Monday, June 10, 2013

Not So Fresh Reviews: Much Ado About Nothing

"Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me."

My lady and I sought to make a very merry Sunday, and after a lambasting of our lifestyles during a very strange and historical tour of the Mount Vernon hotel. But by luck and grace we were rescued, by the mad revelry of the Bard seen though the eyes of the Nerd. Truly there is no remedy after being lambasted like a Shakespearean comedy.

As I have written in the past, this is a film I have been looking forward to for a while. Having gown up on Buffy, Angel, and everything subsequent to them, it is easiest to say I (like most other manner of geek) am a huge fan of Joss Whedon. I also happen to be one of those actor and theater types (Though I did miss the Tony Awards last night. If you did too watch NPH kill the opening) so I also have a love for The Bard.  After seeing Much Ado it is plain that Mr. Whedon also has a similar affliction.

The tale of the two ever quarrelsome Benedick and Beatrice is well known by some, and easily recognized by others. Both are also completely convinced that there is no such romantic equal to themselves, thus they enthusiastically embrace lives of bachelorhood and mock the trivialities of love. That is, until a small council of their friends and family decide to rob cupid of his job and make a match between the two. Then things get complicated.

From the very beginning of the film you feel the palpable difference in what he is presenting. I liked the Avengers just fine, but if Joss decided to adapt and direct Elizabethan comedies for the rest of his career, I would be very okay with it. (Not that it would happen; those movies are going to make obtuse amounts of money.) Perhaps it is the contrasting of doing these different types of work that allows them to resonate within the artist so well. It should also be pointed out that there is such a cheekiness inherent to Joss Whedon's work, that one might be able to guess Shakespeare an obvious source of inspiration, since the majesty of both their works is the punchy nature of his dialog; which also abounds on nearly every page of Much Ado About Nothing.

But words are only the half of it, the cinematography in this picture is great; often with wonderful use of the space (Which happens to be Joss Whedon's actual home in California) to frame the image and stress action beautifully. The choice of filming the entire thing in a crisp high definition black and white seems so natural, I'm hard pressed to even think of what it might have looked like in color.  Truth be told I don't care.

This film is funny and full heartache. It is often said that we in the US like to have only one kind of story being told at a time - hence the ghettoizing of literature and film into genres. Really, the fascinating part of Much Ado is the spectacular fashion in which both emotions pass into one another. It can feel like two different films - but not in a sort of jarring way, but, instead, as a reflection of how complicated life really is. (I'm looking at you Game Of Thrones.) Thankfully, the segregation in the narrative world is breaking down to the benefit of us all.

(The only problem with this film is the extremely limited release. I live in the New York a film city if there ever was one, and only three movies houses. That's nuts!)

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