Amy Acker

The Fall - Lee Pace

Sometimes Hollywood charms us and hypnotizes us with its magic. And sometimes it’s so damned capricious with talent that you want to start a national shin-kicking campaign to change the tide. Between celebrities built up and then thrust into obscurity, and talents that never quite see the light of fame, Hollywood is a wasteland of actors who could give the current who’s who a run for their dramatic money. The lucky few get that extra ten minutes of fame that turns them into a split-second repeat whirlwind a la Mickey Rourke, but most live the life of a character actor with the occasional reminder role, or the television guest star who makes Kevin Bacon’s Hollywood web seem a little smaller. Here are nine of the many, the ones that have had me grumbling about their trajectories in recent months:

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cc much ado about nothing

Joss Whedon and his friends started doing readings of William Shakespeare’s plays at his house (Whedon’s, not Shakespeare’s) as long as 10 years ago, and while the idea of making a movie was bandied about it only became a reality during the busiest and most high profile time in his life. And yet he was able to adapt Much Ado About Nothing without seemingly anyone outside of the movie knowing about it. Even more surprising? It just may be the best damn thing Whedon’s ever directed. The film (and the original play) is a mix of romantic comedy and drama, and Whedon and his cast infuse it with more of both. Smart visual cues and charismatic performances fill the screen alongside the Bard’s original words, and the result is a film that should leave you smiling for days. Now, thanks to Whedon’s commentary track, we’ve learned a lot more about Much Ado About Nothing.

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review much ado

Editor’s note: Our review of Joss Whedon’s latest originally ran during this year’s SXSW film festival, but we’re re-running it as the film opens in limited theatrical release. William Shakespeare has had more film adaptations of his work than any other writer by a wide margin, and that trend shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. The reasons for this are varied and exhaustive, but few would argue it’s not a great thing to see. While most filmmakers maintain the Bard’s language and historical settings, some move the action and wordplay into the present with varying degrees of success. The latest director to do so, and one of the few to do so brilliantly, is Joss Whedon. Yes, that Joss Whedon. His Much Ado About Nothing is updated to modern Los Angeles with limousines, semiautomatic pistols and men in suits, but he keeps Shakespeare’s language intact. The tale takes place almost entirely at the compound of a government official named Leonato (Clark Gregg) who’s visited by fellow dignitary Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) and his two immediate officers, Benedick (Alexis Desinof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). The latter falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while the former has a friction-filled and antagonistic past with the man’s niece Beatrice (Amy Acker). It’s not all foreplay and country matters, though, as Don Pedro’s manipulative brother, Don John (Sean Maher), is intent on disrupting political relations by destroying relationships.

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Much Ado About Nothing

Are you one of those people who could just never get into Shakespeare? Did you pound your head against your desk when you had to read him in school? Doze off when you had to watch that acting major you were dating sophomore year of college perform in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Well maybe Avengers director Joss Whedon making a screen version of a Shakespeare play, complete with a cast of familiar faces from all of his cult TV shows, is the thing that can finally be your gateway into The Bard. Still skeptical? No problem, because now there’s a trailer out for Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, so you can give it a try without having any fear of committal. As you can see from the ad, not only does this film look like a vibrant, fun, and modern adaptation done in the Baz Luhrman tradition, but it’s also a great opportunity for genre geeks to live out dreams like watching Agent Coulson rub elbows with Captain Mal, or finally getting the chance to see Wesley Wyndam-Pryce properly romance Fred. There’s something here for everyone.

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What can one truly say about Shakespeare? He’s a writer whose work has survived centuries of history, and his stories are still being adapted, both directly and indirectly. While his dramatic work is what’s most delved into by filmmakers, his comedies are what’s most fascinating. The plot of Much Ado About Nothing centers on Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) serving as matchmaker to a few lovers in waiting. Pedro’s job involves matching not only the compliant, Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), but also the not so compliant, Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof). He sees what many do not and with the use of a few simple tricks to help push each couple in the right direction, he’s able to create a scenario in which love finds its way. Not focused on depth, Joss Whedon‘s take offers comedy gag after gag, and there’s barely any time when a joke doesn’t land perfectly. It helps to have the likes of Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Denisof and Kranz in your cast. The actor spotlight begins early in the film, where a character calls for music, they turn to the iPod and Gregg starts swaying – creating an inextricably funny moment solely from his expression intertwined with his movement. So many comedies are unable to have more than a handful of memorable moments like this, but Much Ado About Nothing has dozens.

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Drew Goddard’s highly anticipated horror film The Cabin in the Woods goes into wide release this weekend, and everyone should make a point to see it. Forget The Hunger Games; this is the cinematic experience of the spring that should drive people to the theaters. By now, you’ve read a lot – possibly too much – about The Cabin in the Woods, and everyone from the director and studio to fans on Twitter are complaining about spoilers flying through the interwebs. In the interest of keeping secrets secret, here are seven spoiler-free reasons to see The Cabin in the Woods this weekend.

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Somehow, in the age of the Internet and information overload, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has managed to complete production on a film that nobody ever knew was even in development. Apparently writing and directing Marvel’s upcoming, massive superhero team-up movie The Avengers hasn’t been keeping the creative visionary busy enough, because in his downtime he has penned an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, cast it, and put it in front of cameras. Wow, that shouldn’t help to make the Cult of Whedon any less fervent. Much Ado About Nothing is one of those Shakespeare comedies that takes several romantic couples and mixes up the pairings in order to produce momentary drama. I’m not sure if that’s really a legitimate way to categorize a work, but there are at least a few of them, I remember that much from college. The cast includes Whedon veterans Amy Acker and Alexis Denisoff playing the male and female leads Beatrice and Benedick, Franz Kranz and Jillian Morgese playing the secondary couple Claudio and Hero, and supporting roles by people like The Avengers’ Clark Gregg and additional Whedon vets like Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher. Maher himself confirmed on his Twitter account that this project isn’t a hoax by saying, “I promise you it’s the real deal and we’re VERY excited about it!” With those sorts of names put together in one cast, I’m sort of excited about it, too.

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It’s been a couple of weeks since the final episode of Dollhouse hit the airwaves, and it’s taken me that long to really process what this season’s highs and lows have led to. While that may not seem necessary to some, the complete adrenaline-high I received in the final few episodes was so much that I needed to step back and retrace the events, right from the start.

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dollhouse-header

Echo is back for a second season, and our intrepid TV correspondent Michelle is ready to take her to task, one episode at a time.

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dollhouse-omega

In the season finale (sort of), the mystery of the composite event that spiraled Alpha into Crazytown is fully explained, as we see why Echo holds such a fascination for him.

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dollhouse-briarrose

When Agent Ballad breaks up with Mellie, her connection to the Dollhouse gives him the final clue he needs to find its location.

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dollhouse-haunted

When a close friend of Adelle dies, we discover that the Dollhouse is capable of the most unexpected of services for the more prepared and well connected customer.

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dollhouse-houseoflove

When evidence is discovered of a spy in the Dollhouse, Topher and Dominic enlist Echo and Sierra to discover the leak. Meanwhile, Mellie returns to Ballard’s life, bringing more complications than he could have ever imagined.

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dollhouse-needs

Echo and some of her friends awaken with their original personalities, but no memory of how they came to be in the Dollhouse. Each doll deals with the lingering issues just below the surface of their consciousness.

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dollhouse-echoes

When a memory super-drug is released into the general population of a university, an army of dolls is sent in to contain its spread and solve the mystery of its release.

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dollhouse-manonstreet

Agent Ballard’s suspicions of the Dollhouse’s existence are confirmed as he comes face to face with Echo out on an engagement. However, a second encounter leaves him more lost and confused than ever. Meanwhile, Sierra begins exhibiting strange behaviour whilst wiped, to the alarm of those around her.

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dollhouse-truebeliever

When a commune is believed to be holding people against their will, Echo (Eliza Dushku) is sent in to be the eyes of the ATF.

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dollhouse-grayhour

Echo’s (Eliza Dushku) newest mission as an art thief goes awry when a supposedly impossible event occurs, leaving her confused and defenseless.

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dollhouse-stagefright

Echo (Eliza Dushku) is assigned to protect a singing sensation with a twisted overzealous fan, but inner loyalties to a doll friendship make the situation more complicated.

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dollhouse-target

Echo (Eliza Dushku) is programmed as a girl with a taste for the outdoors, but when her client (Matt Keeslar) turns her into his prey, she needs to call on more than just her imprint to survive.

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