Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Lack of Updates February/March 2022

 Dear Reader,

Thank you again for your patience.

Everything is going well, but I have hit a convergence of several time-sensitive activities that have been eating up my time and away from this blog.

These include, but are not limited to:

-directing a musical that will open very soon

-preparing new lessons plans for a class I have never taught before

-working on a project for a master's degree in philosophy

-organizing a Synodal Process for my school

-regular grading and teaching.

These next few weeks may be very busy so my updates here may be very light.  I thank you for all of the times that you have stayed with this blog during these slow times.

My hope is that by mid-March, my work-load will become much lighter and I will be able to devote more time to this blog, especially as it approaches its 10th year anniversary!

God Bless,

Catholic Skywalker

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Trailer Time: The Lord of the Rings - The Rings of Power Teaser

JRR Tolkien originally wanted to call the final part of his trilogy The War of the Ring.  

It is a title that aptly describes the online vitriol over this upcoming Amazon Middle-Earth series.

To some extent, I understand it.  After all, beloved franchises like Star Wars have been plundered by people like Rian Johnson who fundamentally did not understand George Lucas or his visionary genius.  Instead, he wanted to say something and Star Wars just happened to be a vehicle for that message.

One of the things that makes Peter Jackson's interpretation of The Lord of the Rings so good is that everything is done with a reverence for Tolkien.  There are some serious deviations in the story and character, especially with a character like Faramir.  But all of this was done in order to find a way to successfully interpret Tolkien's ideas cinematically.  As a result, Jackson's trilogy is an all time classic.  I heard a youtuber recently say, something akin to "Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings is so good that no one has been able to match it, even Peter Jackson." (referring to Jackson's Hobbit trilogy).

So there is a huge portion of fandom that is waiting to get sucker-punched.  I don't blame them for being wary.


I try to be a bit more optimistic.  

This trailer did not do anything that turned me off of the project, but it didn't do too much to excite me.  I enjoy the sweeping vistas of Middle-Earth.  I especially love the shot of the riders surging into battle on their horses.  But right now there is nothing that is really grabbing me.

If you look at the very first Lord of the Rings teaser, it does an amazing job of pulling you in through only a few seconds and brief flashes.  After going through The Hobbit trilogy, returning to Middle-Earth is not as exciting a prospect.

What I really want to see is how the characters, especially returning ones like Galadriel and Elrond, are handled by this story.  Will they be radically altered away from Tolkien's vision?  And if they are, will it be to turn away from the main vision, as Johnson did with Luke Skywalker or towards the vision as Jackson did with Faramir?

I do not know.  But I remain open.


Monday, February 14, 2022

New Evangelizers Post: Be a Valentine



I have a new article up at  

The popular devotion to St. Valentine as a day to celebrate romantic love did not come about until around a 1000 years after his death. Much of his life is lost to us. The popular legend is that St. Valentine was was martyred in part because he married Christian couples in defiance of the Roman Emperor. The historicity of this is not the purpose of this article.

The idea of being a Valentine is a wonderful and noble thing.

If we model our Valentine after this image of St. Valentine.

In our secular society, we think of being a Valentine as simply being someone who declares their romantic love for someone. This is a very human impulse and one that has kept the population of the world replenished and growing since the dawn of humanity. Sometimes there is an impulse among Christians to downplay or dismiss romantic love. But this is a mistake. It is true that there are high loves, but we are naturally inclined to seek this kind of love. It would be a wrong to suppress this desire in our nature. There are those who are called to celibacy, but ideally, that is not a suppression of nature, but a an embrace of a higher love. Even in this case, we are not destroying nature. Rather, grace is perfecting nature.

And to really be a Valentine is to have grace perfect the nature of romantic love. Anyone can profess their romantic feelings for someone. Perhaps many of us have cringeworthy memories of high school crushes and embarrassing declarations of devotion. To feel romantic feelings is human, but it is not praiseworthy. To feel something has no moral weight.

What makes a real, Christian Valentine is not only the presence of romantic love, but something more. Romantic love involves a strong desire for union, even to the point of being possessive. The purest form of this is found in the unitive nature of this love, where the husband and wife donate themselves to each other, even with the sharing of their bodies. This is natural and good, but we must remember that man is not only made for a natural end, but a supernatural end as well.

A real Valentine not only expresses this unitive desire, but seeks the greater good of the beloved. When you are “in love,” all you want is to be with the other person. CS Lewis once wrote that this desire is so strong that even if you knew the love would end in tragedy, you would still want it. “Let our hearts break, so long as they break together.” This may be one of the reasons we have such strong popular devotions to romantic tragedies like Romeo and Juliet.

But Christian romance not only looks inward at this unitive desire, but upwards towards God. I love my wife with all of my heart. The worst part of my day is the morning when I have to part from her. By God’s grace, even after more than 20 years of marriage, we still miss each other constantly when absent. However, I think one of the reasons that the romantic well has not run dry is because we have tried very hard to place God at the center of our marriage.

What this means is that my first goal as a husband is not to a unitive or possessive desire for my wife. Rather, my first goal is to make sure she has her greatest good. And her greatest good is the salvation of her soul.

Admittedly, I fail often in my task. Too many times I am a cause of stress, strain, and grief. Nevertheless, I want her to grow closer to God so that one day she will be with Him forever in heaven. If I draw her away from the Lord only bring her closer to me, then I am being selfish. I am putting my personal desires for her affections ahead of her salvation.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday Best: Oscar Nominations 2022

  So the nominees were announced this past week for the 94th Academy Awards.

These awards remain the most prestigious in film.  And while many of you, dear readers, are of the opinion that all awards shows are terrible and should simply be shunned, it is my perpetual hope that Hollywood will reform itself and once again nominate movies that matter.

While there were a few happy nominations, I don't think this will be the year for that.  Once again, the elite in the industry will gather together, kick out the homeless from the streets, and congratulate themselves.

Last year, I did not compare the box office to the list of Best Picture nominees because of all the COVID lockdowns.  However, with things opening up and some movies shattering box office records, I thought we would do it again.

The movies nominated for Best Picture are:



Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car


King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The highest grossing film on here was Dune, but with its simultaneous premiere on HBO Max, it didn't crack $100 million domestic.

The top 10 highest grossers for 2021 are:

Spider-Man: No Way Home
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Black Widow
F9: The Fast Saga
No Time To Die
A Quiet Place Part II
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Free Guy

So as you can see, there are very few films for viewers at home to root for.

 My own top ten of the year include:

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
2. Dune
3. The Tragedy of Macbeth
4. Zack Snyder's Justice League
6. Those Who Wish Me Dead
7. Dear Evan Hansen
8. Nobody
9. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
10. A Quiet Place Part II

Admittedly, there is a box office issue when things are released on streaming either simultaneously or exclusively.  I know Zack Snyder's Justice League was a big hit on HBO Max, but it was not something that was in theaters.

Even though superhero films are a tremendous source of the cinematic experience, the Academy refuses to recognize their worth.  Spider-Man: No Way Home was definitely snubbed in all of the major categories.  I am convinced it is because it is a super hero film.

So below are my thoughts on some (not all) of this year's nominees.  

Don’t Look Up 
King Richard 
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley 
The Power of the Dog 
West Side Story 

I was incredibly excited to see CODA and Dune receive nominations.  The Oscars are a time when smaller films receive recognition that could help them touch the hearts of wider audiences.  Dune was my frontrunner for my own list of Best Movies until Spider-Man.  I think King Richard is a worthy film to put on the list.  I'm going to try and see Belfast and West Side Story before the Oscars, but I don't have a desire to see the others.  

Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)
Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)
Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)

Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

I haven't seen any of these.


Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)
Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)
Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)
Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)
Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

I haven't seen any of these.

Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)
Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!)
Will Smith (King Richard)
Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

Garfield, Smith, and Washington all put in excellent performances.  I didn't see the other two.  There is a lot of buzz on Garfield, who is still riding a lot of good will from recent movies.  Of these nominees, I would probably give it to Smith.  Washington was incredible, but Smith reached certain emotional levels that earned him the award.

Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter)
Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
Judi Dench (Belfast)
Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)
Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)

I've only seen King Richard, so I will have to go with her.

Ciarán Hinds (Belfast)
Troy Kotsur (CODA)
Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog)
J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)

I've only seen CODA, but Kotsur was excellent in the role.

Cruella (Jenny Beavan)
Cyrano (Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran)
Dune (Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan)
Nightmare Alley (Luis Sequeira)
West Side Story (Paul Tazewell)

This category is notorious for snubbing original sci-fi and fantasy costuming.  Dune should clearly win, but I think they will go with something like Nightmare Alley

Belfast (Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri)
Dune (Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett)
No Time to Die (Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor)
The Power of the Dog (Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb)
West Side Story (Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy)

Easily, this should be Dune.

Don’t Look Up (Nicholas Britell)
Dune (Hans Zimmer)
Encanto (Germaine Franco)
Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias)
The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)

I've only seen Dune and Encanto from this list.  I feel strongly about Dune's score, but Encanto is a crowd favorite.

CODA (screenplay by Siân Heder)
Drive My Car (screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa
Dune (screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve
and Eric Roth)
The Lost Daughter (written by Maggie Gyllenhaal)
The Power of the Dog (written by Jane Campion)

Heder won my award for Best Screenplay, so I was very excited to her nominated for CODA, and I hope she wins, though Dune was excellent as well.

Belfast (written by Kenneth Branagh)
Don’t Look Up (screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay & David Sirota)
King Richard (written by Zach Baylin)
Licorice Pizza (written by Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Worst Person in the World (written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier)

Again, with this list I've only seen King Richard, so I will go with this.

Affairs of the Art (Joanna Quinn and Les Mills)
Bestia (Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz)
Boxballet (Anton Dyakov)
Robin Robin (Dan Ojari and Mikey Please)
The Windshield Wiper (Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez)

I haven't seen any of these.

Ala Kachuu — Take and Run (Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger)
The Dress (Tadeusz Lysiak and Maciej Ślesicki)
The Long Goodbye (Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed)
On My Mind (Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson)
Please Hold (K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse)

I haven't seen any of these.

Don’t Look Up (Hank Corwin)
Dune (Joe Walker)
King Richard (Pamela Martin)
The Power of the Dog (Peter Sciberras)
Tick, Tick … Boom! (Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum)

I want to say Dune on this one, but Tick, Tick ...Boom! did a very good job with how it edited the scenes together in a non-linear fashion.  If I'm being objective I would have to give it to them.

Coming 2 America (Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer)
Cruella (Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon)
Dune (Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh)
House of Gucci (Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras)

It should be Dune without question.  But I think they will go with The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Encanto (Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer)
Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie)
Luca (Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren)
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht)
Raya and the Last Dragon (Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer
and Peter Del Vecho)

I was actually very surprised by how well crafted Encanto was, so I will be rooting for this one.

Ascension (Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell)
Attica (Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry)
Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sorensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie)
Summer of Soul (Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein)
Writing With Fire (Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh)

I haven't seen any of these.

Audible (Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean)
Lead Me Home (Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk)
The Queen of Basketball (Ben Proudfoot)
Three Songs for Benazir (Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei)
When We Were Bullies (Jay Rosenblatt)

I haven't seen any of these.

“Be Alive” — music and lyrics by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (King Richard)
“Dos Oruguitas” — music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto)
“Down to Joy” — music and lyrics by Van Morrison (Belfast)
“No Time to Die” — music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas
O’Connell (No Time to Die)
“Somehow You Do” — music and lyrics by Diane Warren (Four Good Days)

I would probably go with the song from Encanto

Dune (Greig Fraser)
Nightmare Alley (Dan Laustsen)
The Power of the Dog (Ari Wegner)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Bruno Delbonnel)
West Side Story (Janusz Kaminski)

This is a tough one between Dune and Macbeth, but ultimately I think the wonder caused by Dune gives it an edge.

Drive My Car (Japan)
Flee (Denmark)
The Hand of God (Italy)
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)
The Worst Person in the World (Norway)

Did not see any.

Dune (production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos)
Nightmare Alley (production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau)
The Power of the Dog (production design: Grant Major; set decoration: Amber Richards)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh)
West Side Story (production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo)

Once again Dune and Macbeth are in a tight race with me.  And once again, I think Dune wins out.

Dune (Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and
Gerd Nefzer)
Free Guy (Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and
Dan Sudick)
No Time to Die (Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick)

This might be the toughest category of all, between Dune, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man, and Free Guy.  But in the end it isn't just the quality of the special effects, but how they are used.  So I'm going with Dune.

Soon I will be posting my annual OSCAR GAME for anyone who wants to participate.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

TV Mini-Review: The Book of Boba Fett



What surprises me most about this show is how many people have been savaging it.

The Book of Boba Fett picks up the pieces where we left off the main character.  Fett (Temura Morrison), is attempting to solidify his places as the daimyo or crime lord of the former territories of Jabba the Hutt.  He is helped by Fennic Shan (Ming-Na Wen), ruthless but loyal assassin.  Through flashback, we see how Fett escaped the Sarlac and how he saved Fennic from the blaster shot that almost killed her.  Fett has to deal with lots of treacherous characters as he tries to establish himself in this harsh world.

The oddest thing about this show is how it stops halfway through and becomes season 3 of The Mandalorian.  What makes it even odder is that the show gets more enjoyable.

The first half wasn't bad.  I especially liked the second episode which was very much was an homage to Lawrence of Arabia.  It was a strong episode that was action-packed and was able to communicate a lot without a great deal of dialogue.  

Morrison does a good job as Fett, but with the constant exposure of his face, you lose the sense of menace and mystery that you get from Din Djarin or Darth Vader.  Wen is also great her part, always bringing a strong sense of danger to each scene.  The rest of the supporting cast who are introduced in this season are not nearly as strong as the ones who return from The Mandalorian.

But the biggest problem with the show was that Fett is trying to be a crime boss without being a villain.  This version of Fett lacks the utter ruthlessness that is required of such an enterprise.  All of his adversaries are devious and underhanded and Fett always seems like he's a step behind.  Fennic constantly calls on him to be more ruthless.  The fundamental problem is that if he becomes more like Jabba, then he becomes more of a villain than the hero of the story.  Instead he seems overwhelmed by all of the back-stabbing.  He reminds me of Walter White in the first season of Breaking Bad, where he keeps getting in over his head.  Except that eventually Walter became so cold that he could swim with the sharks.  If Fett became that, the show would no longer be a redemption arc for him.

Perhaps that is why the focus was taken off of him and on to other characters in the Star Wars universe.  And perhaps a lot of this was shameless fan service, but I was so enchanted by some of it that filled me with joy.

The greatest delight for me was once again seeing my childhood hero Luke Skywalker in the way I always imagined him after Return of the Jedi.  For all of the criticism of the show, those moments alone made the entire season worthwhile.

The series builds to a finale that is incredibly fun in concept, but only does a decent job in execution.  Despite its massive special effects budget, the direction felt a little cheap, except for the scenes with Cad Bane.  It could also be the fact that some of the supporting characters never really developed enough for your to deeply care about them.

Overall, The Book of Boba Fett is a decent Star Wars show with some really great moments.  It isn't as compelling as The Mandalorian, but it is worth the watch.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

TV Mini-Review: The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window


The title to this show is absurd.  So I thought I was going to sit through a nice parody of Lifetime Movie Network mysteries.  This show also stars Kristen Bell, who elevates everything she's in, so I was hoping for a good time.

But watching this show is like listening to an inside joke that you are not in on.

The story is boilerplate things from the genre: Anna (Bell), drinks too much and mixes it will pills all to cope with a past tragedy.  She thinks she witnesses a murder, but no one believes her because of the booze and drugs.  She searches for answers, unsure if this is all in her head or not.

I've heard people call this show a satire of the genre.  That is being very generous.

The show takes all of the tropes of this type of movie and amps it up to 11.  The tragedy that Anna is dealing with the death of her daughter.... who was eaten to death by a cannibalistic serial killer... who was accidentally locked in a room with her when her father took to the prison on But instead of winking at the camera to have a little fun, they play it completely straight.

Judd Apatow once said that it is difficult to do a parody of pornography, because what tends to happen is that your parody simply devolves into actual pornography.  This movie may be trying to satirize bad mystery shows.  Unfortunately, because they don't let you in on the joke, the show feels like you are watching an actual bad mystery show.

Instead of seeing a clever mock of this type of story, it feels like they simply are showing you that they understand the tropes.  There is nothing clever or original about anything here.  And because the show is filmed and performed with deadly seriousness, none of its innate silliness can be enjoyed.  

Movies like Airplane! and Shaun of the Dead can have their characters play everything straight, but the directors of those movies knew how to film things so that you could feel the humor.  The makers of this show don't understand that.  If the makers of this show had leaned more heavily into either laughs or scares, this show would be much more entertaining.

Bell does her best with the material, but it all of that talent is fueling a show that doesn't live up to the performances.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Sunday Best: Top 5 Football Movies

 In preparation for Superbowl Sunday next week, I thought I would take a look at the best football movies I have seen.

Now, two caveats:

1. I have not seen that many football movies.  There are some all-time classics like The Longest Yard and Friday Night Lights, which I haven't seen.  So if your favorite is not on this list, it doesn't mean I don't like it.  It probably means I haven't seen it.

2. I am not the biggest fan of football.  I have only recently gotten into the game on a regular basis, but I still could not tell you the difference between a tailback and a running back.  So if my choices are ones that are least indicative of the actual game of football, then you will know why.

With that said, here is my list.  All you true-blue football fans can have fun taking this list apart.

5. Horse Feathers


As a comedy, this movie is the best one on this list.  As a football movie, the Marx Brothers squeeze every ounce of comedy about a scam running around college football.  My favorite part is when Groucho approaches the huddle as if to say something inspirational or serious and says, "Don't look now boys, but I think I see the chemistry professor in the stands with the janitor's wife."

4. Remember the Titans

Remember the titansposter.jpg

The thing I really like about this movie is that it shows that if you bring people together for a common goal, they can overcome their differences.  I also love Denzel's Washington's performance as Coach Boone explains why he is so hard on all of his players: "Now I may be a mean cuss. But I'm the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field. The world don't give a damn about how sensitive these kids are, especially the young black kids. You ain't doin' these kids a favor by patronizing them. You crippling them; You crippling them for life."

3. The Blind Side

A relatively small blonde women stands beside a large football player, facing away from the viewer.

This movie is less about football and more about the importance of love and family.  It is a movie of wonderful performances and it is an excellent feel-good film, where Sandra Bullock earned her Oscar.

2. American Underdog

A football player prepares to throw the ball.

This one might be higher on my list because it still fresh in my mind.  But I love how Kurt Warner loves the game of football and uses all of that love and passion to make a better life for his family.  Football becomes his gladiator arena where he proves himself as a man in battle, in a true testament to never giving up.

1. Rudy


What makes Rudy such an all-time classic is not that the main character grows into a star player like Kurt Warner.  It isn't even that Rudy makes a significant impact on the one game he plays.  Instead, this is a movie about all of the people that Rudy impacts on his journey.  He makes all of them better people as he strives to his dream.  In that, he creates a community of friends as they all do their best to reach that excellence that we all know is inside us.  Not all of us will be the biggest and the strongest.  But all of us are capable of giving it our all, like Rudy.


Friday, February 4, 2022

Film Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple TV)


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Mature
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

Denzel Washington is one of only three actors that I have heard do Shakespeare with an American accent and have it not sound strange to my ear (the other two are Charlton Heston and Billy Cryrstal).  So when I saw a trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth, I was very intrigued.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Macbeth (Washington) is given a prophecy that he will become king of Scotland.  He tells his wife Lady MacBeth (Francis McDormand) who begins to plot when the current king, Duncan (Brendan Gleeson) comes to stay at their home.  What follows is a tale of bloody ambition that descends into murder and madness.

This version is directed by Joel Coen, half of the famous Coen Brothers duo.  I am not a gigantic fan of their work, but I recognize their talent.  I think the first 3/4 of No Country For Old Men is absolute genius.  Here, Coen decides to take this very old story and try to film it in a bold new way.  By "new" I mean something that feels like it comes from the German expressionist movement of the 1930's with its use of long shadows and sharp contrast in black and white.  Even the aspect ratio is squared off to match the old style.  If I was a deeper student of film history, I would probably be able to appreciate all of the subtle nods to films from the past.  

But even without understanding the cinematic heritage here, the effect is fantastic.  Coen films this movie like a waking nightmare.  It seems like everything was filmed on a sound stage, which reminded me of the very claustrophobic feel of Bram Stoker's Dracula, where Francis Ford Coppola did the same thing.  The artificiality of the environment adds to the dream-like quality.  There is a madness at play.  You can see this with the opening scene where the 3 Witches are played by a single woman (Kathryn Hunter) who is in conversation with herself).  Every scene draws Macbeth deeper into his darkness and madness.  Coen is able to perfectly marry the visuals to the tonal descent of the narrative.

Washington is fantastic.  It is hard to talk about this actor without sounding hyperbolic.  But Washington plays this part with an ease that makes his slow moral slide feel like a gravitational pull.  He brings his natural charisma to his early scenes, which is very helpful.  I've seen versions of the play where the actor already begins with giving MacBeth a hard edge.  But this makes it difficult to see why those like Duncan trust him so implicitly.  Washington plays MacBeth as a good and honorable man.  But the germ of ambition corrodes his soul.  Even though you know how the story ends, you yearn for him to turn back.  

What I particularly thought was fascinating about his performance is the definitive sense of ennui that comes to define his character.  I've seen actors fill MacBeth with rage as his world comes closing in or have him devolve into a mania.  But as the walls come closing in, Washington's MacBeth ascends his throne with a dismissive contempt.  His body language as he sits expresses an empty disgust, but not so much at his enemies but at his throne and his own life.  He continues to fight, but with an empty-heartedness that speaks to the characters ultimate embrace of nihilism.  In this way, it is such a wonderfully moral movie because it shows what life without morality looks like.

I am going to have to add McDormand to my list of actors who can do Shakespeare well in an American accent.  When she says that she would be capable of brutally murdering a nursing baby, there is nothing false about her delivery.  Her hard features and tone serve to constantly emasculate MacBeth into submission.  Even her descent into madness shows that there is something untouchable about her.  Her last line on screen has her staring directly and knowingly at her audience and it is shocking.

The rest of the cast does their job well.  While the world is black-and-white, the characters are mostly darker shades of gray.  Coen portrays Ross (Alex Hassell) with a lot more manipulative malevolence.  Banquo (Bertie Carvel) seems less corrupted by his prophecy that his son would one day be king, but there is still a hard edge to him. Gleeson's Duncan is much more powerful and vital than most productions I have seen.  He is a powerful and intimidating figure.  You can understand that there would be a natural fear in attempting to harm him.  

Coen puts together a tale that has been told thousands of times and gives it a flavor that makes it visually powerful.  It is a mesmerizing, though unpleasant, spell that will draw you in until the last shot.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Trailer Time: Halo (TV Series)

I really like the look of this show.  I'm very glad they didn't try to "improve" the look of Master Chief.  Seeing him in action makes me nostalgic for all of the countless hours I spent online playing Halo with all of my friends.  The action looks dynamic and the visuals look fun.


I just came across some rumors that say that the main character of the show is not Master Chief but the young girl he saves, Quan Ah.  If that is the case, then I will be seriously upset.

Kevin Smith did something very similar with Masters of the Universe: Revelations, where he sidelined He-Man during the first episode and instead made Teela the main hero.  There is nothing wrong with this idea per se, but it seems shady to try and bait and switch your fans.

If the show is about Quan, it would be a real thumb in the eye to Halo fans like me.  It would be like finally being able to see a Legend of Zelda live action series only to have it focus not on Link but on the Skull Kid from Majora's Mask.

What are you thoughts?