Titus

Titus

Directed by Julie Taymor

Staring Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming

Loyal citizen Titus Andronicus (Hopkins) returns from 40 years of successful peace keeping on the Gothic frontier. Time to clean out his desk, cash in the ol’ 401k, and lop off one last Goth head. With 20 dead boys, all he wants now is to retire and raise cabbages. Offered the Empire, he turns it down and recommends the fey Saturninius (Cumming) for the job. Saturninius know a good deal when he sees it, and takes the crown, Goth Queen Tamora (Lange), and even takes a swipe at Lavinia, Titus’ niece and sweetie to rival Bassianus. That Goth caput? That was Tamora’s eldest boy. She begged for mercy, but no dice — Titus lost some tax deductions, so will she. Now stuck with her other boys, Beavis and Butthead, she swears vengeance on her gold bustier. As Saturninius’ personal orgasm advisor, she’s in a position to do something nasty. There’s an axe to grind, and it starts with Lavinia’s hands and fiancee Bassianus, and moves on to pretty much everyone else in town. When in Rome, some say, and so says Titus. He answers the call with a long pig pasty, made specially for Tamora. Bodies, bodies everywhere, and not a mop to clean up with.

Thick and dense, bloody and vicious, this ain’t no first date film. In fact, you might save it for a divorce. On one hand, you get Jessica Lange in the nude, but then you get Tony Hopkins’ behind, and while close, it’s no even exchange. Set in an anachronistic barely post-Fascist Italy, poor decision making drives the revenge. Forgive and forget? Heck no — dismember and conquer. It’s tasteful dismemberment, and certainly necessary to the plot, but it is still dismemberment, and the prosthetic team gets a well deserved credit.

Beware the flaming limb montage scene, unless you’re in grad school and desperate for a thesis topic. There’s even an orgy scene, the sort of orgy you’d just as soon avoid by painting the closet. It’s never clear whether the director is mimicking Fellini or Waters or simply staking out new territories of bad taste. See for yourself. You’ll be laughing with slight embarrassment in a few years when you retell this one.

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