& the slipper still fits

henry iv part 1

Sorry for the delay lovelies! I've have an insane last couple of weeks and unfortunately, the computer usage has been at a minimum. If you've been waiting for this - I'm sorry!

Henry IV pt. 1 is tells (like Richard) more the rise of who will become Henry V. The man we'll know as Hal. Like his father, Hal walks among the people; unlike is his father, he takes to the bars and seedy areas of London to have fun and get drunk. Hal has a plan in this - one which he confides in the audience - to be a failure and a playboy, a good old friend to those who seem the most human of us, will only lead him to greater esteem when he rises to the occasion. Smartly, he understands that the rise of man with faults becomes a much greater legend than a good courtly prince who will be King.

Unfortunately, his cousin Hotspur (also named Henry) is everything the court wishes Hal would be, and King Henry IV even wishes Hotspur was his son more than Hal. In the play Hotspur angers the king (though Henry IV respects his actions) and is demanded to turn over the prisoners and loot he took in a battle. Refusing his uncle Hotspur, would rather go to war to protect what he considers his - and, you know, take the throne too if need be.

This conflict sets the stage for Hal's rise to glory and his chance to prove to his father he is the proper son. Which, SPOILERS!!! he does.

Because this is one of my absolutely favorite Shakespeare plays (seriously. I adore) I thought I'd highlight my favorite moments without getting too complicated or oh-so-lit-major on you.

Um...I'm not sure how this is still up, but just saying - you can find everything on youtube if you look hard enough. YOUTUBE LINK HERE

Henry IV's opening speech

Prince Hal is a party boy. He hangs out with drunks in bars and brothels; the stories of his mis-adventures are numerous and have many gory details and as a prince, well, he kinda sucks. Sure the "low-lifes" of London love him, but if the court isn't loyal, not much else will matter. Hotspur is Hal's cousin and he's the golden boy- he's everything Henry wishes his son was. In this opening speech Henry tells his closest advisers so, and we realize there is absolutely no love loss between this father and son. Henry refers to his son as a changling boy, a fairy who was traded with his real son when he was just born.

Hal's speach

Falstaff is hands-down one of Shakespeare's best characters. He's a brilliant man in the disguise of a fool. He's all of London embodied in one man asking the future king what kind of king he will be. (If you parallel this play against the angst going on in Elizabethan Court, you love it even more.) Much of Falstaff's lines return to one question for Hal, "Will there be gallows when you are king?" Hal repeats that there will be, but Falstaff will be the executioner. Ultimately Hal is stating while there will be law, but London/England will be his judge and jury. Just like his father, Hal is a brilliant mind. He tells us so in his soliloquy - the rise of a king is much better from ashes than from a gilded cage. This speech is beautiful and Tom's inflection during the voice-over is just stunning.      

Roles reversed

Hal's last night before war ends in a small play. Hal playing his father and Falstaff playing Hal. Here we not only get to see Tom play the pants off pretending to be Jeremy Irons, but we see Hal draw a clear line in the sand between Falstaff and himself. I think the scene speaks for itself. You know this is Hal's goodbye not just to Falstaff. We see Hal cut his own image to shreds and realize he knows exactly what kind of man he's portrayed to everyone - a fact he now chooses to change. (Sidenote: total girl sidenote - do you see those hands??? OMG ladies, let us take a moment to appreciate those hands.)

A Complimentary Hal

At the battle (this is not THE hollow crown battle btw, that happens later), Hal overshadows Hotspur - willing to fight with courage against him in single combat to save the lives of thousands of soldiers. This should be a reasonable parlay. Hotspur, had he ever heard the offer, most likely would have agreed. But Hotspur's envoys never tell him of the offer and so battle wages forward. This speech by Hal and the offer of his sacrifice for all solidifies the people's loyalty for him and his father's respect.

The battle ends with Hal's victory. Although Falstaff tries to take it for himself. And Hal allows him to take the glory this one last time. Symbolically, Hal is allowing England to rule the victory, to take all the glory and pomp. It shows that Hal will be a king not out for his own glory, but the glory of England. Can you tell I LOVE this play?!

Next up, is part 2 of Henry IV, where we crown a new king, have another battle, and see some parts of Falstaff you can't burn out of your eyes.    

this is not a love song

It's more of a gushing, glorious, excited post about The Hollow Crown

Last week I was given the best gift by a discerning friend - the four episodes of The Hollow Crown. When the series first aired in England, I'll admit, I stayed ignorant just so I wouldn't get obsessed. Someone's gotta look out for my own sanity.

Well, I decided to just to go for it. My rebound with obsessions has been better as of late, and the only thing it could change, my was opinion of Tom Hiddleson. 

I'm going to open up here a little - I didn't know the Hollow Crown was actually 4 Shakespeare plays grouped together. I hoped. I wished. But I really didn't think BBC would group them and call them something else. MOM WAS FURIOUS when we started watching. It's not that she doesn't enjoy a Shakespeare play every now and then, but she need preparation before such things, and so she just couldn't focus at all. 

Luckily, this particular series of historical plays have been my friends since my senior year of college. I remember ever so fondly reading out Falstaf's parts with my roommate and writing essays about the importance of Hal's transformation. Just thinking about that last semester has me glowing. I loved that class. I would have killed to have 3 more of them. We had the prefect professor, a great group of kids, and the fearlessness as seniors to just go for it. Those days were glorious and we knew it. 

So, watching The Hollow Crown has been a mixture of those feelings and the powerful performances before me; mixed with a healthy does of telling my mom what's going on. (Too many Henry/Hal/Harry (s) for her liking.)

For this post, I'm going to do a short run-down of Richard II, the first mini-movie in the series; and over the next month, we'll be discusses all four. (Hiddleson is in the 2-4 movies ladies -- you'll have to wait till next week.) 

Richard II

The film opens with some of our favorite BBC actors before the court, Ben Whishaw presiding over them as Richard II. This Shakespeare play does not have a particularly captivating scope. Much of the action takes place in the palace, on the shores of England, or in "the countryside". Likewise, much of the focus in Richard II is aptly on Richard and his loss of the throne. We are not supposed to focus in Henry IV's rise, so much as poor Richard's fall. 

Whishaw is strangely magnetic in the role - his mannerisms feminine and his voice child-like. Much of the time, my pity for the character seems to stem more from what appears to be his fragile state. This is not a man like Richard III to come. This king, though he does fight, does not cling to his crown with the fervor of a man sure of himself and his right to lead. 

But Richard does have some breath-taking speeches. And Whishaw breathes life into them with such dedication it is hard to imagine them spoken by anyone else. Likewise, in Richard II it is the small parts which have some of the best lines in the play.  

I know this review is short, but I don't have much impassioned focus on it. Wait till I cover Henry IV part 1 next week...

Who you'll see
Ben Whishaw, Patrick Stewart, David Bradley, Lindsay Duncan, Rory Kinner, David Morrissey, Clemence Posey, and James Purefoy.     

Check out the youtube search for more.
PBS should be airing The Hollow Crown series in the US in 2013

Summer lull - watch Girls

There are some shows that take themselves too seriously. They know it, you know it, and the whole world or critics seems to think that because of this, their work is true cinematic genius. Those shows end up on the list of "best shows you're not watching". Then there are the shows that think they're funny. They think it and for some reason we go along with it. Those shows win emmys.

Both have been said about HBO's series Girls. Well, with the small amount of dead time I had before the Olympics took over 2 weeks of my life I was able to watch the 10 episode season at HBO Go. While there are moments that the show seems too serious and melodramatic without realizing it, it is also refreshingly funny - in that ironic way, most of the time. Thus, I'm sure it will end up on the "watch me, please" list and win emmys.

Take for example our main character Hannah Horvath - she's awkward and sarcastic and tries very hard to be funny, but much of the time she seems to be cracking a joke, I don't know if I'm supposed to laugh or sit stone-faced. It's an interesting challenge for this viewer and I really enjoy the sense of imbalance her character brings. While other characters are more together - at least you think in the beginning of the series - Hanna is a hot mess: just out of college she has no job, wants to be a writer, wants her boyfriend to love her more than she loves him without understanding the clear boundaries of their relationship, and is constantly dealing with a skewed body image most girls would understand. She's not the adventurous one, she's not the perfect one, and she's not the quirky one. What kind of girl is Hanna then? That's what the whole first season is trying to define for us. 

Every time I was an episode, riddled with Hanna's self-loathing/self-loving, I feel like I should be using the hash tag #firstworldproblems for any comments I may have. And for some reason, you feel like the show knows that and is commenting simultaneously on how important/unimportant these 4 girls' problems are.

And I'll try not to gush about how Girls is the brain child of Lena Dunham who writes, produces, stars, and even directs (an episode) the show. Point blank - it makes the show even more fantastic for this girl right here.

Think a gritter, angrier Sex in the City, if we really need a comparison. Though somehow, I don't think that does either show justice."Girls" is a refreshing short season to watch this summer. Bravo HBO for green-lighting a show without supernatural anything in it or politics.