Blast the Canon
Scotland, PA and Maura Tierney's foul-mouthed, oversexed Lady M
By Kimberley Jones,
2:54PM, Tue. Aug. 19, 2008
First of all, you're too quick to belly-ache -- you're winning, bucko.
Back to business:
So, yes, with West Side Story, I opened with the big guns. But I've got more ammunition, so here goes.
Let's remember we're not arguing the merits of Shakespeare, per se, but rather the films adapted from Shakespeare. Do I think the script for 10 Things I Hate About You is superior to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew? Of course not. Would I gladly watch 10 Things – a surprisingly sparky little teen comedy – over Zefferelli's shrill, theatrical version any of the day week? You're damn right I would.
How about Macbeth? I haven't yet been able to track down Orson Welles' take, nor have I seen Polanski's version since high school (all I remember, with a shudder, is a decapitated head), so I can't say much of anything about either.
But I have seen Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, which shifts the action to feudal Japan, adopts its aesthetic from Noh theatre, and doesn't include a lick of the original Shakespearean language. Is it a lesser film for it? Or a more inspired one? (By the way, do you think Kurosawa's stand-in for the three witches – a spooky dead warrior spinning a sewing wheel – inspired Wanted's doofy Loom of Fate?)
And what about some more contemporary takes on ye olde Bard? The BBC's Shakespeare ReTold series rejiggered Macbeth to riff on cutthroat kitchen culture. And the terrific, totally underappreciated indie comedy Scotland, PA transposed the action to a Seventies-era fast food restaurant and crafted, in Maura Tierney's oversexed, foul-mouthed Lady Macbeth, the sexiest scheming-bitch portrayal of Lady M I've seen.