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Claire Helene

Very interesting read. I had a really hard time expunging Branagh's vibrant version from my head. In my mind, Emma Thompson will always be Beatrice, but I think you are right that she and Benedict should be played by younger people.

Reed Diamond stuck out for me, and I heard or read in something that he was the cast member with the most Shakespeare experience and I thought that rang true in his performance. I liked his performance a great deal, and you describe him as I saw it as well. That ambiguity works very well for the part. I thought Denzel was great in Branaugh's version, but he was nothing but affable and charming in the first act. It was so clear that he would never have wooed Hero for himself, but with Diamond, it could be less clear.

I also loved Fillion, but I find it hard not to. He's a charming actor and a ham and was perfect in this role.

I also found Hero & Claudio uninteresting.

Anyway, there is a bit of a laundry list of things that struck me about this take. I'd like to see it again, to see what hits me the second round, but I might just watch Branaugh's version again.

I also think it's slightly odd how much I like this play, given that the central plot device is very hard to come to terms with my modern, feminist mind (the matter with Hero and her taking Claudio back). For me, I think that this story is really about B&B and the Hero nonsense is just plot device. I might overly relate to Beatrice as well.

Anyway, enjoyed the post.

Dave

Let me tell you a story -- one that doesn't use real names.

A friend of mine -- let's call him Allen -- was a very prominent actor here in San Francisco. Very talented, very nice guy; classically trained, but never really had the success his talent deserved outside of the regional theatre arena.

He was doing a show here, and a very, very prominent film director came to see him and came backstage afterwards, asking him to lunch.

Allen was thrilled, thinking that this was it; that he was finally getting his well-deserved break.

Well, Allen and the director have lunch, and the director goes on and on about how he wants to work with Allen and he wants him to come up to his estate where they'll work together on shaping the director's new script. They'll do scenes, creating the thing together -- and then, on the weekend, his "movie star friends" would come up and "take over" and (eventually) star in the film.

Allen turned him down and I don't know if the film was ever made.

The point being, this film reminds me of that. That Whedon and his "movie star friends" got together, and with little training and less rehearsal decided to put on a little play, despite the fact that the concept and conceit of the film make little sense in the context of the play. (Beatrice can sleep around, but Hero is a slut for allegedly having done so? Everyone -- even Dogberry -- is a guest at this part? Corporate wheeler-dealers are the same as revolutionary rebels? Whatever.

I didn't watch "Buffy" or "Angel" or anything else of Whedon's. What I've heard about them sounded singularly uninteresting to me. I don't fault anyone who likes or loves them; I just didn't respond to him. In fact, the only thing of his I've seen (to the best of my knowledge) is "The Avengers," and that left me singularly unimpressed. It was too long and just kinda meh. It was better than "Man of Steel" in that it wasn't unremittingly joyless and the lead character didn't kill the bad guy, but that's damning with faint praise.

So, as far as "Much Ado" goes, include me out.

Fran in NYC

Dave, you're making a lot of assumptions here about this movie based on your friend's experience which is really not relevent to how this movie was put together. Whedon was using not his "movie star friends" but actors he had a lot of professional experience with (none of them are "movie stars" although they have extensive credits). I agree that there are certain contradictions in this interpretation. But I have to say I did enjoy this version very much despite them.

Fran in NYC

Bill

When a writer writes about another writer, alarms need to sound. When a writer writes about Shakespeare, well, hell. I'm going to pretend you were drinking through the pain and didn't know what you were doing. You will come to your senses someday and take it all back. Besides, even though everything you said about Shakespeare has nothing to do with Shakespeare, it has everything to do with what people do with Shakespeare, which is ignore the writing as much as possible. I'm sure everything you say about the film is right. Your comments about Branagh and Thompson sure are. I have been blessed, more than once, with spectacular productions and performances of Shakespeare. The fault, Dear Lance, lies not within our scripts.

Lance Mannion

Bill, nope, I was sober and the pain was manageable at the time. These things just come over me sometimes. But...is it really possible to separate Shakespeare from what people do with Shakespeare?

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