Movie Review: MacBeth (2015)

MacBeth has filmed many times, by many actors and directors. The most recent production is Justin Kurzel’s production starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottilard as the titular monarch and his wife.

Kurzel’s film is highly stylized. The Scottish countryside exudes a chill atmosphere, that sets the bleak tone of “The Scottish Play.” I will also mention that the battle scenes have a certain feeling of brutality to them, if stylized again. Your fantasy and war story touchstones won’t much exceed this film of MacBeth, excepting, perhaps, Game of Thrones, which I have not seen so as to compare them.

Michael Fassbender does an excellent job as MacBeth, excepting that there was too much quiet in the plotting conversations for my poor hearing. And Marion Cotillard was equally as good as Lady MacBeth, once again excepting the same flaw, which I blame on the director in both cases.

I will say that this version is shorter than a lot listed elsewhere – Rupert Goold’s production starring Patrick Steward was forty minutes longer; the BBC version starring Brenda Bruce was thirty minutes longer; the version directed by Polanski was thirty minutes longer. In acheiving this, there are many of the purely expository scenes cut or combined. Some have complained about this, but I don’t see it as a particular problem.

I would say that I liked this version of MacBeth, though it is suitably bleak, and dark as a production of MacBeth tends to be. Fans of Shakespeare and those of the Scottish Play are well advised to see this film.

The US trailer is at the top of this post.

I will also include links to some of the other trailers.

UK Trailer

International Trailer

All three are similar, but slightly different.

Album Releases starting January 27

January 27
ANTI – Rihanna
Simulcron – Ontal
Depend on Me – VIXX

January 28
Ritual Spirit – Massive Attack
Forest Hills Drive: Live from Fayettevlle, NC – J. Cole

January 29
Gqom Oh! The Sound of Durban  Vol. 1 – Various Artists
Wabi-Sabi – Cross Record
Revengeance – Conan
Cayamo Sessions at Sea – Buddy Miller
In Search of Harperfield – Emma Pollack
Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Band
Isiah – Kevin Gates
Suicide Songs – MONEY
Le Dernier Crépuscule – Chthe’ilist
Pillars of Ash – Black Tusk
The Birds Outside Sang – Florist
Night Fiction – Clan Nugent
MartyrLoserKing – Saul Williams
Vile Child – Milk Teeth
Night Driver – Laser
Echos of the Dreamtime – Miranda Lee Richards
Souvenir – Pop Etc
This is Acting – Sia
Nevermen – Nevermen
Promise Everything – Basement
Who Sold My Generation – Night Beats
Lovers – Merival
Lost Property – Turin Brakes
Loveland – Wall of Death
Stand Up and Speak – DJD$
Don’t You – Wet
HYMNS – Bloc Party
Matter – St. Lucia
Songs in the Key of Animals – Benji Hughes
I Play My Shadow – President Sweetheart
Nine Track Mind – Charlie Puth
American Appetie – Harriet
Face Value (Deluxe Edition) – Phil Collins
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Hey Thanks!
Weighted Mind – Sierra Hull
The Astonishing – Dream Theatre
Life Screams – Lacey Sturm
The 1984 Suite – Mike Oldfield
Ghostlights – Avantasia
The Story – Runrig
Still in a Dream – A Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995 – Various Artists
Arts & Leisure – Walter Martin
Earthbound – Bury Tomorrow
Better – Brian McKnight
Rulebreaker – Primal Fear
Resurrection Kings – Resurrection Kings
Bridges – Cavo
Basement Chemistry – Beneficence
New City Blues – Aubrie Seller
Staring at Your Hologram – Mac McCaughan
The Art to Disappear – Spektr
When You Wish Upon a Star – Bill Frissel

February 1
River – Army of Bones
Show Yourself – XOSAR
Allir vegir til glótunar – Naôra

February 2
Void Beats/Invocation – Cavern of Anti-Matter

Song Spotlight: Made Again by Marillion



Yeah, there are two videos for this one. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better – in one Rothery is playing a classical nylon string guitar and in the other he’s playing a steel 12-string.  And one is fairly recent and one was from quite some time ago.

Made Again is, I think, my favorite single song from the Steve Hogarth fronted Marillion. Maybe from all of Marillion (though Fish wrote some killer songs).  It’s from the album Brave released all the way back in 1992.

Quick hits: Chairlift, Savages, De Rosa, Shuyler Jansen, Eleanor Freidberger

I’ve listened to a bunch of albums over the last week, thinking about what I was going to review. All of these were albums that I wouldn’t rate Run Away, but for one reason or another I can’t really bring myself to listen to them enough to do a full review:

Adore Life – Savages – Savages is a pretty popular post-punk band from England, that has been pretty well received. But this album just didn’t hold my attention. I felt like there was kind of one speed and one volume across the album.  Recommendation: Stream It

Moth – Chairlift – I actually liked this album when I actively listened to it. But if I put it on to listen to while I did something else, it faded completely into the background. It was an album that didn’t work for me as background, and frankly, not one that I liked enough that I would want to spend 10+ listens actively concentrating on it. Recommendation: Stream It

Weem – De Rosa – this is kind of a folk-rock band that felt like they had an identity crisis to me. Most of the album would have felt more enticing if it had been either more lush, or more sparse. They are kind of in a space where they want a lush sound without lush instrumentation, to me. But I know that a lot of critics really liked it. Recommendation: Strean Ut.

New View – Eleanor Friedberger – This album had the same problem that Chairlift’s album had for me. It just got totally lost when I tried to listen to it while doing something else. I didn’t like it as much as Moth, either. It was okay, but it didn’t hold my attention.  Recommendation: Stream It

The Long Shadow – Shuyler Jones – Jones has put out a folk album with schizophrenia. It has some nearly bluegrass sounding songs. It has some pretty standard folk fare. And then it’s got the psychedelic metal with Jethro Tull influences. There actually isn’t anything bad about any of this, but it really didn’t fit as an album for me. Give me a straight forward folk rock album. Give me a folk metal album with touches of psychedlia. But they don’t mix terribly well for me. Recommendation: Stream It.

Album Review: Jet Plane and Oxbow by Shearwater

Honestly, I didn’t think bands were making albums like this much anymore. Jet Plane and Oxbow is Shearwater’s 9th studio album. I’ve not listened to any of their other albums, but I will probably start working my way backwards through their catalog.

Jet Plane and Oxbow is a quiet, focused album that reminds me of nothing so much as Steve Hogarth-helmed Marillion, from the period around Blind to about Marbles. Late 70s Peter Gabriel would also be an apt comparison. I like the admittedly throwback feeling sound.

This album feels instrumentally lush, but the focus is squarely on supporting and lifting the confident vocals of frontman Jonathan Meiburg. Not every song is a homerun, like the percussive Filaments where the vocals can feel a little overwhelmed, but even at it’s least impressive, this new Shearwater album is still pretty impressive. It makes me want to dig out some late era prog rock to compare and contrast.

Recommendation: Buy it

Songs I have a Play list for: Quiet Americans, Pale Kings, Wildlife in America, Stray Light at Clouds Hill

Clunkers I will thumbs down: Nada…I honestly like every song on this album.

Song Spotlight: Blossom by Noah Gundersen

I looked for a decent concert version of this song, but the only one I found was in the middle of a 26-minute video of a KEXP appearance. And while I like the KEXP appearance, I only wanted to play this song. This song being Blossom, from Noah Gundersen’s latest album, Carry the Ghost. Fans of the Vampire Diaries have probably already spent a lot of time obsessing over this song. I can see a very melodramatic love scene played out against this in the background, and I know it was used in the Vampire Diaries at some point.

Song Spotlight: Bright Lights and Cityscapes by Sara Barielles


If you like pop music and you don’t now Sara Bareilles yet, where have you been? over 5 albums (one self-released) and an EP, she has managed to generate some of the most consistently good song writing in the last decade.  Is she the best? I would say probably not. But she’s always good, her songs are alway listenable, and her concerts are some of the most fun you can have in any state of dress in the US.

Bright Lights and Cityscapes is probably my favorite of all her songs.

Album Review: Confessions of a Romance Novelist by The Anchoress

I want to say I liked Confessions of a Romance Novelist a lot more than I think I probably really did. So I’ll say I really wanted to like the solo debut of Catherine Anne Davies a lot more than I did.

With a husky voice, an alt-pop sensibility, and a sound that is reminds me of a cross between Kate Bush and Tori Amos, there’s a lot to like with The Anchoress’ album. There’s some decent song writing, strong musicianship, and wonderful singing on this album.

What then is my problem? Well, really, it comes down to the fact that it’s just not an album that I am inclined to sit down and just listen to. I found I enjoyed it most when I had it on as background music to doing random tasks. I played it while loading servers. I played it while playing computer games. I played it while reading. And when I played it, it fit my mood and make the task more enjoyable. All good things.

But when I sat down to just listen to the album, I often found my attention wandering in other directions. Still, it’s well made and I really do like Catherine Anne Davies’ voice. And there weren’t any songs that I really didn’t like. No songs that made me instantly hit the skip button.

Recommendation: Stream it

Songs I have a playlist for: You and Only You, Chip on Your Shoulder, Rivers of Ice

Clunkers I will thumbs down: There weren’t any.

New Albums being released starting January 22

January 22:
Weem – De Rosa
The Hour of Bewilderbeast (15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – Badly Drawn Boy
Adore Life – Savages
M:Fans – John Cale
Third Law – Roly Porter
Each Other – Aidan Knight
Information – Eliot Sumner
Abbath – Abbath
Something About April II – Adrian Younge
And Only The Melody Was Real – Swahili Blonde
The Waiting Room – Tindersticks
Night Thoughts – Suede
Moth – Chairlift
Jet Plane and Oxbow – Shearwater
Emotional Mugger – Ty Segall
New View – Eleanor Friedberger
Perfect – Half Japanese
Infinite Summer – NZCA
The Catastrophist – Tortoise
Here Come the Rattling Trees – The High Llamas
Dystopia – Megadeath
Paradise – Pop. 1280
Feed the Fire – Promise and the Monster
In the Magic Hour – Aoife O’Donovan
A Complex Colliseum Museum – The Besnard Lakes
The Long Shadow – Shuyler Jansen
Skilled Mechanics – Tricky
Love Over Will – Alex Smoke
Songs for our Mothers – Fat White Family
Coasts – Coasts
Drawn with Shadow Pens – Yves De May
Original Machines – Conrad Kelly
Graspers – Akase
Wild Youth – Steve Angello
Hive Riot – Hive Riot
Bloom – Rufus Du Soul
Wild Stab – The I Don’t Cares
Alive – Trevor Moran
Marble Mouth – Pillar Point
Love Don’t Live Here – Lionheart
Misty Shrub – Bird Dog
4 1/2 – Steven Wilson
Sounds of Revival – William McDowell
Empire Underground – The Big Pink
Gamble For A Rose – King Charles
Before Sunrise – Modern Space
Dr. Um – Peter Erskine
Jah Cure: Masterpiece – Jah Cure
32 – The Janet Margolin
Pond Scum – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Do Nothing Til You Hear – The Mute Gods