Much Ado About Whedon

23 Jun

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Or…

“A Quietly Lovely Study Of The Bard, By Some Friends.”

Listen.

…I’ve only been waiting to see this freakin’ movie for over a year is all.  Ever since the first whispers started to gather about the “maybe perhaps” possibility that, “one of the many informal script reads at the Whedon house,” frequented by what has come to be known as his “company,” was at some point, going to be “put on film.”

Then: we were told it was Shakespeare, and who was playing whom, and the torture of the wait really began.

Tonight, after matinees and friend times, it was finally seen. 

It did not disappoint. 

…And not because of gimmicks, explosions, sex scenes, or technical wonders.

It was a quiet film, with focus on the text and relationships, in a very contemporary reality. The script was adapted and directed by Whedon, trimmed by one-third from Shakespeare’s original, filmed in twelve days, in the Whedon household, between wrap of “Avengers” and the beginning of it’s editing.

Branagh’s “Much Ado,” it ain’t. 

It isn’t suppose to be. 

Do yourself a favor and DON’T go to compare.

…There is plenty of room in your home library for both.  And you should want them.  Side-by-side. To show the range and possibility that can be lent to a text that needs but a cast of dedicated actors to make it work. This sounds simple, but is very rarely the norm.

It’s the argument I will always back, that though not EVERY classical piece of theatre lends itself to changes of theme and period, Shakespeare does. Because unlike all classical pieces of theatre, Shakespeare wrote of universal truths: Humanity, at cross purposes of love, hate, jealousy, sex, politics, and war.

…This is why his writing will ALWAYS be releveant. And why his words will work today, tomorrow, three hundred years from now, or even in three hundred centuries. So long as you place it with purpose, and invest your emotions in the text, it can take place in Messina, 1612, or Joss Whedon’s kitchen, last year.

…THAT, my friend, is good fucking writing.

…And Joss’ friends, are good fucking actors.

…These things go well together…and while on Holiday, they made a simply lovely baby, in a labor of love.

As an Actor, I adored watching seasoned family-friends, working together in new capacities, with undeniable joy spilling out all over the screen.

…As a film lover, I adored the simplicity where the story seemed to unfold as if by accident, with no worries of magnificents in technical prowess, just as if the camera were another character cast within the play, who happened to be there at the time, overhearing and seeing whatever conversations seemed to be happening.

I loved the new Benedict and Beatrice history add, and how Acker used it to deepen her work in a new direction of a character rarely seen in such vulnerable light.

…I loved the simple shock and awe of a boy come home a man, seeing a girl now turned to woman, without heaps of dramatics, concentrating more on the wonder of love’s slap across an unsuspecting face, as shown by Kratz.

…Gregg, as Leonato: a delight…that always adorable smiling face, infused with so much trust and affection, such a doting papa, a loving uncle, turned betrayed man of sorrow, but never quite losing the faith in humanity, which infuses the final act of sorrow with an underlying friction of hope despite all.

Diamond: a worthy Prince with a sparkle for mischief played exceedingly well with the text, and in building a delightful kinship with Gregg and Franz, was nicely counterbalanced by Maher as villian Don John.

…And Fillion, of course, was a comedic delight as Dogberry, having a lark making fun of his “Castle” world, as well as reunting with Buffy alumni along the way.

…In fact every role, (down to the smallest speaking feature), was placed in loving hands, surrounded by trusting family members, and simultaneously made the most of, while playing it with a soft touch so as not to break the delicately simple world as created.

…There was only one exception, for me.

…A mountainous surprise of one, in fact.

This Benedict, a long-time alumni of the Whedon tribe, (and proven chemistry-maker with Acker), seemed to be playing at a different sport than his fellow castmates.

There was no question of his understanding the text, or delivering it to a purpose, but the emotional connection with the words and his fellows, seemed lost in translation somehow. Most noticibly (oddly enough) when with Acker…whose alernate emotional working of Beatrice’s usually constant joviality, ached for deeper stuff than surface matters, when in banter.

…It was a surprise to watch her do the emotional lifting for two, not because she wasn’t good for it (tiny though she may be, she is fierce with her intent), but merely because…I know I can’t be the only one who has been so very much anticipating this “Wesley” and “Fred” reuniting on screen once again. It’s been a long, long ache of a wait. And though the final coupling manages to deliver the goods, the road to get there had missed opportunities of intimate wonder, which where certainly set up by Sir Joss, and Acker but never seemed to get picked up along the way…hungry though his co-actor seemed to be to coax, tempt, poke and play with it.

…Analytical much on this one? YES! You. Fucking. Bet.

The Whedon team is Master-class time, you guys. Even in a twelve-day shoot. Even when it (rarely) falls short of the actual spike-mark. These people are artists…they LOVE what they do, they LOVE their fearless leader, they LOVE their extended and ever-growing family.

They LOVE making movies.

And it shows. Pure and simple. On all of their faces. Total, absolute, childlike, joy.

…These are the kids that played with super-8’s filming action figures, and lip synced to records, and made faces in mirrors just for practice. These were the kids who read comic books, and then drew their own, and wrote stories, and did theatre, and doctored other people’s scripts just so they could work somehow, somewhere, in the business. These are the Indie film nerds, who though now juggling multi-million dollar budgets in film and TV shows, managed to still keep their souls and not forget why they started doing this in the first place.

They love what they do. And they love it even more when doing it with friends.

It’s deliciously infectious.

…And I’m not overselling it a bit. I promise you.

Find it. See it. Smile. The end.

~D

6 Responses to “Much Ado About Whedon”

  1. Carolyn Cook June 24, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    I love your writing so much. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words and your words on a screen in my kitchen.

    • She Writes A Little June 24, 2013 at 7:29 am #

      Thank you for the compliment of reading them, and in the kitchen at that…my favorite room! I hope I’m frequently paired with delectable homemade yummies ;d

  2. prewitt1970 June 24, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    I am a huge of Joss and his work over the years, thanks for the tip, I’ll have to look into it.
    Cheers
    Benjamin

  3. lovepirate77 June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Great review, I felt exactly the same way watching it. I can’t wait to see it again! Joss cannot fail.

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