Much Ado About Nothing

Editor’s Rating
Rating

Yesterday, I finally got to see Joss Whedon’s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in twelve days in black and white in and around Whedon’s California home, most of the cast have worked with Whedon on previous projects, and that’s clearly helped achieve the sort of directorial clarity that other films can’t always manage. 

Much Ado About Nothing [DVD] [2012] (DVD)


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Including some silent flashbacks of Beatrice and Benedick’s previous liaison is a luxury stage productions can’t have, but here it helps establish the cause of their antagonistic relationship in a nutshell. She fell for his charms once, and her antipathy towards him is as much regret for her own part in that one-night stand.

Amy Acker’s Beatrice is wonderful: strong, compassionate, fragile, quick, strong, headstrong. I said in my preview blog post that I’ve never been particularly enamoured with Alexis Denisof, and for the most part that opinion hasn’t changed: however, his farcical acrobatics as he overhears Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro talk about how Beatrice is in love with him are hilariously accomplished. His weakest scenes are those where he must monologue his way through his internal thought processes. On stage, Benedick can use the audience as confidantes: no such luck on film – although at one point he addresses an imagined audience within Whedon’s garden amphitheatre, and that just about works.

Clark Gregg’s Leonato is a warm, genial figure – and not a little camp, which is no bad thing – while Reed Diamond’s Don Pedro and Sean Maher as his bastard brother, Don John, provide solid, ever watchable interpretations of those stock characters.

As the secondary couple, Jillian Morgese is little more than a cipher in the thankless role of Hero, far eclipsed by Fran Kranz’s Claudio. As the smitten young man who allows Don John’s lies to lead him to believe his fiancée has been unfaithful to him, Kranz is astonishing. He’s been a supporting actor in several Whedon projects up to now, but I really hope that this role is enough to get casting directors considering him for the romantic lead in future projects. 

Much Ado About Nothing [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)


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There is an undoubted highlight in the casting, though – Nathan Fillion as the buffoonish constable Dogberry. Fans of Doctor Horrible’s Singalong Blog know that, as Captain Hammer, Fillion can play heroically stupid like nobody else. That’s a path he not only treads again here, but trips down with abandon. He steals every scene he’s in, although Tom Lenk as his assistant Verges is a hilarious accomplice in that regard.

The music is also wonderful, composed by Whedon, produced by his brother Jed and featuring the vocal talents of Jed’s wife Maurissa Tancharoen. In terms of adapting the song Sigh No More, they do a great song that fits in with the mood of the party scenes. (I still prefer Michael Bruce’s Eighties-themed interpretation, though.)

Much Ado About nothing is still on release – for details, see the official websiteThe film is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-Ray for release in October. The original score is available now.

Much Ado About Nothing5Scott Matthewman2013-06-23 14:17:44Yesterday, I finally got to see Joss Whedon’s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in twelve days in black and white in and around Whedon’s…

Streetdance 3D: two dimensions more than the script

There is a point at which Carly, the plucky heroine of new British dance movie, Streetdance 3D, is taken to a classical ballet (Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet) by her dance school mentor. Sceptical at first, she finds herself drawn in. As they leave the theatre, she marvels at how they managed to portray an entire tragic love story without words.

Lucky them. The rest of us have to endure what passes for a Streetdance script. Dance movies are not particularly known for ever exercising the best screenplay judges at movie awards, but Streetdance drags the genre down to new lows. It’s been concocted by someone who saw Step Up 2: The Streets, went on an all-weekend bender and then verbally vomited up his hazy memory of the least worst parts.

Normally when I review things that other people may not have seen, I either warn them of spoilers or try to avoid them altogether. There’s no point doing either here, as the template for dance movies is so rigidly adhered to that you know what’s going to happen even before you walk into the cinema.

Continue reading Streetdance 3D: two dimensions more than the script

Sunshine and Moon

Over the weekend, I saw two British science fiction films for the first time: Sunshine, directed by (the now Oscar-winning) Danny Boyle and Moon, directed by Duncan Jones.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to see Sunshine. It’s been out on DVD for ever: my copy was bought a while ago on impulse in one of those 3-for-2 deals from HMV or somesuch, and has lain in the original cellophane ever since.

That’s changed now, of course. And in a way it was the ideal weekend to watch it, as it provides a great counterpoint to Moon, which by some miracle actually made it to my local multiplex this week.

Both films wear their visual inspirations on their sleeves – Sunshine’s Icarus II has many echoes of Alien’s Nostromo, while Moon takes obvious cues from the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But, as with the best SF, it’s the human interactions that make the pieces work, and in both films the themes are simultaneously huge and intimate, both contemporary and eternal.

Sunshine asks us to consider the boundaries between the science of physics and the faith of spirituality as somewhat more blurred than we usually accept. For Moon, it’s a consideration of what makes us the person we are. I really don’t want to go into too much detail on either, as you really do need to go into both films without any forewarning of what’s to come.

Of the two, though, I think I prefer Moon. Sunshine, for me, veers from a claustrophobic character study to a more traditional action film — albeit one with a remarkable camera effect that emphasises the philosophical aspect of the film — while Moon retains its sense of creeping unease throughout, building the tension until the very end. Sam Rockwell gives the sort of performance that, if it were in a non-genre based drama, would be a shoo-in for awards.

Both films have faults — including liberal artistic licence with the laws of physics — but as examples of thought-provoking SF, they’re right up there.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIexG8179K8

Dorian Gray – the teaser trailer

Not the [Matthew Bourne](http://www.sadlerswells.com/show/Matthew-Bournes-Dorian-Gray-09) version, nor indeed the play which continues at [Leicester Square Theatre](http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/24905/dorian-gray) until August 2. No, this is the movie version, with Oscar Wilde’s novel being given the full Hollywood costume drama treatment, starring Ben Barnes, Colin Firth and some truly terrifying hairstyles:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY93VUQSMo4

The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria

I must admit, I haven’t seen The Young Victoria on DVD yet, but I did see it at a press screening prior to its cinematic launch, as preparation for interviewing Jack Murphy, the movement director who choreographed the pivotal waltz scene in the film.

It’s a really good period drama, with a script by Julian Fellowes that just crackles all the way throughout. And with Miranda Richardson as a member of the royal family, it can hardly fail (if you’ve ever seen Blackadder or Poliakoff’s The Lost Prince, you’ll know what I mean).

Emily Blunt is superb in the title role, cleverly balancing the role of head of state with that of a young woman who, despite being aware of her responsbilities, yearns to be allowed some release. There’s one beat in particular where, after a particularly arduous affair of state, she literally kicks her heels back once in private in a way that is just joyous to watch.

Rupert Friend is every inch her equal, though, as the young Prince Albert who steals her heart. While the marriage is initially conducted for political reasons, it’s clear early on that it is a partnership based completely on love, and that’s something that is really beautiful to watch.

The ending is a problem, though, as I recall. It feels as if a disagreement between the couple is concocted to induce a sense of peril, and once it is resolved one is flung directly in to the “what happened next” captions that signal the end of the film. One is left wanting much, much more — which isn’t a bad way to end a film, I suppose.

The trailer is below; you can buy a DVD of The Young Victoria on Amazon.co.uk.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKs3yIZolsM

Le Fate Ignoranti

* Originally published on [Gay.com UK](http://uk.gay.com/)

Antonia and Massimo have been married for fifteen years, but are still very much in love. With no children and only a small circle of friends, their relationship is so intense that, when Massimo gets knocked down in a car accident, Antonia’s life falls completely to pieces. Neglecting her family and friends, her pain increases when she discovers a love letter to her husband written on the back of a painting called ‘The Ignorant Fairies’.

In her obsession to find out the identity of this mystery woman, Antonia is shocked to discover that her husband’s lover was, in fact, a man. Not only that, but Massimo and his boyfriend Michele had been together for seven years, creating a large network of close friends — an extended family that Antonia, despite herself, begins to find herself drawn into.

Thus, the scene for director Ferzan Ozpetek’s latest film is set. Le Fate Ignoranti is a powerful discourse on the nature of friendship and family, and what place love has when the boundaries between the two become less distinct. Antonia (played by award-winning actress Margherita Buy) travels a complex emotional journey, starting off completely resenting Michele (Stefano Accorsi) but gradually realising that she has more in common with him than she ever did with her husband. Still, she finds it impossible to stop grieving, and her palpable pain at seeing Michele laughing and joking — and finding possible new lovers — is gut-wrenching.

In less confident hands, Michele’s extended family could come across as a collection of hackneyed stereotypes: a prostitute, a male-to-female transsexual, a good-looking man who is struggling with his anti-HIV medication — the staple of many a poor gay melodrama. However, with Ozpetek (director of Hamam: The Turkish Bath) at the helm, and a cast of supporting actors that never hit a wrong note, the course of Antonia and Michele’s growing attraction towards each other remains completely believable, wholly involving and heart-achingly resonant right until the closing credits.

There are precious few films that, after one viewing, will encourage you to drag your friends along to see it again with you. Le Fate Ignoranti is one such film: a sweet, uplifting tale that stays with you long after you’ve left the cinema.