We've all wondered about William Shakespeare's love-life. I mean, just the other day, I was asking a friend "hey do you ever wonder about Shakespeare's love-life?" Okay, that's total baloney, but it was the premise for last night's film, "Shakespeare In Love" which starred Joseph Fiennes, Colin Firth, and Gwyneth "Yes I'm better than you" Paltrow. The idea was that Shakespeare had a terrible original idea for "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter" but then was inspired by the love he felt for a pasty woman (played by Paltrow) who dressed like a man and made him feel all sorts of sexual confusion (ha, now we know how the guy from Coldplay feels! Take that, Coldplay!) but ultimately regains his muse and writes Romeo and Juliet and then a bunch of other plays that have gone on to plague high school English students for centuries.
Frankly, making kids read plays in high school? Not only cruel, but stupid. I mean, you don't come home after a hard day's work and say "I really like NBC's 'The Office', so instead of watching the show being performed on the telly by actors, I'll just read the script for this week's episode." Plays are fine to watch, but read? Weak!
Anyway, Dame Judy Densch (who got the "Dame" title from hanging out with the Rat Pack far too much in her youth; had she spent more time with them we'd be knowing her as "Broad Judy Densch") got the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her 8 minutes of acting time as Queen Elizabeth, and of course Ben Affleck played a pompous, vacuous actor which I'm sure was a stretch for him. The director probably had to just say "be yourself, but do it with an unconvincing English accent".
But the main question I had was with the arranged marriage between Paltrow's character and Firth's character (Lord Wessex), where the Lord was all about the marriage and Paltrow wasn't because she didn't love him. This is a common theme in movies that take place in olden days or India--marriages are arranged for the families or politics, and one or both parties doesn't feel "love" and so they rebel against it. Just once I'd like to see the cliche broken, where there's an obvious arranged marriage and yet BOTH parties are like "hey, there's no love, but plenty of money, and you can always buy hookers."
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