“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Words that ring true from Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, but he should have added this caveat: “…unless you’re in Hollywood.” Because then great power means you can do whatever the hell you want. How else can one explain Joss Whedon’s latest film? When you make the third highest grossing movie ever, no one will even bat an eye when you pitch, “I’m thinking I might want to try Shakespeare as my next project. Probably film it in black and white; not gonna bother with stars — I’ll just use my friends. Yeah, I’m gonna keep the iambic pentameter — don’t want to mess with a classic, right?— I think it will be too warm for velvet so I’ll just let them wear their own clothes. Oh, and I’m gonna film it in my backyard.”
With The Avengers bringing in more than a billion dollars in box office receipts and Whedon already signed on for the sequel (to be out in May 2015), he could have filmed his cat pooping in someone’s shoes and people would have applauded (that may already be online). This is a movie that doesn’t really fit in with your basic summer blockbusters, although I have to say I am intrigued with the idea of robots and iambic pentameter. Maybe when he’s finished with The Avengers 2 he can look into Transformers 4: The Comedy of Errors, or Pacific Rim: Coriolanus (rimshot!).
The idea for the film grew out of Whedon’s penchant for inviting his friends over to his house and having them act out Shakespeare, which makes him and everyone he knows far cooler than any of us will ever be. Shooting was done at his home in Santa Monica, creating a nice mix of Elizabethan poetry and Pottery Barn. The use of black and white gives it an arty look and I’m sure made it far easier to match shots that might be uneven because of the non-studio setting. Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s frothiest concoctions, full of miscommunication and mistaken identities, and the contemporary setting works amazingly well without modernizing the text.
The cast is comprised of actors familiar from various Whedon projects (Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof from Angel & Buffy, Clark Gregg from The Avengers) and all acquit themselves well with wrapping their tongues around the prose. The movie is charmingly hijacked by another Whedon favorite, Captain Tight Pants himself: Nathan Fillion steals the movie as a bumbling detective who is, in his eyes, horribly insulted by a suspect and spends the rest of the film pouting about it.
For those of you whining that “Shakespeare is too hard,” be assured that the dialogue moves fast but the plot is easy to follow and the jokes unmistakable. The story is just a tad old-fashioned in that the whole plot revolves around the rumour that the about-to-be-bride has been deflowered already, but let’s cut Will some slack, seeing as it was written around 1598.
One of the problems with someone shooting in their back yard (think every homemade Super 8 movie your grandfather ever made) is that camera dollies don’t work very well on grass. Welcome to the first really bad shaky hand-held movie of 2013! I was beginning to hope that directors had abandoned this technique, but I’m guessing that shooting in a real house (as opposed to a set with only three walls) comes with complications, most of which can be overcome by using a camera on your shoulder that can be carried from room to room. I’m not saying I condone this, mind you, but I can understand it. I believe The Bard himself said it best:
I am the sea; hark, how her sighs do blow!
She is the weeping welkin, I the earth:
Then must my sea be moved with her sighs;
Then must my earth with her continual tears
Become a deluge, overflow’d and drown’d;
For why my bowels cannot hide her woes,
But like a drunkard must I vomit them.
Barf Bag Ranking: THREE BAGS
Special thanks to Cole Porter for being awesome.
2 thoughts on “Much Ado About Nothing”
When will somebody go the full distance and make THE movie of (insert mega-star beloved actor here) sitting and reading the phone book aloud. The faces and voices that inspire such accolades are plenty. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Robert DiNiro, Dame Judy Dench, and for the kids, JLo and Justin Bieber?…
Sitting in a shoehorn multi-plex cinema, regardless of the comfy seating, for 90 minutes to 4 hours waiting for the goods to be delivered strikes me as masochistic and judging by the frequency of actual delivered goods, being presented by pure sadists.
Is it that I just don’t get it anymore or has it always been so?
I can’t remember, Bill, were you ever a movie fan? Because if you felt that way in the past, probably it will always be like that for you. For me, I still get a thrill when the lights go down in a theatre. Sometimes I can’t remember what I’m about to see because there have been so many previews it knocked it clean out of my head, but I still love it. So much better than watching it at home while reclining on your couch – I think you need proper posture to appreciate it! (and Milk Duds)