Movies

Ten Film Adaptations of Shakespeare You Should Watch

Director Joss Whedon’s new ultra modern, black and white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has arrived in theaters – both here in DC and all over the country - and suddenly everyone in town seems to be besotted with the Bard.

To celebrate, this seems like a perfect time to talk about that most famous of British writers and the many great film versions of his work that are out there. Some are great, some are good, some are…a bit on the strange side, but nevertheless still a fantastic example of the many different ways that Shakespeare’s work can be interpreted hundreds of years after his death, and how his stories and characters still resonate with modern audiences.

Here are ten Shakespearean film adaptations that are worth watching – take a look and tell us what you think got left off the list in the comments.

Naomi Watts Plays the People’s Princess in Trailer for New Diana Biopic

British actress – and Academy Award nominee – Naomi Watts will be playing Princess Diana in an upcoming feature film. Titled simply Diana, the movie will explore the two years leading up to the sudden and tragic death of the “People’s Princess” in a car crash in France.

eOneFilms acquired the biopic at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will also be distributing it in the US, though no release date has been announced yet beyond “late 2013”. They released a trailer for it this week, which you can watch below:

Watch - First Trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug!

The trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment of Peter Jackon’s rather immense trilogy of films based on the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novel, has been officially been released – and yes, you finally get to see the dragon, along with what appears to be half the working actor population of England.

When last we left our heroes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, our intrepid crew comprised of dwarves, a wizard and a hobbit hadn’t even made it to the Lonely Mountain yet. So there’s still a lot to cover – and this trailer is packed full of all sorts of goodies sure to make Tolkien lovers swoon worldwide.

Back for another go-round are stars Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy, James Nesbitt, Peter Hambleton and many more.

The new trailer also gives us our first looks at Luke Evans’ Bard the Bowman, Evangeline Lily’s elf warrior princess Tauriel, and the return of a familiar face as Orlando Bloom puts the blonde Legolas wig on once again. (And seriously looks as though he has not aged at all. How?) And of course, Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch also shows up for the final shot – as a giant, scaly reptile that sleeps on top of a Scrooge McDuck-style pile of gold. (Cumberbatch is the voice of Smaug, but also provided the motion capture used for the dragon’s animation, much as Andy Serkis did with Gollum.)

Basically, it looks awesome.

Keira Knightley Looks Set to Join Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

The Amazing Cheekbones Battle of the Century may soon be upon us – actress Keira Knightley is apparently in talks to join Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch in upcoming biopic The Imitation Game, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, the film is focused on the life of Alan Turing, the British mathematician, cryptographer and all around genius who helped crack the German enigma code during World War II.

Cumberbatch has been attached to this film for some time, probably because he seems to have a knack for playing slightly tortured, high octane intellectual types (see also: Sherlock Holmes, Vincent Van Gogh, Stephen Hawking, etc) , so his casting as Turing is basically the definition of perfect.

Knightley – who is probably most well known for her role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and as Lizzie Bennett in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice remake – is apparently in talks to take on the role of a very conservative woman who develops a “complicated” relationship with Turing and is “there with him until the end.” Given that the end of Turing’s life was packed with tragedy – he was prosecuted by the British government for being homosexual, chose to undergo a hormone treatment known colloquially as chemical castration rather face prison and eventually committed suicide because he was so haunted by his decision – there ought to be plenty of messy emotional material for both Knightley and Cumberbatch to work with. (Protip: Pack tissues)

Watch the Trailer for The World’s End with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Martin Freeman

The US trailer for The World's End final installment in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy has arrived. Co-written with star Simon Pegg, the follow-up to popular comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is packed with notable British talent and dry humor, just like its predecessors. Pegg is reunited with frequent co-star Nick Frost and joined by a few other familiar faces, including Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike.

The story focuses on Gary King (played by Pegg), a 40 year old man who still isn’t quite over his teenage years. He recruits four of his childhood friends to re-attempt a marathon pub crawl from their youth, ending at the fabled World’s End pub. Of course, nothing goes as planned and the gang experiences that all-too familiar scenario of returning to your hometown only to find that it seems as though everything has changed without you. In this case, however, the reason for that feeling is because an army of robots has taken over the town’s residents, but whatever. Suddenly our pub crawlers are mankind’s only hope for survival and it’s suddenly more important that they make it to the World’s End than ever.

In short: This movie looks like a blast. (Though you probably already knew that if you’ve watched either Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead.) Take a look at the trailer below.

Missing Matthew Crawley? Keep an Eye Out for Dan Stevens’ New Movie

Are you missing Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley? Has the fact that star Dan Stevens changed his hair dramatically upset your day? Well, then, do I have the movie for you – Stevens' latest upcoming project is a film called Summer in February, and it’s a period drama set on the eve of World War I, in which Stevens plays a character who is agonizing over his feelings regarding a woman he can’t have.

Sound familiar, Matthew fans?

The film is based on the Jonathan Smith novel of the same name and tells the story of the dramatic real-life love triangle between painter Alfred Munnings (Dominc Cooper), his best friend Gilbert Evans (Stevens) and fellow artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). As you can see from the trailer below, Summer in February appears to feature a lot of angst and drama and crossed romantic signals and everything that we’re all missing in a world without Downton at the moment.

Take a look for yourself below.

First Look at Sherlock Star Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange

Production has officially begun on That WikiLeaks Movie with Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch. Now known as The Fifth Estate – presumably to avoid having to pay the licensing fee to David Bowie to use previously rumored title The Man Who Sold the World - the film is set to dramatize the controversial life of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after the 2006 launch of the WikiLeaks website. (Personally I’m rather sad about the loss of the previous title, if only because it seems a much better fit.)

Written by The West Wing alum Josh Singer, the film is based on the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website and Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. Bill Condon, most recently of The Twilight Saga, is directing and has assembled an all-star cast that’s positively bursting with familiar faces and talent, including Daniel Bruhl, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackenzie, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Dan Stevens and more. Translation: it’s got “awards bait” written all over it.

Still and all though, since this movie is basically the reason that production on Sherlock Series 3 got pushed back, it better be excellent, right? Weigh in for yourself below and get your first look at Cumberbatch as Assange – yes, complete with trademark white-blonde hair. It’s a bit of an adjustment to be sure (and a look that I doubt will set many teenage girls screaming a la his appearance in Star Trek), but oddly, creepily Cumberbatch really does looks like Assange. It’s merely unfortunate that Assange himself is, in fact, a bit creepy looking. See the larger version below.

Countdown to Middle Earth: Watch The Colbert Report’s Week-Long Hobbit Tribute

We’re less than a week away from the premiere of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which features a large percentage of the British acting population in some role or other, including Sherlock’s Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, MI-5’s Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Being Human’s Aidan Turner and more.

Those of us who are big fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth are over the moon at being so close finally getting to return to the world of hobbits, dwarves and wizards after a near ten-year absence. Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, is also a huge Tolkien enthusiast and featured a week-long tribute to The Hobbit on his show this past week. This included turning his set into a replica of Bag End and reimagining the map of New York, Lord of the Rings style.

Colbert featured four nights of interviews with The Hobbit cast – Freeman, McKellen and Serkis – as well as director Jackson. Watch all four below.

Martin Freeman: Utterly Perfect in this New TV Spot for The Hobbit

There’s less than a month to go until Peter Jackson’s epic Hobbit trilogy arrives in theaters with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. As the movie marketing machine ramps up, Hobbit mania is surely going to engulf us all – there may be a couple of new arrivals around the office here, as part of the countdown to this mportant day – so there will be no shortage of new promotional footage, interviews and other goodies to flail over in the coming days.

Like this new TV spot, for example. This new scene snippet not only provides a handy window into the film’s plot for those who are unfamiliar with the Hobbit story, but gives us our best look at Sherlock star Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo Baggins to date. Spoiler: He is perfect.

Watch: Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren in the Trailer for Hitchcock

Who knew British director Sir Alfred Hitchcock would be such a big deal in 2012? BBC Two drama The Girl which chronicles the making of his classic film The Birds (and Hitchcock’s obsession with actress Tippi Hedren) is already set to premiere later this month on HBO, and now a feature film version of his struggle to get horror masterpiece Psycho filmed is due in theaters this November.

Hitchcock stars Oscar winner Sir Anthony Hopkins as the famous director, alongside the equally formidable Dame Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville. Avengers star Scarlett Johansson plays the infamous Janet Leigh, destined to be knifed to death in the shower of the Bates Motel (a.k.a that scene from Psycho everyone knows even if they’ve never seen Psycho). Click through to watch the trailer for Hitchcock, and tell us how you think Hopkins stacks up against The Girl’s Toby Jones.

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