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It's smart and funny and of course, funnier if you know
Macbeth in Manhattan
Matinee with snacks
What is more fun than a Hollywood adaptation of a Shakespeare play? A Hollywood interpretation of the process of a stage production of a Shakespeare play! In the spirit of the extremely entertaining A Midwinter's Tale comes Macbeth in Manhattan. I myself, despite my high movie-going quotient, actually do manage to work in theatre now and again, and I am often highly critical of the depictions of such goings-on. My love for Waiting for Guffman is only quelled by what an utterly unrealistic production Red, White, and Blaine is, particularly in the center of such a clever mockumentary. A Midwinter's Tale is shot filmically, i.e. not pretending to be a documentary, and such it is with Macbeth in Manhattan. A New York theatre group is doing the famous 400 year old tragedy, and naturally, mayhem ensues. As Philip Henslowe so wisely says in Shakespeare in Love, theatre is a lot of "insurmountable obstacles" all heading toward "imminent disaster." Macbeth does both Henslowe and its own infamous legacy proud. A surprising ignorance of the stigma attached to Macbeth prevails among the characters cast in it - they speak the dreaded name of the Scottish play with reckless abandon. For those unfamiliar with the cursed name, it is covered well for you "real people." The best and cleverest part about the screenplay is how the production storyline ultimately mirrors the classic storyline of the play. A brilliant (and sexy) character known only as the Chorus fills in the Bard's plot for us in a prosaic "meanwhile back at the ranch" sort of delivery, while serving as the backstage crew and wise eye that sees all (like all good crew should be doing anyway). He runs the character gamut subtly as his various backstage tasks require him to be different designers and workers. The leads are all excellent - ER's Gloria Reuben is the girlfriend of David Lansbury, and they are up for the Macbeths - but a terrible, awful soap actor intervenes in the form of Nick Gregory - Gregory's performance as William is as brilliant as William's performance of Macbeth is awful. It's really very excellent. Anyone (especially us ladies) who have worked on a play have known a William like him, probably even fallen for his line once or twice - but it's a clever intertwining of inspired theatrical acting and witty screenwriting that makes Macbeth in Manhattan an utter hoot. Bringing all these folks together is the perfect incarnation of a director who is...not very good, John Glover. Let me just say that the moment he turns away from the rehearsal of the sword fight between Macduff and Macbeth is pure genius. My brief literature which I am consulting to make sure I have everyone's names right mentions that this movie was shot on a "shockingly small budget - " I don't know what it was but it has got to have been less than a million dollars (cheaper than an episode of ER and a full 97 minutes too). If a major studio didn't catch this at SXSW and see this as a clever way to ride the Shakespeare craze (10 Things I Hate About You, O, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and oh, yeah, what's that movie that won Best Picture?) for zero down and zero payments for 6 months, well, they are stupid. It's smart and funny and of course, funnier if you know the source material but I didn't really and I still had a great time.
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