Friday, August 09, 2013

The Grand Day Out

I finally had my Grand Day Out. I took the train to near downtown to see the Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing. It's playing at one theater in the area, one that's very inconveniently located for driving to, but I can catch the train not too far from my house and the station is next to the theater. There's a new midday fare with unlimited rides between 9:30 and 2:30 for $1.75, which is cheaper than the gallon or so of gas it would take to make the round trip, and the movie was showing at 11 a.m., perfectly in that timeframe. But it does involve leaving the house for an extended period of time, so I've been putting off doing it even when I wasn't waiting for contractors. As the train went through downtown, I noticed a number of changes and things that look fun to do, so I'll have to plan another Grand Day Out for the fall when I can more comfortably walk around outside.

As for the movie itself, I may need to see it again to really judge because I had a bad case of cognitive dissonance. A lot of the actors involved are very familiar to me from one particular role, but I've only seen them in occasional bit parts outside that one role, other than seeing them in person at the Serenity premiere, so it's really hard to mentally separate the actors from those iconic characters. Then because the casting was all in the family, so to speak, they were with the other actors I'm used to seeing them with, which makes it even harder to separate them from the familiar roles.

So it took some getting used to the idea of our sweet, innocent Simon from Firefly (who doesn't seem to have aged a day since then) playing the villain, even though he did so brilliantly. It took me half the movie to get used to Alexis Denisof's American accent. He's the unusual case of an actor who does both British and American and neither accent is really "fake" because he's an American who lived in England a long time, did his acting training there and started his career there. But his American accent seems to come from a different place in his body than his British accent, so his voice sounds entirely different, depending on which accent he uses, and that means not only getting used to the different accent but a different voice. And then the fact that he was playing opposite Amy Acker yet again didn't make it any easier to separate Benedick and Beatrice from Wes and Fred or Illyria.

But once I settled into it and convinced myself of who these characters were instead of focusing on who the actors were, it was a lot of fun. I was really impressed with Amy Acker, who sometimes irks me. Perhaps the fact that it seems to be required by law that she make a guest appearance in every science fiction or fantasy television series made it easier to just accept her character instead of being caught up in her most familiar role. I think the problem with her isn't so much her but the fact that she tends to get typecast in the "manic nerdy dream girl" roles where she's all squeaky and twitchy. Rewatching Angel made me really hate Fred and start mentally rewriting the series to remove her, but then she was amazing when Fred became Illyria the hell goddess (and that was when she and Denisof really hit it out of the park working together). I wanted to shoot her in Once Upon a Time, but she was wonderful as the soccer mom spider woman on Grimm. Her Beatrice here was less bitchy than she tends to be played, more cynical and world-weary, and she sounded so natural that it was easy to forget she was doing Shakespeare. 

I think the added implication that Beatrice and Benedick had previously hooked up in a way that ended badly and then still had to associate with each other because they ran in the same crowd helped add some layers to their interaction. I've always loved the Benedick/Beatrice part of this play, and it scratches my romantic comedy itch, and this added layer makes it less of a "hate you, hate you, love you" thing, and less that they're so easily manipulated, and more that they're both masking hurt feelings -- and the hurt comes from the fact that there were feelings to be hurt. More than in most versions, I did get a sense of them coming together and actually liking each other. The physical comedy was hilarious, but when they got serious, it was breathtaking. I will say that Alexis Denisof doesn't photograph well. Yeah, he's very good-looking on film, but that is the most gorgeous man I've ever seen in my life. I actually gasped when I saw him at the Serenity premiere, and not because I recognized him and realized who he was. It was more a case of "Wow, check him out. Oh, wait, that's him?"

The Claudio/Hero story is problematic and will be as long as they're using the original text, not so much because the fact that she's not a virgin is enough to call off the wedding, but because of one of my romantic comedy pet peeves, where there's a misunderstanding in which one party leaps to the worst possible conclusion about the other, refusing to listen to the other person's side of the story, and then when there's evidence that it was all a lie or misunderstanding, everything's okay. The wronged person doesn't have a problem with the fact that this person who supposedly loved her was so eager to believe the worst of her once he realizes he was wrong.

I may get this one on DVD, just because I like that play and I love the feel of this production. I also covet Amy Acker's wardrobe in it, but I'm not sure it would work with my figure. She's about four inches taller than I am and about half my size (I felt spherical in her presence, and my dress size is in the low single digits).

I didn't end up getting my planned birthday present, since by the time I got back to my station, I was tired and hungry. It's something I'll need to get at Target, and that won't be a safe place this weekend because it's the sales tax holiday weekend, with no tax on clothes or school supplies. That always amuses me because if you advertised an 8 percent off sale, no one would care, but people mob the stores thinking this is such a huge deal. Thanks for the iPod info. I may have found a different media player I can use on my phone, but I don't know that it would work for my needs because I know I'd end up leaving my phone connected to the stereo and forget to bring it with me. A dedicated music player would be easier. That's a very low-priority item, though, since about 90 percent of the time, I prefer complete silence.

Now I must get back to the book so I can take Grand Days Out in the fall. My plan was to really push it this summer and then relax in the fall, but it hasn't quite worked out that way.

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