Monday, July 1, 2013
(The Heat image courtesy of IMDB.com, The Sweet Life image courtesy of Amazon.com, Much Ado About Nothing image courtesy of IMDB.com)
So this weekend was kind of media heavy as you can see. I saw "The Heat" with my mom, Read "Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life", and saw "Much Ado About Nothing" by myself. So let's get on with these reviews!
This female buddy-cop movie combines Writer/Director Paul Feig and Actress Melissa McCarthy of last summer's big hit "Bridesmaids" with "Miss Congeniality" Sandra Bullock. My mom was the person who suggested we see it (I wanted Much Ado), but I had seen the ads and it looked funny so I readily agreed. Once again Feig has really done a great job with creating a comedy movie anchored by women. There are a bunch of funny men in this movie (Marlon Wayans, Michael Rappaport, Taran Killam, Nathan Corrdry) but the comedy firmly rests with the ladies. He's also done a great job not just repeating what he did with Bridesmaid. While both movies have a physical comedy element, the sense of humor is just very different (fowl mouthed fish out of water vs. women potty humor). If anything was weak about the movie it was the main mystery. There were a bit too many beats to the mystery and I kinda figured out the mystery villian before we got to the end). McCarthy and Bullock were excellent and show why they are some of the best comedic actors out there, male or female. One last note, I think this movie is going to do really well - however I do think it is skewing to a much older audience than Bridesmaid did. There were a lot more people my mom's age in the theater than mine. Definitely see this movie, but I will say that it may be ok saving it for video release.
The Sweet Life
So I wrote up a long review on Goodreads for this book, but I will try to do something shorter for here. This book was extremely frustrating. I picked it up for nostalgic purposes and quickly realized why I abandoned the Wakefield Twins and Sweet Valley for Elizabeth Bennet and Dagny Taggert (from Pride & Prejudice/Atlas Shrugged respectively). While it's kind of expected to make really dumb, self-destructive decisions in high school, the amount of insane decisions made by characters in this book (set a good 15-20 years after the high school series) was crazy. I think I was most disappointed with Elizabeth Wakefield who I thought made the worst decisions out of anybody and was totally surprised when things didn't turn out as she expected. I wanted to hit her on the backside of the head and say "Duh!" This book is really left best on the shelf.
Much Ado About Nothing
I can still remember when my tenth grade English teacher showed us the Kenneth Branaugh version of this Shakespeare play. We were the first class she showed it too and she was caught unawares by that initial scene where all the men returning from war strip down to nothing and jump into the outdoor public baths. Here mouth fell wide open and she tried to block the screen with her body (which was kinda hard because it was on one of those really tall tv carts where the television was setting higher than her head). Why am I telling you this? Because it was a pretty damn funny moment, and also to let you know that movie left a lasting impression upon me (overall, not just that scene).
Much Ado About Nothing was really the first piece of Shakespeare that I could understand, and for that reason the play has a special place in my heart (I was that girl who used "Hey Nonny Nonny" as her Senior yearbook quote). I also really love Joss Whedon. I will follow that man most places (I wasn't the biggest fan of Dollhouse). Anyways - it was clear in his Buffy days that Joss had as fantastic grasp on Shakespeare as do most Shakespearean actors. I mean look at Buffy - most of her comedies had a tragic twist and her tragedies had a comedic edge to them. If anyone could do a modern day adaptation of Much Ado justice, it would be Joss.
While Branaugh's version stays in the light (most scenes are shot in the delicious Italian sun, women frolic in white linen dresses and the men ham it up), Joss's version has a very film noir (or at the very least tawdry) edge to it that really highlights the seediness of the play. For example, when the Prince informs Claudio that he has indeed wooed fair Hero in Claudio's name, Joss has set the scene in the kitchen the morning after the party - with empty and half filled liquour bottles scattered across the kitchen island and Leonato hungover and half-way to passed out. That scene in Branaugh's play felt like everybody went home, got 8 hours of sleep, and then went out for brunch. There is a gritty and sexy realness to this version of the play. I'm not sure I could have appreciated it back in tenth grade. I highly recommend it.