Showing posts with label re-imagining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label re-imagining. Show all posts

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Othello (2001)

Repost from 2010.

Dir. Geoffrey Sax || 2001 || UK (made for TV)

The late 90s/early 00s were a time of modern day re-imaginings of William Shakespeare's plays. Hollywood in particular released at least three re-imaginings set in modern-day American high schools (although in the 1996 Romeo + Juliet, they were apparently home schooled). 2001's Othello cannot and should not be confused with O, also released in 2001. O takes place in an American high school and for some unknown reason stars Josh Hartnett in the Iago role, and the film revolves around the politics of high school basketball. 2001's Othello takes place in modern day London, revolves around the politics of Scotland Yard, and stars Christopher Eccleston in the Iago role (here re-christened as "Ben Jago").

Othello does not bother with attempting to adapt all of Shakespeare's language to the modern day. It comes in snippets, most notably from Jago. Scotland Yard is in turmoil because of while publicly stating that they plan to hire more Black and Asian officers, the commissioner is caught saying racist things right afterwards. In the meantime, Inspector John Othello has quelled a riot in a multiracial project he grew up in after a suspected Black drug dealer is beat to death by four white cops. Assistant Commissioner Jago, Othello's mentor, waits in the wings to receive the Police Commissioner position after the current one resigns. Othello, of course, gets it instead so Scotland Yard can basically kill two birds with one stone in a PR move. Jago plots his revenge on Othello, despite his claims of loving him, by planting doubts in Othello's mind as to the faithfulness of his new wife, Desi; and undermining the investigation of the four white cops who beat the suspected drug dealer to death.

It is a compelling, poignant, and fitting adaptation. However, I am not sure it will hold up well to a second viewing. While Christopher Eccleston does a pretty good job as Jago (and he probably kills this role on stage), his one soliloquy is shot as a hyper-edited temper tantrum in a hallway, which ends with Jago walking out of Scotland Yard and saying "well, that was dramatic, wasn't it?" to the camera. Constantly having Jago break the fourth wall does not seem as an attempt to make Jago charming or sympathetic, but it does make him come off as Bugs Bunny when Bugs says "ain't I a stinker?". Worst of all, Jago gets his wish by the end of the film. He is not hauled off and arrested, like in the play, and the sole source of comfort in the wake of all the bodies on the floor by the end (the death count is considerably less in this film). What the film is trying to say, I am not quite sure. Is it that manipulation is harder to prove in modern times? Is it that cunts are still running the world, to quote Jarvis Cocker? Evil will prevail? It is a depressing ending, made more so by the sinking feeling that I have that somewhere on the internet, someone has written fan fiction based on this film that has given Jago the "Draco in leather pants" treatment just because Eccleston was Doctor Who, a role where he divided his dramatic and apparent comedic talents well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Crazy Theory #3: Star Trek Into Darkness and Doctor Who

The 2010s: The decade of Benedict Cumberbatch with his back turned to the camera while he overlooks a city.

I am going to preface this post with the fact that I do not and have not watched that much Star Trek. I did watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at some point last summer, so I know enough to know obviously The Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness are two very different films besides sharing a few plot points that J.J. Abrams tweaked for some silly reason or another. Into Darkness is a straight action film that is kind of about friendship and makeshift families, whereas The Wrath of Khan meditated on aging, friendship, and both biological and makeshift families. I will also note that I saw Star Trek Into Darkness in theaters last summer, months before the release of the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special. So whether or not this gels with that episode, I have not totally determined.

My idea is this: Star Trek Into Darkness is basically an overlong attempt to take the piss out of Doctor Who. This occurs from the first sequence where a father played by Noel Clarke (who also played Mickey Smith, one of the companions/sidekicks of the ninth and tenth Doctors) becomes a reluctant suicide bomber of London's Star Fleet site so his dying daughter will be saved by Harrison/Khan's blood that somehow has superhealing powers. Harrison/Khan is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor that some people want to play Doctor Who at some point although he is rather too busy and famous for that now. Harrison/Khan is living with some form of survivor's guilt, having been brought out of stasis instead of the 900 other people from his planet. It is because of this that he wants revenge, and manipulates Kirk, although leveraging his people somewhat backfires. The people and his planet are known for being war-like, something that perhaps is always on the edge of discussions of Doctor Who and his homeplanet of Gallifrey - until the 50th anniversary special, the Doctor had to end the war between the Timelords and the Daleks by destroying Gallifrey. This is the guilt that Doctors Nine through Eleven lived with, amongst many other guilty feelings. Whether or not the retcon in the 50th anniversary special will somehow backfire remains to be seen.