Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado,' Bullock and McCarthy in 'The Heat,' and more
Shakespeare's classic comedy is given a contemporary spin by director Joss Whedon in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Whedon, besides being a talented director and writer (“The Avengers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog”), is a serious enthusiast and student of Shakespeare. His inventive and low-budget “Much Ado” was shot in just 12 days at Whedon’s home. Using the original text, the story of sparring lovers Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe says, “the film has the slapdash air of Mickey and Judy putting on a show in a barn. Yet it’s a genuine crowd-pleaser and the play’s themes of pretense and revelation, ignorance and honesty, love lost and passion regained, ring happily and true.” Also starring Whedon-verse regular Nathan Fillion, “Much Ado About Nothing” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.
In “Love Is All You Need,” directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier, a Danish woman, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), who has just finished her cancer treatments, walks in on her suffering husband in bed with his young co-worker. She travels alone to their daughter's wedding, which is to take place in Italy, but meets the father of the groom, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), and immediately makes a bad first impression. At the seaside villa where Philip once lived with his wife, conflicts arise not least between the soon-to-be newlyweds. But first impressions fade, and Ida may find her chance for another life. Tom Long of the Detroit News says, “Bier is daring to deal with both familial dysfunction and mature romance without painting either in the standard broad strokes. There are moments of comic awkwardness here, more moments of awkward drama, and the romance comes in fits and starts, as romance might. When Brosnan, never better, describes how his wife died while sitting in a cafe, it’s neither melodramatic nor hollow; it’s simply strong, and true. So is this fascinating, full film.” “Love Is All You Need” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.
Opening at the multiplex
“White House Down” stars Channing Tatum as Capitol policeman John Cale, who has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation's government falling into chaos and time running out, it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. “White House Down” opens Friday.
In “Redemption,” homeless and on the run from a military court martial, a damaged ex-special forces soldier (Jason Statham) navigating London's criminal underworld seizes an opportunity to assume another man's identity - transforming into an avenging angel in the process. Eric Kohn of IndieWire says, “In ‘Redemption,’ Statham seems to be exploring the qualities that put him on the map. And now that he's had a chance to examine his appeal, ‘Redemption’ also shows why he belongs there. “Redemption” opens Friday.
Special screenings downtown
Although some purists hold out for “Duck Soup,” many Marx Brothers fans consider “A Night at the Opera” the team’s best film. Two lovers who are both in opera are prevented from being together by the man's lack of acceptance as an operatic tenor. Pulling several typical Marx Brothers stunts, they arrange for the normal tenor to be absent so that the young lover can get his chance. A smash hit at the box office, “A Night at the Opera” was selected in 1993 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” And don’t forget about the stateroom scene, one of the most famous comedy scenes of all time! “A Night at the Opera” plays Sunday June 30 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 2 at 7 p.m. as part of the Summer Classic Film Series.
Special recognition for this humble movie maven IndieWire, the top online news source in the Independent Film business, has selected 40 Influencers. The writer of this column was on that list! I am most grateful to the Ann Arbor area, my work colleagues, the Michigan Theater Board, members and donors and my family who have been are so wonderfully supportive. For the full listing go to: www.indiewire.com/influencers/ Thanks to all and see you at the movies.
Russ Collins is executive director of the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Tune in to the audio version of “Cinema Chat” on WEMU radio (89.1-FM) each Thursday at 7:40 a.m. and 5:40 p.m., or listen to it online at WEMU's web site.