Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bard on the Blogs || Much Ado About Nothing (Movie Review)

In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a bit thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's second post is from Christina & Sarah of Between Bookends. They are sharing their thoughts on the Whedon adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.

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SHAKESPEARE!
You know his name, you’ve heard his tales even if you haven’t read them yourself. Shakespeare is someone you cannot escape. He is still a pop culture question even centuries after his death, which is why it is fitting that he would team up with Joss Whedon (arguably the king of the screen right now) to bring a new interpretation of the play Much Ado About Nothing to the screen. Much Ado is our favorite Shakespeare play; a couple months before the movie came out we sat down and read the play out loud together. Before Whedon’s Much Ado we saw Kenneth Branagh’s version and a video of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s stage production. Out of all the interpretations we’ve seen Whedon’s is our favorite and here are some reasons why.

EASIER TO UNDERSTAND
The setting is modern which somehow makes it easier to translate the Shakespearian world in a way that is understandable to our modern minds. The actors are casual and smooth in delivering their lines so that we often forget that it’s Shakespearian language and just absorb it all. We’ve always had issues understanding Dogberry (the idiotic chief of police who believes he’s intelligent) but Nathan Fillion’s delivery of the lines are HILARIOUS! The actor remarked that in order to memorize the dialogue he first had to understand what he was saying, we think that understanding of the character came through and made it easier for the viewers.

THE VIEWING EXPERIENCE

The whole film is in black and white and it makes everything classy and dramatic. It helps set the tone for the movie and gives it that noir feeling. Everything looks better in black and white and there are many scenes were we just want a screen shot on the wall because it is just so BEAUTIFUL! The black and white also helped when filming because when there was a bright orange lawnmower in background they didn’t have to worry about it ruining the shot. It blended right in!

BELIEVABILITY
Shakespeare doesn’t always make believability easy. Why would Don Pedro pretend to be Claudio to woo Hero in Claudio’s name so that Claudio could get married to her? Because they are drunk! It’s is very rare to see the characters without a drink in their hand, and to be honest, it explains a lot!

One of the best things about this movie is the consistency in tone. Characters don’t seem hot and cold, you can believe their actions because it fits them. Claudio is the perfect example of this because he is known for being a very changeable character. Fran Kranz said that he played him as an idiot jock the entire time. That portrayal of the character adds a consistency that Claudio usually lacks and creates a more believable and sympathetic character. We have never liked Claudio more.

And for all you who wished Hero would sucker punch Claudio… well, that doesn’t happen. BUT she does get visibly angry and looks like she is thinking about it. Go Hero!

Whedon also gives Benedick and Beatrice a romantic backstory usually not seen AND IT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING! The romantic history is hinted at twice in the text, but never actually confirmed. By confirming their past it adds a reason for the anger and later the quick turn in feelings.

BENEDICK & BEATRICE
I think everyone can agree that the stars of Much Ado are Benedick and Beatrice. There is nothing more fun than a bickering couple denying their feelings for one another. In this version their arguing takes on a darker and bitter tone, the characters trying to wound the other with their words, but you still can’t help but laugh. The bitterness between them also makes the ending even sweeter when you get to it.

SPECIAL FEATURES
If you have the chance to watch the film with the commentaries afterwards, we would highly recommend it. The cast commentary is the best and worst commentary we have ever heard because it is funny and crazy and there are so many people laughing and talking that we feel like we are there with them. At the same time, because everyone is talking sometimes you cannot pick out individual conversations and it’s just a blur of words. The Director commentary is just Joss Whedon talking. It is interesting hearing about the making of the film (which was set in his house), the discussion of the text, the artistic reasoning behind different shots, etc. The short videos on the making of the film and the story of them traveling to a film festival in a tour bus are also incredibly enjoyable and we watch them almost as much as we watch the film.

EPILOGUE
This movie as a whole is funny, heartbreaking, and dramatic. We find ourselves caring for all the characters, even the plain dealing villain, the ass, and Hero. We hope that if you haven’t seen this film before that we have convinced you to check it out. If you have seen it before we’ve had fun fangirling about it with you! “For man is a giddy thing, and this is [our] conclusion.”

THE END

-Christina & Sarah

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Thank you so much for sharing such a thorough review of Much Ado About Nothing, Christina & Sarah! I haven't yet seen the film, but I definitely want to after reading what you had to say. Plus, you can't go wrong with Whedon either.

As mentioned in previous posts, Alyssa & I also teamed up for a giveaway. We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can pick, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Bard on the Blogs || Twelfth Night Vs. She's the Man

In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a bit thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's post is by Carlisa of Confessions by Carlisa. She's going to be comparing Twelfth Night and She's the Man.

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I read the Twelfth Night for the first time my sophomore year of high school. We had an extra reading list that we had to pick from and when I found out the movie She’s the Man is based on Twelfth Night, I picked it immediately.

“What?” you may ask incredulously. “The hilarious She’s the Man is based on a Shakespeare play?” And I would reply with a nod and a knowing smile on my face, “Yes, my friends. Yes, it is.”

Now I know you’re pretty shocked, but let me give you a heads up. This post will contain some spoilers of both the movie and the play, so if you’re haven’t seen/read them…get out now. Just kidding, you’re completely welcome. But then go watch/read them.  Okay, here we go.

source
The Play:
First of all, Shakespeare knows how to write a comedy. This play is hilarious. I’ve read it multiple times and it has me laughing out loud every time. If you feel like maybe you’re not a Shakespeare person, try this one. It’s short and sweet and super funny.

The premise is that two twins, Viola and Sebastian, are shipwrecked and land in a place called Illyria. Viola lands to find herself alone and her brother dead. She pretends to be a boy so that she can work for the Duke Orsino as his pageboy. He mostly sends Viola to profess his undying love for Olivia, a woman who is currently grieving over the loss of her brother. Olivia vehemently refuses him but on these errands of love, she finds herself attracted to the young, sweet boy Orsino sends (Uh-oh). Likewise, while Orsino declares his love for Olivia, Viola secretly falls in love with Orsino (love triangle to the max). Meanwhile, Sebastian appears (not dead!) in Illyria mourning the loss of his dear sister (who is also very much alive).  Olivia, thinking Sebastian is Orsino’s pageboy who is really Viola, takes Sebastian and marries him (and he just goes along with it ‘cause why not?). Then Olivia sees Viola with Orsino and announces their marriage to the Duke. Orsino gets angry and Viola gets confused until Sebastian shows up! Viola and he reunite and all is understood and Orsino realizes he really loves Viola and everyone ends up happy.

Except Malvolio. Who has his own little side story where some characters write a love letter “from” Olivia, proclaiming her love for him. “Olivia” bids him wear bright yellow socks and cross-garters, to hop around, and to smile like a fool…which he does. And gets shut down. Poor guy.

The Movie:
This is such a funny movie. My friends and I quote it all the time. It stars Amanda Bynes before her crazy days. But here’s the low-down. There’s a girl named Viola who goes to Cornwall High School and plays soccer there. The girls team gets cut and when the boys team refuses to let her play, she makes a plan. 

Her twin brother Sebastian goes to London to perform with his band and asks Viola to cover for him at his new school, Illyria High, which is a boarding school. Viola dresses up like a boy (very convincingly, I might add) and attends Illyria, hoping to make the boys soccer team and beat Cornwall. 

Her roommate Duke Orsino really likes this girl named Olivia and when Viola and Olivia hit it off, Duke trades soccer lessons for Viola with help getting Olivia. The plan backfires, though, when Olivia gets a crush on Viola (“Sebastian”) and Viola develops feelings for Duke. Things are getting tricky, I know. 

Sebastian’s (the real Sebastian) girlfriend Monique and Malcolm realize what happened and tell the school principal. The real Sebastian comes home early from London and Olivia kisses him, a kiss which Duke sees. Duke yells at Viola (thinking she/he kissed Olivia) and kicks her out the night before the big Cornwall/Illyria soccer game. 

The next morning Sebastian gets woken up and goes to the soccer field…he plays terribly while Viola watches helplessly from the sidelines. The principal comes in during halftime and with a megaphone announces that Sebastian is a boy. He, well…he proves that he’s definitely a boy. Then Viola switches with him and during the game, Viola and Duke end up pushing each other in anger. Viola announces that she’s a girl (and, like sister, like brother…she proves it) and Duke walks off in anger. She invites him to a Junior League ball and he shows up and they kiss and everyone lives happily ever after.

Again, except Malcolm who loves Olivia in a creepy, stalkery sort of way. 

Boom. There you go. Here are some things to watch for when you see the movie and read the play (because that’s what you’re going to do now):
  •  Malcolm = Malvolio. They are both kind of the butt of everyone’s jokes and it’s hilarious. Malvolio would have been a weird name for the present day, so they changed it to Malcolm. Despite this, Malcolm’s pet tarantula is in fact named Malvolio.
  • In the play, Cesario is one of Duke’s attendants. In the movie, it’s the pizza shop that they hang out in.
  • The only direct quote I noticed (though used in completely different contexts in both): “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
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Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Carlisa! I adored Twelfth Night, and loved She's the Man, so just seeing the way you've drawn comparisons between the two is pretty dang awesome. (And now I feel like I should read the play and watch the movie again...)


In case y'all missed it, Alyssa & I have teamed up for a giveaway! We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can choose from, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bard on the Blogs || If You Liked A Midsummer Night's Dream, Try This!

Another day, another set of posts for Bard on the Blogs! In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a bit thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's second post is from Heather of Based on a True Story, and she's sharing some book recommendations for readers who enjoyed A Midsummer Night's Dream!

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A Midsummer Night's Dream has always been my favorite Shakespeare play. A woman runs away from her politically arranged wedding with her lover only to get caught up in an argument between the King and Queen of the fairies. A love potion is given to the wrong person causing chaos throughout the night. If you loved A Midsummer Night's Dream like I did, try these books.

Written in the StarsWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed  
"Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late."
Like Hermia in the play, Naila's parents choose a husband for her and it isn't the boy she wants.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real MagicThe Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty. Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.
An ordinary woman needs to get away from the fairy court where she is the newest pet. The fairies are self-centered and manipulative just like Shakespeare's.

  The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30; Tiffany Aching, #1)The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare."
More evil fairies who promise to give you all you ever wanted! Tiffany is an amazing heroine who has to save her brother and the son of the local gentry with only her brains and her frying pan.

  Enchanted, Inc. (Enchanted, Inc., #1)Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"Katie Chandler had always heard that New York is a weird and wonderful place, but this small-town Texas gal had no idea how weird until she moved there. Everywhere she goes, she sees something worth gawking at and Katie is afraid she's a little too normal to make a splash in the big city. Working for an ogre of a boss doesn't help. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Katie gets a job offer from Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., a company that tricks of the trade to the magic community. For MSI, Katie's ordinariness is an asset. Lacking any bit of magic, she can easily spot a fake spell, catch hidden clauses in competitor's contracts, and detect magically disguised intruders. Suddenly, average Katie is very special indeed."
Like the lovers in the play, Katie stumbles into a magical world that she didn't know existed. This series is fast and funny with some romance too.

Love PotionsLove Potions by Christina Jones 
"When aromatherapist Sukie starts using her cottage garden to provide raw ingredients for her products, she thinks she's hit on a good way of saving money while offering her clients a way of de-stressing and relaxation. However, Sukie discovers that her new improved lotions and potions are making her massages distinctly magical."

Potions are more powerful than you think! Be careful.

What other books have you read that remind you of A Midsummer Night's Dream?
(All book summaries from Goodreads.)

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Thank you so much, Heather! I loved that the selection of books you've included are from various age groups and genres, and I certainly would like to try reading them. Perhaps after a reread of A Midsummer Night's Dream

As mentioned in the previous posts, Alyssa & I are hosting a giveaway. We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can pick, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

Bard on the Blogs || Shakespeare Film Adaptations

Another day, another set of posts for Bard on the Blogs! In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a big thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's post is by Jessica of Peace Love Books, and she's sharing her favorite Shakespeare film adaptations.

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Hey, everyone! I’m Jessica from Peace Love Books and, I’ve got to say, I could not be more excited about Bard on the Blogs! While I didn’t discover my appreciation for Shakespeare’s plays until college while earning my degree in Integrated English Education, I had no idea that some of my all-time favorite movies were actually modern day adaptations of his plays. Whether it’s tragedy or a comedy, Shakespeare sure knew how to write a good story. And thanks to those stories, some of the best movies have been made! I’m here to share with you my three favorite films based on the Bard…

She’s the Man has been one of my all-time favorite movies ever since I saw it in theater way back in 2006. No lie, I can quote pretty much every single line of the movie. And who doesn’t love Duke? I’m embarrassed to admit, though, that I had no idea this was based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night until many years later. I didn’t actually read the play until my sophomore year of college, but man is that play funny! This modern day adaptation is brilliant and definitely brings Shakespeare’s comedy alive.

Of course, I can’t do a Shakespeare post without talking about 10 Things I Hate About You. You really can’t choose a better movie from the 90s. Let’s not forget that we have Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as adorable young things. This film is based off of The Taming of the Shrew and, I must admit, I actually prefer the movie to the play. The movie is very loosely based off of the play and I enjoyed Kat’s character far more in the movie. Maybe it’s because Julia Styles played an impeccable Kat, but you just can’t beat this movie.
  
Last, but certainly not least, is my most recent favorite movie. And that is the classic Romeo and Juliet. This one came out in 2013 and I dragged my mom along with me on one of my weekends home from school. I LOVED it. I bought the movie the moment it was released on DVD and made my sister and dad watch it over our Spring Break. I think that the costumes, set, and acting were so magical and perfect. And don’t even get me started when I saw Ed Westwick show up as Tybalt. *swoon* While the version with Leonardo DiCaprio is definitely unique, I think that this one is a beautiful edition of Shakespeare’s most famous and beloved play.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Jessica! I've seen and loved the first two films, but have yet to catch the third (which I should, because I love Romeo & Juliet and because ED WESTWICK). 

As mentioned in the previous posts, Alyssa & I are hosting a giveaway! We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can pick, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bard on the Blogs || Shakespeare Starter Pack

I'm very excited to be teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a bit thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)!

It seems particularly fitting to start off this event with a post from Miguel of The Quirky Reader, who signed up to share his personal Shakespeare starter pack for newbies to the Bard and his work. Without further ado, please check out Miguel's guest post below and give him a warm welcome!

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I’m sure you’ve heard of this clever bloke named William Shakespeare. He wrote Romeo and Juliet - the story that both touched and crushed hearts of romantics all around the world – and that famous one-liner – Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 

There’s plenty of Shakespeare to go around, but how do even crack this amazing mind’s bibliography? Well, I’m here today to help you out, and by the end of this post you’ll be reciting dialogues and sonnets all day.

WHAT PLAY SHOULD I READ FIRST?

My advice is to start with the classics or his most popular plays especially his comedies. Other than his comedies are short and easy to read, it’ll give you a taste of how his writing style works. So by the time you graduate to his tragedies, you’ll feel at ease. 

Here are some of my recommendations:
  • Much Ado about Nothing – Synopsis in a sentence: Matchmaking to the craziest level. 
  • Love’s Labor’s Lost – Synopsis in a sentence: Four noblemen have it bad for four beautiful ladies, but they are under an oath not to give in to the company of women.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Synopsis in a sentence: Badass fairies run the world here.
  • Twelfth Night – Synopsis in a sentence: Think Hana-Kimi but with more drama.
WHAT IF I’M NOT IN THE MOOD TO READ?

Then you can watch these awesome straight-up adaptations and Shakespeare-inspired films instead!

  • Hamlet – Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, and Billy Crystal.
  • Twelfth Night – Starring: Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter, and Toby Stephens.
  • Much Ado about Nothing – Starring: Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Kate Beckinsale, and Robert Sean Leonard.

  • Get Over It – Inspired by the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Starring: Kirsten Dunst and Ben Foster.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You – Inspired by the play, The Taming of the Shrew. Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  • She’s the Man – Inspired by the play, Twelfth Night. Starring: Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.
And that’s it! I hope one way or another I’ve piqued your interest with my love for Shakespeare! Also I have to thank Alexa and Alyssa for letting me participate in this wonderful blog event. Let me end with a beloved Shakespeare sonnet!

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Thank you so much, Miguel! I loved seeing what your starter pack includes, and can certainly endorse many of your suggestions myself. Readers, I hope you have an idea now of where you can start when it comes to indulging in works by the Bard (or adaptations of them!).

Now, as promised, Alyssa and I are hosting a giveaway. We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can pick, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

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