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June 15 2013

Discuss 'Much Ado About Nothing'. If you have had the opportunity to see the movie, what did you think of it?

I absolutely loved it. Hardest I've laughed at the movies in a very, very long time. Casting was just perfection (although could there have been any doubt?). The little touches were so brilliant, such as the fist bump, or the look Fran got at 'were she an ethiope'. Oh, and Lenk and Fillion need their own buddy cop movie. Did anyone else attend the screening in Brisbane on Thursday?

[ edited by Fivewordsorless on 2013-06-15 23:14 ]
I haven't seen it again recently, but I saw it at the Toronto film festival and I loved it -- so funny and oftentimes much darker than you'd expect. The staging and sight gags are in constant conversation with the play's text -- oftentimes it's delivered absolutely straight, and other times there is a sense in which the characters are amused or even shocked that they are saying the words they are saying. It doesn't come across as disrespectful to the Bard, but plays in with the plays's overall themes of performance, the reality vs. the illusion of love and interpersonal interactions generally. Amy is probably the best I've ever seen her, and Alexis has the opportunity to do some of the best physical comedy he's ever done, which is certainly saying something. Nathan's handful of scenes brought the house down. The whole cast is fantastic. It's all just right. I really can't wait to see it again.
I cried the second time I saw it. Also, the first time. Joss rearranged the ending of the original play and this version is so much better. Love ending on "Get thee a wife!" Could not be more perfect, especially followed by the dancing and that gorgeous final shot.

Anyone have thoughts on the significance of the photographer? I've been thinking about her non-stop and I can't piece together any sort of coherent meaning to her presence. Unless I figure something out on my own, it's my number one question for Joss someday.

Oh, and of course Amy and Alexis were amazing, but for my money the real standout was Fran. He really sold the emotions and the language and everything and it felt like he honestly was just coming up with it on the spot. A really impressive performance.

I'm somewhat cold on the original play, and this version really helped me understand what Joss sees in it. Which, I imagine, is exactly what he'd want.
I wondered about the photographer too. I'm assuming she supplied the promotional stills we've seen around. Any insiders want to weigh in?
What a gorgeous film! I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It's easily the funniest Shakespeare film I've seen, and the most natural-feeling screen version of a comedy. There were lines I couldn't hear because the audience was laughing so much (push-ups!). And the very last shot of the film is perfection. I got very emotional afterwards, thinking about Amy and Alexis finally playing characters with a happy ending. Both of them were spectacular. Why isn't Amy a movie star yet? Sean Maher was perfect too. All of them were. And I absolutely loved Joss's score.

I'm not sure about the photographer, but I wondered about her at the time too. Maybe it's to comment on the constructed and staged nature of social interactions? And intrusion into private moments? I don't know.
There's no link for this post.

Shouldn't this point to the official movie site? Or the other web page that lists theaters that are showing the movie?
I saw it at the Wisconsin Film Festival (and I do want to see it at least one more time in a theater, and then own it on DVD!), and I absolutely loved it. The B&W filming and the costuming (suits and dresses, rather than the way Southern Californians really dress at parties now days) gave it a timeless look, very much like the beloved romantic comedies of the 1940s. The music was full of minor chords, bringing out the bitter sweet angst of both stories.

Showing Beatrice & Bendick's 'past' explained a lot about their present situation. And underlining how easily both couples could be manipulated (jerked around) by their 'friends' is all too true. Shakespeare's story with Joss' direction (and the visual evidence of too much drinking) combined to be the very best version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' I've ever seen. Making the story flow in a meaningful, funny and romantic way.

Of course the brilliant subtlety of Nathan Fillion's Dogberry, and Tom Lenk's Verges made those characters actually laugh out loud funny for the first time (to me). Usually these characters are played as over the top clowns (as though the director didn't trust the comic relief to be funny... and ended up making them annoying), but Nathan and Tom under played these characters making their serious dedication to duty truly hilarious.

This is something special. I really want all my friends and family to enjoy it!
Well, 3/4 of the world isnt allowd to see this yet, so you know, enjoy it, you fortunes favoutite sons and daughters, but watch your back: a lot of people in this world wants you daed. You know... out of envy.

PD: Rethinking the whole situation, if i had the money to go over there to kill you i probably would watch it instead. You are safe. For now. Time to try that voodoo thing again...

[ edited by Darkness on 2013-06-15 23:55 ]

[ edited by Darkness on 2013-06-15 23:55 ]
Maybe it's to comment on the constructed and staged nature of social interactions?

This... I like this.
On the photographer, from Joss' interview in Rookie:

Your Much Ado is a modernized version, right?
... But we decided Leonato is clearly like a politician, and he lives the life of an extremely rich politician. One of the things we added is that he has what I refer to as a court photographer, who’s always just there, taking pictures, because everything in the play is a big event, and very important people are always having their pictures taken during big events. But also, the way she’s looking at everyone, and the way we’re looking at everyone—which is very often through glass or in a reflection or distorted—and the way they’re all looking at each other and not really seeing each other is very much kind of the point of the thing. Also, they’re all super drunk, not gonna lie.


[ edited by theak on 2013-06-16 00:20 ]
I saw it in Toronto at the film festival and loved it. But I also saw it with a theater full of obviously Whedon friendly people and it kind of ruined me for seeing movies any other way. I'll get to see it again when it opens everywhere (although not as everywhere as some would like I guess) because the theater around the corner will be screening it.

I recall being impressed with the comedy of Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk as a duo. A mismatched pair that work together beautifully. And loved Alexis and his comedic bits. Everyone, really. But is it odd that I'm most impressed with the camera man that had to run up and down those stairs with Alexis? Who was that person!? Was it a person? Or was it a camera on a pulley? I really want to know.
Ah, thanks theak. I was wondering about the photographer and just figured it was just emphasizing the tabloid-y world these fabulous people live in but that moment she shoots the camera made me pause.

The photographer got crowded out a bit though because of the moments of slap my leg bursts of laughter and just awe at the acting.

Amy/Alexis were amazing as expected but I couldn't help but be so impressed by the mini-dramas and tragedies surrounding them too. Borrachio in particular (Spencer Treat Clark), Margaret (Ashely Johnson), Lenoato's Aid (Joshua Zar) and the mini triangle of love and rejection?

Usually, I never notice those minor parts as anything other than plot devices but I loved how HUMAN everyone was and how desperately funny and tragic even the most minor roles were mined. Kudos to Joss for not letting anyone be ignored.

I ended up seeing the movie twice with two different folks who normally aren't into either Shakespeare or Joss Whedon and they both came out of it loving the movie.

The thing I loved best was that sometimes I forgot I was watching SHAKESPEARE BEING PERFORMED as the language was being delivered so naturally.

Also, can I just call out how amazing Reed Diamond was? His prince was charming and fun and a little sad and lonely and privileged but still someone I want to see happy!
I've seen it twice already and I think I enjoyed it more the second time around! The first time, the comedy and the perfect romantic comedy-ness of it really worked for me. The second time, something of the truly tragic nature of the two romances struck me. It made my heart feel very full...

I am not a fan of filmed Shakespeare comedies; Joss proved me wrong by making a funny movie. I'm not a fan of this play; Joss proved me incorrect by making this delight. I would be very curious to see his HAMLET.

Last thought: seriously, how is Amy Acker not a major actress yet? If not a star, then working steadily in tons of projects??
gus - I had the same experience with forgetting they weren't speaking 21st century English. I love it when Shakespeare is made to sound so natural. Normally in the most carefully-thought-out modernised adaptations of Shakespeare there are still moments where the language feels out of place, but not in this.

I really hope I'll get to see it again in the cinema, because I imagine this is a film where there's more to be noticed every time. Plus it's so wonderful seeing these actors on the big screen. I've seen this play before, but I don't think I've ever really been moved by it.
I adored it. What a surprise. (/sarcasm. I knew I would love it and I did.)Such amazing performances that it seems invidious to name names. I particularly loved the tiny details - the arrest of Don John on an iPhone, the car doors when the cops were leaving, Benedick's frantic fitness moves trying to impress Beatrice - and her wonderful reactions. So many delightful moments.
I saw it last Sunday in LA at the Arclight. Now, I'm one of those persons who hated Shakespeare in high school (although to be fair, I pretty much hated all of the assigned novels in high school) and so even though this was Joss Whedon, I had second thoughts about watching it b/c... you know, SHAKESPEARE. On the flip side, it wasn't a tragedy and it was, you know, JOSS WHEDON, so that impulse won out over my Shakespeare aversion.

Needless to say, this movie was all sorts of awesome. It took me a couple minutes to adjust to the language but otherwise, it was perfect. It's been a while since I actually laughed out loud during a movie but there were plenty of lines and sigh gags that had me giggling. It's hard to believe that this was put together in 12 days because the performances felt natural and the setting was so authentic; if I didn't know any better, then I would've been convinced that we were peeping into someone's home on a hidden camera or something.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I might actually like a Shakespeare play now and I'm mildly interested in reading a few more.

I took my soon-to-be 16 year old sister along and she loved it so much that she wants to watch it again if it opens up in a theater near our area.
I was somewhat apprehensive going in because, although Joss had said that Nathan Fillion "closed the book" on Dogberry, the "I am an ass" clip that had been floating around online did not really strike me as funny. But I wasn't very familiar with the play, so once I saw that in context and understood the character of Dogberry I was cracking up! I saw this opening day (the 7th) at the Lincoln in NYC, and at the end of Nathan's first seen he got an ovation! In the middle of the movie! That was the only time that happened, and it certainly made an impression on me.

I loved "Sigh No More." It's been in my head for days. Quickly going on weeks, now.

While I like the effect of visually establishing the prior relationship of Beatrice and Benedick, I do wish it hadn't been quite so explicitly sexual, because I feel it did violence to the text at points, e.g. when Beatrice says "maiden pride, adieu! [...] Benedick, love on; I will requite thee." I'm not a scholar of 16th century English, and I understand that Joss explicitly distanced himself from discussing the importance of physical virginity, but I think that what Shakespeare meant by "maid" implies something of a relatively strict definition. Though I'm open to being persuaded otherwise.

Well, everyone's a critic. I loved the film, bought the soundtrack, and will see it again if it comes out in the theater near me. I planned my summer vacation around the fixed point of being in NYC on the 7th, and it was completely worth it.
I loved the acting, the directing, the cinematography, etc. I still can't stand Shakespeare.

I have been hoping that someone would come along and reveal to me what I am apparently missing about what makes Shakespeare so appealing, and I was really hoping that person would be Joss, but alas, it was not to be.

I truly enjoyed the film, but I feel like I enjoyed it despite the Shakespeare and not because if it.
I myself am not a huge Shakespeare fan, except for Macbeth. Macbeth is the exception. And I saw a lot of people compare Much Ado to Romeo + Juliet (I'll skip over the Branagh Much Ado) in how well it pulls off the Bard. I personally think Much Ado blows Romeo + Juliet out of the water. I thought it was effortless.

And also Sean Maher. I can't believe how his Don John sucked all the mirth out of a scene simply by walking in. (I'm just going to mention him because I love Maher, and it looks like everyone else covered everyone else.)

I'm not a huge comedy movie person, but I loved it. I saw it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and it was nearly nonstop laughing. My ribs started to hurt.
If I'm being honest here, I did not care for Nathan's Dogberry. There were a few moments that shined but for the most part he did not make me laugh. Amy was impeccable. Sean Maher was really creepy, in a good way. Fran was my favorite overall. And it was really nice to see Reed Diamond do something besides a bad guy for once. Loved him. I will be seeing this again soon.
Aha! When I heard that Joss held readings of Shakespeare plays at his house, I wished that he would write something about Shakespeare, and now there's this film! And when I saw the movie, I wished there would be a thread like this, and now there is one! Coincidence, you say?

I've seen the film twice so far. For me, as a couple other people have said, the second time was more emotionally powerful than the first. The first time I was simply agog; the film is so beautiful, so well thought through and interpreted, and I'd been waiting for it so eagerly I was exhausted. The second time, when Hero lifted her veil (I'm familiar with the play and I know very well that it's going to happen), I nearly burst into tears/fell to the floor/incurred dry-cleaning expenses.

Scriptwise, the one line above all that clinches this as a Joss Whedon film is two words long, and is spoken by Beatrice in the indoor scene following the wedding debacle when Benedick asks if there's anything he can do for her (I don't want to risk spoiling anyone by quoting it). Also very Whedony is the fact that the couple's first open vows of love for one another take place during that scene, at the most inopportune time possible--shades of "The Prom" when Buffy and Angel have their big relationship talk in the sewer.

[ edited by mozzarellademon on 2013-06-16 06:24 ]
I find that I want to be standing in that backyard at night, watching the two women on the trapeze and listening to Mo Tancharoen sing "Sigh No More." Some enchanted evening indeed.
This is the perfect antidote for a summer of imperfect blockbusters. I've seen it twice in San Francisco (mainly for the special guests) and will see it again next week. All the skills Joss learned about mixing comedy and tragedy were used with precision in this movie. Check it out, guys
What with the language, it took me about twenty minutes to get into the flow of the movie. But after that, it was grand. I have minor quibbles about the movie, Sean Maher was kinda wasted in the movie, he didn't come over well as a villain. The scene with Alexis and Amy towards the end is one of the most intense Whedonverse scenes I've ever had the privilege to watch.
Elsa Guillet-Chapuis is listed as the photographer on all of those lush black & white promotional photos I've seen, and also gets an actress credit as The Photographer, so it looks like there's even more meta at work here...

Loved the movie. I've never been a huge fan of the play, 'cos all that Big Men With Their Big Plans & virginity stuff left me a little cold, even with some historical perspective, but I saw Branagh's version 'cos, well, the cast was so Emma Thompson-ish. Naturally I was interested in Joss' take with some of the actors I've come to love.

Anyway, I think I never really got Beatrice's "O that I were a man" speech before - it just used to piss me off. But when Amy did it, I very unexpectedly started crying: partly because it felt this time like it contained all the pain of women who because they were women were prevented from doing something they felt driven to do. The frustration - and the longing. It kinda wrecked me, especially:

"I cannot be a man with wishing,
therefore I will die a woman with grieving."


Well, and plus: Amy. She just killed it. Afterward, Mr. QG turned to me and asked, "Did you know how good she was?!" (Almost like I'd been keeping her a big secret from him all these years.) "Why isn't she always everywhere?!"

I was all, "QuoterDude! Angel, hello?! Try watching it with me next time. Shhhhh. We'll talk."

That whole scene w/ Beatrice & Benedick was just thrillingly-intense.

The entire cast was so good, I'm almost afraid to mention anybody else for fear of leaving all the others out. But yeah, Fran got to me more than a few times, also Jillian - and weren't Sean and Riki naughty?

BTW, had no problem with Beatrice & Benedick's past connection being explicitly sexual - when Joss updated the play to present day, he understandably let "virginity" stand more for "faithfullness", and "chastity" was more purity of intent rather than technical virginity. It worked for me - and otherwise the various tricksters, etc. would've not only been assholes, but antiquated ones at that - it wouldn't have worked for who these people were meant to be in this version. (Rich, modern, powerful, entitled, iPhoned...)

(And OMFG, that house! And can I say without eliciting groans that yeah, of course, I love all of it, but I especially want that little library/study sooo bad?! Or rather, I think it wants me because I heard it calling my name everso faintly...)

I've gone on too much - sorry. I thought I'd enjoy it, but I didn't expect to be this much moved by it.

Anyway, gotta run, 'cos something's in my eye...
As soon as Castle ends, I want that Nathan/Tom buddy-cop spinoff. Heck, just put Tom on Castle now.

Love Shakespeare, loved this. Hoping to go again next week.
I really loved it. I studied the play at school many years ago and wasn't really a fan of it I was much more into the Shakespearian tragedies like Macbeth and Hamlet. Seeing it come alive on screen with such brilliant actors and all the wonderful physical humour made me appreciate the text a lot more.

Highlight acting wise apart from the superb Alexis and Amy was Clark Gregg and Reed Diamond but loved the chemistry between Beatrice (Amy) and Hero (Jillian Morgese)thought they worked well together.
I'm still waiting for the Dutch release. Anybody know if it has a distributor in the Netherlands?
Random uncollected thoughts;
Seeing it twice in one day was both good and a little tiring. The first audience was tiny - about 10 or so for a midday showing at a small obscure little arts cinema, probably to be expected. Seeing a few elderly Shakespeareheads laughing hysterically at Alexis' or Amy falling down the stairs was delightful. Evening audience was 4-5x that, and clearly a mix of Whedonites and others. Almost everyone sat right through the credits and seemed to have really enjoyed it.

Adore the score and have listened to it for days, and loved the use of Reed playing the guitar and Jed/Maurissa's cameo. Minor quibbles? Does take about 15 minutes to `get into`, some of the dialogue seemed incredibly quiet, and some of it could've been a little slower or generally clearer as even the second time there were some lines I just could not make out even a word of. It may also be just a touch on the long side but there's not much space for tweaking on that side so I let it slide.

The final shot of Alexis and Amy (used in the cinemagraphs) is painfully beautiful.
Also; the cupcake.
The trees around the house.

The house.
On my way to see it now! Yay!

I shall return with thoughts.

(P.s. Anyone near VUE Finchley Road - join me!)

EDIT: just seen it and it was truly wonderful! I was grinning from the very first scene, although that was more tm do with seeing Amy and Alexis on the big screen (and Joss' name too- I'm getting rather fond of that!). Aside from this I think what really does come across is that this was a real labour of love for everyone involved and I love that it never tries to present itself as anything else.

I'm just absolutely smitten with it!

[ edited by Shep on 2013-06-16 17:31 ]
I don't know if this has already been posted somewhere, but there's a really good write-up of the film on the BFI website.
This quote from it made me happy: "As clear and light as a California wine, Shakespeare’s most sparkling dialogue meets its match in Whedon, whose immortal Buffy the Vampire Slayer catchphrase – “Love makes you do the wacky” – could serve as the film’s strapline."

The cinema where I saw it is at a university, so I got the impression that most of the (almost full) audience were fans of Joss or Shakespeare or both. It was so fun watching it in an audience like that. This was the best case possible of two different worlds merging!
I was just reading that, spooky. Might post it as a front page item.
Also, anyone have any thoughts on the abrupt shifts in tone? I had moments of awkwardness where audience would laugh but I didn't (like at the wedding where Claudio rejects Hero or during the Beatrice/Benedick speech when Benedick no to her request at first). And other moments when we all laughed right after something super sad (cupcake) ?

I guess there were moments that surprised me that the audience found funny and there were moments that surprised me and I laughed but I was still caught up in the drama of the previous scene.
Not big on Shakespeare but I really enjoyed it. Reed plays a good nice guy, who knew? (And a mean guitar). Didn't notice the cupcake until today, so multiple viewings not a shabby idea - there's lots of little details I adore. I did feel a bit odd about seeing the house this time, no idea why. But yeah. Fun times.
I saw it last Friday night with my husband who wouldn't normally see this sort of film, but who loved and enjoyed it immensely (as did I). Tiny audience, I think I may go and see it again this week.

I expected it to be good but perhaps not as wonderful and joyous as it was. Could not fault one cast member although Amy did, once again, bring me to tears and Alexis was hilarious. There were little touches that I adored - the cupcake, the car keys and the male guest at the party who would not leave Beatrice alone.

I had recently re-watched the Brannagh version and found Michael Keaton as Dogberry the oddest and most unfunny thing in the entire film. Nathan and Tom were the opposite, I loved their approach.

The score and Maurissa's performance was delightful. And finally that house. Wow. And was I the only one wishing I had a glass of wine and was a guest at those parties?
I missed the cupcake the first time around. Guess it stands up to at least a few viewings then.
I cannot wait for the DVD to come out, I've already decided to have a wine & cupcake viewing party! We can think of a drinking game... like every time anyone on screen takes a drink we have to take a drink (although that could be dangerous).
I've had the blu ray preordered since the moment Amazon UK had it available and even with plans to see it at least once more this week, can't wait for it. So many shots I'll be making desktop wallpapers from.

And if you were to drink every time a character does, you may as well hook up an IV line with alcohol attached from start to finish. ;)
I kind of adored how Whedon and Kranz picked apart and played the Claudio and Hero story. It still maintains its oddness, but I've read so many takes on that play or versions like Shakespeare retold whereby relegating Claudio to cartoonish emotions or overdoing it, the Hero and Claudio story doesn't resemble what Shakespeare was going for and instead either comes off as either ultra creepy or they change the story. Whedon kept the humanity of the situation, the plausibility and thus believability of Claudio's emotional states. The 1st wedding was uncomfortable, but fantastic. The idea of betrayal is very real in it. It sells the title beautifully.
Embers & apollo11: maybe the drinking game problem could be solved if each viewer played a particular character: you only take a drink when he or she takes a drink!

Cue someone on the Internet compiling data on alcohol consumed per character in this film....
Haha. If I'm in the middle of compiling swearing per word and character in Firefly, you bet I'm going to do number of drinks taken per character in Much Ado when I get my hands on a copy.
I just saw it again yesterday in a very small theatre. There were the old Shakespeare folks, a few obvious Whedon fans and a few others. Everyone seems to enjoy it. This was my 4th time (2 at Tiff last Fall) and I keep seeing more in the film.
I could now start to look at the other actors, not just the ones currently speaking,and that was fascinating. Armed with all the interviews, I could watch the lost keys bit knowing that Nathan and Tom had made that up on the spot or laugh at the over the top exercising, knowing that Alexis had come up with that unbeknownst to Joss. It was like a running commentary in my head.

I listened more to the movie score this time, as I have the soundtrack and appreciated the themes that follow the characters.

And Gus, I absolutely agree with you about what a great job Reed Diamond does. Charming, fun, sad & lonely indeed.
Saw it, finally, at an advance in Portland three days before it opens here. Not everything in it works, but it’s very much an example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Audience (of maybe 75 people in a "living room theatre") seemed fully engaged. Given cast’s wide range of experience and/or familiarity with Shakespeare, it’s mostly a thrill that jumping off the cliff of a 12-day shoot works at all. The standouts for me were Acker, Diamond, Gregg, and Morgese. And also Zack Whedon because hilarious business.

ETA: The other standout, of course, was the house. Holy wow.

ETA: The strange thing about the film is that so many of the stray bits or choices that don’t quite work nonetheless often are still hilarious. Meanwhile, I might spend my second time through just checking for who I recognize in the background and who I don’t. Where was Shirk? Fury? I saw Cole.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2013-06-19 07:33 ]
I finally started looking for Drew Goddard on my third viewing today, didn't manage to pick him out though. Does anyone know if the "jaunty" music that plays over the final party scene that blends out into "Last Dance" from the score is an existing song or an original creation of either Joss or Jed/Mo? It has literally been stuck in my head for *hours* now and I NEED to get it somehow.
I finally got to see it, and I took eight coworkers with me (most non-Whedonites). It was at the largest screen in the local art house, but was disappointingly empty. There were only a few Whedonites, but everyone was laughing at the sight gags.

I was so focused on seeing the next bit that I had read about that I couldn't really enjoy the movie as a movie, but that's why I'm seeing it Sunday too. I loved Mo and Jed's scene and thought Borachio's motivations were interesting. Nathan and Tom stole the house. At the beginning of the credits some woman in the theatre turned to her partner and said "Who was that Dogberry, he was great," and the theatre cracked up.

Many of the people I went with either weren't Shakespeare fans or not Whedonites but they all liked it. They enjoyed the drunken revelry and the sight gags. The Ethopie line made most of my coworkers uncomfortable. I enjoyed Claudio's overacting but the staging of that line was incredibly awkward. It took everyone a while to get into the language, but even until then the acting of Acker, Gregg, and Morgese was sufficient to get a glimpse into their domestic life.

Even though I knew the plot, I kept waiting for Diamond to turn evil, that he would be The Mayor-esque. I really enjoyed Diamond and Acker's scene talking about getting her husband, and can't wait to see it again *not* expecting him to turn evil.
I enjoyed it immensely tonight. I was totally thrown by the three baddies calling Claudio "Benedict," though. It looked like a big error, although I looked it up when I got home and found that the three make a plan to approach C using the wrong name.

Thought the "Ethiop" line was framed stunningly.

Be very careful rigging trapeze from trees, especially duo trapeze--it's impossible to safely determine the strength or weaknesses of a branch at any given time. I work at a circus school.
Immensely enjoyed it. Smashing performances all around, with shoutouts to Jillian Morgese and Clark Gregg.

Loved the Ethiope line. Both hilarious and also a clever way to address race in a play that scarcely mentions it. I know some people felt differently about that line, though.

It was great seeing so many familiar faces together in one project, as well as newcomers! And thanks for the safety advice, Thursday Next!
I finally got to see it this evening! Absolutely delightful, from beginning to end. Funny, sexy, gorgeously filmed. The actors were perfectly cast, down to the smallest roles; everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves to no end. Fran Kranz was surprisingly subtle as Claudio: Topher and Marty were both a little over the top (in a good way), and his Claudio was more subdued than I expected (but also in a good way). I love the moment when the Prince offers to woo Hero for Claudio, and Fran gets that bemused look on his face. That's one of the most ridiculous moments in the play, and I love that he has such a normal response to it.

I laughed so many times--both the lines and the added visual jokes were funny, throughout the play. And other moments were just magic--like the party scene, with the trapeze artists, underscored by Maurissa's vocals. Just absolutely enchanting.

And of course Amy Acker is heartbreaking in the climactic scene ("Oh, that I were a man!"). She's amazing. And Nathan Fillion is a perfect Dogberry. And Jillian Morgese is a fantastic Hero. And the black-and-white cinematography is beautiful -- it creates a sense of glamor and timelessness that is perfect for a modern adaptation of Shakespeare. And it serves as a visual reminder of classic films characterized by witty verbal sparring.

And the location! Ye gods, what a gorgeous house! And that garden--and the amphitheater, in the wedding scene! The very same one, I assume, where those original Shakespeare readings happened. It's just magic.

I love it all so, so much. I am still smiling just thinking about it.
Oh, and also, Reed Diamond was fantastic. He almost made me a Prince/Beatrice shipper ... which is especially impressive because I have been madly in love with Wesley for *years.*

I also liked Evil Sean Maher quite a lot. Especially the cupcake.
I didn't like this play when I had to read it for scholastic purposes oh so many moons ago, and Brannaugh's version left me kinda meh. I've had to watch or read this thing a few times in my life. When I heard last year that Joss picked Much Ado of all Shakespeare's plays I was like, "why? There's so many other good plays. Why pick this one? Great! Now I have to watch this one AGAIN!" I get it now. As You Like It is still personally my fave Shakespeare comedy, but I can better appreciate now why so many others choose Much Ado as their favorite. In Whedon's hands, Much Ado actually made sense to me, perhaps for the first time since a college teacher politely and kindly explained it to me to the chagrin of the rest of the class, and I promptly forgot everything after passing the midterms.

For example I never before understood why Don John does what he does aside from "well he's evil and it's necessary for the plot duh geez," but Sean Maher sold it for me. Previous incarnations of this guy he's just twirling his moustache and stabbing people in the back and I don't get why. In Sean Maher's hands, Don John almost has depth. He does this cuz he enjoys manipulating people. He gets off on pushing other people's buttons. Okay. That works. It's still evil for evil's sake but i could buy it. And yes the cupcake was a nice touch. From now on at conventions, everybody should call Sean Maher "Cupcake."

I don't have the whole play memorized and even I could tell Whedon kinda butchered the dialogue, but this too (like Don John) is a necessary evil. Less is more for cinema. Joss broke the script down to bare necessities, yet distilled it without diluting it. So difficult to do this well. I've seen community theater versions of this where the editing was painful. Entire scenes removed for time that totally disrupt the plot. I can't imagine Whedon's version failing to reach anyone of any age. Shakespeare formally makes it to the 21st century. This rendition should be accessible to everybody's temperament, if they but meet it halfway. Can schools use it already? Where might one learn if its having any success scholastically? Too soon? Maybe after the DVD release? While I wasn't pleased with the B/W approach at first, I totally forgot about it by the time I got that Bea was pretending to sleep. In hindsight I think at points I actually was seeing it in color in my mind's eye. I was just unconsciously filling in where I wanted color. Cuz in my memory now the grass is green.

I love the visual gags. Using a children's bedroom for the visiting veterans. Gregg's Leonato falling asleep in the kitchen, Denisof's stage business reminded me of a young Cary Grant. Acker's whirlwind of emotions and how she sold every barb and stinger with a macabre combination of sitcom ditz and soap opera anti-heroine. Hell hath no fury like a woman ditched. And that may be the best bit of all. I never got before in the many times I've been coerced to review this play again over the years, that the reason Bea hates Ben is cuz years ago they loved one another once and he dissed her. The opening scene where he leaves w/o saying goodbye (and you know he never called cuz men don't cuz they're stupid) made a world of difference for selling their entire dance. I thought before they were just so full of themselves until they could see past their own arrogance and fall for each other, but that never worked for me. This makes much more sense.

It's in the words. I can see that now. I just wasn't bothering to look close enough to find what makes this play really tick. When it comes to Shakespeare I can be a little dogberryish. Slow on the uptake, but i'm well-intentioned.

...

OH! And the music! This might be the first soundtrack I break down and purchase since Once More With Feeling. Maurissa Tancharoen is an angel. Love her voice and the Sigh No More song especially gives me goosebumps. Hey Nonny Nonny! =)

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2013-06-27 03:50 ]
I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, but I'd never seen Much Ado before; this was my first exposure, and I absolutely loved it. I have to confess, it took me 5-10 minutes to adjust to hearing Shakespeare in an American accent, which is just unusual when all the Shakespeare you've seen in your life has been British, but after that it was smooth sailing.

Agreed that you sometimes forgot you were listening to Shakespearean language. Excellent delivery, great comic moments. Would be interested in learning more about how it differed from the play. Can't wait to see it again anyway. Good date movie I think!

If we're digging for criticisms, I have to admit the photographer had me a little lost (was expecting the photographs to turn up in the credits, but it ended on such a pitch perfect note it probably wouldn't have been appropriate). I was also missing the hot pink text that was in all the posters! But other than that... the black and white was gorgeous :)
Oh, and seeing Alexis + Amy again as a romantic pairing... It's like a weird, alternate reality echo of Angel. Completely and utterly different, of course, but just nice to see.
I thought I saw Joss in the funeral line (wearing a wig), anyone else?

Really my first exposure to this play, I was never a fan of Shakespeare. I just can't read a play... But I loved it! Took me about five minutes to acclimate to the language, but it was pretty seamless after that. Thought everyone was excellent, especially Tom and Nathan. Loved Amy and Alexis, except when they kissed. It was clearly stage-kissing, which I understand, I don't need to see their tongues, I just didn't think it was pulled off too well. That is my only criticism!

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