Anonymous Roland Emmerich

Anonymous Roland Emmerich
Ah, yes: how could William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), a snotty young actor with little education, have written such a wealth of plays with clever turns of phrase and knowledge of the nobility system when it's so much more plausible that an aristocrat like the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), did so? At least, that's the perspective that Roland Emmerich's (of such wondrous garbage as 2012 and 10,000 BC) ludicrous and whorishly executed corset porn, Anonymous, brandishes desperately.

Ignoring the fact that de Vere died prior to the publication of many of Shakespeare's plays, this nicely shot tale of loud whispers in darkened rooms attempts to explain the theory by making Queen Elizabeth I (Joely Richardson/Vanessa Redgrave) a skank, crapping out illegitimate kids on the countryside routinely.

Said children's upbringing and eventual relevance play a part in this convoluted nonsense, having something to do with the subtext ― something Emmerich would know nothing about ― of Shakespeare's works and the secrets hidden in between the lines, along with the reason behind masking authorship and presenting Lizzie as officially childless. Think of it as The Da Vinci Code for the illiterate.

Now, even though the actual positioning of story is laughable at best, Emmerich does have a knack for assembling big, pretty overhead shots. And, man, there are plenty of them, with people running through the streets, people being decapitated and even impressively rendered shots of cannons firing.

If only as much energy was invested in narrative coherence as in setting up sexy shots and nicely framed images of people sitting around in period garb, perhaps Anonymous would be more than a cheesy, brain-dead diversion. But, alas. (Sony)