I Want My Shakespeare!

Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Baz Lurhmann’s film is Shakespeare filtered through MTV.  He wisely leaves the original dialogue intact, while modernizing the presentation to look like a hip hop video, forcing us to pay even more attention to the language.

Released before Titanic (1997) catapulted Leonardo DiCapprio to superstardom, he brings a steady confidence to the star-crossed lover.

Juliet was originally offered to Natalie Portman, but producers were uncomfortable with how young she seemed in her scenes with DiCapprio’s Romeo.  Fortunately, Claire Danes is exactly how I imagine the young Capulet.

The all-star supporting cast includes Paul Sorvino, M. Emmet Walsh, Paul Rudd, John Leguizamo, Miriam Margoyles, and Pete Postlethwaite.

Watch this to be reminded how timeless Shakespeare is.

This film was replaced as my favorite film of 1996 by The Crucible.

24 hour intervals in Paradise

Days of Heaven (1978)Days of Heaven (1978)

Terrence Malick’s second major film contains many of what would become his defining characteristics: it’s slow and plodding, beautifully composed, and filled with Biblical allusions.

After Bill (Richard Gere) kills his boss, he flees with his girlfriend, Abby, and her sister, Linda, to the Texas panhandle and takes a job on a large farm.

When Bill learns the wealthy owner of the farmer is dying, he schemes for Abby to marry the farmer so they can inherit his money, but his plans are complicated when the farmer recovers and Abby falls in love with him.

Composed like a series of paintings, this muted soap opera infused version of the story of Abraham and Sarah may be the most beautiful Malick film.

This film was replaced as my favorite film of 1978 by Autumn Sonata.