Much Ado About Nothing

Rin Takanashi in Like Someone in Love

Another month has passed, which means that another batch of movies has been added to or added back to Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming service. Looking for a few that will be worth spending your time on? Obviously. And you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve got mad recommendations for good movies on Netflix this month. As always, click on the films’ titles to be taken to their Netflix page so that you can add them to your My List. Pick of the Month:  Like Someone in Love (2012) Seeing as Like Someone in Love didn’t get its (very) limited US release until 2013, technically we can call it one of the best movies of last year. Which we should, because it is, quite simply, one of the very best movies that came out in this country last year, and there are still far too many film fans that haven’t gotten a chance to see it. Hopefully that’s going to change now that it’s streaming on Netflix. Providing easy access to independent and foreign cinema, even to those of us living in the middle of the country, is one of the coolest side-effects of this digital age we’re living in. What do you get when you let Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy) shoot in Tokyo? This gorgeous movie, which uses the lights and windows of the city to create a layered, enveloping world that looks like the one we live in, but maybe from a different angle than we’ve ever […]

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2013review_critics

Before Midnight! Gravity! The Wolf of Wall Street! Fruitvale Station! The Great Beauty! Philomena! Frances Ha! Blue Jasmine! Spring Breakers! Nebraska! Dallas Buyers Club! The Wind Rises! Saving Mr. Banks! None of the thirteen critically acclaimed films above are on my list of the thirteen best films of 2013 below. Make of that what you will, but of the whopping 241 new releases I watched this year these are the thirteen that have stuck with me the strongest. That said, I did make a conscious effort to focus on U.S. releases for the list since I have a separate Top 13 for Best Foreign Language films. It’s been a fantastic year in cinema all around, and I could just as easily offered a list twice as long. Keep reading to see what I feel are the thirteen best movies of 2013.

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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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disc much ado about nothing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Much Ado About Nothing Leonato’s (Clark Gregg) home is visited by fellow dignitary Don Pedro and his two immediate officers, Benedick (Alexis Desinof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). The latter falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, 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. Let the romantic hijinx begin! William Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy comes to life yet again, and it’s the best screen incarnation yet. Joss Whedon can be hit or miss at times, but when he’s on the result can be pretty damn incredible. His first foray into the Bard’s realm falls into that category as Whedon retains the original dialogue while adding visual wit of his own. Add to that some perfectly nuanced performances and an attractive score, and you have a film that will leave you smiling for days. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, music video, commentaries]

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Oscar 2013 Mid-Year

What kind of movies get released in January? In the summer? From November through December? Exactly. We know the cycle so well that a movie with only half a dozen explosions in June is considered counter-programming while Fall films are actively baiting golden statues and podiums. We know it so well that people predict the following year’s Oscars the day after the Oscars. We know it so well that the ceremony “shaking things up” has become the status quo. So I wondered what would happen if they truly shook things up by holding the Oscars in July. A kind of mid-year awards ceremony where The Weinstein Company hasn’t even brought out its heaviest hitters yet. This alternative universe isn’t necessarily about what movies are the best — because the Oscars almost never are. It’s about finding the close enough blend of prestige and popularity from the first half of the year, but make no mistake, it would still result in a wildly different list of nominees.

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10 You May Have Missed 2013

The middle of the year brings a lot of things, but we can probably all agree that the most important of those things are lists. With that in mind, Landon Palmer and I set out to highlight ten of our favorite films of the past six months, but instead of being a straight forward list of the year’s best movies so far we chose to zero in on the great, smaller movies that may have bypassed your radar as they slipped in and out of just a handful of theaters. This factor is most obvious in the absence of Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor from Landon’s selections. The films we’ve chosen run the gamut of genres and countries of origin, but they share a sense of quality sadly missing from the majority of Hollywood films opening wide in theaters these days. (Although if you have to see a wannabe blockbuster choose Roland Emmerich’s White House Down… the damn thing is dumb as dirt but sweet Jesus is it fun.) You may have heard of some of the films below, but all of them are worth seeking out at your local arthouse or VOD provider of choice.

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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_612x907

If you so happen to Google “Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing,” only a few scattered stills pop up and, most often, you’ll get a version of that one up top featuring Fran Kranz as Claudio. That submerged look at Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing was the first peek we got at the project months and months ago so, really, why not keep it around for the film’s first poster? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because Whedon fans are rabid for more looks at the film? Let’s hope for something fresh next time around. Until then… Much Ado About Nothing opens on June 7th. [Entertainment Weekly]

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SXSW

SXSW 2013 ended ten days ago, but the memories live on thanks to the great friends we met, delicious food we ate and fantastic movies we had the pleasure of seeing. (Our intrepid interviewer, Jack, also has a strange rash to remind him of the dangers of 6th Street after dark.) You can catch up on our coverage of the films and the talents, but as a final goodbye to this year’s fest we want to highlight some of the movies we enjoyed the most. Rather than simply list the best of the fest though we’ve chosen to look at our favorites as lessons learned, things we discovered and/or talking points that other filmmakers could probably learn from as well. It’s worth noting that my personal favorite of the fest was Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, but since it was already my #1 film at this year’s Sundance I decided to highlight two other excellent movies instead. Keep reading to see what Jack Giroux, Kevin Kelly, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and I learned about the movies of SXSW 2013.

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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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TIFF 2012 Header

Editor’s Note: We’ve asked a Jamaican to go to Canada to cover the movies of TIFF 2012. Andrew Robinson, whose work you can check out over at his blog, has obliged and will be filling us all in on the antics in the Great White North. Here’s his first missive. Any day now I’ll be on a plane heading to Toronto for the very first time in order to attend a film festival for the very first time. I’ve been excited to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (affectionately known as TIFF) for the past three years, and now it’s finally happening. Before we dive into this list, which honestly cannot do the festival’s amazing looking lineup any justice, I will give a couple caveats. It’s based on my confirmed schedule, and therefore two films which I’m genuinely excited for but will not be able to see (Rian Johnson’s Looper and Michael Haneke’s Amour) are not on it; it’s also in no sort of ordered preference. So with that out of the way and with all the excitement being thrown around, let’s take a quick look at the films that I’m most excited for:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to having a bit of fun before sending you off to bed. And we don’t care if you ate your vegetables, we’re always down for dessert. We begin this evening with a first image from Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, in which Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion play Verges and Dogberry, respectively. It’s that film Whedon just sort of made. He does fun things when he’s not making the highest grossing movie of the year and all that.

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Now that The Avengers is a Hulk-sized hit on North American shores as well as overseas, the big question is what will Joss Whedon do next. As seen in this interview with Collider, the man appears to be pretty damn tired from this monster film that officially wrapped only a couple weeks ago. But Hollywood moves fast, and Marvel Studios moves even faster. Acolytes of Whedon are sounding the charge as if a revolution has occurred that makes the later seasons of his shows pale in comparison. The question is will Whedon be courted by the inevitable Avengers 2? Will he resurrect his TV series onto the big screen? Will Neil Patrick Harris be involved in any way? Here are the main options Whedon has before him.

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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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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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