Joss Whedon’s “Speed”

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It’s been 20 years since I first saw the movie Speed and was completely surprised by how good it was. I’m not usually one for the action movie. Too much action. But Speed was good. What made it so good? Well back then I didn’t know the name Joss Whedon, nor did most people. And it wouldn’t have mattered if we did, because he got written out of the credits after re-writing all of the dialogue in the movie and making insane things make sense.

Here is a really good interview with Joss, about how he was “pretty devastated” by getting written out of the credits, and he talks about the work he did on Speed. It’s very interesting and also sad.

In other news. Christophe Beck wants to score a(nother) Marvel movie. Wait, who is Christophe Beck? He’s the musical wizard who scored Buffy, and that score was awesome (not including Season 1 which was someone else’s fault.) I have been consistently disappointed by Bear McCreary‘s score for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and have often wished that it was instead scored by Christophe Beck. I think he is what the show is lacking. In any case, it would be neat if he and Joss worked together on The Avengers III, but I am hoping that Joss won’t agree to do the third  Avengers. He has too many other things that need his attention, not the least Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. That is where Christophe Beck and Joss Whedon should be reuniting.

 

 

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S.H.I.E.L.D. Renewed for 2nd Season!

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Yaaaay!!!! S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed for a 2nd season! Now, just to wait and hope that Joss gets done with The Avengers in time, and comes to work on the show. It has already become a really great show, without Joss’ direct involvement. I can see his hand in the overarching plotlines, but not so much the individual episodes. Season 2 will be different, and better, if he’s there. And in between The Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., Joss will be working on the next installment of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog! This summer is the time when Joss & his brothers and their friends and their actor friends will be getting together to make it. That’s what he said in an interview. Yaaaaay!

Much Ado About One Thing

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I have been suffering from an epic case of writer’s block recently, and so my whole big essay on The Year 2013 As Brought To Us By Joss Whedon has by necessity been shelved. I wish some personal hero would just swoop into town and give me an impromptu seminar on overcoming writers block!  But alas, my block continues apace, leaving me with few words with which to work and little inspiration. And so, in the interest of brevity and to-the-pointiness, I’m just picking my one most favorite Joss Whedon thing of the year 2013 to write about. And my one most favorite thing is  Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon’s film adaptation of the play by William Shakespeare.

I remember being so excited when I heard that right after wrapping The Avengers, Joss had taken twelve days and shot a film in secret. That it was Much Ado About Nothing seemed the perfect antidote to the over-the-top mainstreaminess of Marvel. That it was shot on a micro-budget right after the box office smashing of The Avengers was also beautiful. I had not lost Joss to the world of big money and 3-D as I had often feared. Here he was, right at home.

Much Ado was actually shot in Joss’ home (except for one scene, shot in his office bungalow.) It is a large, beautiful, inviting house that seems to have been designed specifically for this movie. In fact, Kai Cole (Joss’ wife, an architect) had Shakespeare on the brain when designing and building it. For years, Joss had been hosting weekly Shakespeare readings, where he and his friends would gather at his home to perform the Bard and enjoy cheese. Shakespeare was as much a consideration in the design as the people who would live and gather in the house. As a result, their home features a living room stage, a beautiful outdoor balcony and a backyard amphitheater, in addition to functional necessities such as recording and dance studios.

Much Ado was produced by Bellwether Pictures, a company that Joss and Kai created in order to make micro-budget films such as Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. They wanted to create things without commercial backers so that their art would be pure, they could say what they wanted to say, and they’d not be beholden to commercial interests. This ethic really came through in Dr. Horrible, which was a labor of love on the part of all involved. It also comes through in Much Ado.

The cast is made up of the usual suspects: Whedon alums Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Clark Gregg, Nathian Fillion, Tom Lenk, and Ashley Johnson (who appeared in The Avengers and Dollhouse) as well as some newbies including Jillian Morgese, Riki Lindhome, Spencer Treat Clark, Emma Bates and Romy Rosemont.

As for the score, Joss Whedon wrote it himself, getting some help with orchestration. He created all the themes and added music to the song “Sigh No More” (sung by Balthazar in the original Shakespeare, sung by Maurissa Tancharoen in this film.) The music is really beautiful and fits the movie perfectly. I am continually impressed by the musicality of Joss.

I have watched Much Ado at least five times now. (Hot tip: it really helps to watch with the English subtitles on. The funny thing is that the Shakespeare sounds a lot like the demons and other villains from Buffy and Angel. Now I can’t watch the villains in those shows without thinking of the Bard.) I appreciate it more with each viewing, which I can’t say for all of Joss’ works (The Avengers, for example, does not hold up to that fifth viewing, especially without the 3-D.) The only thing that took a while to grow on me was the fade-to-whites between scenes. Joss chose fade-to-white in order to avoid the hated fade-to-black, but I’m not entirely sure that it works, as I am very conscious of it. But maybe it’s just me.

In any case, the film is a frolicky romp with dark undertones. It was the perfect film for Joss to make and he made it perfectly. I hope it will win plenty of awards when the time rolls around. But the best thing of all is that Fred and Wesley finally got their day. Their love was cut tragically short on Angel. Here, Fred and Wesley are reincarnated as Beatrice and Benedick, and after a whole lot of denying their love for one another, they finally give in and have their happy ending. Yay!

From Buffy to Bard

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Today I went on a pilgrimage with my friend to see the Joss Whedon exhibit at Joss Whedon’s alma mater, Wesleyan University. It was in the film building, where he took his film courses. Unfortunately photos were not allowed, except I was able to take this pic at the entrance to prove I was there:

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 9.32.37 PMYou can kind of make out the outline of my head and shoulders in the reflection. Anyway, it was in a tiny room, but the exhibit didn’t feel tiny. It was really fun! They had scenes from Buffy running on a screen, and then things around the room like posters from Buffy, The Avengers, Much Ado, etc. and then in glass cases some props, such as money from Firefly, and Buffy’s stake! But for me, the most exciting thing was Buffy’s scythe from the end of Season 7, on the wall. When I touched it I felt a rush of slayer power coursing through my veins, and I felt connected to generations of slayers!

There was a Chitauri helmet (not the infected one, I hope) in a glass case as well, and other things like some of Joss’ notebooks from when he was coming up with Buffy and Dr. Horrible. And there was a map of Sunnydale on the wall. One of the most fun things was Hawkeye’s quiver, from The Avengers. It had an “ON” switch which I was allowed to operate, and the quiver actually worked! Remember how it would turn to ready a new arrow? It did that.

After visiting the exhibit we wandered around town, thinking about how this was where Joss hung out for four years. And we went to the movie theatre where he must have gone to see who knows how many movies! We saw Thor: The Dark World, which I must say was a disappointment. I found it nowhere near so funny nor fun as the first one. But we had to see it because it supposedly sets up the next episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. So in spite of my disappointment in the movie (it was battles, battles, battles, and one cute bit where Eric Selvig was naked on TV) I am ready for S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday! (Or Wednesday morning, or whenever Amazon has it ready for streaming.)

All in all it was a great day. I’m still buzzing from touching the scythe. Scythe matters!

Should Joss Stay & Work on Avengers III?

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Rumors abound… Joss Whedon may or may not stick around to work on The Avengers 3. So let’s think about this. Do we want him to? For Marvel’s sake, obviously he should. But for his own sake, well he just may want to jump ship and get back to creating his own original content. Especially after witnessing the train wreck that is his latest TV show, one that he is hardly working on at all because he’s so busy with The Avengers II. He has claimed that he will be much more involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. once he’s done with Avengers II, that is if S.H.I.E.L.D. gets renewed for another season after its sloppy showing in Season 1.  And that is the only thing that will save S.H.I.E.L.D.. So I hope he does NOT work on Avengers III, gives his energy to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead, and saves us from mediocrity. Avengers III will have to get by without him, but that’s ok.