Random and sundry movie thoughts!
Last night I watched Much Ado About Nothing
for the first time in at least a couple years. It's one of my favorite movies for many reasons. I could write an essay on its various awesomenesses, both genuine and cracktastic. (Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare, you guys. Come ON. It is amazing.) And then I could write another essay on how it showcases the fact that Kenneth Branagh, as a director, is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. Seriously. I was inspired to rewatch it thanks to House
(which also has me rewatching The Black Donnellys
, as I am one of about four people in the country who associate Olivia Wilde with that rather than with The OC
), and DAMN. Either Robert Sean Leonard has really, REALLY improved as a screen actor as opposed to a stage actor, or he's just really good at taking direction, because there are very few moments in his performance that are not completely hilarious. It's clear that Branagh directed everyone to just really play up and exaggerate everything - which, to be fair, fits well with the production and the simple, broadly written story - but the more experienced actors carry it off pretty well, where RSL and Kate Beckinsale, who are both like twelve . . . well. Not so much. I mean, they are also stuck with the two most boring characters in the play and don't have much to work with, especially Beckinsale. (ESPECIALLY Beckinsale. Hero is the most featureless character EVER. I'm not sure anyone could make her interesting.) But damn.
Which is all my rambling way of saying - man, RSL is not good in this movie. He's not bad
(and if you start thinking he is, Keanu Reeves is RIGHT THERE to demonstrate what bad actually IS), he's just clearly more accustomed to stage acting and hasn't yet figured out how to play big without drastically overdoing it. My overall impression of him pre-House
was of an earnest actor who was just trying too hard. I was profoundly relieved to see how much better he'd gotten in the decade since Much Ado,
and even got an extra laugh out of a scene where Wilson is slightly overselling a rather saccharine lie just because of the realization that it was Wilson overacting, not RSL. He really is very good now. And I can think of a few stage actors who could take a hint about the need to modify one's performances for the camera, JOHN BARROWMAN.
. . . yeah, so this was just going to be a quick sharing of how Much Ado
contains one of my all-time favorite Questionable Acting Choices, courtesy of Robert Sean Leonard himself. Not that I can EVER just write a quick post when I want to.
Claudio and Don Pedro have just been informed that their accusation against Hero, Claudio's fianceé, of being a big whore, is totally incorrect. They were set up to see a chick who looked kind of like Hero having sex with another guy the night before the wedding. At this point in the play, they are also under the impression that the shock of the accusation killed Hero. (It didn't, because this is one of Shakespeare's comedies.)
Naturally, Claudio is deeply perturbed by the news that he helped bring about Hero's death for no good reason. Unfortunately, RSL opts to portray Claudio's grief and horror by . . . staring blankly, and then getting an ice cream headache. I'm not kidding. He winces and grabs his head and everything. I wish I could share a clip, because the description does not do it justice. It is one of my favorite (cracky) parts of the movie. He can be as awesome as he wants on House
, but I will never stop associating him with this scene. The ice cream headache, and then the kneeling in front of Hero's father and dramatically imploring forgiveness - I will always think of this first. It's not fair, but it is what it is.
And now, going in a SLIGHTLY different direction, I just watched The Signal
. It's a horror movie about people being driven to homicidal insanity by a signal being broadcast over TV and phones and radio and whathaveyou. It was pretty good, but I suspect I was sympathizing with the wrong character. ( It just came out in February, so cut for spoilers. )
I forget how much fun movies are. I need to start watching more of them again.