July 2013 Archives

Much Ado About Nothing

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Finally (finally?), Much Ado About Nothing, which was my last Wisconsin Film Fest Film, on Thursday, April 18. Bout time, no?

Now, tickets went on sale for the 2013 Wisconsin Film Fest Film at noon on Saturday March 16 and I got online and started placing my order right away. By 12:15, I tried to put 4 tickets to Much Ado About Nothing in my cart and was told no. 3, no. 2, no. 1...yes. At 12:15 PM, fifteen minutes after the ticket sales opened, I put the last available ticket into my cart. Color me impressed. That sold out fast.

Unsurprisingly, even when I showed up at the theater rather early, there was already quite a line waiting for the seating to open. By the time I got in, things had rather filled up. The one small advantage to going to see it alone was that I could find a single seat in the upper part of the theater. (I have a hard time watching from the lower seats at Sundance. Too close to the screen.)

Now, this is my favorite Shakespeare comedy/romance and Beatrice is my very favorite of his heroines. I first saw the Kenneth Branagh version, which was pretty great but with some questionable casting/acting choices. (Keanu Reeves made Prince John the most wooden villain since silent films and Michael Keaton made Dogsberry almost unbearable to watch.) I also got to see the 2007 American Player's Theater production, with Tracy Michelle Arnold as Beatrice. (I just missed the 1999 production, since my first APT visit was the next year, but Amy Acker and Emma Bates were both in it.)

I was not disappointed. The casting and the acting were superb, even for roles that had always seemed shaky to me in the past. Sean Maher and Spencer Treat Clark brought subtlety and genuine emotion to the roles of Don John and Borachio. The interplay between Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion (and the rest of the watch) made the clowns amusing, rather than something to be tolerated.

Granted, one problem with fabulous acting is that it does draw your attention a little more to some ridiculous bits of Shakespearean plotting. "Wait, you are going to do what? Why would you think that is a good idea? And you? Why are you going along with him on this?" But that will always be the case in Shakespearean comedies and romances. There tends to be a few doses of "wait, what?!" in order to move the plot along. Ah, Will, we love you anyway.

Needless to say, I highly recommend it. I've seen it three times at this point. Granted, this review and recommendation would have been worth more if I'd written it in April than in August. (I'm working on that. I promise.)



Best of the British Arrows

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Best of the British Arrows (formerly British Television Advertising Awards) closed out our Film Fest Sunday, as it so often does. There is something strange about paying money and spending two hours to watch television ads, but these are definitely ads that deserve to win awards. They stretch the medium, go in unexpected directions, and treat the viewer as a smart person.

There were one or two ads this year that I had already come across on the internet and one or two that I found problematic, particularly in terms of gender issues. Still, most of them were excellent. A good chunk of the award winners can be watched in this playlist.



Comrade Kim Goes Flying

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Comrade Kim Goes Flying was possibly the most charming piece of Communist propaganda ever. Seriously. Western-financed but shot entirely in North Korea, this film shows a good-natured workers paradise where even the coal miners are rosy-cheeked and excited about their work. (I found myself wistfully thinking, "If only this were true.")

The film centers around the eponymous Kim, a pretty and agile young coal miner with dreams of joining the circus as a trapeze artist. Her work sends her to Pyongyang were hijinks ensue and her work comrades (including her avuncular boss) help her to make her dreams come true. Along the way, she also has a classic romantic comedy "feuding their way into love" match-up with the circus' star performer.

Cheesy and silly and fun, it was reminiscent of classic Hollywood musicals and screwball comedies. North Korea in Comrade Kim is candy-colored and entirely good-natured. The movie isn't deep and the herione has pretty much everyone routing for her, but the lack of reality and weight make it is an escapist delight, much like cotton-candy.



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