LET’S KILL WARD’S WIFE (2014)

January 2, 2015

Let's kill ward's wife Greetings again from the darkness. What would it take for you and your buddies to talk about killing someone? Perhaps you already have … you know, in a joking way … maybe while playing golf together. That’s what happens to Ronnie (James Carpinello), David (Patrick Wilson), and Tom (Scott Foley). A couple of cracks about wanting to kill Stacy (Dagmara Dominczyk), wife of their buddy Ward (Donald Faison), leads to further discussion and an uncomfortable google search.

Since all that is pretty gloomy, you should know that this is a comedy. It’s a very dark comedy (given the title) that is filled with a stream of one-liners and some outlandish behavior from a group of people who will never be considered criminal masterminds. On top of that, it comes across as some kind of psycho-sexual, spouse-swapping filmmaking project for first time feature writer/director Scott Foley.

Let’s see if we can connect the dots: In real life, Foley is married to Marika Dominczyk (she plays David’s wife in the movie) who is also the real life sister of Dagmara Dominczyk (Ward’s wife) who is the real life wife of Patrick Wilson. James Carpinello’s real life wife is (Dallas’ own) Amy Acker (she plays Tom’s wife), and we also get the real life daughter of Carpinello/Acker and the real life son of Foley/Marika … plus the younger sister of Marika and Dagmara. That’s more crossover than most community theater productions!

You may recognize Scott Foley from TV’s “Felicity” (or many other projects), and this is his first feature film as writer/director. The cast is obviously having a great time, and in that manner, reminds a bit of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Joss Whedon’s 2012 version), which was also cast with a group of close friends (including Amy Acker, who also stars here). There are also similarities to VERY BAD THINGS, the 1998 film that brought out the worst traits of its characters. However as stated, this one is filled with offbeat humor and can best be described as black comedy. We even get Nicolette Sheridan as an on-the-prowl aging actress.

Some excellent films are referenced here, including: PULP FICTION, FARGO, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and TRAINING DAY. Clearly this film is not near the level of any of those, but they are used to keep the dialogue amongst friends presented in a grounded way for such an outrageous premise. This one won’t make you think much – and please don’t let it convince you that murder is a good idea. It might, however, generate a few laughs, and that’s always welcome.

watch the trailer:

 

 

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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (2013)

June 23, 2013

much ado1 Greetings again from the darkness. The previous movie version of William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” was directed in 1993 by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed Thor (2011). This modernized, much simpler version is directed by Joss Whedon, who also directed The Avengers last year. It’s difficult to imagine a more oddball movie symmetry than that! Whedon’s production plays almost like a home movie, and in a way it is. Filmed at the director’s Santa Monica house with a cast featuring mostly a close group of his friends … those that frequently gather for Shakespeare dinner parties … this one exudes a certain joy and love of the material from all involved, with a live theatre feel.

I have always been more attracted to Shakespeare’s comedies than his more famous tragedies. His startling wordsmithing is much ado3always filled with an edge and is borne of real personalities we all recognize. Combine that with director Whedon’s love of rapid-fire, wise-cracking dialogue and we get something from the ilk of Preston Sturges or Howard Hawks screwball comedies.

The banter and battle of wits between Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) are at the heart of the story. Their flirtations are recognizable as two who doth protest too much … as if it could hide their mutual attraction. In one of the most pure comedic roles from the pen of Shakespeare comes Dogberry, the detective on the case of the dark conspiracy occurring right under the noses of most characters. Nathan Fillion (“Castle”) plays Dogberry in such a manner that he steals every scene in which he appears … both verbally and physically. He provides some laugh out loud moments.

much ado3 You will recognize some of the others in Whedon’s acting troupe: Reed Diamond plays Don Pedro, Clark Gregg as Leonato, and Fran Kranz as Claudio. Newcomer Jillian Morgese plays Hero, the falsely-accused bride-to-be, whose misfortunes lead to the great Dogberry scenes.

The temptation here is to say that a very entertaining movie can be made simply, cheaply and quickly (12 days filming). Of course, as wonderful as Amy Acker is, the real star is the story and words from William Shakespeare … even in this modernized setting. As we all know, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Whedon and his cronies prove this.  I’m not sure this is the best indoctrination to Shakespeare, but I believe only the most traditional of Shakespeare devotees will not find some joy in this version.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are a fan of The Bard and enjoy seeing varying visual interpretations of his fantastic work

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are the firm traditionalist who believes Shakespeare only belongs on stage or on paper

watch the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAMsDP_DMHE