‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Film Review | LAFF 2017

All of L.A. is a theatre in a contemporary instrumentation of Shakespeare featuring Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Rachael Leigh Cook and Hamish Linklater.

Reportedly a Bard’s most-produced play and translated to a shade many times, A Midsummer Night’s Dream makes ideal clarity as a Hollywood-set story, with a brew of high and low, secular and magical, and a play within a play. Transposing a Athenian comedy to Southern California, Casey Wilder Mott takes his crawl as a underline executive with a sensuous, stupid and good expel version, one whose visually vibrancy matches a feel for a language. Abridged and peaked with nods to other works by Shakespeare, his Dream will invite everybody solely a many resistant purists, and will expected spin on a uninformed to a attracts of a Elizabethan playwright. 

The canyons, beaches, mansions and high-rise offices of Los Angeles make a energetic setting, and there isn’t a diseased opening in a film. The actors personification a executive party of star-crossed, potion-dosed lovers — some of them regular performers of a Shakespeare criterion — interpose their lines with a pointy contemporary pulse. In a together suggestion world, a glorious contingent move a illusory to life, while a hammy actor Bottom (a fearlessly over-the-top Fran Kranz, who also serves as a producer) sets off a story’s meta subplot, employing indie filmmaker Quince (Charity Wakefield) to spin his dream into a movie. 

The categorical movement opens distant from Bottom Co.’s essay ineptitude, in a sequence of Hollywood gloss and power: a bureau of a big-deal producer, Duke Theseus (Ted Levine), where Paz de la Huerta’s Hippolyta floats in and out like a prolonged cold splash of prize beauty, uncanny and knowing. 

The problem during palm concerns Rachael Leigh Cook’s film star Hermia, who skeleton to marry a scabby photographer Lysander (Hamish Linklater) over a wishes of her father, Egeus (Alan Blumenfeld). Dad sees improved matrimony element in a hotshot representative Demetrius (Finn Wittrock), who loves Hermia while a screenwriter Helena (an generally noted Lily Rabe) pines for him shamelessly. 

Love requited and not plays out by a thrashing of keystrokes on computers, phones and a peculiar typewriter before a 4 intersect in night Topanga Canyon, a woods filtered by low reds and purples as a proprietor spirits do their mischief. Actor and impact producer Saul Williams creates a proposal and sensitively extreme Oberon, a angel king. As a black Titania, singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd is compelling, as good as being a enthralling onscreen low-pitched performer (she also wrote a film’s lovely, well-deployed score). 

In each setting, from Echo Park cafeteria to private screening room to Pacific-facing mountaintop, Mott’s positive cinematic sensibility is fluently realized, with glorious contributions from designers Glen Hall and Kate Mallor and expressive camerawork by Daniel Katz. The executive accompanies Titania’s lamentation over humans’ unsteadiness with a manly montage of inlet underneath siege, bringing a element serve into a benefaction moment. But he embraces pristine anticipation too: When Oberon explains a regretful powers of a floral serum to his assistant, Puck, Mott uses charcterised illustrations, strikingly elementary and effective. In his telling, a mischief-loving punch Puck is a charming surfer, charmingly inhabited by Avan Jogia. 

Mott is roughly as many of a prankster as Jogia’s Puck. He peppers his screenplay with some of a Bard’s many quotable lines, jokingly recontextualizing them in discourse or displaying them on a coffee mop or in a tattoo. In a bit that Angelenos and movie-biz-sters will appreciate, he includes a promo mark for a Athens Film Institute (using AFI’s logo). And in his audaciously nonsensical refurbish on a play’s many apparent gag, he turns Bottom into a verbatim boundary of Puck’s joke. Winningly apparent unsentimental effects and Kranz’s diversion opening make this gambit work, not to discuss Todd’s blessedness as Titania, underneath a change of that sorcery refreshment and certain that a remade Bottom is a many pleasing quadruped she’s ever seen. 

A attainment of mutation as many as a celebration, this Midsummer Night’s Dream is alive with spot-on comic performances. It’s entirely in sync with Shakespeare’s gorgeous wordplay, though also with a sold point of light in Los Angeles, where, if they’re lucky, career-building movers and shakers accommodate non-believer spirits on dim ravine roads.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival (LA Muse)
Production companies: 5B Productions, Empyrean Pictures
Cast: Rachael Leigh Cook, Paz De La Huerta, Avan Jogia, Fran Kranz, Ted Levine, Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Mia Doi Todd, Charity Wakefield, Saul Williams, Finn Wittrock, Alan Blumenfeld, Charlie Carver, Max Carver, Justine Lupe, Christine Marzano, Brianna Barnes
Director: Casey Wilder Mott
Screenwriter: Casey Wilder Mott
Based on a play by William Shakespeare
Producers: Fran Kranz, Douglas Matejka, Casey Wilder Mott, Joshua Skurla
Executive producers: Simon Fawcett, Michael Lee Jackson
Director of photography: Daniel Katz
Production designer: Glen Hall
Costume designer: Kate Mallor
Editors: Curtiss Clayton, Saul Herckis, Casey Wilder Mott
Composer: Mia Doi Todd

104 minutes

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