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SIFF 2013 review: Much Ado About Nothing

tn_muchadoI got a ticket to the opening film of this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, a movie called MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, from the director of THE AVENGERS and the writer of HAMLET. Yes, idolized big brother of the internet Joss Whedon had some time off after directing the highest grossing non-James-Cameron movie of all time so he invited all his actor friends to his house to do a low budget William Shakespeare movie. It was so low budget he had to do it in black and white even though it was on a RED camera.

The cast includes Reed Diamond from Homicide: Life On the Street, the younger sister that was added later on in Growing Pains, two people from the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake, and nobody else you ever heard of except for like ten or fifteen people that starred in Joss Whedon’s TV shows. A couple of them got intrusive applause when they showed up on screen or after their scenes were over, and to be fair at least nobody in the audience was dressed up like Firefly characters, but come on people, it’s called self control, and it can be yours. I believe in you.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a romantical comedy about a couple of parties and weddings at Joss Whedon’s house. There’s this one guy Benedick (Alexis Denisof), instead of just changing his name to Benedict like anybody else would do he decides to keep the name but then overcompensate by strutting around arrogantly all the time. And this Beatrice (Amy Acker) thinks he’s an asshole and always gives him a bunch of shit about it, but really it’s like kids throwing rocks at each other, it turns out she actually has a thing for assholes.

mp_muchadoThere’s some comedy about how they overhear each other or other characters talking about them having special feelings for each other, they hide and comedically eavesdrop either in the background or foreground of the shot. There is some slapstick, falling down stairs and what not. Since I saw it with a SIFF audience as well as 3,000 people who worship these actors from TV shows there was an uncomfortably overblown amount of laughing and cheering for a very modest and slight movie like this. You might even say it’s much a– nah, I can’t do it. But I can’t hold that against the movie, it is well done and should be amusing enough under regular circumstances.

It’s a simple and appealing approach. It takes place in the modern day, but with the original language intact. The actors use their regular American accents and modern film emoting, which helps a nitwit like me to follow the archaic language I think. There’s alot of room for the actors to add in their own humor with facial expressions and contemporary tones that fit with the scenes. Or like for example Nathan Fillion (DRACULA 2000), playing his character Dogberry as an oafish TV-style police detective, makes it clear at the end of a scene that he locked his keys in his car. But it’s all visual, they don’t have to add any new dialogue or anything.

In a way this is a weird thing for Whedon to do because he’s usually more of a writer than a director. He gets to play with the staging but not the story or the dialogue, which would usually be his bread and butter. There’s a slight cheap-video-y quality to the photography here (and to some of the music, credited to Whedon, who is no Clint Eastwood). He’s certainly not trying to expand his visual chops, and not trying to cinema-tize the text like my favorite Shakespearist Julie Taymor would. But on the other hand this project shows off his ability to find these talented, mostly unsung actors, get them to work well together, shine a spotlight on their innate charm and humor, and in this case give the two leads to actors he likes who are usually confined to television. Denisof and Acker are very likable, which is crucial because the love relationship is way too superficial to truly get invested in it. With the wrong actors it would be easy to hate these two. (I do think Denisof goes a little too far with the comedic mugging in a couple scenes, but only a little.)

still_muchadoSeriously, Reed Diamond is really good in this in the role of Don Pedro. I doubt anybody else is gonna single him out, so I’ll be the one to do it. You know, if you watched Homicide he was Mike Kellerman, the kind of dickish guy who was always on the verge of going too far. He’s not usually a show-offy actor or a leading man type, including here. The whole cast are good at this, but I particularly liked his way of delivering Shakespeare’s dialogue to sound like perfectly natural, modern speech, creating a character through the voice and gestures that somehow overshadows the words. (Clark Gregg is another standout in this category, but I know he’s hot shit right now because he tricked Captain America into thinking he was dead, so he’ll get the credit he deserves for it.)

Whedon and Shakespeare must’ve had this script laying around for a while because some of the content is kinda dated in my opinion. It’s all about these men negotiating for marriages, there’s a woman who gets called out as an alleged-ho at her own wedding, and faints on the spot, almost dies of Amidala disease. The love stories are really more like childish crushes, they don’t even know each other and pretend to hate each other but then declare passionate love and get married one day later and it’s meant to be accepted as actual true love. I’m not saying that Shakespeare should’ve done better, I’m saying that some of it is not a perfect fit for this modern and down-to-earth context, that’s why for me this stuff works better with Taymor’s crazy puppets and giant wolf heads and motorcycle armies and shit. But it’s no big deal. It’s a cute movie.

As far as movies filmed at somebody’s house I’d definitely rank this above PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

By the way, SIFF is (probly like film festivals in general) notorious for awkward post-film Q&As with ridiculous questions from asskissers, self-promoters, occasional ax-grinders and other weirdos. That combined with this fawning crowd of Whedomaniacs could’ve been off the charts, so hats off to SIFF for having a reasonably competent moderator to interview the director and cast rather than taking questions from the crowd. I usually believe in democracy but I’m willing to make an exception here. I know, slippery slope and all that, but I’m comfortable with this choice.


This entry was posted on Friday, May 17th, 2013 at 5:04 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews, Romance, SIFF. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

35 Responses to “SIFF 2013 review: Much Ado About Nothing”

  1. Thanks Vern, very good review as always.

    I got an off-topic question. Most of these Bard movie adaptations anymore are set in contemporary times or fantasy alternative timelines (McKellen’s RICHARD III was basically the Fascist England that never was.) But how many in the last 20 years have been set within their original historical settings or then-contemporary settings?

    Of the top of my heard, Branagh had his Hamlet and Henry V. I believe Pacino did his Merchant of Venice. Are there others?

  2. Romeo and Juliet is coming this year and its not modern times.

  3. Zeffirelli’s HAMLET (with Mel Gibson) seemed pretty authentically grungy to me, although it’s a bit over the 20-year mark on the release date. Kenneth Branagh’s took place a few hundred years later; I recall Rosencrantz & Guildenstern arriving at Elsinore by SILVER SPOONS-style train, which would have been an amazing sight in Elizabethan times. Branagh’s MUCH ADO, though, gets all your requirements right while juuuuust missing the cut-off date by a few weeks (it opened 5/7/93; happy belated birthday, pleasant little movie!) Branagh was also in, but didn’t direct, an adaptation of OTHELLO (with Larry Fishburne) that’s a little less than 20 years old. I didn’t see it, but recall from the trailers that it seemed to be faithful to the setting.

    But, um, yeah. By and large, unless you’re BBC TV, nobody seems interested (read: it doesn’t sell) in putting a faithful Shakespeare adaptation on the screen these days. It seems like it was a trend that rose and fell with Branagh’s star power in the ’90s. It was a hell of a good time if you happened to be a theatre student at the time, like certain commenters I might be able to name (glances in mirror admiringly), but, even if Whedon’s new ADO does big business, I doubt it’s going to revive that trend. And what’s Branagh doing these days? THOR, the least of the AVENGERS tie-ins? Sigh. As THE AVENGERS is to THOR, so is Whedon to Branagh right now.

    Of course, if you’re not limiting yourself to period authenticity, you can always watch the best of the HAMLET adaptations: STRANGE BREW, with Bob and Doug McKenzie.

  4. Ran into Joss Whedon about a week ago at a screening of Sorcerer and Cruising with William Friedkin in attendance (Friedkin did a hilarious Q&A where he berated a couple of film geeks in the audience). I’m sorry, I don’t have much else to contribute to this conversation, but it was fun to see him (I also saw Michael Richards shopping nearby. He looked sad).

  5. As Shakespeare himself would say, “A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
    home full numbers.”
    (MAAN 1.1) (Useful phrase in Army operations parlance, too)

    In this case, Vern is victorious for going into Nerd Central, bracing Hurricane Nerd, and being able to enjoy a good movie. This “victory is twice itself” because Vern has achieved all this without sacrificing his own anti-nerd credibility amidst the enemy’s weapons of nerd-tinged nerdiosity; he is doubly triumphant for having returned home with “full numbers,” his detached coolness intact. He is triply victorious for living in Seattle, where a man can see this movie while the rest of us wait like plebs.

    Also, THOR was the best of the THE AVENGERS tie-ins.
    Sir Kenneth Branagh, unlike Mattman Begins & his mirror, suffers not from
    “Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in [his] eyes,
    Misprising what they look on, and [his] wit
    Values itself so highly that to [him]
    All matter else seems weak: [he] cannot love,
    Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
    [He] is so self-endeared.” (MAAN 3.1)

  6. Also, it’s pretty funny that Whedon got so much attention in 2012 for “mewling quim,”
    and now in 2013 he’s tackled another obscure vagina joke.

  7. Mattman Begins – Well yeah the point I was making is that Bard adaptations are rarely set within their intended settings anymore. (That decent recent Fiennes/Butler’s Corioalanus Ancient Rome set in modern times) Not a complaint really as much as commentary.

    Also regardless of what you thought of THOR, it revitalized Branagh’s directing career. He just did that upcoming Jack Ryan reboot and now that fairy tale movie over at Disney.

    But as much as I do respect and admire the Bard for his one liners and pathos and all that, I’ll say this: I hate Romeo & Juliet. One-dimensional characters, a trite story, never liked it. (The same guy who gave complexity to Henry V, mind you.)

  8. The problems that plague Romeo and Juliet are the same problems that plague most of Shakespeare’s romantic plots. The characters fall in and out of love at a moments notice to serve the plot. At their best, these relationship comedies are fun and beautifully written, so you can mostly ignore the fact that Shakespeare’s concept of “love” seems a little off. I was glad that Vern mentioned this in his review. I agree with you, RRA, about Romeo and Juliet, but in its defense, it probably comes off as worse because it has so often been imitated. That’s not to say that his comedies aren’t a lot of fun, but his tragedies are probably his best work.

  9. Saw it a couple of weeks ago and praised the shit out of it in the avengers thread. I didn`t watch it with a nerd-crowd (or if I did, they didn`t behave nerdish), except for a row of teenage-girls in front of me, who were clearly big Buffy-fans, and applauded every time a buffy-actor made his entrance. It actually made the experience better for me. When a handful of danish teen-girls can get into an ancient Shakespeare-play, and laugh their asses of despite having no danish subtitles, then Josh Whedon has done a pretty good job of presenting a classic play to the youth of today.

    I`ve read shakespeare in high school and enjoyed his writing, but I think this is the first time I actually enjoyed the story, cared for the characters and believed in their world. I found it very funny, romantic and considered that it`s a no-budget production shot on one location over 12 days, makes it a pretty impressive cinematic achievement for me.

  10. RBatty – Yeah but Hamlet (and Richard III for that matter) have been imitated endlessly too, but that hasn’t taken away from their power. I think my main problem with R&J is that for a tragedy, I don’t buy into the scope of that tragedy. I do with his other plays like King Lear obviously, but not that one. A real pity party for people into that sort of story.

    dna – schools do a terrible job of getting one to appreciate Mr. Shakespeare. (and no right-wingers, private schools aren’t any better.) But its like any other art where you’re told its “great” and you should agree, that’s a terrible access point if you ask me. (How many people disregard CITIZEN KANE just because it wasn’t the “greatest film ever” that critics claim? You have to approach art from your own, or allowed to on your own terms.)

    The movie wasn’t much, but did anybody ever see that Danny Devito movie RENAISSANCE MAN? For a supposed comedy, I thought it did a good job of how to approach something like Hamlet on a relatable front, even if its DeVito and a classroom of Army soldiers (including a young Marky Mark if I remember correctly.)

  11. Is the context of romantic love even consistent between Shakespeare’s time and our own? Hell, is argue that the definition of love has changed greatly between 1950 and today. What I mean is; yes, the relationships are shallow in many Shakespearean romances, but only as a function of the fact that “love” is a different thing with the same name today.

  12. Also, Midsummer Nights Dream was period.

  13. For me it works better in Romeo and Juliet, because they’re kids, they’re at the right age to decide that their love is worth dying for based on very little information. To me that’s sort of what the story is about.

  14. Mattman Begins

    May 18th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Mouth – Touché, sirrah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Branagh working again. I just know he has better and more substantial movies in him, Shakespearean or not. For my part, I was surprised that THOR, with its galactic-scale scope of “deity must learn to do the right thing”, was nowhere near as involving on an emotional scale for me as the “unrepentant capitalist must learn to do the right thing” of the first IRON MAN. It makes intellectual sense to have a director used to dealing with elaborate language try helming a movie with elaborate, um, persons. And he got the look of Asgard and other locations great. I’m not sure that Thor as a character has that much variance or depth to what he is or what he goes through in comparison with Tony Stark or even Steve Rogers. But THOR was an okay enough movie…fun, even.

    And I’m not above fun times at the movies. To add that extra level of pretension/self-embarassment, I would even say:
    “Let me play the fool.
    With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
    And let my liver rather heat with wine
    Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.”
    (Merchant Of Venice, 1.4)

  15. “As I walked away from the tavern I just started laughing at my luck. I’ve done well with this hand. It’s worked out pretty good for typing, it’s flipped off Dick Cheney to his face, and it’s shaken Steven Seagal’s hand. If I ever get horribly maimed, now I got another reason to hope it happens on the left side…As I got further away I began to run into people from the outside world, people who may not have even been aware that the star of THE GLIMMER MAN was sitting in a tavern nearby. And everybody I passed I had to fight the urge to say ‘Excuse me, I just shook Steven Seagal’s hand.’
    Nah, they wouldn’t understand. It’s something you have to live.”
    Sorry, Vern, you were saying about fawning fans?

    Seriously though another good one. I kinda got a sense of the plot from the only time I saw the trailer for this, but it’s good to be filled in more. I would have probably gone to see it a few months ago at the Glasgow Film Festival if I’d known it was getting a screening. Had to settle for a Game of Thrones one instead(yes there were a few people in costumes at that one).

  16. Stu is an elephant. He never forgets. Also he likes peanuts.

    MB – Well then in your view, just consider THOR then to be a necessary evil if Branagh gets enough hits he might get to do the shit he really wants to do.

  17. People seriously clapped when they recognized actors in the movie?

  18. It’s a Whedon fan thing. These actors shine so bright in his productions and then tend to fade from view, so we get pretty protective of them. There was one guy in the theater I went to who clapped like a wind-up cymbal monkey when Tom Lenk popped up for like two lines in CABIN IN THE WOODS. Something like this is like a high school reunion for these guys, so I’m not surprised people dorked out pretty hard.

    I have not seen the movie yet, but when I do please know that my palms will remain separated like star-crossed lovers.

  19. He does cast some pretty girls in his tv shows, but the only Whedon performer I’ve ever come close to having the urge to outright applaud has been Enver Gjokaj for his work in Dollhouse. He’s fucking amazing. You could argue whether the show was successful or wack, but there are stretches when Gjokaj alone makes it worth watching. If he attended a screening/event where I showed up, I might have to let him know about my appreciation.

    What would a man say if he saw Joss Whedon in public? Haven’t thought about this one… I dunno, I probably wouldn’t bother him, let him eat his sushi in peace. Maybe pass him a business card with a hand-scribbled link to my awesome Buffy journal if the opportunity presented itself somehow. Not nerdy at all.

    But yeah, the clapping thing is okay. It’s just people being energized & happy and letting the world know it, allowing their dopamine levels to overflow, expressed as a spastic function of their arms, whatever. I don’t clap at movies, but when I see something especially clever or noteworthy I’ll do that thing where I giggle to myself and shake my head, but in an affirmative head-nodding manner, like I’m thinking,
    “Okay, movie, I see what you did there, you magnificent bastard” like when Kubrick uses Beethoven in a certain way
    or
    “I can’t believe they let this director *do* that!” like when Rambo rips out a throat.

    I don’t dance, either, but it doesn’t mean I’m not feeling it when I’m at a good concert or watching girls lose themselves in discotheque contortions.
    I don’t think less of the dancers or the clappers with no self-control. But I still know I’m better than them.

  20. One thing Whedon does well is allowing his actors to showcase their range. Just taking MABN’s stars as examples, Alexis Denisof pulled off the most extreme yet believable character transformation for his role as Wesley on BUFFY and ANGEL, going from comic relief fop to cold-as-ice antihero so incrementally you almost didn’t notice it, and he did it all with a fake English accent so convincing most people assume he’s British. Likewise, Amy Acker went from crazy Manic Pixie Dream Girl spouting gibberish in a cave to flamethrower-wielding scientist running a multimillion dollar lab to frighteningly imperious purple-haired elder goddess in skintight leather. These are two really versatile actors who only get a chance to shine when Whedon spotlights them, so it’s no surprise that people get excited when they pop up. I still get disappointed every time I see James Marsden is in a movie (which happens every other week, it seems) and realize, no, it’s still not James Marsters. How he’s not Don John is a mystery to me.

  21. I’m also terrible with anagrams today.

  22. As soon as they invint a way to punch people over the internet, Mr Majestyk should duck. Just because I hate the phrase “Manic Pixie Blah whatever” and reading it just makes me aggressive. Same goes for “Big Bad”, so since we are in a Whedon thread, please beware of its use,

  23. Thank you, Majestyk. Amy Acker is one of the most underemployed, underrated actresses working today.

  24. CJ: Yeah, but what else are you gonna call Acker in that role? “Handsome man saved me from the monsters.” Swoon.

  25. She definitely wasn’t Manic. Or a Pixie. Dream girl may be debatable. But shit, what the fuck IS a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl anyway? People are using this term so losely for every love interest in a comedy, that it lost every meaning, if it ever had any.

  26. She was definitely Manic. Like, certifiably so. And Acker can’t help but being Pixie-ish. And she was more than one character on the show’s Dream Girl. I stand by my usage of this vague and unhelpful internet meme.

  27. “Alexis Denisof pulled off the most extreme yet believable character transformation for his role as Wesley on BUFFY and ANGEL, going from comic relief fop to cold-as-ice antihero so incrementally you almost didn’t notice it, and he did it all with a fake English accent so convincing most people assume he’s British.”
    He is British. He was born here, but moved to America at an early age, so when you hear him speak in real life he sounds like a British guy trying to do an American accent.
    [/neverforgets]

  28. That actually explains a lot.

  29. He said he was from Seattle and sounded American. IMDb says he was born in Maryland, raised in Seattle. It does say he studied in London for 3 years.

  30. When Denisof showed up on Dollhouse, I just assumed he was using a poor American accent. I actually had to google him to figure out whether or not he’s a Brit or a good ol’ fashioned American. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to him playing Wesley, but his English accent somehow sounds a lot more natural. Maybe he was going for some strange American regional accent in Dollhouse. I can’t quite remember.

    Maybe the only actor that Joss has attempted to spotlight who doesn’t have much range is Eliza Dushku. She’s great as the slightly damaged bad girl, but she can’t do much beyond that archetype. That isn’t much of a problem, since plenty of actors who have limited range go on to parlay that into a nice little career. But it was probably a mistake to cast her in the lead on a TV show where she had to play a drastically different person every week.

  31. Vern- Weird. I could have sworn I read my take on things from a magazine interview from back when he was doing Buffy/Angel.
    He also played that alien guy guy in THE AVENGERS who was ordering Loki about. Maybe THAT’s his real voice?

    Also, to those who somehow think Brannagh didn’t want to do THOR, listen to his commentary track on the DVD, for both the main feature and the deleted scenes. He does sound like he was actually invested and gave a shit in what he was doing.

  32. The Original... Paul

    May 27th, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Mouth:

    “Okay, movie, I see what you did there, you magnificent bastard” like when Kubrick uses Beethoven in a certain way

    Just saw Dario Argento’s first movie, made in 1969, two years before “A Clockwork Orange”. I wasn’t hugely impressed with it, but there was one use of a totally incongruous piece of music during a particularly vicious death scene that made me think that maybe Mr Kubrick was taking a few cues from Mr Argento on this one.

  33. The original Paul

    June 16th, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Just saw this one, finally; and all I gotta say is: holy shit, I didn’t expect it to be THAT good. Best film of 2013 by a country mile so far. Don’t get me wrong, I thought “Stoker” was great, but it didn’t make me come out of the cinema with a huge smile on my face like this one did. They even had some of the trademark Whedon “get your actors to do ludicrous dancing” scenes in there. Maybe I’m biased because I grew up watching all of these guys on TV, but it felt like visiting old friends. Not that the movie didn’t stand up on its own merits, all nostalgia aside.

    My favorite little touch – and there were loads of them – was when the villain (played slimily by Sean Maher), after completely wrecking a wedding and a couple’s happiness, swipes a cupcake from the banquet on the way out. Just a little touch to emphasize how much of a bastard he is. Loved that. Little touches of character like that are why Whedon at his best is as good as he is.

    Well, it seems that 2013 is finally looking up, with “Furious 6” and now “Much Ado About Nothing”. Better late than never. I don’t want any more disappointments, please!

  34. This is a fine piece of Bardsploitation, which is the same these days as Bardaptation in my opinion. Didn’t *love* it, but I’m for it.

    I guess MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is among 2013’s best by default, behind SPRING BREAKERS and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and maybe FURIOU6 or GI JOE 3D, though I wasn’t floored by it.

    Fran Kranz is obviously MVP here, though really everyone is uniformly pretty goddamn excellent. Twould be so easy for an actor to be self-conscious, to fuck up in the face of either the daunting task of reciting Shakespeare for the love of it or the daunting task of interpreting Shakespeare for an audience (possibly including your own mind, frankly) that just won’t give a fuck about it, will laugh at you, will dismiss or hipsterifically pretend to “get” your piffling efforts at Elizabethan 1600 AD speechified drama-romance.

    I reckon having the acclaimed director of a multi-billion dollar franchise and the uber-acclaimed creator of more than one of the most beloved tv shows of all time in charge of the production is enough to allay those petty thespianic fears.

    When I did Shakespeare in the park (as a teen in South Carolina, for a crowd of dozens), I had none of those assurances, and I was the icebreaker, the vocal bridge twixt curtain & groundling. That is, I had to utter the first fucking line of the play, plus I had another role much later in the story (which I performed with the aid of a clever costume change — I took off my blazer, flipped up my collar, and turned my voice into that of the pubescent teen fast food worker from THE SIMPSONS), so yeah man, I get it. I know more or less what it’s like to put together a labor of love in the Shakespearian milieu in a short amount of time and get good but not GREAT results.

    (The production I was involved in was in color, though, in *living* color, so that makes mines better than this MAAN in my opinion.)
    (Also, my Shakespeare in the park was directed by a girl, so I think Whedon would respect the shit out of that.)

  35. Some perspective, and some juicy Whedon fanboyism:
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/much_ado_about_nothing_2012/news/1927671/five_favorite_films_with_joss_whedon/

    He loves THE MATRIX (good man), and I have a feeling maybe the Wachowskis love him back, based on the similarity between the vehicle-rooftop battle scene in Buffy 5.20 “Spiral” (aired in 2001) and THE MATRIX RELOADED’s (2003) best sequence (which I suspect may be comparable to parts of THE LONE RANGER?), as well as the filmmakers’ respective affinities for exotic medieval-style weaponry.

    _______________________________________________

    Much like how praiseworthy & honorable Whedon’s love for good ole traditional unsullied [though somewhat abridged] Shakespeare is, what’s great about BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (and ANGEL) is how it lovingly engages in standard classic horror tropes.

    This is why Vern would actually enjoy Buffy.

    You may have been surprised to see that he really liked this talky Whedon-Shakespeare joint, SIFF nerdkind audience be damned, so it would not be much of a stretch to suggest/infer that he’d love the recent works of the former as much as the works of the latter.

    For all the notoriety Whedon & crew have for their facility with meta-quips, inversions, subversions, and big narrative surprises, the show[s] actually celebrates & reverts to meat-&-potatoes horror-monster fun on a very regular basis. Buffy The Vampire is way more NIGHT BREED than THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, way more DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) than SHAUN OF THE DEAD (whogivesafuckwhatyear).

    My favorite example of this blessed simplicity (or “straightforwardness” might be a better word) might be in episode 5.8 “Shadow,” in the scenes where a cobra creature (in pretty good CGI) attacks lil Dawn and runs through a busy downtown street and the scene where Buffy does a rear-chain-choke on the thing,

    a la Princess Leia against Jabba the Hut (There’s your clever feminist inversion/homage, I guess.), before achieving the dominant mount position on the cobra and simply repeatedly punching it in the face.

    If, say, Nicolas Winding Refn directed this scene, we’d see her fist penetrate & sever the tissue twixt jaw & brain, but, as is, the brutality & hero-rage of the moment is perfectly conveyed by the tv-filmatists’ choice to tilt the camera upward & gradually transition to the next scene without ever showing Buffy terminate her straightforward pummeling session against the cobra creature’s arguably over-smashed face. She punches the cobra-creature in the face. Then she punches it again. We see her angry, focused facial features; we see her fist, reared back in conjunction with her rotator cuff. She lowers the fist again. She punches it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. She’s still punching the motherfucker when the show cuts to the next scene.

    The ethos of the manly men of Michael Mann’s MIAMI VICE (2006) is “Say a thing; do that thing.” Buffy embodies & lives that precept. “See a problem, or be told that there is a problem; punch that problem in the face until it dies.”

    The lead female character of MIAMI VICE, Isabella (Gong Li), is fond of saying “Time is luck.” Buffy The Vampire also makes use of this precept. Everything that happens, one realizes over the course of absorbing the show’s totality, is based on a vague, developing mythology, a sense of destined heroism & tragedy, a gods-mandated forum of arranged marriages & lusts and necessarily mysteriously unbroken hymens (about which there is indeed MUCH ADO), and anything (crushes, orgasms, coronations, tales of sluttiness, a good hair day) that happens between the required moments of that which has already been fated is merely a piffle, a bit of luck.

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING contains all these multitudes, minus the f/x monsters & modern quippiness. It’s barebones drama equipped with [but not weighed down with] extraordinarily complex dramatic conflict. *Of course* Whedon loves it. *Of course* his love comes shining through.

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