Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Shakespeare Adaptation

Ah Shakespeare. So many great stories and so many ways to tell them. My little claim to Shakespeare fame (as many other young wannabe actors) was playing Bottom in a big school production in secondary school. But it was set in the 60s and the mechanicals were The Beatles so we all had Liverpudlian accents. The drama teacher directing called the production 'A Midsummer Night's Magical Mystery Dream' and used music from that album in the show. A bit of a mess but we pulled it off. I took great pride in making people laugh on stage while performing the play within a play. Having gave up my dreams of the stage by 16 years old I feel that after all the pantomines and plays, performing Shakespeare was still an achievement. Especially with the amount of damn lines.
I'm guessing Romeo + Juliet will be popular this week as it is an amazing film but I picked it a few times so now for something a bit different.

Much Ado About Nothing 
Joss Weadon's adaptation came about shooting in between bigger projects. He simply gathered his friends at his house and made a film. I love this play and I loved the cast (Fran Kranz!) and the fact it was shot in such a short time and practically one loctaion is an amazing feet. There are several things going on here (as there always is with Shakespeare) but the main plot point is about Beatrice and Benedict, once lovers but now enemies. Their friends, fed up with their arguments, trick them into thinking that each other is in love with them and just watch how their feelings unfold. 

Forbidden Planet
A different kind of version of 'The Tempest' a strange story about a ship wrecked crew landing on a myterious island that belongs to a wizard and his daughter. But in this version, a very young Leslie Nielsen heads up the crew of a space ship with lands on planet where everyone myteriously died and the only ones left are a scientist and his daughter oh and Robby the Robot.

10 Things I Hate About You

Who'd have thought that Shakespeare could be adapted to a high school film? Well it was and its one of the best 'teen comedy dramas' ever. Featuring a cast of great actors, some young, some just hilarious (like Alison Janey). When Bianca Stratford, high school would be darling, can't date until her older shrew like sister does, new kid Cameron (in love with Bianca) enlists the help of Patrick to date/tame Kat. But it turns out that Patrick and Kat are great match but the course of true love never did run smooth especially in teen dramas.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves.


  1. Nice picks. I haven't seen this version of Much Ado though I really enjoyed the 90's one with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. Good catch on Forbidden Planet, I'd forgotten it was based on The Tempest. It's a fun sci-fi with a great look. 10 Things I Hate About You is another winning adaptation thanks to both the cast and direction. I would have preferred someone else than Julia Stiles as Katarina, I've never been much of a fan, but even she is more appealing than usual though it's JGL and Heath Ledger who carry the film.

    This week offers a plethora of choices since Shakespeare has been adapted so frequently and in so many different ways. I went with a straight reading of one and two interesting reworkings of two of his other plays.

    Hamlet (1996)-Kenneth Branagh adapted, directed and stars as the tortured Dane supported by a cast that is drawn from the cream of the British acting world with a few choice American stars pulled in for good measure. What makes this version stand out from the myriad others is Branagh’s decision to pull the play out of the dingy and poorly lit 14th century to the lush baroque 19th, resulting in deserved nominations for Art & Costume design, making it a far more vivid experience. That’s a great help since he has also chosen to present the entirety of the play’s nearly four hour run time. In a cast that includes Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Robin Williams, Gerard Depardieu and Judi Dench among so many others it’s difficult to choose any MVP’s aside from Branagh but Kate Winslet as Ophelia and Rufus Sewell as Fortinbras, the crown prince of Norway are memorable. It’s a challenging view but worthwhile.

    Joe MacBeth (1955)-Updating the Scottish play to the criminal underworld of 1930’s America this violent take on the tale (it begins with the title character blowing away a crime boss then going directly to his own wedding) is an inventive twist on the material. Excellent work by Paul Douglas and Ruth Roman as the murderous mobster and his rapacious Lady M hold you rapt as the homicidal pair climb the ladder of success over an ever increasing pile of bodies.

    Kiss Me Kate (1953)-The Taming of the Shrew moved into the world of the modern theatre and musicalized by Cole Porter. Famous stage star Fred Graham (Howard Keel) tries to dissuade his equally famous ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) to postpone her upcoming marriage so she can co-star with him in a musical updating of The Taming of the Shrew. She agrees reluctantly since their relationship post-divorce is as combative as their married life so it’s not smooth going. Add in several flies in the ointment including second lead Lois Lane(!) (Ann Miller) and some mobsters who are mistakenly putting the squeeze on Frank for a debt Lois’s boyfriend owes and it’s a wacky time backstage. Onstage though there are some amazing dance numbers performed by four of the best dancers of the 50’s (Miller, Carol Haney, Bob Fosse and Bobby Van) and great music sung by all including “It’s Too Darn Hot!” and “From This Moment On”. One of the great musicals, originally shown in 3-D.

  2. I love 10 Things I Hate About You. It's my all time favorite rom com.

  3. We match with Forbidden Planet! I love that movie and find it epic for all that was to come. 10 Things is s quite original and very enjoyable. I haven't seen your first pick though

  4. I picked Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, too! It's funny in some ways, but it feels great because of its lo-fi production value compared to Whedon's previous work, Avengers.

  5. I've only seen 10 Things I Hate About You and it was nice. I don't love it that much though.

  6. I haven't seen the first two. 10 Things is amazing!

  7. I love these picks! And yes, Fran Kranz is the freaking best:)

  8. I've only seen Much Ado About Nothing, and enjoyed it. It's a very smooth film. I need to see Forbidden Planet ASAP!

  9. Love 10 THings I Hate About You, and I never would've thought of Forbidden Planet this way. Nice picks!