Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Fool's Paradise? A Glimpse at the Upcoming Shakespearean Slate

I was a giant nerd in school, and I loved reading Shakespeare.  Does that shock anyone?  The first plays I ever performed in were The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I have always loved when the Bard's work has been adapted for the screen, and this year we will get two interpretations.

There hasn't been an all around success when it comes to Shakespearean film adaptations in a while.  Last year's Coriolanus was a critical success, but it never found an audience, and Julie Taymor's The Tempest was critically snubbed.  Both of those kept the Shakesperean language, but the former updated the setting. 

Joss Whedon (this man can do anything...seriously...) is taking a stab at updating Much Ado About Nothing but retaining Bill's prose.  It stars Whedon regulars Alexis Denisof  and Nathan Fillion and it was shot in a stylish black and white.  Debuting at last year's Toronto Film Festival, this Much Ado garnered pretty positive mentions.  It opens this June. 

A far more traditional version of Romeo and Juliet is coming to theaters some time this year.  The star-crossed lovers are this time being portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth (the upcoming Noah), and it features a pretty impressive cast (Paul Giamatti, Damien Lewis, Ed Westwick among others).  Italian director Carlo Carlei is at the helm (he hasn't directed a feature since 1995), but the last time R&J was thrown on the big screen, it was directed by Baz Luhrman, a relative newcomer.  Carlei has just spent a LOT of time between projects.  The screenplay was written by Julian Fellowes. 

Christian Cooke as Mercutio, Booth as Romeo, and Westwick as Tybalt 
Steinfeld as Juliet and Giamatti as Friar Laurence

In the age of Twilight and Warm Bodies, will people go see the forbidden romance that started it all?  Do audiences have a love that burns bright, or will they be reaching for their happy dagger?  The cast alone has me amped to see it. 

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