• Culture and Entertainment

    The Music Man

    We went and saw two high school/middle school theater productions in the past few weeks. One was Pride and Prejudice which I must say was rather mediocre, especially in light of the second production. I do not think the story lends itself well to play format anyway though.

    The other performance was The Music Man. I had heard of the movie, but opted out of joining my family to see it as I wanted to spend my coveted evening working productively (which miraculously I did), and because I did not know the story. But when my family came home they were effusive. I have a habit of missing the really brilliant high school plays (I am still furious with myself for missing two performances when I was in high school; the home-school theater glory days it seemed until now).

    The next evening we went out to dinner, and I brought up the musical. Mom said one of my sisters wanted to see it again. So my three little sisters piled into my car, and we claimed a front and central view. I am so glad I could see it. We knew several of the principle actors, and they did such a good job. The whole performance was just darling. I had heard of a few of the song titles, and perhaps part of one of the songs before.

    I soon ordered the movie and Broadway soundtrack from the library, and the ladies of the family watched the movie together. I preferred the little people’s version, but I still enjoyed the movie and would like to see it on Broadway (with a younger, handsomer music man).

    Anyway, I have a new song to add to my scanty repertoire of songs which I like: “Goodnight My Someone”

  • Culture and Entertainment

    The Importance of Being Earnest Movie

    I watched this with a group of people a couple months ago. I read the play last year, but I forgot a lot of it although I know I laughed aloud while reading it.

    Algie is my favorite (I think he was my favorite in the play too or I liked him more than I thought I would; I am one of those main character loyalty people); oh, my I just loved his goofy facial expressions. I just do not think that Colin Firth acts at all well. This is the third film in which I have seen him act, and he just does not seem totally different in any of his roles, but maybe I am being too picky. He is just not very animated.

    Cicely was funny and her clothes were pretty; her simplicity and naivety were hilarious and nice. Gwendolyn had a pretty outfit or two, but I did not like her character (I do not think I liked her much in the book either); she was a bit of diva.

    The kissing was uncomfortably close to making-out, and the filmmakers added a weird tattooing issue into the plot which was totally bizarre especially regarding the social class and time period involved (I think that sailors still monopolized that market at that point in history).

  • Reading

    Othello Mini-Review

    Again, a required read for class. My professor pointed out that Iago was the most interesting and developed character and this notification and the fact that we watched clips of the film version in which Kenneth Branagh plays Iago, caused me to really think that he alone was a interesting character. Okay not quite, Cassio caught my interest and someone very interesting played him in his younger days; I hope there is a video recording available somehow. Cassio at first appears a good character, but I think that he was rake. (What was the whole point of the mistress scene? He is immoral and cruel). Othello and Desdemona are flat and boring (as the professor taught us to see), and Iago, Cassio, and even Desdemona’s thwarted suitor and father seem to have more interest. Of course what I saw of the movie aided/formed those impressions.

    Rather heavy sexual crudity.

  • Reading

    King Lear Mini-Review

    I read this for my Shakespeare class. This is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare’s plays; one of the worst Shakespeare plays, I think. I “had” to read it for a class and dissect it,  and that certainly did not invite me to enjoy the play, but I still do not think I would have enjoyed it much anyway.

    I felt like this play had so many characters, but I am not sure that it contained any more than other plays, but the impression probably came from the fact that no characters really stood far and above any others in development and importance. The play has one and only one truly likable character and that is, Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester, and he does not dominate any more than does anyone else. Any other tolerable characters rarely appear.

    The play is mainly coarseness, vileness, and death, and Lear, the one wronged, is an egotistical old fool, so it is rather difficult to feel sorry for him. Shakespeare set this play in pre-Christian Britain, and the play is more brutal, senseless, and hopeless (which was a point in our class, and I think something of the point for our last essay) than Shakespeare’s other plays. Edgar  and some good and “better” characters survive amid the wreck and ruin, but I did not really know those characters; they just existed. The play is rather blah overall.

    Sexual crudity included of course.

  • Reading

    Measure for Measure

    Angelo immediately enforces Vienna’s previously neglected harsh laws against immorality. What I cannot make out is if this was against the Duke’s wishs, concurrent with them or neutral.

    To what end did the Duke observe Vienna in disguise? He already knew the effects caused by his neglect of punishment. Was he thinking about making Angelo his heir? Why?

     Whatever the reason for Angelo’s accession to power, he certainly utilizes it instantly when he condemns Claudio to death for fathering a child out of wedlock (or rather the deed which led to the child :P). The laws are inconsistent—both are humiliated, but only Claudio condemned to be executed. Why not fines, a public humiliation, and jail for both?

    Claudio is soooo despicable. He knew he was doing wrong, and I believe he also knew the punishment. They were not married because of some complication of Juliet’s dowry—to me this makes it worse because he was excusing himself saying they were all but married. He also has no scruples with his sister saving his sorry neck with the same sin that has earned him capital punishment.

    I think (maybe) Isabella could be justified in condemning (to Claudio) Angelo’s response to her plea for mercy. All praise and commendation is due to Isabella for so forcefully rebuking her brother and guarding her virtue.

    You could argue that she was committing murder by not sinning to save her brother’s life. I am in complete disagreement with this stance. Claudio knew he was sinning, and he knew that according to the law this sin deserves death. He flouts the moral and legal systems and then expects his sister to do the same to save him from punishment.

    As to the other hypocrite, Angelo, why he was so strict with the laws and faithless with promises is beyond me. He doesn’t intend to save Claudio (another strike against Claudio’s dreadful wish), and he leaves Mariana—there are plenty of this type of rogue. He is a tyrant as well but why he chooses to enforce morality laws and keep up the appearance of stringent morality boggles my mind. The Duke was obviously not of a keen mind with regard to the ability to perceive and penetrate faҫades.

    The Duke himself does not have a spectacular character. He neither enforces the laws nor seeks to find improvements for his rule. He disappears for no obvious purpose, and he makes a highly dubious moral choice by substituting Mariana for Isabella in the deputy’s lascivious plan. Isabella risks her reputation and safety in assenting to such a plan. Of real concern is Mariana’s immorality. She was promised to Angelo—but was not Juliet to Claudio—or was Angelo and Mariana’s parental, official, and binding (would that really make the sin less?!) and Juliet and Claudio’s merely consensual and emotional? It is fornication either way.

    There are two positive aspects of the play: Isabella’s true virtue and the “rightness” of the ending. Claudio is saved and must marry Julietta while Angelo is exposed and forced to marry Mariana. Lucio, friend of Claudio and a horrid rake, is forced to marry a “woman of the evening” that he got with child and promised to marry (hah, I looove when such men are trapped like that—which is why I enjoyed All’s Well that Ends Well). The crowning touch is that the Duke has fallen in love with Isabella.

    The public discovery of Angelo takes too long—Mariana and Isabella are made to look like fools and the truth regarding the “death” of Claudio was cruelly kept from Isabella merely so that the Duke could see her relief when she sees Claudio in life. And yet she loved him, how convenient for him!

    Since writing this I took a Renaissance Culture course in college wherein I read the story of Boccaccio’s that Shakespeare borrowed to use in All’s Well that Ends Well, so I wonder if this play has an original story since I believe that many of Shakespeare’s plays had borrowed plots. I shall have to look into this further. 

  • Reading

    Midsummer Night’s Dream

    I have been on a reading spree ever since I have finished with school on Friday May 4th, and it was mostly a Shakespeare reading rush in the beginning. That last day of school I started A Midsummer Night’s Dream and finished it the next day. To date I have read twelve plays since the end of the semester (I had previously read Much Ado About Nothing a few years ago, and last fall I read last fall Twelfth Night for school). I have started Hamlet…and there died my Shakespeare attempt for the moment (I am reading other books now-so I guess I cannot exactly blame Hamlet). I am going to attempt to post my thoughts, feelings, etc on each one that I have read. I will start with the short, light first play which started my Shakespeare summer: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Sweet but boring pretty much sums this play up. I am not a Shakespearean scholar, and I tend to miss subtleties of humor, so maybe if I, with aid, delved deeper then I might appreciate this play more. The “subplots” took up a great amount of the story. The love triangle and solution was not dwelt on very deeply. Granted this play was one of the shortest if not the shortest  at 22 pages. I also do not remember there being overmuch in humorous lines which is one of the best aspects of Shakespeare.

    As it is this play is to me light and trifling. The “main” plot is a love triangle. All of course ends well, but as this feat is contrived with fairy magic the love does not feel sincere and real to me. The minor plots involve  ignorant, silly laborers and the fighting king and queen of the fairy realm. It seemed to me that the minor characters had a better shown personalities than the main ones.

     The subplot (which was kind of in two parts that blended to one which eventually blended to the “main” story line) was mediocre and embarrassing at the same time although the play (sub-play :P)-or rather the responses to the play was/were humorous. I did not exactly care for the ending of this side story either. Why did exactly did Oberon get what he wanted? Titania’s reason for keeping the page was perfectly legitimate-she made a serious vow. All was not well at the end because Oberon’s selfish wish was satisfied. So, yes he is king and lord, but that does not give him the night to break vows!

    As to the main characters I preferred Lysander and Helena. Demetrius is dishonourable; he was engaged to Helena, but he decided to try to steal another man’s lady. (Not that I am stating that he stay engaged unloving but that he was a cheater and a thief). Hermia’s father was part of this dishonour in countenancing this faithless man’s suit against true love. I dislike Hermia for the logical reason that both of the leading men love her. I like Helena because she is the unloved one, and she does seem sweeter too; she thinks the best of everyone whilst Hermia thinks the worst. I wish that magic was not involved in Helena and Demetrius’ love, but it worked with the plot I suppose. I am not sure I could forgive Demetrius even if his second turning of favour was sincere!