Friday, June 28, 2013

Much Ado About Joss Whedon

It will surprise no one that I think Joss Whedon is the bees knees.  Possibly better than rainbows and kittens rolled into one.  Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are two of my favorite TV shows of all time. I was pretty pleased that Cabin in The Woods and The Avengers have seemed to bring him to the level of universal adoration that he deserves.

So I was a little ashamed of myself that I JUST in the last week heard about his most recent project.  Joss Whedon AND Shakespeare?!  Together?!  Holy Shnikeys!  Has anything more perfect ever been proposed.  As I think about it Shakespeare was a bit like a 16th century, British Joss Whedon  with his snappy dialogue, clever wit and memorable characters.  Allright maybe I'm going too far.  It's probably more appropriate to say Joss Whedon is a modern day Shakespeare:)  Needless to say I was pretty excited. 

I immediately rushed to catch up with my favorite film podcast -  Kermode and Mayo Film Reviews (Hello to Jason Isaacs!).  They did an awesome interview with Joss Whedon and did a review of Much Ado About Nothing.  I needed no other convincing to make sure I got to the theater to see this before it went. 

It seems it was made at Joss Whedon's house during a two week break from editing The Avengers.  He just invited a bunch of his actor friends over and shot this in 12 days.  As such Whedon's fans will recognize a lot of the faces.  Alexis Denisof (Angel) and Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse) play the central couple Benedick and Beatrice.  Sean Maher (Firefly) takes a turn as the nefarious Don John and Nathan Fillion (Firefly) fills in as the ridiculous Dogberry. 

So what's the verdict?  Utterly delightful.  Shakespeare's original text is used in what is a somewhat vague modern setting.  It's black and white and it takes place almost entirely on Whedon's property which keeps it from being tied to a particular time or even a particular reality - it seems encapsulated in its own little world.  The actors do a good job of bringing Shakespeare's words to life and there are many laugh out loud moments.  This play is especially deft at swerving between the funny and the poignant and the cast does it full justice.  Nathan Fillion is particularly hilarious as Dogberry.   The costumes are simple but beautiful and the setting is used to great effect. It feels intimate but in no way does it look like a movie shot in 12 days on a bit of a whim. There is A LOT of booze.

A pairing of Joss Whedon and Shakespeare was going to be hard-pressed not to get a thumbs up from me but believe me when I say that if you like either or both of these witty playwrights, you will enjoy this movie. 

Anybody else had a chance to see this movie - what did you think?  What's you're favorite work by Joss Whedon?

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