Titles by Category

Here's news about high-definition video disc ("HDVD") recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

Feb 11.  Finally we have a good grade (A-) to brag about for the new Don Quixote from the Vienna State Ballet.  Recently we posted a F+ grade for the new C Major Bruckner Symphony 3 and an F- grade for that C Major Mahler S1-10 Box performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. How can a major publishing house turn out something that gets an F-?

We recently posted more than you wanted to know about that Brahms Cycle Box from Belvedere. Now you can buy the 3 discs in the box independently. We bunched the 4 different deals together near the top of the Journal.

We just updated our manifesto about the best ballet and dance videos.


Entries in Lions Gate (2)


Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing film. Adapted for the screen and directed by Joss Whedon. Stars Amy Acker (Beatrice), Alexis Denisof (Benedick), Jillian Morgese (Hero), Fran Kranz (Claudio), Reed Diamond (Don Pedro), Clark Gregg (Leonato),  Sean Maher (Don John), Spencer Treat Clark (Borachio), Riki Lindhome (Conrade), Nathan Fillion (Dogberry), Ashley Johnson (Margaret), Emma Bates (Ursula), Tom Lenk (Verges), Nick Kocher (First Watchman), Brian McElhaney (Second Watchman), Joshua Zar (Leonato’s Aide), Paul M. Meston (Friar Francis), Romy Rosemont (The Sexton), and Elsa Guillet-Chapuis (mute role as Court Photographer). Music by Joss Whedon; cinematography by Jay Hunter; edited by Daniel Kaminsky and Joss Whedon; produced by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

This is a delightful film version of Much Ado that follows the plot well with maybe 40% of the original text trimmed. Has English subtitles. The text that's left still makes you work.  But the visual telling of the love stories carries you along even before you master the text.  The whole film was made almost as a lark on a shoestring budget (more later on that). Whedon also published a book about the film which has the complete screenplay:

For once, you get a bargain.  I bought the HDVD from an Amazon third party vendor for about $6 and the book for about $3. So with shipping this came to about $15 total.

Below we find Leonato, Governor of Messina (Clark Gregg) with his daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese) and his niece Beatrice (Amy Aker). They are discussing the return from the wars of Benedick, a young Lord with whom Beatrice has an ongoing "merry war" of wits. Beatrice asks:

The august Atlantic magazine doesn't follow movie and TV stars much. But here's what Terrence Rafferty had to say in the July/August 2015 issue of Atlantic (page 99 or so): "Maybe the most spectacular recent example of a young American . . . tackling a classical part is Amy Acker's radiant Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, Joss Whedon's nimble, and very faithful, 2012 movie. . . . she's at least as formidable a Beatrice as Emma Thompson was in Branagh's 1993 Much Ado, and Acker is, I think, more touching and finally more believable."

Next below is Claudio (Fran Kranz), another returning soldier. He meets Hero and it's love at first sight:

Now we meet dour Benedick (Alexis Denisof) shoring up his defenses against Beatrice:

Glittering entertainment:

Meet Elsa Guillet-Chapuis, the Court Photographer. She kept getting in the rushes by accident, so Whedon, in total control, fixed that by making her part of the cast:

The friends conspire to trick Beatrice and Benedick into falling in love. The trick requires action on two fronts. Here's Front 1: Claudio, Don Pedro (Reed Diamond), and Leonato discuss (while they know Benedick is listening) how obvious it is that Beatrice loves Benedick:

Which starts to break through Benedick's defenses:


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Shakespeare Coriolanus motion picture. Ralph Fiennes directed this film in 2011. Stars Ralph Fiennes (Caius Martius Coriolanus), Gerard Butler (Tullus Aufidius), Vanessa Redgrave (Volumnia), Brian Cox (Menenius), Jessica Chastain (Virgilia), John Kani (General Cominius), James Nesbitt (Sicinius), Paul Jesson (Brutus), Lubna Azabal (Tamora), Ashraf Barhom (Cassius), Slavko Štimac (Volsce lieutenant), Dragan Mićanović (Titus), Radoslav Milenković (Volsce politician), Harry Fenn (Young Martius), and Jon Snow (TV Anchorman). Screenplay by John Logan; music by Ilan Eshkeri; cinematography by Barry Ackroyd; editing by Nicolas Gaster; produced by Ralph Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana, Julia Taylor-Stanley, and Colin Vaines. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title. We would like to know how much the screenplay varies from Shakespeare's text and whether watching this would help one to then tackle the real deal.