Hamlet Screen 7 articles

Hamlet

2000

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  • The joke only goes so far, and even at a relatively svelte 112 minutes Hamlet comes apart in its final third. Effectively snarky to begin with, reasonably mad throughout the middle scenes, Hawke has nothing left but attitude for the finale, particularly once the supporting cast begins dropping out around him. Can we term this a vanity project? Well before TV commentator Robert MacNeil appears to deliver the suitably glib wrap-up, it's apparent that "the rest is silence."

  • While Luhrmann wallowed in colourful Hispanic excess, Almereyda heads north, bathing his picture in icy blue neons, stark Arctic whites, chilly metallic sheens. Michael Mann territory, in other words – we even get Diane Venora popping up as Gertrude. But Almereyda misses the point – Mann would never allow his stylish visuals to be undermined by these lapses of attention and judgement.

  • If a soulessness creeps into Almereyda's "Hamlet," it's more because the bounty of this project is richer than he's prepared to tackle. Its timelessness and timeliness seem to be dueling for primacy as though one or the other has to win. Is the film the moodiest, most atmospheric, audacious Ethan Hawke movie ever - or an inventive recalibration of Shakespeare to comment on a corporate culture?

  • Modern-dress versions of Shakespeare rarely amount to much more than attention-grabbing stunts, but Michael Almereyda’s take on the gloomy Dane, set in the clubs and corporate hallways of Manhattan circa what we then called Y2K, succeeds in finding a witty new angle on the text. For one thing, it jettisons quite a lot of said text—Act 1, Scene 1, for example, which would seem to be fairly important, is nowhere to be found.

  • Michael Almereyda’s somber, gorgeous, darkly glittering “Hamlet,” set in New York in the early days of the 21st century, is so perfectly modern, and yet so mindful of the tradition of the play, that it seems to exist in two worlds at once. There’s no sense that the narrative texture had to be jazzed up in order to make the material seem relevant to a modern audience. If anything, Almereyda’s “Hamlet” is a meditation on the timelessness of the material.

  • It’s fitting that the most existential of plays should function as a kind of test, and fortunate that the first Michael Almereyda picture to get full mainstream exposure should also turn out to be his best to date. But what’s being tested isn’t either Shakespeare or Almereyda but the present moment: that is, the film asks how and how much we’re capable of living in the world Shakespeare wrote about.

  • Like Godard, he fuses the ancient with the contemporary by unapologetically setting his story in the present day... Ethan Hawke’s slacker intellectual sifts through his memories and recollections by capturing them on his Pixel camera. In this way, he’s the prototypical Almereyda protagonist.

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