The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 11, 1999 -
l3ard's intense passion recreated in
By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
Ingenious words of poetry only bolster a love story.
That's why screenwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
struck harmonious chords of passion and intensity in the
st triumphant romantic comedy, "Shakespeare in 4
Based upon evidence that playwright William T
Shakespeare may have been inspired by a lover to write - .
"Romeo and Juliet," this film succeeds enormously on _ltw r
many levels through wit and romance. 4,A.
Set in London in 1593, young Shakespeare (Joseph
Fiennes) struggles to cope with
"writer's block," ambling through the
first few stanzas of a play with a not-
so-catchy title, "Romeo and Ethel,
Shakespeare the Pirate's Daughter." While
In Love Shakespeare is the master of poetry,
we learn, at least in this film, that he
receives plot suggestions from others
At Showcase with eager willingness. Neverthe-
and State less, his draught in writing is over-
come when he finds his muse, Lady
Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow). She dis-
guises herself as a male player in
order to fulfill her dream of perform-
ing poetry and expose herself to
those geniuses who emotionally
inspire her within herself. Will is this
person, the object of her affection, and Viola and Will
strive through all obstacles to maintain their connection
with one another.
What works so well with this film is that Shakespeare
are masterfully imbued with the fondness of poetry and the
desire for one another. - -
Not only does "Shakespeare in Love" produce such-
unadulterated fervor, but it also boasts strong acting from,
a unique cast. Geoffrey Rush is comical as an anxiety-rid-:
den liaison between the owners of the theaters and the
writers whose plays are performed there. As usual, Ben
Affleck plays the egotistical character, only managing.
(unknowingly) to snag just a minor role in Will's play as:
Mercutio. Colin First, as Viola's undesirable fiance Lord
Wessex, and Tom Wilkinson, as a stuttering, blundering
financier, are equally masterful.
Though few and far between, the sparse bits of dialogue
from Judi Dench's role as the Queen are enough to
undoubtedly allow her to wear the crown for the best per-
formance in "Shakespeare in Love."
The Queen seals the fate of Will and Viola through psy-.
chological intuition and judiciousness. She affirms the:
love not only between Will and Viola but also through her
revelation of the existence of emotion in stage dramas,.'
which were otherwise known to be thought of as merely
While the film isn't to be hailed for its historical accu-
racy (Viola is to sail to Virginia to live on a tobacco plan-
tation, but in 1593 there is no Virginia yet), it is certainly
accented through through wonderful costuming.
Shakespeare, a poor playwright, dons the same shabby old
leather jacket throughout the film. The wealthy Viola, on
the other hand wears luxurious clothing that stands out yet
isn't ostentatious enough to detract from her beauty.
Director of the equally smart film, "Her Majesty Mrs.
Brown," John Madden II has succeeded again in transpos-
ing an antiquated story into a highly entertaining spectacle.
Courtesy of Miramax Films
Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Flennes share a romantic moment in "Shakespeare In Love."
emits raw spontaneity and inspiration through his charac-
ter, from moments when he dashes towards his quill and
stool to begin scribbling away, to his lengthy yet persistent
runs through the streets of London in search of Viola.
Soon all of his instinctual desires are translated into pas-
sion and poetry in the love encounters with Viola, which
'Cuba' falls into predictable plot
The seemingly inexorable
Elmore Leonard renaissance con-
tinued in force throughout 1998.
Actually, renaissance is a little mis-
leading, for the Detroit-area
author's career continues to experi-
ce achievements unprecedented
or Leonard - that is, until the last
couple of years.
It's not as if Leonard, who now lives
in Birmingham, was suddenly rescued
from Tin Pan Alley. His dozens of
crime novels, dating back to the '60s,
had already earned the author a com-
fortable living and a dedicated cult of
followers. He was also a critics' dar-
ling, by general acclamation the best
crime writer alive.
1* "Cuba Libre," it turns out, is a
departure for Leonard. It is not only
a return to the Western milieu that
Leonard dabbled in very early in
his career, but it is a piece of his-
torical fiction deeply entrenched in
its distinctive setting: Cuba 1898,
squarely at the outbreak of the
Fans need not fear, however:
"Cuba Libre" is still essentially a
Leonard crime novel, chiefly con-
cerned with the potential score of a
lifetime and questions of who's-
This time, Leonard's endearing
rogue of a protagonist is Ben Tyler,
an expert cowboy and convicted
bank robber who, upon his release,
gets talked into a scheme running
guns to the Cuban insurgents by his
old cowpunching boss Charlie
Burke. Of course, the scheme first
goes very wrong, then develops
into something abundantly more
complicated, involving train rob-
bery, kidnapping (real and staged),
press fraud, and a desirable yet dan-
gerous female accomplice.
Leonard's strengths, his lightning
pacing and his unmatched genius
for dialogue, are intact, and the dia-
logue does not glare with period
incredibility despite its millennial
Overall, however, matters are not
up to the level of Leonard's best,
like "Get Shorty" and "Riding the
Rap." A lot has to do with
Leonard's interest in the historical
backdrop of the igniting war, about
which the reader is frequently told.
Leonard's digressions come off as
just that, diluting the unique
One gets the impression that the
author simply milked the centenni-
al opportunity to include a topic he
evidently enjoys, considering the
much smaller history lesson on
Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders he
worked into "Get Shorty."
Furthermore, some plot twists
seem more predictable than prime
Dutch Leonard turf ought to, includ-
ing certain characters who practically
wear neon tattoos that they will, say,
die early, or double-cross our hero.
Nonetheless, the craftsmanship
and gusto still grabs the reader,
who ought to need no more than a
long afternoon to tear through a
breakneck 350 pages. It would take
a true believer, though, to shell out
the funds for the hardcover edition
of what is truly a born paperback.
The Tonto Woman and
Other Western Stories
Lately it seems that author and
Detroit native Elmore Leonard has
received more attention for the film
adaptations of his crime capers ("Get
Shorty," "Jackie Brown" and "Out of
Sight") than his actual work as a writer.
This is not due to any shortcoming on
his part but rather the fact that the
majority of the adaptations have been
high profile releases that were well
received by critics and audiences. As an
author, Leonard works in two genres:
crime and westerns.
Leonard's latest, "The Tonto Woman
and Other Western Stories," is a collec-
tion of short stories that the author
mainly wrote for pulp magazines before
he worked on novels. The 19 stories
deal with everything from stolen buffa-
lo skins to a son taking revenge for his
father's death. The majority of the tales
are less than 20 pages each, but a few of
the stories are significantly longer.
Some of the superior stories are "The
Colonel's Lady," involving an Apache
and a kidnapped girl, "The Big Hunt," a
first person account which involves a
homeless boy and some pieces of gold,
and "The Tonto Woman."
The book's title story is told in flash-
back, a trademark of Leonard's work,
and deals with a married woman who
was outcast by her husband after her
face was tattooed by the Mojaves. The
woman comes into contact with a roam-
ing criminal and the situation comes to
a head when her husband enters the
mix, letting it be known that he's not too
pleased with his wife hanging out with
this mysterious man.
Leonard does a fine job creating the
setting of the stories, making the reader
feel as if they were in the old West. The
author does extensive research for his
work and it pays off, creating a mood
that is just as important to the stories as
any of their quirky characters.
The one glaring component that the
book lacks is some sort of introduction
by Leonard or background information
on the stories. Even something short
would give readers a little more insight
to where the stories come from and how
Leonard's career got started. There is
nothing that indicates the origin of the
stories, so many readers could get the
wrong impression about the book.
Despite the lack of an introduction,
"The Tonto Woman and Other Western
Stories" is an enjoyable read that should
be of great interest to the author's fans.
- Matthew Barrett
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We're looking for thinkers. Not just their diplomas.
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Andrcan 'nnc.mltinn nrecwntatinn-Mnndav. anunarv 11- 7:00 n.m. Michian Union. Kuenzel Room.