Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Joe McBeth is a hard-working but unambitious doofus who toils at a hamburger stand alongside his wife Pat, who has a significant edge in the brains department. Pat is convinced she could do a lot better with the place than their boss Norm Duncan is doing, so she works up a plan to usurp Norm, convincing Mac to rob the restaurant's safe and then murder Norm, using the robbery as a way of throwing the police off their trail. Though two stoners and a would-be fortune teller warn Mac that bad luck awaits him, he gathers his courage and goes through with his wife's scheme. At first, things seem to have gone just as Pat hoped, and after Norm's sons sell the restaurant to the McBeths (they pay for it with the money they stole from Norm), business takes off. But vegetarian police detective McDuff is convinced there's foul play at the new center of the fast food universe, and when the McBeths fear that fry cook Banco knows more than he's letting on, Mac takes charge in the plotting department ... Written by
There are some that say if Shakespeare lived today he'd be a screenwriter. I don't know if that would be true, but it would be nice to speculate about it. Some proof that this might be possible comes from viewing actor/ first time writer director Billy Morrissette's (Pump up the volume) SCOTLAND, PA, a modern day reworking of MacBeth.
Set in the mid seventies SCOTLAND, PA stars James LeGros (Psycho) as Joe MacBeth a cook at Duncan's café. He the kind of guy with lots of ideas, but absolutely no drive and so people walk all over him. So when his boss Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn, Far From Heaven) uses some of them while promoting his useless son Malcolm, his wife Pat(Maura Tierney, Primary Colors), a beautiful and driven hatch's a plan. She and Mac' are going to kill Duncan (who by the way made his fortune in Donuts (yes it's corny but I found it kind of funny)) and open up MacBeth's the first fast food drive-thru restaurant in Scotland, PA.
SCOTLAND, PA plays fast and loose with it's source material and has some really great ideas jammed packed in it. It's always fun to reinterpret Shakespeare, because his works are timeless. You can set them in the 18th century or a hundred years in the future and the characters are still real and powerful.
Maura Tierney's Lady MacBeth is phenomenal. It is a performance full of subtle nuance; of course she hatches the plan and is able to manipulate MacBeth. But there is also vulnerability about her. I wonder if she were my wife would I not follow? I'd probably do anything she said. She kind of reminds me of my fiancé, in whom I would probably kill for. That's the mark of a great femme fatale. Her performance is engaging and wonderful, and one of the best I've seen in a long time.
It's the other character's that seem understated and dull. No other performance really sticks out until Christopher Walken show's up. He portrays Lieutenant McDuff, the detective sent out to figure out just who killed Duncan. He plays the part with that certain gusto that only Walken could bring to the role. He's plays parts like these so well, he's always walking that thin line between quirky and bored and you can't help but be enchanted by him. He's really amazing.
I also enjoyed Amy Smart (Outside Providence), Andy Dick (Dude, Where's My Car?) and Timothy Speed' Levitch (The Crusie) as the three witches. They offer the comic relief that some points of the movie desperately needed. Sure they were a little corny and maybe a bit to zany for the film, but since the movie has a certain silly tone, it was okay with me.
First time director and writer Billy Morrissette will always hold that special place in my heart at the tough guy in Pump up the Volume. He is defiantly a fun director who has a nice visual sense. I liked how the film may have been set in the 70's and yet also felt like it could have been happening in present day. Many lesser films would have felt like the characters were at a 70's party and not like real people living at the time.
I also liked the look of the press conference as they drove in the convertible. It's was just a beautiful sequence right before the dam breaks. It pretty powerful stuff.
Scotland PA is not a brilliant reworking of the MacBeth story, but it's fun, vibrant, and Tierney and Walken are worth and hour and forty minutes. I only wish the rest of of the cast were up to snuff. All in all I recommend this movie.
SCOTLAND PA is well worth a visit.
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