School shootings have sadly become just another headline in the evening news. The latest one in Arlington, Texas this week was far from the most important news of the day.
The new movie, Mass, takes this all too familiar event and makes it personal. Written and directed by Fran Kranz, it tells the story of two couples who lives have been upended by one student killing his classmate. Jay and Gail (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton) are the parents of the victim. Richard and Linda (Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) are the parents of the shooter. They meet in a church basement to iron out what led to the shooting and how they can live with their new normal.
This film is important and timely. Kranz’s script is deep, emotional, and speaks to the harsh truth of the reality that comes with an experience such as this. It explores question that lead to school shootings. It is due to mental health, the lack of gun control laws, a combination of both, or perhaps something else that has not even been considered?
Though the screenplay is not as strong as it could be, the interrogation of what leads to one young person killing another on school grounds and its aftermath is potent and unfortunately still too relevant.
There is a reason why we keep adapting the works of William Shakespeare again and again. His work is timeless. His stories and characters represent the best and worst of humanity.
The 2017 film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a modern California based, adaptation on the Shakespeare play of the same name. The narrative follows through different groups of characters whose tales ultimately converge.
Hermia (Rachael Leigh Cook) is unhappily betrothed to Demetrius (Finn Witrock). She would rather be with Lysander (Hamish Linklater). Helena (Lily Rabe) is in love with Demetrius, but he has constantly rejected her for Hermia. When Lysander and Hermia formulate a plan to run off and get married, Helena and Demetrius follow them.
Bottom (Fran Kranz) is a wannabe comic and a member of a unknown theater troupe. Literally turned into a walking, talking butt by Puck (Avan Jogia), he is pulled into the romantic brouhaha between Oberon, King of the Fairies (Saul Williams) and Titania, Queen of the Fairies (Mia Doi Todd).
This movie is really good. I was thoroughly charmed and entertained. The thing about adaptations of any classic work (specifically when it is not set in the period that it was written in) is the balance between staying true to the original text while giving a contemporary audience an emotional inroad to hold onto. This film is able to do both, keeping both fans of the Bard and a viewer who is looking for a good laugh engaged.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Much Ado About Nothing is available for streaming on the Roku Channel.
For the uninitiated, Much Ado About Nothing is about two couples on different paths to martial happiness.
Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) dated previously, but the relationship turned sour. It is love at first sight for Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Claudio (Fran Kranz).
Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) and Leonato, Hero’s father (Clark Gregg) happily endorse the marriage between Hero and Claudio while secretly setting up Beatrice and Benedick. But Don Pedro’s brother, Don John (Sean Maher) sees an opportunity to cause trouble for his brother and Claudio.
This movie is one of the best movies I have seen so far this year.
If I was not a fan of Joss Whedon, as well as being a Buffy/Angel and a Shakespeare fan, this movie would still be one of the best I have seen so far this year.
Acker and Denisof still have the same chemistry they had on Angel ten years ago, Morgese and Kranz are well matched as the young lovers torn apart by Don John’s lies.
The biggest kudos has to go to Nathan Fillion as Dogberrry, the bumbling police chief. His scenes are some of the funniest in the movie.
This movie should absolutely be purchased when it comes out on DVD.