Despair Deferred, and an Odd Couple
By Josh Rosenblatt,
5:07AM, Thu. Aug. 21, 2008
So, I was all ready to celebrate your concession and my very first victory – the wine was open, my socks were off, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band were playing quietly on the hi-fi – when I looked at the day's vote tally and saw that I was still losing by 50%. My spirits sank. If a man can’t win a debate even after his opponent concedes then what good is he? And what choice does he have but to assume the Fates are conspiring against him and drop himself down a well?
But I’m not going to do that. Mainly because I have no idea where to find a well. But also because I’ve been looking forward to Round Four all week. So I’ll do this now and drown my sorrows in a bowl of moonshine later.
Round Four! The Speed Round! The Awards Round! Round of Champions!
We’re going to try something new here. Instead of going back and forth on a particular topic – straining credulity and intellectual probability in the process – Kim and I will spend the day handing out awards to the various actors and actresses we’ve come across during our time watching Shakespeare on film. Best Male. Best Female. Worst Male. Worst Female. Best Mixed-Doubles. Best Horse. That sort of thing. With any luck, our choices will inspire discussion and debate and, eventually, vicious personal attacks.
(In case you were wondering, we’ve taken the title for today’s round from a line in Tom Stoppard’s brilliant post-modern reinterpretation of Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the melancholy Dane's ill-fated old friends are finally given their dramatic due after centuries spent relegated to the dust-bin of theatrical history as symbols of vile, conniving, and impossibly sexy Jewishness. “We’re actors!” the Player King shouts. “We’re the opposite of people!”)
Now on with the show:
The Most Intimidating Duo In A Romantic Comedy Award
+ + Dominic West and Christian Bale in A Midsummer Night’s Dream + +
It’s not a little odd watching The Wire’s drunken, degenerate, conflicted, self-loathing Jimmy McNulty mix it up with damaged-verging-on-psychopathic superhero Bruce Wayne as they battle for the love of two women in Michael Hoffman’s 1999 pastoral bauble about magic potions, fairies, misplaced love, and mistaken identity. I'm guessing when Shakespeare wrote this play he had slightly airier heroes in mind, but West and Bale bring a refreshing sense of brooding danger to their roles as ascot-wearing, bicycle-riding, poetry-reciting gentlemen Lysander and Demetrius, something you probably wouldn't get if Hoffman had cast, say, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Skip ahead to the 6 minute and 40 second mark of this clip and you’ll see two actors who probably have no business being in a movie this frivolous going at each other like Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets. Bale, in particular, looks like he’d rather eat his own hand than succumb to something as silly as love. He can do all the farces he wants, but there’ll always be a bit of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman in that guy. (The movie also features what must be the best all-girl mud fight in a Shakespeare adaptation. Though, to be honest, I still haven't seen Roman Polanski’s MacBeth.)