The Tempest

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A whopper of a dud, Julie Taymor's harsh, frequently incomprehensible festival centerpiece—an adaptation of Shakespeare's final play—will remind you of the overcooked regality and dorky special effects of David Lynch's Dune (not a good thing). Helen Mirren, playing the regendered wizard Prospera, is captivating enough to make the sex swap a nonissue; rather, there are serious problems of campy tone-deafness in scenes involving the ever-debauched Russell Brand, a lost-seeming Alfred Molina and the ill-equipped Djimon Hounsou as Caliban. Taymor seems unable to engage with the text's classic themes of aging and territoriality. Why is this inept, clamorous psychodrama in NYFF while Black Swan, successful on similar grounds, isn't?—Joshua Rothkopf

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