When you step into a Shakespeare tragedy, it takes around 10-15 minutes for the inner theater student Shakespeare translator to kick in. This one took me a lot longer. I can hear the translation right away is a sunny and colorful comedy, but not in tragedy. And this one started stoically tragic. It was an
When you step into a Shakespeare tragedy, it takes around 10-15 minutes for the inner theater student Shakespeare translator to kick in. This one took me a lot longer. I can hear the translation right away is a sunny and colorful comedy, but not in tragedy. And this one started stoically tragic. It was an extra dark performance piece.
And especially through Joel Cohen’s lens.
Director Joel Coen has a distinct cinema portfolio, but what we haven’t see before is this “Theatre Gaze.” Yes, I’m coining the term “Theatre Gaze.” It’s watching a cinema experience through the lens of a theatrical performance, something Cohen, himself, watches often. He is a lifelong theatre audience goer. And it shows. Both TICK TICK…BOOM and WEST SIDE STORY have 2 sides of the Theatre Gaze: TICK TICK…BOOM has a literal stage and theatrical set up for the 4th walled audience to connect directly to our main character’s inner experience and WEST SIDE STORY fades to fricken’ black between major scenes to give the idea of a stage performance. I do not like the theatre gaze in some cases, but THE TRAGEDY OF M*CBETH drips with it.
We are watching a stark, silvery black-and-white Denzel Washington and his Frances McDormand as they descend into the madness of fate. Their very staging rehearsal was done in a space with tape on the floor… much like a stage play is rehearsed. You can see how the production is set on individual stages and used sets the way it would be done – exactly in a live performance.
Except! For the close-ups. Joel Coen attended a screening this past week where he explained his use of the 3×4 aspect ratio being a tool to emphasis the use of “close-up.” It is striking.
Overall, I’d say that if you’re in the mood to stick with it in the comfort of your home, you’ll enjoy it. BUT I highly suggest you make the trip to the theatre and dress to the 9s. You’ll want to enjoy it the way it was meant to be watched: In a theater, cinema or otherwise.
I feel genuinely haunted by the images and moments from this film. I will not invoke the name of this tragic figure, I still think it’s bad luck. Especially now.
The leading couple had a lot to gush about one another, but here were my favorite quotes from our private screening event:
And my favorite quote from the evening: