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  • Much Ado About Nothing

    Much Ado About Nothing, the independent film adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy, is getting rave reviews on the film festival circuit here, here and here.

    Joss Whedon filmed it in twelve days at his home in Santa Monica while on vacation after filming The Avengers. He cast actors that he's used in his previous works like Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker (Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse) as Benedict and Beatrice, Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher (Firefly/Serenity) as Dogberry and Don Juan, Reed Diamond (Dollhouse) as Don Pedro, Fran Kran Kranz (Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods) and Clark Gregg (The Avengers and the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series) as Claudio and Leonato.

    If you're familiar with these actors, then you know you're in for a fun ride. If you're not, well, prepare to be dazzled. These are some of the best actors you never seen. I hope this film gets them the recognition they deserve.

    The movie set for limited release on June 7 with a wider release later in the month.

    Last edited by shiny!; 03-11-13, 01:15 PM.

    Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

  • #2
    Re: Much Ado About Nothing

    thanks, Shiny - love the B&W

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    • #3
      Re: Much Ado About Nothing

      Originally posted by don View Post
      thanks, Shiny - love the B&W
      I do, too.

      Whedon said he chose B&W because he didn't have time to repaint his house, he didn't want to have to worry about color coordinating the costumes because the actors all wore their own clothes, and their lighting equipment disappeared every night at 5 PM when it moved around the earth.

      Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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      • #4
        Re: Much Ado About Nothing

        color is important in B&W filming - shocking even at times!

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        • #5
          Re: Much Ado About Nothing

          until i played around in the darkroom mr d - never appreciated just how many shades of gray there can be....

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Much Ado About Nothing

            ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Finds Joss Whedon at His Wittiest, Warmest and Sexiest with a Little Help From His Friends

            Films rarely feel dangerous these days. Spectacle borne of a prohibitive budget was once surprising; extreme gore used to shock us. Now that every movie is either an Avatar or an Evil Dead, the most dangerous thing a director can do is shoot a passion project with his friends in his backyard over a period of two weeks. Much Ado About Nothing is a small film simply made, but it feels big. It feels like a natural progression, the only direction the revolution can take. It feels audacious.

            But the movie's more than a subversion, a taking back of something we've lost. The most important thing about Much Ado About Nothing is that it's delightful. Shakespeare's play is a delight, a slapsticky riot of mixed messages and eavesdropping and disguises and thwarted love and forced love and mistaken identity. It's impossibly witty and completely fun, closing with the happiest of happy endings where the bad guy gets punished and the lovers wed and everybody dances. Joss Whedon gets that, and his Much Ado is full of belly laughs, moments of broad comedy bolstered by a very precise wit, and marvelous performances by actors who seem like they can't believe their luck in scoring this gig.

            The movie was, indeed, made in Whedon's backyard and throughout his home, a beautiful structure with dozens of windows allowing for tremendous natural light that makes this black and white film radiate. He shot it in secret over twelve days while on a brief hiatus from The Avengers, and one can only imagine his joy in taking a break from the enormity of that challenge, the studio pressure and fan expectations. Actually, we don't have to imagine his joy - we can feel it in every scene, every shot.

            The cast is overwhelmingly recognizable to any Whedonite. Amy Acker and an extra-goofy Alexis Denisof give their attention-grabbing due as our Beatrice and Benedick, parrying in that infinite battle of words, wit and spiky flirtation. Fran Kranz is unexpectedly earnest as Claudio; Nathan Fillion is every ounce as ridiculous as we could hope from Dogberry. Reed Diamond and Clark Gregg are both great as Don Pedro and Leonato, and Riki Lindhome does a bit of show stealing as our gender bent Conrade. Finally, Sean Maher is our villainous Don John, seething and smirking with great competence.

            There's been heated scholastic debate spanning decades regarding Shakespeare's intent in writing Much Ado, in which women are commonly referred to as impure cuckolders and Balthasar's song "Sigh No More" encourages the fairer sex to embrace the infidelity of men with grace and a smile:

            Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
            Men were deceivers ever;
            One foot in sea, and one on shore,
            To one thing constant never.
            Then sigh not so,
            But let them go,
            And be you blith and bonny,
            Converting all your sounds of woe
            Into Hey nonny, nonny.


            The debate is whether Shakespeare intended Much Ado to be a satire or an endorsement of this way of thinking. For what it's worth, I've always come down on the satire side, but in Joss Whedon's hands, there is no question. Gender politics are ever messy, and Much Ado is messy as hell, but at the end of Whedon's movie, it all feels very clear. Hero was terribly wronged, Claudio's a bit of a chump and Beatrice is a badass. With one pitch-perfect reaction shot, he even makes that notoriously uncomfortable "were she an Ethiope" line a homerun.

            Before the movie, Whedon gave an intro and encouraged us to drink along, and good lord, is there a lot of sauce in this Shakespeare. The trials of our lovers are so maddeningly absurd that we can only accept that they're the result of days of binge drinking, wine and grappa and tequila and whiskey sloshing around in haphazard hands as the Bard's mouthfuls are lightly, easily uttered.

            Oh, there are so many moments in this film that I wish I could gush over in precise detail, but of course that serves no purpose outside of gratifying my own instant nostalgia. See it, fall in love with it, then meet up with me so we can dish. Much Ado About Nothing is a triumph of charm and wit, going down so pleasantly that we very easily forget how astonishing it is that it actually exists.

            Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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            • #7
              Re: Much Ado About Nothing

              Another positive review:

              Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing May Be Most Modern Interpretation Ever

              ... It’s a difficult thing to modernize a play. Many interpretations of Shakespeare playfully relocate the setting away from 16th century England, but they maintain the text and perhaps do not mine it often enough for the depths Shakespeare’s work provides. In his first public adaptation Whedon is not timorous. He digs into the words and finds something new and haunting and disparate where most see only whimsy and romance.

              Which makes sense. Whedon has always been adept at mining humor in pathos and vice versa. There are few filmmakers working that navigate that path as cleanly as him. It is his wheelhouse, so to speak, and the actors he employs are all as familiar with it as the tone he encourages. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as the lovers Beatrice and Benedick play things almost shockingly modern. Rather than farce they bring a sitcom flare to the comedy and plumb the depths of the drama for every ounce of pathos. In their hands Shakespeare’s play isn’t tonally challenged, it’s well-rounded. These feel like genuine characters with histories and desires beyond the page. Particularly when Acker finally reaches Beatrice’s “If I Were A Man” speech.

              I’ve seen this speech performed a number of times. I’ve watched Catherine Tate and Emma Thompson and a couple of stage actresses cry and wail through it and I’ve watched Sarah Parish rage through a modern version that was hitherto my favorite take on it, but then Amy Acker [-spoiler removed-] unearths the fury of an entire sex. Never have I seen the monologue performed with such a naked feminist slant. It’s actually breathtaking to watch her subvert the text. There is an agony in her performance that many performers and directors would shy away from. She takes the teasing talk of gender that lies below the surface of the play, grabs it by the roots, and rips it out so everyone can see it too, and Whedon’s camera catches every moment–following her at a distance so as to not hide any of the physicality she brings to the monologue.

              She isn’t the only one offering unusual interpretations. Spencer Treat Clark’s Borachio is more tortured rogue than a simple brute caught up Don John’s plan, Clark Gregg gives Leonato a cunning where often he is a frivolous fool of a father, and Fran Kranz…Whedon asked that Kranz play Claudio as an angry jock and Kranz does exactly that. The guy who has before only played stoners and nerds plays a blisteringly aggressive figure who is heroic and gorgeous and governed less by his thoughts than by his temper. If you understandably have a narrow view of the actor you will be astonished, and if you’ve never even seen him before then you’ll be delighted when you later check him out in the phenomenal Cabin in the Woods or the problematic Dollhouse.

              Whedon’s whole cast, really, is a study in subverting expectations and honing the edge of Shakespeare’s work. From Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk’s 80s brotastic constables to Ashley Johnson’s tragic Margaret they drag the play to the ground, but never let go of the fun party atmosphere. This is a movie drenched in dark jazz and shadows and booze.

              The only question you’ll have at the end is “when are Whedon, Acker, Kranz and the rest teaming up for a budget interpretation of Twelfth Night?
              Living in Phoenix I never thought I'd be impatient for June to come around, but this waiting is torture!

              Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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              • #8
                Re: Much Ado About Nothing

                Great comment - it is nice to look forward to something.

                A geeky lawyer I know had turned me towards watching Whedon, he was a big Buffy fan; I enjoyed the job he did on The Avengers (I am an old school silver age Marvel Comics nerd) mostly for the characters (yes, they are 2-D, but FUN 2-D) and their bantering.

                Much Ado is a Great Play, so I have something to put on the agenda for my wife and I for "Date Night" in June.

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                • #9
                  Re: Much Ado About Nothing

                  Originally posted by wayiwalk View Post
                  Great comment - it is nice to look forward to something.

                  A geeky lawyer I know had turned me towards watching Whedon, he was a big Buffy fan; I enjoyed the job he did on The Avengers (I am an old school silver age Marvel Comics nerd) mostly for the characters (yes, they are 2-D, but FUN 2-D) and their bantering.

                  Much Ado is a Great Play, so I have something to put on the agenda for my wife and I for "Date Night" in June.
                  I hope you and your wife have a great date!

                  Your lawyer friend has excellent taste. Joss Whedon is a director and producer, but he's essentially a writer. As a storyteller and wordsmith there is no one like him. Five hundred years from now if we haven't blown ourselves up, people will probably look back and say that Joss Whedon was the Shakespeare of our era.

                  Did you ever see Firefly? It is my favoritest of all favority shows, with Buffy a close second ;-)

                  Silly name aside, Buffy is absolutely brilliant on so many levels. A bit hit-and-miss until midway into the second season... good but not great... then it takes off and greatness ensues. "Restless", "Hush", "The Body", "Once More With Feeling"... I envy anyone the experience of seeing those episodes for the first time.

                  Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Much Ado About Nothing

                    Originally posted by lektrode View Post
                    until i played around in the darkroom mr d - never appreciated just how many shades of gray there can be....
                    At least 50, I've been told ;-)

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                    • #11
                      Re: Much Ado About Nothing

                      She's not talking about your hair, GR . . . I don't think.

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                      • #12
                        First Clip from Much Ado About Nothing

                        A bit of a brief interview with Joss Whedon, with a clip from Much Ado. Nathan Fillion as Dogberry:
                        -
                        http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon....othing/n37370/

                        Sorry I couldn't get it to embed.

                        Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I Saw It!

                          Saw Much Ado last night with a friend. Had a wonderful time! It's beautifully shot, beautifully scored; hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between.

                          Based on her previous work I went in expecting to love Amy Acker as Beatrice, and she does not disappoint. What I was not expecting was to be blown away by Fran Kranz as Claudio. I've seen hints of his talent before (see Dollhouse) but IMO this man should be playing Shakespeare for the rest of his life.

                          Sean Maher as the wicked Don John was also impressive. He was a black hole of malevolence that sucked the happiness out of a room just by entering it. He should be cast as a villian more often. Watch him closely with the cupcakes!

                          Nathan Fillion as Dogberry + Tom Lenk as Verges (all the Watch in fact) = comedy gold.

                          Kudus to Kai Cole, executive producer, architect and designer of their home where the film was shot and Joss Whedon's wife. She will never lack for work as an architect after people see this movie.

                          In addition to producing and directing, Joss also wrote the movie's score. His brother, Jed Whedon, and Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen performed "Sigh No More" and "Heavily". You'll see Jed at the piano and Maurissa (the beautiful Asian woman) performing in the film. That is one very talented family.

                          Check with your local art theater or this link to see if it's playing in your city:

                          http://muchadotheaters.blogspot.com/...-of-62113.html

                          Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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