Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/16: A Good 10,000 Steps, Summer Rolls and Noodle Salad, *Macbeth* Unnerved Me

1. I walked over 10, 000 steps today and never had any lasting discomfort in my right foot. I took in the Sube for an oil change and walked back home from the Sunoco station and walked back down to pick up the Sube and I walked some more later in the day when I went to Silver Spring to see the 2015 movie version of Macbeth.

2. The temperature hovered in the low 80s today, but it was a steamy day, climaxing just before Macbeth started at 7 p.m. with violent thunder and relentless rain, rain hammering the streets so hard that when the movie had ended around 9 or so, I couldn't leave the theater for another fifteen minutes or so until things settled down a bit. Because it was so steamy, I did not order a bowl of pho at Pho Tan Vinh in Silver Spring. Instead, I ordered, for starters, summer rolls, rice paper stuffed with basil, shrimp, and rice vermicelli noodles accompanied by a tasty peanut sauce for dipping. My meal was a bowl of cold rice vermicelli noodles combined with chopped lettuce, diced cucumber, shaved pickled carrots, and grated pickled daikon served with a fish sauce on the side -- a salad dressing, really. It was a very refreshing meal, perfect for a sultry Maryland afternoon.

3. As I watched the 2015 movie Macbeth (directed by Justin Kurzel), based on, but conceived in many ways independently of Shakespeare's play, I kept thinking back to the 1971 Peter Brook movie version of King Lear. One striking difference between the two movies is that Brook's film is in black and white, whereas Kerzel's Macbeth is shot in foggy, fiery, blood-soaked color. Like Brook's King Lear, this movie strips the script's language of explicit vigor, as if the weight of each story's events, crushing the psyche of both King Lear and Macbeth, also renders their speech flat, sometimes mumbly, often fatigued. It's anti-theatrical. Tonight, because this version of Macbeth was so vivid in its portrayal of medieval savagery, because its cinematography and action was so focused on the basic elements of air (fog), fire, earth, flesh, and blood -- and, early on, sex -- and because the actors spoke their lines within the intimacy of a sound stage, not the spaciousness of a theater stage, I reveled in the fact that this was in every way a movie version of Macbeth.

At times, the thought ran through my head that Kurzel was deliberately creating a movie antithetical to what we might expect from Shakespeare's Macbeth: often the movie's pace is slow, deliberate, not the more traditional helter skelter pace of the play. I heard every set speech in the play differently than I ever had because their rhythms and emphases went against the grain of how I've heard them performed so many times over the years. The movie characterizes Lady Macbeth in a more complex way than I've ever experienced her.  Are the tears she sheds, fully awake, not sleepwalking, during her "Out damned spot!" monologue, tears of repentance and regret?  As the credits rolled, I could feel it:  I was unnerved. Whether the movie was good or whether I liked it or whether I would recommend it doesn't really matter much. I can't answer those questions.  What matters is its impact.

This movie unnerved me.

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