Who was William Shakespeare? Was he the Bard of Avon, the poet and playwright of humble beginnings whose command of the language gave us Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Or was he a drunk, a fraud and a shameless opportunist?
Anonymous, Roland Emmerich’s sure-to-be controversial (at least in academic circles) historical epic, espouses the Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship, attributing all those masterworks to Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), the 17th Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), functionally illiterate and fulfilled more by gold and mead than the joy of artistic expression, is seem as a contemptible fool.
Rather than draw out their long goodbyes in a single sitting, as Peter Jackson’s Hobbits did in his too-long Lord of the Rings finale, Team Harry’s swan song will unfold in two parts, a decision dismissed in some quarters as purely a marketing strategy.
Yet even at two-and-a-half hours, the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling’s conclusion to the saga of an orphaned wizard destined to battle a Hitler-like menace, sacrifices some particulars of the author’s story but emerges as the most faithful adaptation in the series. Readers expecting everything plus the kitchen sink – or, in this case, seven magical Horcruxes – should not be disappointed.
It’s not easy to love Roger Greenberg, the latest misanthrope Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) has created as the star of his new comedy. Greenberg, played by a pitch-perfect Ben Stiller, is insufferable: narcissistic, cruel and calculating, and totally oblivious to his shortcomings. That he has friends, much less a doting and very forgiving lover (Greta Gerwig), is nothing short of a miracle.
If Richard Curtis’ passion for pop wasn’t evident enough in his directorial debut, 2003’s Love Actually, he puts it on full display in Pirate Radio, his affectionate tribute to the spirit of rock, which was put to the severest of tests in the ’60s by censorious British bureaucrats. For Curtis, this is clearly a love letter signed, sealed and delivered to the artists of his youth, and to the DJs who broadcast the music.
Sure, it’s only rock n’ roll, but Richard Curtis likes it – so much that he wrote and directed Pirate Radio, a joyous ode to the irrepressible spirit of rock, put to the severest of tests in the ’60s by closed-minded British government bureaucrats.
Best known as the screenwriter responsible for hit comedies including 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill (1999) and Love Actually (2003), which marked his directorial debut, Curtis, 53, says Radio reflects a personal passion for music that has been increasingly evident with each of his films.