Monday, March 21, 2011

A serpent's tooth

Because I've had it out from Netflix since before legislative session started, I finally got around to watching Confetti, a mockumentary about three couples vying for "Most Original Wedding" and fame and fortune on the cover of a wedding magazine.

The problem from the start was that two of the three couples didn't seem to work as couples. And the couple that did had the most gender-stereotyped nostalgic wedding (a Top Hat-esque musical number), and (spoiler alert) of course they won the contest. Ironically, I thought the really annoying couple (super-competitive tennis players) had the most original wedding, and the nudist couple were just there for shock value.

I think the film was trying to mimic Christopher Guest's hilarious faux-documentaries, but it in my mind it fell far short.

In a similar vein, I found myself a little disappointed with Fool, Christopher Moore's retelling of King Lear from the fool's point of view. It took great liberties with the plot, which was to be expected.

The concept was great - since the fool appears so little in Shakespeare's play (plays if you count the quarto and folio as two), his off-stage activities leave a lot to be imagined. It turns out, in Moore's story, that he is secretly directing the flow of events by both accident and design. It's an old theme: the fool as wise man, the caste-less as the most noble or powerful, the public funny face contrasting with the private personal struggles, the acerbic wit a biting social commentary.

As the author's postscript notes, the play was performed for centuries with a rewritten happier ending, so this particular new revision is nothing new. I was intrigued for the first half of the book, when it largely paralleled the original, but then by the end got tired of the obvious deviation from it. Honestly, most of it was the numerous incestuous plot twists - though true to both the time and the rank of the characters themselves, this modern reader was really grossed out and disturbed by it all.

There were, however, several clever aspects that I loved. For starters, chapters were peppered with casual quotes (and characters!) from Shakespeare's other works, which were great little inside jokes. Turning Shakespeare's greatest tragedy into a partially irreverent sex romp was also subversively laudable.

In the end, I appreciate all Shakespeare retellings, remakes, reiterations, and reduxes. I don't always love them all (like this one), but I love the creativity that goes into re-imagining a well-known and well-regarded classic.

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