“The Tragedy of Macbeth”, “The Tender Bar” or “The Lost Girl” –

Macbeth’s Tragedy

Directed by Joel Coen, the younger but older of the two Coen brothers married to Frances McDormand, Macbeth’s Tragedy (streaming on Apple TV) is an abridged black-and-white theatrical version of Shakespeare’s play. He also speaks Elizabethan English, often in verse.

Because of that and its heavy cast – Denzel Washington, McDormand and talent from British acting royalty – Macbeth’s Tragedy carries the weight of nine Oscars, multiple BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Caesars, Emmys and Tonys.

Naturally, you approach the film as one would look forward to a special lecture on English literature given by a world-renowned professor: with nervous excitement, but also apprehension. You want to bask in its brilliance, but you fear understanding what is being said.

For the majority, Macbeth’s Tragedy is like that memorable English literature course in college where you only get 30% of what was said, but earn bragging rights for life.

I watched the movie without a break or even a toilet break because it’s stark, sparse, and yet cinematically brilliant.

It conjures up a hazy, mysterious world and stages each scene like a play, with forceful, breathless entrances, exits, and soliloquies in between. Most are from Macbeth.

The problem with the film is not so much that its language is inaccessible, but that there is not a lot of drama. The characters are reduced in stature and their scenes and lines are reduced to the bare explanatory minimum so that the stage can be cleared for Denzel Washington’s histrionics.

Every scene of the misty nights, the men approaching us from a dusty horizon, the eerie games with walls and stairs, light and shadow, are nothing but breathtaking backdrops for Washington. He’s good, not great because in almost every scene his overly familiar mannerism breaks the spell.

The film has powerful actors playing important characters, but all of them, including Banquo and Macduff, are only allowed fleeting appearances. Worse still, Lady Macbeth is presented first as a conniving wife, then a worried wife who ends up sleepwalking. Big moments like the Great Birnam Wood moving towards Dunsinane Hill are deflated and robbed of their peak power.

Despite all of this, the shape-shifting Kathryn Hunter, who integrates the power of Three Witches into one, lifts the film with her haunting performance. Her twisted body and gravelly voice provide the film with its only two memorable scenes. Hunter’s witch is scary and fascinating and Macbeth’s Tragedy worth a watch just for it.

AppleTV+

The lost girl

Because The lost girl Dropped on Netflix, it has prompted many women to write confessional or reflective articles, as well as social media posts about motherhood, the ideal mother and the impossibility of having the perfect mom.

The film, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and starring Olivia Colman, is based on a novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante.

I haven’t read the book by the Italian author whose identity remains a mystery, but these breathtaking bits about mummies and motherhood are totally out of place in the context of the film.

The lost girl is a bit lost.

The film casts the character of Leda (Olivia Colman), a 48-year-old academic who’s on a working holiday in a quiet Italian seaside town, as a prickly, private person. She is possessive about her space and is quick to eliminate all intrusions.

The way Colman plays Leda, there’s no levity about her. She is a jumble of heightened emotions who is always on the verge of an emotional outburst.

There are pushes, quiet moments with the caretaker, Lyle (Ed Harris), and in between those moments, Leda finds herself drawn to a young mother, Nina (Dakota Johnson), who is shapely, sensual, and mysterious. One day, when Nina’s daughter goes missing, Leda finds her but begins to unravel.

There are flashbacks to Leda’s past, when she was a young mother and struggled to work and find a moment of peace, but couldn’t due to the demands of her two daughters and a husband in job. Exhausted from the physical and emotional exertion of being a single mother, she left them for three years in their father’s care to pursue his passions – literary translations and a hottie teacher.

the lost girl wants to tell the story of a working woman and a young mother who struggled to be both. But the story he tells is of a middle-aged woman who is wracked with guilt. These three years are like a rock attached to Leda’s neck, which she drags along. The lost girl just can’t come to terms with those three years despite the fact that Jessie Buckley, who plays young Leda, embodies the pain of being pulled in two different directions subtly and with dignity.

The film creates moments of shame for Leda, and the headlong solemnity with which Colman “performs” the role of an “unnatural mother” often makes the universe of The lost girl tells her she doesn’t deserve the air she breathes.

If we weren’t explicitly told otherwise, we’d think that Leda didn’t leave her daughters in her husband’s care, but did something terrible to them.

The 1979 movie, Kramer Vs. Kramer, had more feminist credibility than The lost girl.

netflix

The tender bar

The tender bar (streaming on Amazon Prime) is a warm, slick, and cool coming-of-age film directed by George Clooney and starring Ben Affleck.

Based on the 2005 memoir of the same name by American novelist and journalist JR Moehringer, the film is set in Long Island, New York, in the languorous 1970s. Sixties madness.

The film, told from the perspective of nine-year-old, droopy-eyed JR, has a warm, glowing heart.

The story is simple and American.

JR’s mother (Lily Rabe) has had to move back in with her father because of an absent husband and the role of his mentor and friend is casually taken on by his flamboyant Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) who drives a Cadillac DeVille convertible and runs a local bar.

Charlie teaches J.R. the “male sciences”, encouraging and supporting him to write, while his mother spends all her time and energy hoping he gets into Yale.

JR grows up to be a writer who chases impossible relationships.

I adored Daniel Ranieri, the boy with the longest eyelashes who plays the young JR It is by holding his hand that we walk through this world made of knitted sweaters, high-waisted pants, old men on armchairs recliners, friendly faces in smoky bars and a home where there’s love around the dinner table.

If you had to pick just one of these movies to watch this weekend, I recommend The tender bar. He’s the most honest of the three and he has a rather dashing Ben Affleck.

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