by wjw on July 15, 2013

All these big summer blockbusters on offer, and the only pictures I’ve seen in the last few months were small-to-middlin’.

Last year I wondered what Joss Whedon’s post-Avengers project would be, now that he’s the most important man in Tinseltown.  Little did I know that he’d already shot the movie while he was doing post-production on The Avengers, and that it would be a small black-and-white adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, starring mostly veterans of Mr. Whedon’s past projects.

It’s a deliberately small movie, clearly an anti-Avengers, and filmed in Whedon’s own home.  (There’s a pretty fine scene where Benedick and Claudio, having just returned from battle, are given a little girl’s room stuffed with dolls and toys.)

All the actors are, basically, TV actors.  They’re not Noted Shakespeareans accustomed to rearing back and sounding out the soliloquys in ringing bell-like tones that reach the back of the theater, and they’re not Big Movie Actors playing to their own bigness and glamor.  They’re TV actors accustomed to the intimacy of the small screen, and the play their parts very well in that milieu.  They’re not reaching for the stars, they’re doing Shakespeare at each other in a perfectly honest and familiar way.  And really, what’s wrong with that?

A great many of Master Shakespeare’s lines were cut, but I didn’t particularly miss them.  Nathan Fillion did very well in the role of Dogberry, which is a part that can deeply embarrass an actor who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

My big gripe was the black and white.  Not that I hate black and white, but this was black and white shot on color stock, or maybe on digital, that was altered in post-production to black and white, and Whedon should have found himself some actual black and white film stock and some classic Arriflex lenses and done the damn thing right.  Those shadows should be sharp, damn it!  Instead it looks as if everything’s in the black-and-white version of pastel.

My other summer movie was The Bling Ring, which was described in The New Yorker as “the most exquisitely crafted movie ever made about a bunch of nitwits.”   Directed by Sofia Coppola, who specializes in movies about vacant, narcissistic protagonists— but at least she knows they’re vacant and narcissistic.

The Bling Ring is based on the true story of a bunch of high school students who tracked celebrities through social media, then broke into their homes while they were out of town, stole anything with a designer label, and then posed with the merchandise on Facebook.  It’s all about entitlement— the kids feel that because they’re obsessive fans of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Rachel Bilson, they’re entitled to everything they can get from them.

Coppola works hard at not really having a point of view, and lets the kids speak and act for themselves— it’s not satire exactly, it’s self-satire by a bunch of airheads who don’t know why we’re laughing.

I noticed that, after the inevitable happened and they all got arrested, that the heaviest prison sentence went to the one who informed on the others.  Which just goes to show— if you ever get popped, do what every TV cop show tells you, and shut the fuck up and get a lawyer!

Emma Watson shows that she can do a California accent and a vacant stare as well as anyone.

The scenes in Paris Hilton’s house were filmed in Paris Hilton’s actual house, the reality of which is beyond anything you could conceivably imagine.  She didn’t just built a shrine to herself, she built a cathedral.  She has so much stuff that she got robbed four or five times before she even noticed.

That said, I found that the movie made its points a few more times than was strictly necessary.  I found myself glancing at my watch a time or two.  The police just couldn’t show up fast enough.


DensityDuck July 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm

It is interesting that American society has gotten to the point where the absolute best possible advice for anyone interacting with law enforcement personnel is “don’t, under any circumstances, interact with law enforcement personnel.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.