Sunday, December 12, 2010

Discussion: The Sonnets, Part One

How is your sonnet reading going? One thing is certain: You're farther along than I am, or at the very least we're equal, because I haven't read a single one. I'm enjoying this "choose your own adventure" month of sonnets. It's perfect for procrastination, a skill at which I'm very accomplished.

Instead, I've been on a little Kurt Vonnegut kick, re-reading The Sirens of Titan, Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. (Vonnegut certainly hated his hometown of Indianapolis!) Today I'm reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, about hiking the Appalachian Trail.

What do those books have to do with Shakespeare? Absolutely nothing -- although Bryson has also written an excellent biography of Shakespeare. The sonnet reading is due Jan. 2, so we have plenty of time for holiday parties, frantic shopping and reading that has no relevance to this project. After all, January is a whole month from now. We have plenty of time. (I'll keep saying that until around midnight Jan. 1).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Extra, Extra: "Tempest" Movie Reviews

I can't see Julie Taymor's "The Tempest" when it opens today in limited release, because Indianapolis isn't on the short list. But the reviews are in, and they are disappointing. On the plus side, it makes me less frustrated about not seeing this film right away.

Here's a quick round-up of the reviews I've seen:

Marshall Fine at the Huffington Post: "Slow and grinding, Taymor's version of The Tempest would be dwarfed by any teapot she might decide to set it in."

Robert Beames at the Telegraph: "... time watching The Tempest is not wasted. Even if it is not quite the brave new world for Shakespeare at the cinema that it might have been."

A.O. Scott at the New York Times: "These ideas and others circulate through Ms. Taymor’s film, but rather than cohere into a compellingly new — or satisfyingly traditional — rendering of the play, they slosh around, generating glimmers of insight, slivers of feeling and spasms of sensation, as well as empty dazzle and frustration."

Deborah Young at the Hollywood Reporter: "Far less daring than (Taymor's) 1999 Titus, which took an electrifying, stylized approach of a lesser-known play, The Tempest in comparison looks disappointingly middle of the road."

Betsy Sharkey at the L.A. Times: "Julie Taymor, filmmaking savant of extraordinary vision and voice, suddenly and surprisingly folds. This is a tentative film and a disappointment ..."

On the other hand, Helen Mirren is getting great reviews for her performance as Prospera -- which is to be expected, considering Mirren's abilities. I will still see the movie when it opens here, but definitely with less anticipation than before.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Discussion and Reading Assignment

I read "The Phoenix and the Turtle" this week. So -- allegory of ideal love, turtle dove and phoenix, very sentimental and sweet, la la. "Either was the other's mine" is a lovely little description of selfless love.

So, that's all I really have to say about that.

If your house is like mine, the holidays are already starting to get crazy. So, we're going to do things a bit differently for December. From now through Jan. 2, we're going to focus on the sonnets. Take things at your own pace -- a few each day or all together in a frenzy on New Year's Day.

I've been looking for a handy way to divide up this reading, and the folks at Shakespeare Geek offered some great suggestions. Here is my favorite of the comments, from William Sutton, who runs the I Love Shakespeare blog (thanks, William!):
Read the first 17 as one batch. This is the “make another you” bunch.
Then from 18-35. This is the “getting to immortalize you” batch.
Then from 36-49. This is the “you cheating SOB” batch.
Then 50-76. This is the “take an Ovidian break” batch.
Then 77-90. This is the rival poet and “letting you go” batch.
Then 91-114. This is the “one last chance” batch.
Then 115-126. This is the “it’s over FYM” batch.
Then 127-136. This is the “getting to know the mistress” batch.
Then 137-152. This is the “see what a biatch you are” batch.
Finally 153+154. This is the “see, love is blind” batch.
This is a "choose your own adventure" couple of weeks for "Shakespeare in a Year," but I'll be doing the Sunday posts as usual. Happy holidays!