First Much Ado About Nothing Trailer
March 7, 2013 12:57 PM   Subscribe

First trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. (Direct MP4 link based on the official site.) The film (shot in 12 days at Joss's house while taking a break from making The Avengers) will be getting its U.S. premiere this weekend at SXSW, with limited general release starting in June. Previously shown at TIFF, the Dublin Film Festival and the Glasgow Film Festival.

It has generally been receiving favorable reviews.

Joss commented at Whedonesque about the trailer and the tour bus taking cast and crew to SXSW.
posted by kmz (114 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, while he takes a break from making a movie HE MAKES ANOTHER MOVIE?
posted by SPUTNIK at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Heh, so this guy takes a break from making a movie by making a movie?

Oh, but it's a different movie. That makes it restful.

If you ever needed absolute proof of Mr. Whedon's geek status, that would probably qualify.
posted by Malor at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is my favorite review:
To me, writing an entire play in fancy pentameter is overkill so none of the clever prose really stands out. But Whedon gave me Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers so I can tough it out for his own pet project.
Take THAT, Shakespeare! Your meter ain't shit.
posted by muddgirl at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


I was not looking forward to this. I watched the trailer. I am looking forward to this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


No Keanu Reeves, but I'm sure it'll still be good.
posted by chunking express at 1:04 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will watch this movie so hard.
posted by gauche at 1:05 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, he and his wife were supposed to go on vacation to Venice but she convinced him to stay and make the movie.
posted by kmz at 1:06 PM on March 7, 2013


Meh. The trailer seems like a lot of fuss about not very much.
posted by GuyZero at 1:07 PM on March 7, 2013 [25 favorites]


I am so ridiculously hyped about this movie. Thank you so much for posting the trailer.
posted by yoink at 1:09 PM on March 7, 2013


The trailer actually doesn't do that much for me, but I'm going to watch the bejesus out of it because of the people involved.
posted by brundlefly at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will plan a devious plot to get my boyfriend to go see the new Shakespeare movie with me. At the same time, he will plan a devious plot to get me to go see the new Joss Whedon movie with him. Imagine the jolly laughter that we will have when we find ourselves dragging each other to see the same movie. Ah, much ado about nothing. Let's have some popcorn.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2013 [59 favorites]


I am not a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he is terrible at directing action, and I hate how casually his work deals with huge body counts. It makes me viscerally uncomfortable; I almost couldn't watch the last scene in The Avengers. But directing Shakespeare seems RIGHT up his alley, and the fact that he made a film like this to blow off steam is pretty much awesome. I am excited to see this.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:16 PM on March 7, 2013


"Anything that might get kids interested in Shakespeare," said the old man in my head that I have apparently become.

On preview, Elly Vortex, I'm pretty tempted to write a skit of the farce you just described in iambic pentameter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG! It looks like Joss Whedon finally got around to reading the Wesley/Fred Angel slashfic I keep sending him.
posted by mhum at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


And the animated gifs are already off and running...
posted by Rangeboy at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2013


If that was shot at his house, I'd say Joss has a really nice house.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:21 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know. This is going to be hard for me, partially because the whole Shakespeare-dialogue-in-a-modern-setting always pulls me right out of the experience, and also because I love the Kenneth Branagh Much Ado SO MUCH.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:21 PM on March 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


I see they included not-House.
posted by odinsdream at 1:22 PM on March 7, 2013


It's wonderful. It's SO much fun, and my only concern about it is that the jazzy music makes it seem, combined with the black and white, like it's going to be kind of precious, which it's not. It is and it feels homemade, and I think it's different enough from the Branagh that there will be something in it for people who like that one.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:23 PM on March 7, 2013


And the animated Gifs...


Damnit tumblr slow the fuck down some of us are on weak ass connections
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyway this movie is going to have such a huge demo spread, 17 year old drama geeks with Clark Clegg tumblrs , middle aged Buffy veterans and Whedonites, and Your Mom who wants to see a nice romance or something classy, like Shakespeare.
posted by The Whelk at 1:27 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


If that was shot at his house, I'd say Joss has a really nice house.

If I remember right, his wife (Kai Cole) is an architect and designed the house herself.
posted by kmz at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


because I love the Kenneth Branagh Much Ado SO MUCH

I love that version too; but the great thing about plays is that we're meant to love multiple versions of them--just like classical music or jazz standards or whatever. It's not about replacing Branagh; it's about entering into a centuries long conversation about what the play means and what it's trying to do--a conversation in which Branagh made some wonderful points, but certainly didn't exhaust the subject.
posted by yoink at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee......
posted by redbeard at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


This better come to my town. IT WILL BE THE BEST DATE MOVIE EVER
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is going to be hard for me, partially because the whole Shakespeare-dialogue-in-a-modern-setting always pulls me right out of the experience

AAARRRRGGGGHHH! This sentiment drives me CRAZY. Shakespeare is contemporary. His language is the language of the time; his costumes were the costumes of the time. To put Shakespeare in a modern setting is to do exactly what he intended in the first place. If he were just relegated to 15th century settings and meanings, then there would be no point in doing his plays anymore.
posted by starvingartist at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Verily, it might portend to be exquisite cinema, but twelve days bereft of the next Dr. Horrible doth make the twelfth night a baleful one indeed.
posted by markkraft at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2013


You know Dr. horrible 2 has been all but confirmed right?
posted by The Whelk at 1:48 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, where are the English accents?
posted by benbenson at 1:51 PM on March 7, 2013


So basically Joss takes breaks from his blockbusters to try and keep the careers of ex-Buffy alumni afloat?
posted by Windigo at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2013


I'm sort of fond of the version with Damien Lewis, myself.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:58 PM on March 7, 2013


So basically Joss takes breaks from his blockbusters to try and keep the careers of ex-Buffy alumni afloat?

I get the impression they all really like each other and enjoy working on projects together.
posted by flaterik at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


The trailer needed more Nathan Fillion.
posted by humanfont at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


To put Shakespeare in a modern setting is to do exactly what he intended in the first place.

Well, yes, it terms of staging. But we don't use works like privily, daub, choler, posset and the like much any more. The language certainly isn't modern.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:06 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So basically Joss takes breaks from his blockbusters to try and keep the careers of ex-Buffy alumni afloat?

I'm sure both the Buffy alumni in the film are really pleased that the entire purpose of the project was to polish their resumes. The other 40 odd people in the cast must be a bit puzzled, though.
posted by yoink at 2:06 PM on March 7, 2013


his costumes were the costumes of the time.

To expand on this, let me share what The Globe Theatre site has to say on the matter:
The Globe Theatre Costumes were fabulous - sumptuous materials, vivid colors and extremely costly. The costumes did not always reflect the correct period of the Play. The Globe actors generally wore the dress of their own time. Some were specifically made for the actors and some were donated by rich patrons. The Globe plays had to be produced in a great hurry in order to ensure a rapid turnover of new material and performances for the insatiable Elizabethan audience and to beat the competition from rival theatres. Not enough time was available to build up a ready made store of costumes which reflected the correct period of the play. The costumes in a play, such as Julius Caesar, would have been easier to develop as togas are relatively easy to make. In this instance a combination of Roman clothes and Elizabethan clothing might well have been seen together.
That said, we have hundreds of years of tradition now that have conditioned contemporary audience members to expect actors in a one of Shakespeare's plays to be wearing puffy shorts, pink tights and Seinfeldian puffy shirts. The impression that there is a correct way to do Shakespeare has, alas, been reinforced for centuries and no amount of proper citation or angry ranting is going to change that impression.

Indeed, I have been directing Shakespeare for many years now and I've met a certain kind of audience member who is actually upset if they're not a little bored during a show. I directed a well received production of Comedy of Errors a number of years ago that received two general sets of reactions. From the folks who hated Shakespeare, I got a lot of delighted "I laughed the whole time - that didn't seem like Shakespeare at all." From a subset of people who love Shakespeare, I got a lot of disappoint "there was too much laughter - that didn't seem like Shakespeare at all."

Anyhow, everyone arrives at a theatre to see Shakespeare with a certain amount of cultural baggage. Were they forced to read "Hamlet" in 10th grade and now they hate Shakespeare forever? Were they involved in a production of "Taming of the Shrew" back in college that ignited a passion for THE BARD OF AVON in their veins? Were they an English major that poured over the folio relishing every little bit of poetry? Every group has a different set of expectations, none of which are necessarily better than the other.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:07 PM on March 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


His language is the language of the time; his costumes were the costumes of the time.

No, the language was and is poetry. It's not of the time -- it transcended it. That's why we can view Shakespeare successfully in modern settings.
posted by mochapickle at 2:10 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


His language is the language of the time; his costumes were the costumes of the time

Well, mostly. The historical dramas were probably staged with the occasional toga. I'm sure there were probably mutterings from attendees about having Julius Caesar speak in contemporary English verse.

On preview, Joey Michaels answers that question much more thoroughly than I would have thought could be conclusively known.
posted by figurant at 2:11 PM on March 7, 2013


I am not a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he is terrible at directing action, and I hate how casually his work deals with huge body counts.

Titus Andronicus next!
posted by en forme de poire at 2:21 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, to clarify, I'm all down with staging Shakespeare in whatever way makes sense to the company staging his work. I can enjoy a good performance in faux-classical costumes as I can one in, say, winter underwear or Star Trek costumes.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:22 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Titus Andronicus next!

You misspelled Coriolanus.
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on March 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


If that was shot at his house, I'd say Joss has a really nice house.

Joss Whedon is the only famous person whose house I have ever been to and yes, it is very nice. I was supposed to be in the background of this movie during a party scene, but didn't want to stay there literally all night.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:32 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine turned down the opportunity to meet Joss Whedon a while back cause they didn't know who he was.

It took me a while but I finally forgave them.
posted by The Whelk at 2:36 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not sure if our site can withstand the mighty power of MeFi.

I saw the film at the Dublin International Film Festival in February together with the main mod at Whedonesque. It was gloriously funny.
posted by prolific at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2013


I didn't want to like this.

I like this.
posted by Kitteh at 2:48 PM on March 7, 2013


or Star Trek costumes

Ooh, ooh...Romeo and Juliet--he's a young fleet officer, she's a Klingon. A look of deep significance in the prologue:
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life
posted by yoink at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


I hope it's a better film than this was.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:56 PM on March 7, 2013


But we don't use works like privily, daub, choler, posset and the like much any more.

Maybe YOU don't.

Varlet.
posted by KathrynT at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2013 [28 favorites]


At least in this trailer, it seemed that there were, maybe, one or two actors who could deliver a Shakespeare line anything close to naturally. The rest of them seemed very self-conscious and stiff speaking the parts. Looks like a lot of fun, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:58 PM on March 7, 2013


This looks pretty awesome. (I'm trying hard to come up with anything more useful than that but that's all I have).
posted by octothorpe at 3:34 PM on March 7, 2013


I see Agent Coulson is undercover again.
posted by zennish at 3:36 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Enjoying some time off after life saving surgery surely.
posted by The Whelk at 3:36 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


YES and nothing can tell me different
posted by zennish at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2013


I promise this is the last thing I'll say on this subject - when I directed "Much Ado," I set it in the mid-1970's, complete with appropriate hair, dancing, music and bean-bag chairs. I'm obviously biased, but I believe it totally works in a modern domestic setting like (for example) somebody's nice house. I just didn't believe it would work as a DIY vanity project, so I was leery of it. Having seen the trailer now, I'm all fanboy gaga about it. It hits all of my must see buttons.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:44 PM on March 7, 2013


One of the things that would help movies like this achieve far more exposure would be to place contemporary English subtitles on the screen. So many people who have never been exposed to, or don't otherwise appreciate Shakespeare (or other historical English language writers) would profit from this. Certainly, any DVD release should include such subtitles.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:52 PM on March 7, 2013


Meh. The trailer seems like a lot of fuss about not very much.

posted by GuyZero


...we have hundreds of years of tradition now that have conditioned contemporary audience members to expect actors in a one of Shakespeare's plays to be wearing puffy shorts, pink tights and Seinfeldian puffy shirts.

posted by Joey Michaels

But Seinfeldian shirts would be perfect for a show about nothing!
posted by Pistache at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


when I directed "Much Ado," I set it in the mid-1970's, complete with appropriate hair, dancing, music and bean-bag chairs. I'm obviously biased, but I believe it totally works in a modern domestic setting like (for example) somebody's nice house.

Yeah, there's not an enormous amount in it that's central to the plot that doesn't work reasonably well in a modern setting. There's the huge dramatic problem of Claudio being such a COMPLETE dick to Hero, of course, and Leonato's apparent willingness to see his daughter killed on such slender evidence; that's all something that only even kinda/sorta works if we can get ourselves back into a rather early-modern notion of the significance of female "honor." But then that's a problem even for period productions of the play because the audience still finds it hard to understand or forgive.
posted by yoink at 4:01 PM on March 7, 2013


One of the things that would help movies like this achieve far more exposure would be to place contemporary English subtitles on the screen.

I doubt that. I would think the overlap between "audience willing to go see subtitled film" and "audience capable of understanding Shakespearean English" is fairly high--certainly high enough that adding the subtitles wouldn't increase your audience significantly (and it would put some people off into the bargain).

If you've struggled with Shakespeare on the page you may be pleasantly surprised by how much easier it is to follow along when it's being spoken aloud by actors. Just try not to get too nit-picky about every archaism as it flies by. Much Ado really doesn't contain all that much that's a real challenge to a modern English ear.
posted by yoink at 4:07 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't understand a quarter of the dialogue and I haven't read Much Ado, but the story was was clear enough for me. There's quite a bit of physical comedy in the film that makes up for a lot. I didn't need subtitles.
posted by prolific at 4:08 PM on March 7, 2013


Shakespeare is contemporary. His language is the language of the time.

Shakespeare added about 1700 new words to the English language. His language was the language of the future.
posted by straight at 4:14 PM on March 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


(to say nothing of all the idioms he coined which undergird a big chunk of the way we write and speak)
posted by straight at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, this looks like it's got none of the chemistry and easy charm Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson cultivated in the same characters. Their performances felt dazzlingly contemporary despite their 15th-century setting, while these look stale, dated and stiff even when dressed up in ritzy 21st century schlock.
posted by scrowdid at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


straight: "Shakespeare added about 1700 new words to the English language. His language was the language of the future."

So you're saying it should be performed in a DeLorean?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:21 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where we're going we don't need....verbs.
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on March 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Didn't know this existed.
Now on my must-see list.
Thank you.

(And, at this point, I'm trying to figure the Shakespeare play that could comfortably fit the cast of Firefly...if Mal is Henry V and Zoe and Wash are gender-reversed Pistol and Mistress Quickly...)
posted by the sobsister at 4:41 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


ritzy 21st century schlock

It was filmed on little more than a home movie budget (and, as noted, in Joss Whedon's home; the total shoot time was 12 days). I'm not sure where you're seeing the "ritzy" part. It's a pure labor of love. Doesn't mean you have to like it, of course, but you seem to have brought a rather misplaced prejudice to it.

Branagh's version (which, again, I love) was a massive big budget blockbuster compared to this little thing.
posted by yoink at 4:49 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been excited about this ever since I read that Nathan Fillion plays Dogberry. Because that seems like such an excellent choice in casting.

I, too, adore the Branagh version -- but I think there's room for many Much Ados in my heart.

And since we're at the intersection of Much Ado and beloved geekery, is the Catherine Tate/David Tennant Much Ado worth renting? I'm sure it was fantastic in person, but some tapings of stage performances are dismal and if this is one of them, I'd rather avoid it and just imagine how awesome this was.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 5:14 PM on March 7, 2013


mhum: OMG! It looks like Joss Whedon finally got around to reading the Wesley/Fred Angel slashfic I keep sending him.

Just because the character has a man's name doesn't mean the character has a penis.

Unless you're saying Wesley's a girl....
posted by tzikeh at 5:21 PM on March 7, 2013


Look we've all been to that corner of Ao3 and we've decided to forgive and forget okay?
posted by The Whelk at 5:26 PM on March 7, 2013


both the Buffy alumni in the film

I guess you're thinking of Alexis Denisof and Nathan Fillion, but the cast list on Wikipedia also includes Tom Lenk (Andrew the mushroom) and Riki Lindhome (Cheryl, from the episode about the Letter Jacket, +6 to Charisma). Not that this detail in any way speaks against your actual point, of course.
posted by stebulus at 5:36 PM on March 7, 2013


Titus Andronicus next!

You misspelled Coriolanus.


I would love to see a really well-executed retelling of Macbeth. Seems like it could work well in a gangland setting of some sort. Or Wild West. Or maybe DC during an election year, render the violence symbolic/metaphorical somehow.
posted by gompa at 5:48 PM on March 7, 2013


Wait, where are the English accents?

In England. Performing Shakespeare doesn't require any sort of English accent. Also, fun fact: what people usually think of as an "English accent"--Received Pronunciation--didn't emerge until well after Shakespeare's day. Shakespeare and his contemporaries probably sounded like...well, I'll just point you to the linguist David Crystal's Pronouncing Shakespeare site.

It's a companion piece to his book in which he talks about reconstructing the original pronunciation in preparation for a 2004 staging of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe. There's a recording on there where he reads the Prologue to the play, and it sounds for all the world like a Devonshire farmer. There's also a video where he and his actor son Ben talk about the process and what effect using this reconstructed pronunciation has on a performer. It's really fascinating--check it out.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:49 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


In England.

I'm pretty sure that was a joke.
posted by muddgirl at 5:53 PM on March 7, 2013


It certainly was dry enough to be British humor....
posted by hippybear at 5:58 PM on March 7, 2013


I guess you're thinking of Alexis Denisof and Nathan Fillion, but the cast list on Wikipedia also includes Tom Lenk (Andrew the mushroom) and Riki Lindhome (Cheryl, from the episode about the Letter Jacket, +6 to Charisma). Not that this detail in any way speaks against your actual point, of course.

Actually I was thinking of Lenk and Denisof, I blanked on Fillion's turn as Caleb. I don't really count Riki Lindholme as a "Buffy alum" for such a blink-and-you-miss-it part.
posted by yoink at 5:58 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that was a joke.

Probably, but it's two AM here and I'm twitchy--the accent thing is a pet peeve. I still harbor a grudge against a local company that was doing one of the parts of Henry VI a while back. I auditioned, and the first question was "Can you do any other accents?". HNNNGGH.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:00 PM on March 7, 2013


To me, writing an entire play in fancy pentameter is overkill so none of the clever prose really stands out.

One of the funny things about this, of course, is that Much Ado is written almost entirely in prose, so there's hardly any pentameter--fancy or otherwise--in the play.
posted by yoink at 6:03 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would love to see a really well-executed retelling of Macbeth.

Scotland, PA is my favorite Macbeth.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:05 PM on March 7, 2013


I am not a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he is terrible at directing action

I am a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he understands that the action is the boring part of an action movie.
posted by escabeche at 6:07 PM on March 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


is the Catherine Tate/David Tennant Much Ado worth renting?

I enjoyed it, but can't really tell if other people would. They have the same easy chemistry they did in Dr. Who, and it's well-executed as stagings go. They do it in kind of a carribean/navy officers staging and it works fine for the fun vibe.
posted by sparkletone at 6:12 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems like [Macbeth] could work well in a gangland setting of some sort.

It's been tried at least once before that I know of: 1990's Men of Respect, with John Turturro as "Mike Battaglia". It's...not very good, but it's worth at least one viewing, if only for the chance to hear Turturro say "No man of woman born can do shit to me!".

My usual go-to retelling of Macbeth, if you're not already familiar with it, is Kurosawa's 1957 Throne of Blood, which moves the story to feudal Japan. It's fantastic.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:22 PM on March 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


is the Catherine Tate/David Tennant Much Ado worth renting?

I really enjoyed it; Tennant speaks Shakespeare incredibly naturally, and he and Tate are always fun together. It's a bit over the top at times but it's a good time.

Looking more forward to the Whedon version than I thought I would be now that I've viewed the trailer. However I fear that yes, some of these actors are not going to know how to deliver this kind of dialogue.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:23 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tennant was pretty fine in Hamlet, as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2013


This film could never have been created (twelve days, small crew, etc.) in the days when actual b&w film was the only thing happening, but that doesn't mean the digital b&w as presented here isn't unavoidably artless to these eyes. Sorry. I'm that guy.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:23 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Three or four years ago, when people talked about Whedon's stuff and made happy noises here on MeFi, I just kind of skipped it, because I didn't know what they were talking about, because I hadn't seen any of his work.

I just recently finished all of Angel in daily doses while riding my exercise bike (the same way I watched Buffy before that, and Dollhouse before that and so on), and have now seen, I think, pretty much everything he's done. I am a confirmed fan, not least because so many of the people he works with genuinely seem to like him and each other, and he gives them roles again and again. That tells me that not only is he massively talented, but he's a good fellow, too.

Also, despite all odds I've gotten back into shape in my late 40s while enjoying his work, so how could I not?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:15 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would love to see a really well-executed retelling of Macbeth

If you're in NYC at some point, try to see Sleep No More.
posted by nicwolff at 8:44 PM on March 7, 2013


I am not a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he is terrible at directing action

I respect a lot of what you write here, Rory, and tend to agree with you, but WOW do I ever disagree with you on that point. While watching avengers for the nth time I commented on how well he had honed the ability to direct action sequences between what were effectively invulnerable superheros over all of those episodes of buffy. And I'm not exactly tolerant of what I feel to be crappy action direction.

To each their own, of course.
posted by flaterik at 8:50 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Whedon, they just added Atlantis: The Lost Empire to Netflix Instant Watch.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:54 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The main problem I've had with modern-set Shakespeare has been gender politics. Forced marriages, fathers killing daughters - set in an early modern Italy-that-never-was, I can believe it (marriage was a bit different in England at the time - more of a negotiation than dictated, for those under the noble class). It's harder when they are driving Mercedes and hanging around California. I can suspend my disbelief, but i

For stage, I think it makes sense to go with a design that is somewhat detached from time. I've seen a Romeo and Juliet set among street kids, where it makes sense that members of one gang would want to kill the members of the other gang (no, it wasn't West Side Story). Vaguely pre-modern settings with fun anachronisms can work too - I've seen Twelfth Night done with most things set in the 17th century (including Malvolio and his garters), but the Duke longed for Olivia while pumping away at a rowing machine (definitely upped the energy in that scene, as he dealt with his excess...energy).

Film is a funny creature though - it's so realistic, we expect more naturalism, and so the way that theatre can play with costumes, settings, and non-naturalistic things is harder/less expected in film. It can still be done - and it's great when it's done well - but I think most audiences are less accepting of playing with reality in film than in theatre.
posted by jb at 9:28 PM on March 7, 2013


I saw a production of Julius Ceasar that put it in a Soviet Bloc country during the Cold War, Suddently all the petty politician and heated interpersonal relationships kinda made sense cause it was stripped of all it's pomp and thus kinda got at how passionately wound up everyone was over such small things.
posted by The Whelk at 9:37 PM on March 7, 2013


That's the other thing that works: pick a setting that fits the plot, themes.

I still haven't seen the British retelling of MacBeth set in a restaurant - but definitely plenty of high emotions and blood to be had.
posted by jb at 10:13 PM on March 7, 2013


I saw this at TIFF (being the Buffy fan I am, how could I not? I'm watching Buffy RIGHT NOW) and it was a lovely little gem of a movie. Fillion and Denisof do physical and verbal comedy quite well. Being a dramaturg by trade, I'm always interested to see how directors deal with the problematic aspects of the text, particularly to a modern audience. I'm not sure the movie totally succeeded (I'm not sure if it's possible to completely succeed without being untrue to the source material) but the timeless quality does work in its favour.

The strange thing is that what I perhaps enjoyed most about the film was the electricity of the atmosphere in the theatre, absolutely packed with Whedon fans (and, it seems, nerdy theatre majors). I only wish most of the Shakespeare that I've seen on stage came with such an audience, respectful and responsive, laughing or hushed, enjoying every minute. Obviously, a film festival audience is fairly self-selecting, but I think the clarity of the text is a credit to Whedon and the actors. It was definitely worth my time. Go see it.
posted by ilana at 10:15 PM on March 7, 2013


My favourite thing about Whedon films and TV is the dialogue. So this is... weird.
posted by lollusc at 10:21 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really hope that there are people in this film that speak in a tone other than low and flat, because otherwise this is going to be a tough film to sit through. The delivery in that trailer is all off. There was little to no emotion in anyone's voice and that is the wrong way to do this kind of Shakespearean comedy. The setting, music and art direction of the film can be cool, but the dialogue must definitely not. Especially not when Much Ado About Nothing has some terrific, witty dialogue. That's gotta be allowed to shine, dammit, no matter how cool you want to be. "By this day, she's a fair lady" should not sound the same as "By this hand, I love thee."

I am hoping this trailer was just pulling the coolest-sounding lines to fit the theme, and that people are allowed to speak like people. It can happen with Shakespearean dialogue; it can happen with any dialogue if the director's good enough. Otherwise, you get a bunch of people sounding like they have no idea what's coming out of their mouths and that is exactly what I am seeing here.
posted by Spatch at 10:28 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm still holding out for The Tempest starring the cast of Veronica Mars.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


SO MANY FEELINGS.
SO MUCH THE SEXY.
posted by Mezentian at 2:19 AM on March 8, 2013


Dr. Saunders! Or Winnifred! Or Elyria! So glad to see you! Hey, Mr. Watcher #2, how could I forget your actual name in Angel! Hey, Mr. Dollhouse Guy with complicated motivations! I love you too!

I am for real with all the above excitement. I am a forty-two year old woman with the mind of a thirteen year old girl.
posted by angrycat at 3:35 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


AND NATHAN FILLION OH MY FUCKING GOD I NEED THIS MOVIE NOW
posted by angrycat at 3:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The main problem I've had with modern-set Shakespeare has been gender politics. Forced marriages, fathers killing daughters - set in an early modern Italy-that-never-was, I can believe it

I saw a Macbeth staged in Arabic translation and set in the contemporary Middle East that I thought worked very well, dynastic power struggles being less foreign to the audience than I think they might be in modern Europe.
posted by atrazine at 4:00 AM on March 8, 2013


Otherwise, you get a bunch of people sounding like they have no idea what's coming out of their mouths and that is exactly what I am seeing here.

I have more faith than that. Whedon hosted weekly Shakespeare readings in his home for years, get-togethers that he and his actors loved. The actors for this movie were largely selected from that group. I think at the very least they know what they are saying. Also, a few of them at least seem to have done Shakespeare before (see kmz's link above), so they probably helped keep the group on track.

Can't wait to see this in June!
posted by torticat at 5:13 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a huge Joss Whedon fan because I think he understands that the action is the boring part of an action movie.

So much this. My favourite parts of Star Wars movies are the conversations of destiny and power (e.g. Vader telling Luke "you do not yet realize your importance"). My favourite parts of classic Trek are the conversations between Spock and Kirk (which is probably why I hated the new Trek movie).

I also love that he doesn't take action sequences too seriously. They are always punctuated by moments of levity ("It's okay! I'm a leaf on the wind!!").

So he's earned some leeway from me to give this a try. And I say that as a Shakespeare devotee.
posted by dry white toast at 6:53 AM on March 8, 2013


Oh but his action is so good too. River taking on the Reavers. Buffy and Faith fighting.
posted by angrycat at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thor vs Hulk was epic. As was their later collaboration bringing down a space worm.

Also the whole "I start fighting a war I guarantee you'll see something new" / "Somebody FIRE!" / "Leaf on the Wind" sequence could not be bettered, by anyone ever.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The mustache kind of suits Tom Lenk, no?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:10 AM on March 8, 2013


I have more faith than that.

You gotta have Faith.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:42 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll be seeing this in a couple weeks in a special screening at the Shakespeare Association conference in Toronto. Check back for reviews!
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:09 PM on March 8, 2013


Oh, and I'm mostly in the same boat as Rory -- not a Whedon fan at all (which loses me a lot of nerd cred with my students). My reason, however, is that I hate his dialogue. So this works for me.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:14 PM on March 8, 2013


I would love to see a really well-executed retelling of Macbeth.

[YouTube]
posted by La Cieca at 9:21 PM on March 8, 2013


The main problem I've had with modern-set Shakespeare has been gender politics. [etc.]

See, I have exactly the opposite reaction. Setting a classic play in modern dress for me neutralizes the sense of period and with it the expectation that what I am about to see is a representation of a reality that once existed. Instead, I feel that I am being presented with a completely created reality, a crafted, artificial reality if you will. It doesn't matter if they did (e.g.) arranged marriages in 1600 or 1900 or 1975, I just accept that for the three hours I'm in the theater, I'm observing a world in which arranged marriages are a real thing. I'm also not niggling over "is that corset cut correctly?" or "why in the name of heaven did they force that poor fellow with the skinny legs to wear pumpkin hose?" or "well, actually, no, a woman wearing a farthingale probably wouldn't think it was such a good idea to throw herself petulantly on a bed" or whatever.

What I like maybe even best about well-chosen modern dress for a classic piece is that essentially the costumes disappear and all you see are the actors. There can even still be character touches in the costumes (a more European cut on a suit for a more dashing character, e.g.) that still don't call attention to themselves.

As has been mentioned above, Shakespeare was performed in a version of modern dress originally (not just any old stuff from off the rack, but recognizably garments, silhouettes and fabrics derived from contemporary fashion) -- and this concept continued through the first third of the 19th century, at which point actor/directors began introducing "archeological" costume based more or less closely on historically documented dress.

Another point which is more a practical matter is that correct movement and posture in period dress is a very specific and complex skill: essentially every few decades there is a major change of fashion in the ideals of how people walk and sit and stand. Putting classic plays into modern dress frees the actor from having to hew to this frankly alien body language, allowing him to concentrate on the more important emotional qualities of the character.

I don't think period dress should ever be banned outright: it has a definite charm and in many cases the way costume influences movement does shed an interesting light on the play. But in general, the less costumey the costumes are, the better.

(This subject is of particular interest to me, because one of my favorite opera productions, the Met's La Traviata, returns next week, and it's an excellent example of the non-specific modern costuming I find so effective.

[YouTube]
posted by La Cieca at 9:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


They seem to have had a lot of fun on the bus.
posted by kmz at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2013


If I got that close to Fillion I'd have, I don't know, brain damage from joy
posted by angrycat at 11:38 AM on March 9, 2013


In other news: Agent Coulson Lives – Whedon Explains Phil’s Place In The SHIELD Series
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on March 10, 2013


As I get older and more intolerant of the daily barrage of horrific news and mind-numbing dreck that passes for entertainment, the more I appreciate people who are joyful in their art. These people are having So Much Fun, it shows, and it makes me joyful in turn.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:07 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joss Whedon Discusses What His Theoretical Star Wars Movie Would Be Like, World Goes Bonkers
posted by homunculus at 8:29 PM on March 12, 2013


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