I heart this movie (well, the play first and foremost :)) which is where yesterday’s quote came from (answer: Dogberry–Much Ado About Nothing. Act IV. Sc. 2. L. 58).  The Branagh version is seriously great, with of course, the one dramatically gigantic huge, can’t-ignore-that-one flaw: Keanu Reeves as Don John. Like dude, I’m the evil guy. Sigh. All of his lines had that certain surfer dude lilt to them.

However, if you can get past him (and I appreciate the epic proportion of effort that would take), the rest is truly delightful. Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in the good days. Every line is so well-thought out and delivered. I’ve often said it should be required reading and then viewing for high school folk who think that Shakespeare is incomprehensible (that or Romeo and Juliet, Baz-style).  Benedick and Beatrice roar with fire-tongues at each other and the portrayals leave you wondering just what had happened to make Beatrice his “lady disdain.”

One of my favorite parts of the film that I had never really felt the emotion behind when reading the play is when Don Pedro asks for Beatrice’s hand in marriage. There’s something about Thompson’s and Washington’s interaction that is so heart-breakingly sweet. I had never really stopped to consider that he might have been serious wiht his proposal and likely very, very lonely.  And were it not for their perfectly-timed banter and well-met witticisms, I would wish Beatrice to marry Don Pedro instead of Benedick.

I’ve found myself distracted watching some of my favorite films lately.  I’ve been focusing a lot on how many of my most favorite movies (usually made before 1965) have serious issues dealing with women–in ways that I worry about my daughter learning. For example:  Follow the Fleet (Rogers/AStaire)=if you’re smart the sexy, hot, but sincerely stupid guy won’t like you and want to get married–so dust off your cooking skills, doll yourself up, and put the glasses and the books away. I could give others, but I think I’m inspired to make that a series of posts 🙂  In any case, Much Ado certainly has its “affront to the feminist movement” or what I’ll just call a gender-based element of the ridiculous: Hero’s lady’s maid gets it on publicly one night with one of Don John’s attendants. And of course, she doesn’t seem to mind at all when he practically screams out Hero’s name in the height of his, uh, passion? So naturally, Margaret doesn’t say a word when the next day Claudio refuses to marry her because he thinks she was diddling his brother’s attendant the night before. Hero is almost killed for being impure. As everything is resolved, it comes out that it was Margaret doing the diddling that night… and what happens to her? Nothing, a little “naughty, naughty, Margaret.” But that’s it. So the element of the ridiculous here is that 1) if you are rich and noble, you must be a virgin or you should be killed and 2) if you are less than rich and noble–diddle all you like and deceive others (or commit delightful omission) all you like–you’ll only be loved more for it.

Snort.

Of course, I would be entirely remiss not to mention Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Dogberry. So so so freaking hilarious. Every line that you’ve ever wondered about or thought, hunh? in Dogberry’s mish-mash of words comes to life so well, and those portions of the film having my rolling on the floor (or at least sniggering out loud).

That and dude Don John aside, it’s tremendous. Well-acted. Lots of laughter. Lots of eye candy in the way of beautiful Italy and hot men. Two thumbs up.

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