TIFF 2012 – Much Ado About Nothing and The Secret Disco Revolution Reviews (Kirk Haviland)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Much Ado About Nothing

Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Jillian Morgese, Fran Kranz, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Riki Lindholme, Tom Lenk and Ashley Johnson

Adapted by Joss Whedon, based on the play from William Shakespeare

Directed by Joss Whedon

Claudio (Kranz) and Benedick (Denisof) have just returned home to Messina after a successful campaign abroad. When Claudio confesses his adoration for the lovely Hero (Morgese), daughter of Messina’s governor Leonato (Gregg), Don Pedro (Diamond) vows to woo Hero in the vocally clumsy Claudio’s stead. Benedick’s scorn for love is matched by that of his long-time nemesis and verbal sparring partner Beatrice (Acker), Leonato’s niece. Determined to ruin the affair is the villainous brother of Don Pedro, Don John (Maher). As the love-struck Claudio and Hero make plans to marry, Benedick and Beatrice resume the “merry war” of insults they have long waged all while Leonato, Pedro, Claudio and Hero plot to couple the pair together. As Don John’s plots unfold it’s up to Inspector Dogberry (Fillion) and his deputies to find the truth.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Shot in gorgeous black and white at Joss Whedon’s own home, Much Ado brings together a plethora of Whedon’s talented friends to shoot the film in just less than two weeks on a break from shooting The Avengers. Using unique staging and different interpretations of the text to update the work to work in a modern setting, Whedon does not change a single word of text. The unique staging allows comedic opportunities for the talented cast to seize upon that may not have been read into the original text. Denisof and Acker are the standouts here as both deliver fantastic performances. Denisof’s comedic timing is on full display. Staged and shot with a small dedicated cast and crew, the insular production adds to the quaint feel of the film, though the film is not quaint in impact. Easily one of the best films I have seen at TIFF 2012, Much Ado About Nothing is a definite recommend.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

The Secret Disco Revolution

Written and Directed by Jamie Kastner

In The Secret Disco Revolution, director, Jamie Kastner tries to produce a documentary that legitimizes disco as a cultural revolution responsible for the liberation of African Americans, Gay Pride and Women in North America. He tries to do this by producing a straight documentary while inserting fictional characters known as the “Masterminds”. While I am a fan of directors trying to play around with the structure of a typical documentary, this inserting of fictional characters meant as stereotypes as we have a female, a gay white male and a black male, never works at all. Giving these characters credit for a so called manifesto, that in Kastner’s mind is the real reason behind the disco movement, further muddles and drags down the film.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Where the film works is through interviews with music industry veterans, DJs, academics, and such disco legends as Gloria Gaynor, The Village People, Anita Pointer and Thelma Houston. The interviewees provide the only real revelations in the film, talking about the disposable one hit wonder nature of the industry and how it churned through performers like livestock. Now if someone decides to make that documentary then I’m lining up first day. But alas we get this story instead, and the ridiculousness of the fictional sub plot is made all the worse by the awful production and performances involved with it, that barely scratches the surface of the real story. Perhaps this could be used as a prologue for a good film about the disco generation, such a vibrant and decadent time in our recent history deserves more than this to represent it. Secret Disco Revolution is a definite not recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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