Titus

From 1999, Julie Taymor delivers a remarkably imaginative adaptation of Shakespeare’s crude early revenge drama Titus Andronicus. Titus (Anthony Hopkins) executes a son of Tamora (Jessica Lange), who, with Aaron the Moor and her surviving sons, avenges herself on Titus’ daughter—driving Titus nearly mad with rage. Meanwhile, evil Emperor Saturninus—Alan Cumming in foppish Cabaret mode—marries Tamora and hates Titus, while Aaron pretty much hates everyone. Taymor’s stylized Rome is a wonderful combination of Fellini, deco fascism, and Mad Max, with motorcycles, electric guitars, and video-game arcades. She frames her story with a proscenium-breaking modern young witness (who becomes Titus’ grandson), pointedly indicting our own age’s culture of violence-as-entertainment. It’s a valid argument, often spectacularly made, although Taymor’s spectacle does tend to overwhelm Titus’ few subtle moments (and the performances of a somewhat ill-matched cast). Taymor plays her flawed source material like Mortal Kombat or Doom, then provides a coda of hope and mercy signaling that the revenge game is finally over. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Dec. 1, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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