Shakespeare in Film – Part 3 – Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Back in 1989 Kenneth Branagh made a splash in the title role of Henry V and because of it became a movie star and was allowed to produce several of Shakespeare’s plays paid for by major studios!  One of the fruits of this strange marriage of Hollywood and Branagh was “Much Ado About Nothing,” one of the comedies.  The cast combines English stage and screen actors with American movie stars such as Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Kate Beckinsale and Keanu Reeves.  And because at the time she was Mrs. Branagh, Emma Thompson co-starred.

Up front I will say that this film is a bizarre mix of good, bad, indifferent and unbearable acting.  The subplot that involves the thwarting of a marriage by a wrongful accusation against the bride is so emotionally overwrought and pathetic that I am tempted to fast forward through it.  On the other hand, the antagonistic love/hate relationship between Branagh and Thompson’s characters is at times very amusing.  But the stand out part in the play is Michael Keaton as the chief night constable Dogberry.  His bizarre appearance and mannerisms are very funny.  His malapropisms and nonsensical instructions to his men sound like they come from someone hallucinating.  My favorite exchange occurs when Dogberry tries to explain to the lord of the castle what he has discovered during his night watch.  When he speaks at length without making any sense the lord tells Dogberry that he is tedious.  Dogberry mistakes this for a compliment and promises that if he himself were as rich as a king he would willingly bestow all his tediousness on the lord.

Aside from the young love interests the worst acting of the play is provided by Keanu Reeves.  He plays the villain of the story Don John.  Never before or since have Shakespeare’s words been spoken so woodenly and so bereft of any skill.  Luckily he was able to move on and use this skill where it belonged, in John Wick 2.  Don John’s brother in the movie is Denzel Washington’s Don Pedro.  I must confess I couldn’t see the family resemblance but Don Pedro did acquit himself much more ably Keanu.  He was amusing and amiable.

For fans of the tv show House, the actor who played Wilson on that show, Robert Sean Leonard, plays the young love interest opposite Kate Beckinsale.  His emotional scenes which involved frequent tears are so embarrassing it’s a wonder he ever acted again.

So what can I say about this movie?  Anyone I haven’t scared away with my descriptions should give it a viewing.  It is most definitely a mixed bag.  But for someone who enjoys Shakespeare there are some fine scenes interspersed amongst the awful.  It’s your call.

27FEB2020 – OCF Update

As has been the case lately that stupid day job has been interfering with the important things in my life.  Well, what can you do?  They pay me a princely salary and I don’t really get much done.  It’s hard to walk away.  But I will persevere and keep the content coming as best I can.

I’ve got some Shakespeare movies that I’ll review.  I’m still about 70 pages from the end of “The Age of Entitlement.”  As I’ve said, it’s painful to read but it’s an amazing story of how we got where we are in a step by step narrative.

I think the Monday morning (or Sunday night to be completely technical) post won’t be on the 2020 race or big things in the news.  I think I want to talk about practical things we can do day to day to improve our lives while living under the thumb of Big Brother (who by the way, doesn’t really love us).

And finally, I’ve got to figure out some way to get more comments from the folks out there.  Especially when we get lots of new viewers.  It’s way too quiet. Maybe some sort of contest.  So if any of you folks know of effective way to increase comments, I’m definitely interested in ideas.

Pathetic Progressive Life Imitates Exaggerated OCF “Art”

So Sunday night I posted my incredibly over the top comic masterpiece “The Absolutely Final, Last Stand of the Losers, 2020 Democratic Kamikaze Debate.”  Well, over the top may not be completely accurate.  All descriptions of the Tuesday night debate put it within an order of magnitude of what I described in my parody.  Ah, a prophet is never honored in his own time.  It does my heart good to know that the Dems are fulfilling the direst fears of the progressive powers that be.  If Bernie gets a convincing plurality of the delegates it will be checkmate against them in the November election.  Give him the nomination he will go down in flames.  Strip him of the nomination and his followers will stay home.  Sweet poetic justice for the Left encouraging the Millenials to believe in magic socialism.  Feel the Bern!

6 Underground – A Movie Review

Some of the longest-term readers of OCF may remember that I was a big fan of the first Deadpool movie.  And the lion’s share of that regards is probably due to the scathingly sarcastic humor that Ryan Reynolds brought to the part.  While discussing the attributes that I admired most in that movie with a millennial friend at work he mentioned that Reynolds had made a movie in 2019 that he thought also possessed some of these same characteristics.  That movie is “6 Underground.”  After watching the movie, I will agree that it does have some of the right stuff.

The premise of 6 Underground is that a billionaire technology inventor decides to fake his own death and recruit five mercenaries to form a team of ghosts to take down the worst of the worst human plagues.  Each will have faked his death and thereby prevent their family or friends from being hostages to their actions.  And even among themselves they are anonymous.  Ryan Reynolds is One.  A blonde CIA Spook is Two.  Three is a Hit-Man.  Four is a “Skywalker” (a traceur or one who practices parkour).  Five is a lady doctor.  Six is their driver.

The film is told in various jumps forward and back to show how Reynolds recruited his team and then to set the stage for the mission, to replace a brutal dictator with his more civilized brother.

One of the most memorable scenes is a car chase through the streets of Florence, Italy with the team being chased by a seemingly unending string of black sedans seeking revenge for a mafia lawyer who was robbed of his retina-scan-locked cell phone and also the retina needed to open it.  The driving and crashes are very well done and they are interspersed around Reynolds trying to unlock the phone with his victim’s gouged out eye in the front seat while Five attempts to remove a bullet from Two in the back seat while she is fighting a running gun battle against the other cars.

Reynolds isn’t as funny in this movie as in Deadpool but I enjoyed the movie.  I would say it is one of the better action adventure comedies.  So, if that’s a type of movie you enjoy give it a try and especially if you’re a fan of Deadpool.