MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993)
1993, MGM Repertory, 111 min, UK, USA, Dir: Kenneth Branagh

The second of Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations is also the most delightfully entertaining, as the director assembles an eclectic and wonderful cast (including Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington, Emma Thompson and Branagh himself) for a spirited sensual romp. Set and shot in a gorgeous villa in Tuscany, the film is a feast for the eyes, and the attention to detail in Shakespeare's language makes it heaven for the ears as well.


STILL CRAZY
1998, Sony Repertory, 97 min, UK, Dir: Brian Gibson

A classic "film that got away" - adored by the cognoscenti. Writers/producers Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais reinvigorate the familiar scenario of “aging rockers struggling with past glories and demons to make a comeback” - turning it into a glorious, hilarious paean to rock ’n’ roll camaraderie and ’70s excess tempered with sweet poignancy. Think SPINAL TAP meets MY FAVORITE YEAR through THE FULL MONTY as British hard-rock has-beens Strange Fruit - including Stephen Rea, Bruce Robinson and a magnificent Bill Nighy - etch realistic portraits of a middle-age rocker revival. Billy Connolly plays the Greek chorus as the band’s fatalistic, wise-cracking roadie. Spot-on songs by Foreigner’s Mick Jones and Squeeze’s Chris Difford.


THE COMMITMENTS
1991, 20th Century Fox, 117 min, Ireland, UK, USA, Dir: Alan Parker

Director Alan Parker (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS and THE WALL) teamed with veteran writing/producing duo Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais to turn Roddy Doyle’s brisk novella into a rollicking saga of mishap and achingly funny defeats snatched from the jaws of victory. A young hustling Dubliner shapes a ragtag bunch of miscreant Irish kids into a full-blown rock ’n’ soul revue despite their best efforts to self-destruct. The raw talent of the Irish performers - including Andrea Corr of The Corrs and Glen Hansard of The Swell Season - imbue Motown soul classics with Celtic heart. Their would-be manager explains the improbable collusion simply: "The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland."


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