A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

May 14, 2010

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

I’ve a great fondness for William Shakespeare in general and for this play in particular. As a high-school freshman I was part of a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. (I was one of two propmasters – not actually in the play.) The result of which is that I know the play pretty well – having read it in its entirety many a time and been part of many a full production.

The play has an awful lot going on though. I mean, Will really threw everything at this one. It has the A plot, which is the confusing tale of two couples and their love and disdain for one another. Which requires a flow chart to follow on its own. Then there’s the players and their farcical production of Pyramus and Thisbe. And there’s Oberon and Titania with their ongoing lovers’ quarrel and Bottom given the head of an ass. It’s all so ludicrous and silly. But, of course, that is the intent.

This production has moved the story from ancient Athens to the turn of the 19th century Italy. It tacks on a backstory for Nick Bottom which I don’t quite understand. And it uses a lot of opera for incidental music. It’s a very lush production but I can’t help feeling that it’s adding more confusion to an already overwrought creation. Still: the film does know where the best humor in the play comes from. Kevin Kline as Bottom is fantastic. Both as the overbearing diva in the player’s play within a play and as the ass that Titania falls in love with. Indeed they dedicate what feels like fully half of the final act to the play-within-a-play, which brings most of the real laughs in the movie (and unexpectedly a really great performance from Sam Rockwell, who is fast becoming one of my favorite comic performers.)

I’ll say that although I love Stanley Tucci I was not overly taken with his Puck. But I think that’s because there will probably never be a better cast Puck than Josh Tosteson, way back in high-school. He was simply playing himself I think, and it was pretty much perfect. The old trouble-maker. I wonder what he’s up to now. (I could find out if I bothered to go to my 20th reunion next month… but I’m disinclined to.)

May 14, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,


  1. A) go to the reunion.
    B) obtain and watch the 1968 Royal Shakespeare Company version with Judi Dench, David Warner, Ian Holm, Diana Rigg, Helen Miren, Ian Richardson, Michael Jayston, and many other favorites. These guys know Shakespeare. And what is Judi wearing?! (Nieces Clare Dench and Emma Dench as First Fairy and Peasblossom.)

    Comment by David | May 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you very much for the suggestion. We definitely need to beef up our collection soon, or else we’ll pass the one-year-remaining mark. We really want to get back up to around 400 movies to go and hold it there if we can.

    As to the reunion, well I’ll be seeing Jeff and Josh during reunion weekend. If I go to any reunion events I’d be mostly hanging out with them and not talking to anybody else anyhow, so by not going I save myself the embarrassment of being isolated from the rest of my high-school peers all over again.

    Comment by tanatoes | May 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. You should come to the reunion stuff. Don’t fall into that trap where you think of the people we went to high school with through the social filter of the kids they were 20 years ago. None of us are those kids anymore. We’re a bunch of adults who share a pretty exclusive formative experience.

    Anyway, Tosteson, last time I looked him up online, runs a hydrogen-based energy concern or some sort.

    Comment by Josh | May 17, 2010 | Reply

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