William Shakespeare

The 10 Best Faithful Shakespeare Adaptations on Film

This week, Roman Polanski’s scorching 1971 adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth makes its Blu-ray debut (thanks, once again, to the fine folks at the Criterion Collection). It’s a terrific movie; and noteworthy as being a Shakespeare adaptation that is mostly done “straight” — i.e., basically as written, rather than relocated to outer space or a high school or the mob underworld or anything crazy like that. In fact, it seems more difficult to just do the play, without all the bells and whistles. Here are a few savvy filmmakers who’ve pulled it off. … Read More

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50 of the Greatest Characters in Literature

One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the… Read More

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Bad Poets of Pop Culture: A Brief Survey

Are you a bad poet? Are your rhymes ridiculous? Your meter mediocre? Your enjambments a joke? Well, take heart, gentle friend: you’re not alone. Some of the best characters in fiction of all kinds also happen to be terrible poets — whether their deficiency is played for laughs (or tears) or whether they’re actually so bad they’re kind of good. Hey, something to aspire to! After the jump, a brief survey of some of the best bad poets in pop culture. Add any favorites missing here to the list in the comments. … Read More

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Read This Before This: 10 Great Books Based on Other Great Books

Literature is a never-ending, overlapping, sometimes circular conversation — between writers, between readers, between books themselves. This fact can make for some fascinating and rewarding reading. After all, what’s more interesting than listening in on one genius talking to another? There are some novels that are better if you have a little bit of background going in — and sometimes that background is nothing more or less than another great novel. Here are a few books you should pair the way you would a fine wine with an excellent cheese — each enhancing the other and making for a very satisfying… Read More

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25 Great Pieces of Life Advice From Literature

Everyone could use a bit of advice now and then. But what if you’re the type who eschews all human contact and prefers to converse only with characters in your books? Well, er, then even they might not be able to help you. All kidding aside, as any avid reader will know, many of the great works of literature are filled with wisdom, which you could do worse than to take to heart — especially in these back-to-school weeks, a time when a little extra advice can always help. Here, you’ll find a few nuggets of humanhood as doled out by literary (read: fictional!) characters who know a thing or… Read More

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5 Movies That Should Have Been Rated PG-13 — And 5 That Shouldn’t Have

Thirty years ago this month, John Milius’ Cold War wet dream Red Dawn rolled into theaters, helping launch the careers of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey. But it also launched a significant chapter in movie history: it was the first film released to theaters carrying the new PG-13 rating, a Goldlocks-ish “just right” nestled between the PG and the R. But as with all things MPAA-related, the PG-13 became a giant clusterfuck in the three decades hence, as its desirability led studios and filmmakers to push the rating to its absolute breaking point — loading up their PG-13 blockbusters with dead bodies while the ratings agency’s bean counters tallied “F-words” and bare butts. So to celebrate this dubious anniversary, let’s take a look back at ten cases where the 30-year-old rating was woefully… Read More

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The Many Literary Adaptations of Orson Welles

It’s notable that in My Lunches With Orson — the collection of taped conversations between Orson Welles and Henry Jaglom in the last years of the Citizen Kane director’s life — Welles mentions writers Jean-Paul Sartre, Jorge Luis Borges, Dwight Macdonald, James Agee, Joan Didion, and John O’Hara… but in the capacity of their film criticism, not their novels or nonfiction. Reading the conversations, it becomes clear that Welles was a big reader and obviously had a love for great literature — something also evidenced by the many film adaptations of literature he had a hand in. Here’s a selection of the most interesting. … Read More

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10 Great New-to-Netflix Movies to Stream This Holiday Weekend

The long Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and you know what that means: cookouts, quickie getaways, watching some sort of organized sporting events on television (I think, maybe?). But the shut-ins among us — and your film editor would include himself firmly among that camp — will probably want to simply spend one more day doing what we do every weekend: queuing up a bunch of flicks online, surrounding ourselves with non-perishable food items, and locking the doors. Here are some of the recent(ish) streaming releases worth your Memorial Day weekend time; simply click the title to stream them right… Read More

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20 Great Biographies of Famous Authors

There’s always something exciting about reading a literary figure’s memoir, learning the details of their personal life (those they’re willing to share, anyway) and getting a glimpse into their creative process. But it’s perhaps more illuminating to read an outsider’s account of a literary great, assembled from years of reporting and sifting through private papers. A literary biography might not be as sensational as, say, the life story of a doomed Hollywood starlet (although certainly a fair number of novelists, playwrights, and poets have lived turbulent lives), but they do offer a complete picture that shatters the fourth walls of our favorite writers’ work. Here’s a collection of great bios that accomplish just… Read More

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Absurd Urban Dictionary Definitions of Famous Authors

You probably know Urban Dictionary as the place where parental types lurk and where the English language goes to die. As crass as the definitions are, they’re occasionally accurate — especially in the case of these famous authors. Urban Dictionary users have a crude way of getting right to the point, which is where the humor in these definitions of iconic literary figures shines bright. They’re not exactly factual, but we can’t argue that Poe’s life sucked, that Franz Kafka needs his own rock opera, or that Vonnegut is deserving of much worship. Presented without comment, and with grammatical/spelling errors intact, see how Urban Dictionary defines your favorite writers, below. … Read More

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