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Why, hello folks. We're cranking on the ol' podcast handle again, and this time we find Snow White and the Huntsman and A Fantastic Fear of Everything skittering out. Join us for their reviewification, and as a bonus we also pretend to be all cultured and talk about Macbeth.
I don't think anyone in particular was screaming out for another take on Snow White this year, let alone two. Regardless, Snow White and the Huntsman joins Mirror, Mirror as this year's public domain fairytale inspired outings, and proves to be surprisingly entertaining. Surprisingly in this case being that I hadn't expected much from it, but Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart put in reasonably charismatic performances and have enough chemistry to make this darker than usual twist on the material work. The supporting cast, particularly the dwarves, are laden with talent and Charlize Theron vamps wildly as the evil Queen Snow White must overthrow by force of arms. With some of the most strikingly pretty and effective (and expensive) visuals of recent years and more characterisation than we've come to expect from tentpoles I'm pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable Snow White and the Huntsman is.
Simon Pegg takes centre stage for A Fantastic Fear of Everything, which you could almost mistake for being a one man, one room play for most of its running time. Pegg takes the role of Jack, a frustrated, neurotic writer of children's books currently researching a Victorian serial killer based adult-aimed novel. Unfortunately he's not the most stable of personalities for such an endeavour, and soon his neuroses become delusions and he's jumping at his own shadow. A lot of the first hour seems to reduce to Pegg hamming up reactions to bizarre, imagined threats while getting to the heart of some childhood traumas, and all the while I'm not too sure if I'm supposed to be laughing at him or sympathising with him. The weird tone its taken leaves me rather cold, and while the last half hour picks up a lot it feels like it's taken from a completely different film. It's quirky enough that I'm sure it will wind up being a cult classic for some, but I'm happier to recommend avoiding this.
The polite thing to say about the Alan Cumming starring, John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg directed adaptation of MacBeth that's just finishing up at Glasgow's Tramway Theatre is that it does not lack for radical ambition, but perhaps its reach somewhat exceeds its grasp. The slightly less polite version would be that it's a total disaster that makes a classic plot of ambition, betrayal and madness, and turns it into a circus sideshow, stripped of all meaning and sense. We're introduced to Cumming being checked into a psychiatric ward, somewhat bloodstained after some form of trauma, and he then proceeds to rattle off the entirety (nearly) of MacBeth as a one man monologue, taking (nearly) all of the roles himself, attempting to differentiate them with mannerisms and accents. A bold interpretation, and an impressive feat of memory from Cumming, but sadly his acting doesn't match it. Admittedly, I'm no fan of Cummings' style, but then again I'm not sure anyone could do it any better. I expect anyone would have to go down the comedy accent and wild vamping routes to distinguish between characters, and the sometime intended and often unintended comic effects of this undermine the meaning of the work. Top marks for effort and imagination, inverse top marks for execution.
That's yer lot, freakazoids. Catch you on the flipside.