What’s refreshing about this biopic is that Allen’s problems aren’t Allen Ginsberg problems—they’re just problems. Allen has a sick mother he feels he should care for; Allen wants to distinguish himself as a writer; Allen wants to fit in with his new friends; Allen and his friends vandalize a library with a stupid college prank. Darlings becomes an extraordinary story about the Beat Generation because it shows how conventional Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs were and how those conventions suffocated the lives they wanted to live.
Much Ado is a rich, quotable comedy, with Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation the long-standing Definitive Film Version that you can absolutely use to bluff your way through a classy Shakespeare-quoting life. Yet (long may Branagh’s version reign), seeing Joss Whedon’s version revealed a new depth to this play I had seen and read so many times in so many forms. Whedon’s version completely remakes the play from the ground up, and his version poses a question that I hadn’t even thought to ask: in watching Much Ado, do we want a great story, or a great performance?
Full disclosure: I love Kenneth Branagh. I love his version of Much Ado. I love his Hamlet. I love his Thor. I love that he so loved the world, he gave it Tom Hiddleston when he had the chance to trap that rainbow-made-flesh in a crystal and keep it in the chamber of secrets beneath his house.