Sunday, June 16, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

   Director Joss Whedon takes a break from superheroes to adapt a Shakespearean classic comedy. Using his own home for a set and employing many of his acting friends, Mr. Whedon sets the film in contemporary times but utilizes Shakespeare's original text.

     Filming in black and white is a bold move that pays off. The cinematography is crisp and clear and looks beautiful. The acting, while professional, is loose and light. Standouts in the film are Amy Acker as Beatrice, Alexis Denisof as Benedick and Reed Diamond as Don Pedro. The film also stars Clark Gregg as Leonato, Fran Kranz as Claudio and in a smaller but fun role, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry.

      It's a great introduction to Shakespeare as the story is not that difficult to follow if you are unfamiliar with the play. Everyone in the film seems to be having a good time. There is much drinking, dancing and carousing a midst the intrigue. Obviously Shakespeare never envisioned his play featuring ipods and iphones but everything works in this fun, modern version.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Now You See Me

   A movie about grand illusions that is really not very grand. It does however, give the illusion of entertainment. The tag line of "the closer you look, the less you see" could not be more apropos.

    Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher,Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco star as magicians, a mentalist  and a street con artist brought together under mysterious circumstances to perform grand illusions that are not what the seem. The film also stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Melanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, and  Common. Its a strong cast having fun in a no brainer that will entertain and amuse you if you don't think too hard.

    If you're the type to analyze everything, you will be disappointed by the reveals and the "twist" ending you saw coming, if you followed the clues. One reveal, in particular, is so complex that it completely defies logic. The expense, timing and control of the environment is impossible. But you accept it if you are invested in the story.  Of course films like this always throw in "red herrings" to keep you guessing and they do help keep things interesting.

    After the final "twist", the ending really disappoints. It's like watching air escape from a balloon that just goes flat. I suppose they do leave an opening for a sequel if the film does well, but that would be the biggest trick of all.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Frances Ha

    Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig, this charming Indie could easily have been the love child of Woody Allen and Lena Dunham. 

     Beautifully shot in black & white, with a wonderful score and soundtrack, the film brings to mind the mid-career cerebral comedies of Mr. Allen. It's story of a mid-twenties single woman struggling to find her way in New York will also bring to mind Ms. Dunham's HBO darling, "Girls". Regardless of the two comparisons, Mr. Baumbach and Ms. Gerwig find their own rhythm and originality in their interpretation of young adult life in New York. 

     What also sets it apart is the appeal of Ms. Gerwig character, Frances, who remains ever the optimist, despite life's little setbacks. Co-starring as Frances's best friend Sophie is Mickey Sumner (daughter of musician, Sting). Their relationship is the backbone of the film and it supports the story with strength and honesty.  Also in supporting roles are Adam Driver and Grace Gummer, both enhancing their Indie credibility. 

     The film is funny and sweet and a refreshing change from the onslaught of summer blockbusters.