Hot from the Oven

In the news, a pornographer is suing Oprah Winfrey over use of the title "O," for which he claims to own the copyright. While Oprah defends the title of her ladies' magazine, yet another O is making headlines. O—the movie—has nothing to do with pornography or Oprah; it is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, and it's directed by Tim Blake Nelson, who starred as Delmar in … you guessed it … O Brother, Where Art Thou?

While the movie portrays an outbreak of violence at a high school, the film is not, as some might claim, capitalizing on the Columbine event, or any other outbreak of school violence. In fact, it was a year after the film was completed, when Miramax finally decided to release it to theatres, that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris suddenly opened fire on Columbine High School. Miramax had to change their plans out of consideration for the families and friends affected by the tragedy. Now that it has arrived in theatres, will it encourage or glamorize violence? Critics don't seem to think so, and some argue that this update of Shakespeare's classic tale of jealousy and its consequences just might serve to discourage violence.

O stars Mekhi Phifer as the tormented Odin, Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) in the Iago-ish role of Hugo, and the impressive Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance, State and Main, and last year's modernized Hamlet) as "Desi." As Hugo watches his father, the football coach, favor Odin, the school's champion athlete, and as he watches Odin win the heart of the dean's daughter Desi, his jealousy leads him to deceive Odin, leading to murder and chaos.

The U.S. Catholic Conference's critic found it all a bit too much: "Director Tim Blake Nelson's brutal modernization of Shakespeare's classic ...

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