1. Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous opens this weekend. It’s based upon the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, which suggests that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, actually wrote the plays of William Shakespeare. I have to admit to having been a fan of this particular theory, as it has some really good points. However, this piece in last week’s NYT Magazine has shown me the error of my ways. I don’t entirely agree with his take on the movie itself; I don’t think that it’s going to completely change the way people think about who Shakespeare was. I do think it looks a bit ridiculous, but it’s got a good cast, and I support anything that is a starring vehicle for Rhys Ifans, so I hope it does well. I’m sure I’ll get around to seeing it eventually. Anyway, here’s the trailer.
2. Apparently, Joss Whedon has completed a “secret movie project”: Much Ado About Nothing. There’s very little information about it; mostly just what appears on the website, there. Now, despite being a fan of Shakespeare, Joss Whedon, and (most importantly) Nathan Fillion, I am a good deal skeptical about this. First of all, I think that 1993’s Much Ado about Nothing (the Branagh version) is a movie that belongs on the “Do Not Remake” list. The problem with that, of course, is that it’s a film adaptation of a play by Shakespeare, and as such is performed over and over and over again. For me, though, having a film version is a little more lasting, and I just don’t believe that the performances (Branagh and Thompson’s in particular) can be improved upon. I do hope (and assume, although maybe not) that Fillion is playing Benedick, which I think is a pretty good fit, but beyond that, most of these people are either semi-minor players in the Whedonverse or complete unknowns, and I’m just not sure how it’ll all play out.
One can probably infer from the picture on the website that this version will have some sort of modernized setting, and I personally wonder if they will be using the Shakespearean text. Something about the vague “Based upon a play” tagline leaves me considering the extent to which this is really going to be Much Ado. Basically, there are lots of questions. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more news of this, so stay tuned.
Update: Here’s a more detailed story from EW.com. Fillion is not Benedick (boo!), it is definitely “modern,” based on the pictures. Enh?
Update 2: Clearly, I should have done more research. It wasn’t up when I checked yesterday, but now if you click on the movie page, you will be redirected to the press release, which gives a complete cast list. Which is exceedingly disappointing. I fail to understand why you would take what is easily the most recognizable name you have and give them the lousiest role. Fillion probably wanted to play the “clown” part, but Dogberry is, I think, the worst clown in the entire Shakespeare repertoire. Sorry, Whedon. This fan is not on board.
That’s all from the Shakespearean News Desk for now. I’m still waiting for Taymor’s The Tempest to get a DVD release date. And for someone to make my blockbuster, star-studded adaptation of Macbeth. I’m also pondering the fact that Branagh ought to take his breakout star from Thor (that’d be Tom Hiddleston) and get back to his roots. Hmmm. Which play is due for a film version … ?