A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 75 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) – May 14th, 2010

Seriously, we are done with Star Wars. It’s been more than a week now and we have exhausted our Star Wars movies. To get fairly far away from science fiction/action we’ve moved to Shakespeare for tonight. And neither of us have seen this one yet! We own a number of Shakespeare adaptations and we’ve seen many of them, but a couple have slipped past us and this is one of them. Weird, since I like this play and I like the vast majority of the cast of this adaptation. Really, take a look at the cast. Sam Rockwell is in this! And David Strathairn! It’s an amazing cast full of people I like, and yet somehow we’ve never gotten around to putting it in. But then, that’s part of what this project is all about.

I’ve got to say, having seen Sam Rockwell recently in Iron Man 2, and at home in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s fun seeing him so young in this. His part is relatively small, but amusing. Really, a lot of the parts in this are relatively small ones. Bottom and Puck are really the stars, with everyone else playing the ensemble. But the ensemble is fantastic. Every member of the players gets his own little moment to shine, though I especially liked Sam Rockwell, as I mentioned, and Roger Rees as Peter Quince. Among the rest of the cast there are great performances and deliveries everywhere. While I do enjoy Shakespeare adapted to modern language, I also love seeing it performed well in its original form (and I’ve decided to take a cue from Helena and use “Oh, spite!” whenever I’m ticked off from now on).

On a tiny bit of a tangent there, this movie is set in late 19th century Italy, and has a ton of opera playing in the background and then over the ending credits. And it makes me think about how well-done opera communicates a story through emotion and performance. Good Shakespeare should be the same way, I think. Also, the opera really works with the whole setting and mood of the movie, which is rich and full of excess, what with the Duke’s palace and Titania’s court and all. Along with the costumes (which I loved), the music really sets the tone.

The pacing in this particular production is a little bit off in places. The forest scenes transitioned oddly to me, and speaking of transitions, the switch from dream-like forest escapades to the real world wedding soiree was rather abrupt. But other than transitions, only one thing really bugged me about the movie: the forest sets. They were very nice in some places, but in others they felt very stage-like and claustrophobic, as if all the action had to happen in a single space. Now, I’m all for stage productions of Shakespeare (so long as they don’t suck, but I’ll share my “worst Merchant of Venice stage production ever” story when we watch the movie), but the thing about making a movie is that you can make it feel expansive. You can build beyond the set and the stage. It works in some places in this version, but not in all, and that’s too bad.

Fortunately, my few small quibbles aren’t enough to make me dislike the movie. Not in the least. It was really a lovely version to watch and I enjoyed it and would recommend it without hesitation. Especially for Sam Rockwell.

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

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