Me: "That's Gerard Butler."
Caitlyn: "Oh. That explains it."
My good friend Caitlyn and I went to see Corolianus last night at the Lincoln Center Film Society Theater Thing That Is Very Hard to Find and Has a Very Expensive Concessions Stand But Friendly Workers Who Compliment You and Make You Glad That You Went to the Movies.
Corolianus is a lesser-known Shakespeare play, which some random woman exiting theater called "the most difficult play in [Shakespeare's] canon," and I respect her authority as someone who knew how to get to the Lincoln Center Film Society Theater Thing etc. The sort of dumb teenager sitting the row behind us likened it to "Romeo plus Juliet, haha," but he also said to his date, immediately as the end credits began to roll, "So, have you ever seen Maid in Manhattan?" So, I do not respect his authority.
Though, I can vaguely see where he was coming from, in that it is a modern staging of Shakespeare using the original language. Here's the thing, though, random mildly-douchey kid - Baz Luhrmann was hardly the only person to do that in the last twenty years. Sigh. CHILDREN, AM I RIGHT?
Ralph Fiennes both directed and acted the lead, and I know he's a respected actor and everything, but I really couldn't stop thinking "Oh my god, why is Voldemort in fatigues? Why is Voldemort kissing a human? Why is Voldemort hanging out with Gerard Butler?" It was a serious, serious problem, you guys.
I mean, sure, in this movie, he has a nose. TRIFLES, I SAY.
Anyway. Back to the actual movie.
So, without giving too much away, Corolianus is the story of a general who is incredibly proud, loses his home, and swears revenge. It felt very urgent - the scenes of war had an unmistakable feel of Iraq footage, something that I don't think anyone from my generation and above could possibly miss. There was even a bit that played out like an Al Qaeda video.
The basis of the greater conflict is a famine that has hit Rome, and the movements of the people screamed of Arab Spring and the riots in London. Seriously, all of this just hit so close to home, felt so true and some of the footage I would've sworn was taken from actual rioting that's taken place recently. It's a very dark and violent film, guys.
The one sort of violence reprieve is the intensely homoerotic relationship between Corolianus (Fiennes) and Aufidius (Butler). They're sworn enemies, with the sort of burning, passionate hatred that you just sort of assume could just as easily turn into a knife fight or some really scary sex. There were a lot of moments - long, tense minutes - where it was difficult to tell which direction it was going to go. To me, their relationship was the most believable one in the entire film. Corolianus' interactions with his mother, wife, child, friends - all pale in comparison to his smoldering eye-sex with Aufidius.
There was a whole lot of homoeroticism, actually, which Caitlyn said really improved the movie for her. "I was worried that all the violence was going to stress me out even more than I have been lately," she said, while smoking a post-film cigarette while we walked to a bar on 51st and 8th, "but then, imagining the relationship between Voldemort and Gerard Butler really, uh, relaxed me."
I may be paraphrasing slightly.
Something else I really appreciated about this film was the breadth of accents. It always bothers me when a movie takes place anywhere in Europe (or Asia, or Africa, for that matter) and the accents are all British. It really, really gets under my skin. So when you have the war tribunal, and you have men speaking with Italian accents, and British accents, and German accents, and then you think about it and you're like, what's up, EU! Then Butler has a sort of brogue that he seemed to slip in and out of a bit, but that was also very interesting and helped with the idea that he and Voldemort (I'm sorry, I'll stop) were mortal enemies.
Let's see, what else do I have to say... I would definitely recommend going to see it, but I'd also advise only going if you're going to want to have a serious conversation about war and the state of the world right now.
Finally, one of the previews was for Pina, which is a totally crazy-looking dance piece that I really want to see, but didn't think I would take Caitlyn to, and then while we're in the theater and the preview comes on, she says:
"Oh! Is this the other thing we were thinking about seeing? Oh. Oh. I don't know. I think I might like it? But it's also making me really uncomfortable? And I think I might hate it?"
And I said, "That is exactly what I thought you would think. I am a movie psychic."
Don't you worry, Wim Wenders. You're up next.