Speaking of important TV writers, we should not forget Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Super 8 and the blockbuster film, The Avengers. Now Whedon has made a low-budget black & white film based on a Shakespeare romantic comedy, using actors from his TV shows and filming at his home in only twelve days. The result is a surprisingly enjoyable Shakespeare adaptation. It is well-cast, well-acted, beautiful, funny, classy, and has a great score. Standouts in the cast include Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Nathan Fillion. If you are a Whedon fan or a Shakespeare fan, Much Ado About Nothing is not to be missed. ***+. My mug is up.
A few days later we caught another low-budget black & white comedy drama: Frances Ha. It was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, and stars co-writer Greta Gerwig as a young woman in New York City who just can’t seem to get her life together. Frances is a dancer but she can’t move beyond being an apprentice. When her best friend moves out, she struggles to find a place to call home. For a while she lives with two men who declare her to be un-dateable, a label she seems to wear proudly. Desperately lonely, she looks for comfort at the home of her parents and then at her old college, but nothing seems to help. It sounds depressing, but this is a warm, funny, honest, natural and ultimately optimistic film about friendship and feeling alone while surrounded by people. The acting is very good, the score is fascinating and the lack of colour gives it the feel of an old NYC classic. It also reminded me of Woody Allen, which is not a bad thing. Another ***+ and another mug up.