Sometimes a movie feels less like a cohesive work to be taken on its own merit than something to be picked apart. As a version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest it’s pretty okay, not as consistent or intelligible as the version we saw at the fountain in Piedmont Park, but more intelligible than Prospero’s Books was on VHS. Helen Mirren is wonderful as Prospera, the set design is marvelous and the rest is hit or miss. Too much flailing about before green screens, and I could’ve done without the song. Personnel in decreasing order of goodness:

– Tom Conti as the Richard Jenkins-looking companion of the king

– Alan Cumming and Chris Cooper (I kept thinking he was Sean Bean or some other lord of the rings) as the king’s men, incompetently plotting against him.

– Alfred Molina as the king’s drunken butler

– Ben Whishaw as the sprite Ariel

– Djimon “Digimon” Hounsou as the monster Caliban

– David Strathairn as Shipwrecked King Alonso

– Felicity Jones and Reeve Carney as the Young Lovers (the king’s son and Prospera’s daughter)

– the extras in the shipwreck scene

– Russell Brand as Molina’s companion – he was tolerable for a long time, longer than one would expect, but finally doesn’t belong in this movie or anywhere else.

Lavishly-staged theater performance reworked for the cinema, the cameras onstage with the actors. Beautiful, worth the extra cost of whatever HD special-event screening this was. My favorite Puck (Kathryn Hunter, a countess in one of my favorite scenes of Orlando, which we just happily rewatched in HD), but Katy prefers Stanley Tucci. Duke Theseus was apparently not played by Matt Berry of Darkplace, though it looked like him. Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (Argo, Wolf of Wall Street).


We shot four performances live, with four cameras in different locations surrounding the play, and then for four days we could go onstage and do more single-camera setups: hand-held, Steadicam. The audience was invited; they were watching a movie being made, and that’s where we could get intimate.

Wow, can’t believe I almost skipped this. A great movie, worth it just for the songs and the underwater photography. “Come Together”, “Because”, “I Want You”, “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and especially “Strawberry Fields Forever” were visual treats. The choreography is good without being dancey, and the look of the film (for the first half, anyway) is realistic, no digital nonsense flying about.

Jim “Ewan McGregor” Sturgess is Jude, Joe “The Ruins” Anderson is his new buddy Max when he comes to America, and Evan “Rachel” Wood is Lucy, Max’s sister/Jude’s love interest. They room with a Joplinesque singer, a Hendrixish guitarist and the cutest lesbian ever and meet up later with James Urbaniak, Bono and Eddie Izzard.

Fewer big wide-shot dance scenes than uncomfortably close-up solo singing numbers. Pretty straightforward love story that uses the 60’s and the Beatles without aping their career path (the two lovers get together during the rooftop concert rather than breaking up there). Better paced than Taymor’s last two films, entertaining and interesting throughout. Quite an achievement, especially considering what a bad idea a Beatles musical sounds like.

Shot by the cinematographer of the last two Jeunet pictures and the next Harry Potter, and with the art/production people from “Far From Heaven”.

Katy loved it, and would’ve loved it even more if she knew the songs.