But when I watch it again on streaming or the Blu-ray, I will turn on the subtitles for the next viewing, just to make sure I understand 100% what is being said. I won't have to rely on subtitles on subsequent viewings, but I do want to have a better grasp on the context of all that is being spoken, not the 70% of what I kind of gathered while watching in the theater.

Kurzel's Macbeth is a beautiful film, and the harshness of medieval life, and the brutality of it was not spared. Once again, Michael did not falter in this role. I think the man has a knack for playing distressed characters so well, because we can empathize easily with the character and that's a strong indication as to how brilliantly Michael becomes Macbeth and reveal aspects of his character that many interpretations of Macbeth may fall short on. Michael's Macbeth is not just some rambling paranoid fool, he used to be a good man who was a great soldier, but his personal life losses and the accumulating effects of bloody battle fields slowly chipped away at his soul and he became a pawn to madness and a power hungry mourning wife.   Grade: 4 out of 5

The upcoming awards season is shaping up in a way that leads us believe that it's guaranteed that Michael will be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar award. I have long felt that the timing of the releases of both Steve Jobs and Macbeth could only help Michael in standing out in the eyes of voters. Michael did a slam dunk in not just on one performance, but in two heavy dialogue films in this very important prestige film release schedule. Sure, Michael is getting the most award praise for Steve Jobs, but it's his Macbeth that could push him over the edge and give him that very important extra point to help him win the big one. No other actor, No One, has this much 2015 lead actor performance cred as does Michael, and these two films out in theaters right now clearly demonstrate that Michael Fassbender is the most versatile and talented actor working at the moment.

Back in October, Michael's production company, DMC Film sponsored a fundraiser for the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), and they asked fans to help donate to the cause and they were going to match the funds. Well the fundraiser was a success, especially due to a rallying call in the final week of the fundraiser where DMC announced that Michael would sign autograph photos of himself to give to those who donated. So that really motivated some last minute donors to help this worthy cause, and that final push helped the fundraiser meet its goal. As of yesterday, DMC Films announced in an email sent to all the donors, that the signed photos from Michael have all been mailed and it's looking like it'll be a fun Christmas to receive such a cool piece of memorabilia. The majority of donors gave before the signed photo gesture, so it's all the sweeter that in the end, when you give, you will eventually get some good karma back. So, thank you Michael and DMC Film, and Merry Christmas to them, and to all my friends and regular readers of FF!

- Michael is in Killarney with his family for Christmas, and Christine H has shared a new interview with Michael from Lufthansa Inflight magazine.

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