Dallas Movie Screening

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare. Either you love him or you tolerate him because you have to. Apparently Joss Whedon likes him well enough to put in 12 days of filming to produce the 2013 version of Much Ado About Nothing in glorious black and white. This independent film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and has since won two audience awards. For the uninformed (as to the storyline) "Much Ado About Nothing" is a play which follows the trials and tribulations of two different pairs of would be lovers. The main couple, Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker of Lake Highlands/SMU), along with Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Beatrice's cousin, Hero (Jillian Morgese) form the romantic and comedic focus. Benedick and Beatrice traipse through the film, interacting through a series of proper quippy verbal banters. Neither is a fan of the institution of marriage or even the state of love. Much to our joy, Claudio and Hero are sweetly enamored of one another as their romance blossoms, blooms and heads to the alter. Although the young lovers Hero and Claudio give the film its primary movement. But it is banter between the Benedick and Beatrice that intrigues and delights. Shakespeare's writing showcases their journey from states of irritation and an almost hatred into a genuine mature love between two people who both know what they want but could not see it in front of their own eyes.

"Noting" (sounds the same as 'nothing') means to gossip, to spread rumor, and for a modern times reference, cause DRAMA mama. Our two 'haters' are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into publicly shaming Hero at the altar, falsely believing that she has cheated on him. Dogberry (adeptly executed by Nathan Fillion) is a criminal investigator, with a play-on-words wit, who exposes the deception brought about by Don John (Reed Diamond), and helps all move towards our happy-ending party. These are stories and scenarios that the viewer can readily relate to as most of us have been lied to by a friend, misled by an associate, felt confused and helpless about a situation or been misunderstood by someone. It is also safe to say we have all been to celebrations where there is something a little more sinister going on underneath the celebratory surface. In this version, we become so enamored with the characters that we hang on every word that they speak for fear of missing something important. The play is indeed "the thing" and there is very little to distract us from the words, other than the mostly charming facial expressions and vocal characterizations by the actors. Any attempt at bringing Shakespeare to the masses must be a good thing, especially if it is devoid of flashy costumes, gunfire, flashing lights, fireworks and blaze of glory-candle-lit churches as was Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet was. This film is not a spectacle and a lover of the word will be pleased.

This film seems to be Mr. Whedon's baby. It was inspired by past discussions about THE BARD and his works held between friends at the place where it was filmed. Filmed at Whedon's own home, he even wrote music for it, although two of the songs he set to music were lines that Shakespeare wrote to be included in the play. The picture is filmed on tones of white, grey and black, with any natural light coming through windows, glass doors, and reflecting off of mirrors and crystals. Through that, we have an intimate feel as if we are in the kitchen listening in on the discussions or are a guest, ourselves, at the wedding. The dialogue, and this is a film where dialogue is king, brought several mirthful chuckles from the screening audience, although as usual, Shakespearean dialogue is sometimes hard to keep up with, for in the viewers' tight focus, is it possible to miss the lovely innuendo, hidden meanings and sly humor. The film opens June 21, 2013.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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