Much Ado About Nothing: Shakespeare and Whedon–what a pair!

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Never have two writers been more appropriately matched.   Joss Whedon‘s trademark wit and charm are perfect for William Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing (one of my favorites) and I enjoyed his adaptation–it wasn’t perfect–but it was a good time.  What was really impressive is that Whedon shot this in 12 days at his home with a group of friends–that is one party I would have loved to attend! 😀

Much Ado About Nothing is a fast paced, witty and hilarious tale of love, misunderstandings, a “merry war” between the sexes and perception.   It has been given the Hollywood treatment before with the 1993 written and directed version by Kenneth Branagh–which I absolutely adore!  It was a star-studded cast and it did not stray far from the written word.  But, honestly, Branagh’s Benedict and Emma Thompson‘s Beatrice are superior to their new version counterparts–not totally dissing the new cast–but they are both able to deliver more nuanced performances (more talented actors??) and capture all the different tones throughout more convincingly.

With that said–I return to 2013.  To say this production is low-key is an understatement and yet, Whedon shines here.  He takes a simple approach that works with the atmosphere established.  He shoots scenes through windows and glass that almost make you feel like you’re in the house watching the shenanigans occur–this approach allows you to feel like you are a guest in the home, that just happens to see and hear everything–which is pretty cool.

The cast is great!  As a fan of the Whedon universe, it was awesome to see all the old friends from all the shows/films over the years and to watch them play with these Shakespearean roles.   Not a bad bunch–I enjoyed them all and they held their own (some a bit better than others, of course) and they were obviously having way too much fun.  Oh, by the way…Nathan Fillion–I love you.   😀   The stand out would have to be Amy Acker‘s Beatrice–(I have always been a fan and think she is sadly under appreciated)–who steals the film.  She is funny and sweet and yet, can cut you with a glance or a word.  Alexis Denisof is a good match for Acker and his Benedict has some of the best laughs.

My only problem with this adaptation is the retention of certain words and a particular theme.  While Whedon changed the time setting to fit the “filming at my house during my vacation” perimeters and for a more contemporary spin and it worked well for most of the story–there was the tiny issue of “purity”.   In 1598, when Shakespeare wrote this comedy it would be expected that a woman remain pure and a maid–in the literal definition–but in 2013??  Uh, not so much.  And I just felt that it was an obvious misstep.  It took me completely out of it–and I was unable to shake it.  Others may just notice the infidelity angle, but the words are quite specific.  It did not ruin the entire film for me–but, it was annoying–really, Joss?  You couldn’t change a few words?  :/

All in all, it was a lovely time with Mr. Whedon and Mr.Shakespeare and if you love either of these guys–you will enjoy yourself, too!  Who knows…maybe these two will pair up again?  Maybe during a vacation period while filming The Avengers 2?  Twelfth Night?  That would be awesome.

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One of the Best Films of 2012? Sleepwalk with Me.

Yeah…I know.  What?  Sleepwalk with Me?  Never heard of it–right? Honestly, I did know about it either until Joss Whedon made a hilarious video “boycotting” (wink,wink) this film.  And now I am (again) grateful to Mr. Whedon, because Mike Birbiglia’s true and hilarious story has easily become one of my favorites of the year.

JOSS WHEDON-Boycott Mike Birbiglia’s Film “Sleepwalk With Me” – YouTube

First, I will tell you other stuff I did not know.  Birbiglia wrote this and performed it as a one-man show that mixed stand-up and theater, back in 2009, at the Bleecker Street Theatre in New York City.  With that success he then wrote a book Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories, that went on to become a bestseller, which lead to his directorial début.  Wow!

Well, watching this small, independent film was a pure pleasure.  Birbiglia uses his real life and his real REM Sleep Behavior Disorder to tell a very raw, sometimes painful, honest tale.  It is hilarious and poignant.  The unique way that it is presented and structured helps to enhance your connection to the story.  It is a narrative, yet it is cut with Birbiglia making direct camera commentary (that adds a sense of intimacy) and parts of his stand up routines and strangely, it works .

I can go on and on.  I loved everything! Sometimes life is stranger than fiction and worth telling.  Bravo, Bribiglia!  Thanks for being a creative, new voice in cinema.  We need more of these kind of maverick endeavors.

So go find this and check it out!  I would love to hear what you all think.

Sleepwalk With Me Trailer (2012) HD – YouTube

The Avengers fulfills on its promise of AWESOME-NESS!

Okay.  I am a geek.  I know this.  I am proud of it actually.  And The Avengers is a geek’s wildest dreams come true.  Throughout I found myself saying things like–OMG! That’s awesome!–That was so badass!–That’s so cool!–Holy Shit!  Wow!  Yeah…it is that good!    The best part?  Everything.  Yet, I am going to say that the master behind this is Joss Whedon, who takes these distinct characters and allows each to shine and then weaves them together to create an outstanding universe.  There are tons of quotable lines and memorable scenes and this is the first film of the year that I want to see again and again.  Bravo!

Let us also acknowledge that this movie is an accomplishment–four different comic heroes, stars of their own movies, joining forces to save the world.  Having that many egos to contend with must have been a daunting task, yet Whedon makes it look easy.  He is able to strike the perfect balance between character development and story with badass action and comic book sensibilities.  Then in true Whedon style he adds plenty of humor and unexpected depth and heart.  The Avengers is a true crowd-pleaser that also maintains the integrity of each superhero, but never forgets to have fun with it.

I enjoyed all the Marvel movies (Iron Man 1& 2, Thor, Captain A, and even The Incredible Hulk) that were building up to this release–some more than others (Captain America was my favorite and I believe the best film of the bunch), but they were all entertaining.  The Avengers takes entertainment to the next level.  It never forgets what it is and what the fans expect and want–that’s what makes it brilliant!

Robert Downey, Jr takes the helm and delivers some of the best lines in true Tony Stark fashion.  Downey is always a pleasure to watch and has his character down to a science.  Chris Evans is wonderful as Captain Steve Rogers and is the true leader of the group–he represents what a true hero should be.  Chris Hemsworth is a more mature Thor this time around and it works.  Thor is on a mission to save his brother, Loki (played perfectly by Tom Hiddleston) who really is just a puppet for a greater evil and threat.  But the best surprise is Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner and “the other guy” aka the Hulk.  The only actor not proven in the role, Ruffalo was a risk–a risk that paid off!  This is the Hulk I’ve been waiting for!  He is a shy, nervous genius and yet, there is something behind his eyes that makes him dangerous–perfect. (As an avid Hulk TV show watcher I can say…I’ve missed you Dr.Banner.) And for those that may doubt it–do not underestimate the power of HULK SMASH!! 😀

Let us not forget the straight humans in the bunch–Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow is a complete badass!  She has some pretty cool moves and no super powers, which is even more impressive.  Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye is smooth, commanding and formidable.  And of course, there is Mr. Samuel L. Jackson as Fury and well…it’s Samuel L. Jackson!  Enough said.  Finally, I want to give a shout out to under appreciated Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson (“Phil? His first name is Agent.”) who has been the one connecting character in all the movies.  Coulson continues to be one of my favorites and gets some great moments here, especially his interactions with Cap, which are classic.

The special effects are well done and never distracting.  We are given some pretty cool aliens and creatures, but I was most taken by the Hulk (yes, again) who finally looked real!  The plot is pretty straightforward and there are no surprises about who is going to triumph, but that is not the point of this film.  This is a story about how these very different characters become a team.  How they learn to trust and respect each other.  Bottom line though?  The Avengers is meant to be a fantastic escape from our daily lives and guess what?  That it is!

Welcome Summer of 2012!  Let the ride begin…

Cabin in the Woods is INCREDIBLE!!

Okay.  This is going to be the shortest review ever!  Why?  Because I am NOT going to review Cabin in the Woods.  I am not going to put links that lead you to anything (stay away from wiki) and there will be no trailer attached.  I do not want anything to spoil the experience for you.

All I am going to say is it is written Joss Whedon, who is a genius in my opinion, and directed by  Drew Goddard and the film is SPECTACULAR!  (Yes, I am lucky and got to see a screening given by Mondo! You can hate me.)

Go watch it!  You will not regret it!  I promise.