Much Ado About Nothing

Ah, the romantic comedy: A genre when presented as an evening’s viewing option has sent many an otherwise lovey-dovey couple to opposite ends of the couch. I have to say the romantic comedy has never been my first stop when Netflix surfing. Actually, it’s rarely my choice at all, unless When Harry Met Sally is on (the last great romantic comedy, IMO) or the least appreciated but my personal favorite of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks vehicles: Joe vs. the Volcano. [The guy falls for different versions of the SAME woman; how much more romantic (and comedic) can you get?]

William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about romantic comedies. In fact, he invented the genre! The formula of boy meets girl, they run up against some obstacles, surmount said obstacles with the help of a jocular coterie of friends, and live happily ever after: That’s Shakespeare! And perhaps the most seminal of his romantic comedies is Much Ado About Nothing. The plot and characters gave rise to many adaptations and permutations. There was the beautifully hilarious big-screen adaptation in 1993 with real-life couple-at-the-time Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. More recently, in 2012, there was another lovely big-screen adaptation, this time by Joss Whedon, set in modern times but true to Shakespearean language. And between those two, in 2005, our very own Damian Lewis starred as Benedick in a BBC adaptation of the story, set in modern times with modern language, for their series Shakespeare ReTold.

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Billions on Showtime 2.08: The Kingmaker

Let’s try something new. Let’s talk about Billions Season 2 Episode 8, “The Kingmaker”, as if it were a soap, a tabloid, heck, a professional wrestling match. The soapiness of this episode cannot be denied. Soaps get a bum rap. When they are good, there is great drama there, folks. Great storytelling. And the hardest working people in the business. And true to the genres of tabloid, soap, and wrestling match, “The Kingmaker” hit all the marks for great drama.

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Billions on Showtime 2.07: Victory Lap

As much as last week’s episode of Billions was softer around the edges and showed some heart, this week’s episode, “Victory Lap”, displays the exact opposite. One hallmark of this complex show is that, since directing and writing hands are traded weekly, there’s a different feel, a sort of different emotional center, to every episode. The beauty is that, despite changing hands, the story maintains continuity and characters stay consistently true to form. In fact, there is more revealed every time we see these people, as well as more left unknown.

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Queen of the Desert in U.S. Theaters April 7

Finally, Queen of the Desert, with Damian Lewis in the role of Charles Doughty-Wylie, is being released to wider audiences in the US. Nicole Kidman’s very successful run with HBO’s Big Little Lies must have provided the impetus needed to give this 2015 film a stateside release.

The film will be in theaters April 7 and available on demand on April 14.

Need a refresher on what this film is about and why you should go see it? Here’s what I had to say after the first few international previews came out last year.

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Billions on Showtime 2.06: Indian Four

Nearly midpoint to Billions Season 2, and tables are turning in Episode 5, “Indian Four”. We start the show geared up to go thru all the machinations, ebb and flow, tit for tat, cat and mouse that has been the hallmark of the series so far. And there is plenty of that rapid-fire tennis match back and forth to watch, but, there’s also something quite new this episode. It feels sort of homey, much less technical, more touchy-feely, dare I say, more human.

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Billions on Showtime 2.05: Currency

Billions season 2 episode 5 is titled “Currency”, after the main play of the episode which happens to be a highly delicate currency play. Currency, the word, when spoken by Damian Lewis manifest as Bobby Axelrod, is also one among the many rhythmic words you’ll hear from him this episode, pronounced in impeccable New York-ese. We probably shouldn’t keep harping on his believability in this role. After all, that’s why they call it acting, right? Where most acting is a well-developed form of impersonation and most non-native accents are a form of ventriloquism, what Damian does with Bobby, in terms of body and language, is something else entirely. Something that is neither simply impersonation nor just ventriloquism.

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