Pass the Popcorn: Much Ado About Nothing

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So in April I wondered whether 2013 would offer up anything to challenge a random collection of old movie favorites I had recently seen on the big screen. It wasn’t looking good, but the Prescott Film Festival just scored, even if it was kind of cheating with a 2012 film.

The Prescott Film festival had what they advertised as the only Arizona screening of Josh Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing this weekend (Phoenix is not just a physical desert) so I eagerly bought a ticket.  Actress Emma Bates, who played Ursula, was on hand for Q and A after the film.  Here’s the trailer:

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So the back story on the film is that Whedon has had actors over to his house on Sundays for years to read Shakespeare. He had a short break between shooting and post-production for The Avengers and instead of going on a trip to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary, Whedon’s wife talked him in to shooting Much Ado About Nothing.  Whedon summoned his friends, including veterans from Buffy, Angel, Firefly and the Avengers, assigned parts, and shot the entire film at his own house in 12 days.  Bates related that Whedon’s wife is an architect and that she had in fact designed their house with shooting Much Ado About Nothing in mind. When you see the flick, you won’t doubt it.

I generally have a bias against American film actors trying to pull off Shakespeare. I watched the old Julius Caesar recently, and while Heston made a pretty good Marc Anthony, enduring Jason Robards playing Brutus with a midwestern deadpan accent was, well, brutal. I don’t think there was a single Brit in the bunch for this Much Ado but it didn’t matter because these guys were rolling with it and having fun. Sean Maher in particular was very good:

But maybe it was because the last American actor I saw play his role was:

Whether you love Whedon or Shakespeare, this movie is well worth the watch.

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5 Responses to Pass the Popcorn: Much Ado About Nothing

  1. Greg Forster says:

    Scandalous betrayal of your country!

    1) Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton were both excellent in Branagh’s Much Ado – Washington will always be the “real” Don Pedro to me – and Robert Sean Leonard held up his end of the deal quite well.

    2) Charlton Heston rocked the house as the Player King in Branagh’s Hamlet. One of the few things I still remember from that piece is how impressed I was with Heston.

    3) A whole lineup of American actors turned in amazing performances in Al Pachino’s docu/performance of Richard III – Pachino, Alec Baldwin (I type with clenched teeth, but he earned it) and Kevin Spacey. Must watch!

    4) And that’s off the top of my head! No doubt I’ll think of some more during the meeting I’m on my way into.

    • Just a mom says:

      Branagh’s was the best. A great way to introduce kids to Shakespeare – my daughter used to love watching it (tho it took a little parental editing/commentary). The latest remake looks like a version of Mad Men – especially the absence of minority actors.

  2. matthewladner says:

    Ummm….the Batman guy was ok as “Boy” in Henry V….

  3. matthewladner says:

    Ooops…IMDB says he was born in Wales and lived in 5 different countries, so maybe even he doesn’t count. 🙂

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