Tag Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

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

Shakespearean Saturation

3 Nov

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Two evenings off, going into tech, and I’ve put The Bard on, in love story succession. 

Tonight: “Loves Labours Lost,” and “Much Ado.” 

…The words ring in my head…some sticking for a while to stay and rest there. Ideas and plot lines I know as well as the back of my hand, being reintroduced in new ways only cuz I’ve been living in the headspace of it for little over a month now.

…Great feats of wooing, and anger, lust, jest, mock, and clowning.  A sense of humor is necessary for the journey…and a balance of it and the drama.  Finding the perfect give and take to engage.  That, I think, is the secret and separation ‘tween “well done” Shakespeare, and “not.”

…Then: the lines.  Comparisons, metaphors, sworn oaths, and poetry…some set at a pace, some slow to chew…

…In Love:

“…And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper’d with Love’s sighs;
O, then his lines would ravish savage ears
And plant in tyrants mild humility.
From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world:
Else none at all in ought proves excellent.”
~ LLL

“I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.”
~ Much Ado

“I would forget her, but a fever she
Reigns in my blood, and will remembered be”
~ LLL

***

…In Anger:

“Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman?
O that I were a man! What, bare her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander,
unmitigated rancour,
–O God, that I were a man!
I would eat his heart in the market-place.”
~Much Ado

***

… In Metaphor:

“Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation: I do forswear them.”
~ LLL

“Is it not strange that sheep’s guts could hail souls out of men’s bodies?”
~ Much Ado

” He hath not fed of the dainties that are bred in a book;
He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink.”
~ LLL

” Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
-One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.”
~ Much Ado

“Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.”
~LLL

“O, she is fallen Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh!”
~ Much Ado

“Therefor brave conquerors, for so you are
That war against your own affections
And the huge army of the world’s desires”
~ LLL

***

…In Insult:

“They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.”
~ LLL

“O, she misused me past the endurance of a block.
She told me, not thinking I had been myself,
that I was the Prince’s jester, and that I was duller than a great thaw,
huddling jest upon jest, with such impossible conveyance upon me,
that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.
She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.
If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her,
she would infect to the North star.
So indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her.”
~ Much Ado

“He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.”
~ LLL

“Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
But you are more intemperate in your blood
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals
That rage in savage sensuality.”
~ Much Ado

“Your wit’s too hot, it speeds too fast, ’twill tire.”
~ LLL

***

…In Comedy:

“Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till
I were married.”
~ Much Ado

“A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it.”
~ LLL

“For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”
~ Much Ado

“The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen
As the razor’s edge invisible,
Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen”
~ LLL

“I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
Another man is a fool when he dedicates his
Behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
Shallow follies in others, become the argument
Of his own scorn by falling in love.”
~ Much Ado

***

…In Drama:

“Every one can master a grief but he that has it.”
~ Much Ado

***

…Cue-to-Cue tomorrow…(or today, by-the-clock.) A long weekend ahead, but the company is excellent, so onward into Hell Week…with gusto!

~D

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