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As You Like It

Takuya Shimada , Brian Blessed , Kenneth Branagh    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 48.02
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Light-Hearted Fun Sept. 20 2009
I am surprised I am the first reviewer for this movie. This is an amazing production of As You Like It. The coup scene added to the beginning of the play was a fun added touch, and it only gets better from there. The actress plays Rosalind just as I envision her: confident, playful, loyal, and sincerely in love. I am not normally a fan of romantic comedy, but I love this play and this version of it in particular. The play gently mocks some of the conventions and silliness we experience around love while maintaining a positive view on love's possibilities in contrast to the character, Jacques, and his chronic cynicism and melancholy. The setting, Japan, and the costumes are beautiful but in no way distract you from the strong acting in this film. If you are choosing between this production and the one staring Laurence Olvier, please choose this one! The Olivier version cuts out far too many lines and the acting is mediocre for the most part. This movie is guaranteed to put you in a cheery mood.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As they like it April 30 2011
Every few years, Kenneth Branagh comes out with another Shakespeare movie (plus the Shakespeare-themed "A Midwinter's Tale"). The fluffiest and weirdest of his Shakespeare movies thus far has to be "As You Like It" -- the actors are simply brilliant and they handle the romantic disasters beautifully, but the ending is painfully twee and the Japanese setting constantly snaps you out of it.

The cruel Duke (Brian Blessed) has deposed his far nicer brother (Blessed in a different wig), and the ex-Duke has run off into the Forest of Arden. At the same time, a young man named Orlando (David Oyelowo) has been cast out by his cruel brother Oliver (Adrian Lester).

Then the Duke decides to exile his niece Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard), despite the pleas of his daughter Celia (Romola Garai). So Rosalind (disguised as a boy), Celia and the jester Touchstone (Alfred Molina) run away into the Forest of Arden the following night, and soon encounter the exiled Duke and his followers. So does Orlando and his faithful servant Adam.

Because of a previous meeting, Rosalind and Orlando are already in love. But not only does he not recognize her, but because she's disguised as a boy she's attracted the amorous intentions of a local shepherdess. And to make matters even more complex, Touchstone is in a love triangle of his own, and Oliver has stumbled into Arden as well. Is everything going to end well?

Think about it: it's Shakespeare with all its transvestitism, romantic tangles and mass confusion... but they add katanas and NINJAS. Seriously, how cool is that?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The forest of all possibility Feb. 20 2012
Recently, I have watched a number of Shakespeare plays. I have enjoyed some of Branagh's productions.

Particularly the amazing Henry V (Widescreen), when he gives the famous speech at the Battle of Agincourt- "We few. We precious few. We band of brothers.' I liked the banter between his character Benedick, and Emma Thompson as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (Widescreen), and the romance between the two in Henry V.

I have also watched the BBC version of As You Like it starring Helen Mirren and James Bolam.

Now with As You Like It, Branagh movies it from its usual locale the forest of Arden in France, to Japan, and at the beginning introduces ninjas. In a nutshell, it's a love story and story of contrast between the courtly material life, and pastoral life, and when our main characters get disinherited or banished, they end up in the Forest of Arden living like Robin Hood in the golden age.

Rosalinde changes her name to Ganimede and disguises herself as a man, and her banished suitor Orlando does not recognise her. Now something unusual happens in the forest, people start wooing each other, and falling in love, Ganimede attracts the attentions of a local wench Phoebe, while Touchstone the magician has a thing for Audrey even if she is a bit of a slut, allegedly.

For me the Forest of Arden is like the superconscious mind, the magical place where all problems get solved, the forest of all possibillity. A greedy Duke experiences conversion at the forests edge, a wound from a lion instead of being fatal, becomes a catalyst for true love to unfold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's Kenneth Brannagh??? Oct. 12 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a good modern rendering of Shakespeare's play As You Like It. We have always liked Kenneth Brannagh's Shakespearean DVDs, and when we saw this on-line we were excited to get it. However, Brannagh is not actually acting in this movie - he just directed, and produced it. So, we were a little disappointed. Still, we are happy to have it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
131 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review? Simple. It's Beautiful!! Aug. 22 2007
By ashby1 - Published on Amazon.com
This movie is beautiful! That's right. That's my whole review.
There are stylised Komonos and rich 1890-ish Western costumes. A pallette of amazing reds, maroons and rose colors set against a magical green forest with ancient towering trees and exotic oriental marshes.
The romantic comedy element is all about being in love; being giddy with all consuming love. The Shakespearean words are edited short and crisp and are delivered naturalistically and effortlessly by the likes of Kevin Kline and Brian Blessed. Of the leads, David Oyelowo stands out as a very masculine and handsome leading man and Bryce Dallas Howard (an American) more that holds her own with the mostly British cast.
Perhaps due to Branagh's pruning of the text, I also found listening to, and understanding As You Like It just as effortless as the actor's delivery. I'm not an English teacher nor an Elizabethean scholar and this movie spoke to me, taking me on a wonderful escape. (NOTE: Make sure to watch all the way through the credits!)
It is obvious that Kenneth Branagh puts his whole soul into his movies. Thank you Kenneth!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just happy it's finally on film... Oct. 27 2007
By Rob Hollister, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Incredibly, this seems to be the first version of Shakespeare's masterpiece of comic wit, As You Like It, in 70 years - since Laurence Olivier's disappointingly dry and frilly 1937 production! If for no other reason, true fans of the Bard will be grateful to Kenneth Branagh for this latest effort, although many of his decisions as director left me scratching my head.

As for mixing the Forest of Arden with the world of Shogun, I was basically neutral. Let Branagh have his artistic license with that one, although I admit it did make the scene where Orlando is attacked by a lion somewhat surreal. (Which may be why it happens off stage in the play.) And sure, the cinematography and landscape are stunning, but what really disappointed me was the way Branagh and the cast chose to play the key roles. As You Like It contains three of Shakespeare's most brilliant major characters: Touchstone the Fool, Jaques the melancholy cynic, and the incomparable Rosalind.

Touchstone trails in brilliance only behind Feste from Twelfth Night, and Lear's Fool from that great tragedy, but sadly, many of his best lines are either cut out of this version, or delivered by Alfred Molina in such a way that he just seems morose. He partially rescues the role with his facial expressions and physical slapstick, but Touchstone can be much more than the rude court goof that he is here. Kevin Kline does fairly well with Jaques, but inexplicably, one of the greatest minor speeches in all Shakespeare ("All the world's a stage...") is delivered in a distant, wide-angle shot with virtually no emotion, so you can't even tell Kline is speaking the lines until the very last words. It seems like they're being read off camera. Last but not least, Rosalind. If you agree with Harold Bloom, Rosalind is one of Shakespeare's three most brilliant minds, in the upper pantheon with Hamlet and Falstaff. She can spar with anyone, and bends the entire cast of As You Like It to her will. While Bryce Dallas Howard admittedly has a big job to do, she just keeps failing to nail the part. Unquestionably lovely and captivating in some scenes, she never quite reaches that saucy, fiery spark that puts Rosalind so far beyond other Shakespearean heroines. It doesn't help that Branagh barely attempts to maintain the cross-dressing fiction of the plot, having Howard play the role with her hair down for half of the movie, and even bathing nude in a stream in one (invented) scene. As a viewer I had no complaints, but you have to go to great lengths to suspend disbelief enough to imagine that Orlando still thinks Ganymede is a boy.

All in all, a charming production and long, long overdue. Three stars just for bringing it to the screen, and another for trying to be creative, but in all his zeal to experiment with the setting, the dialogue, the casting, and the production of this film, Branagh seems to have forgotten that you really better be careful if you're going to try to be more clever than the Bard.
61 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the Forest of Arden ought to be just the Forest of Arden! Nov. 7 2007
By F. S. L'hoir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"As You Like It" is one of my favorite plays. Grounded in the tradition of Greco-Roman pastoral, the play asks the following question, via Jaques: If man, who is trying to escape the intrigues of court, escapes to the green cabinet of nature, will he not consequently bring the intrigues of court with him, and therefore ruin nature? Shakespeare answers this question, which seems very timely in our warming world of globalization, in the affirmative.

This film, which is peerlessly acted, gains nothing by its Japanese setting, which, admittedly scrumptious to behold, is merely distracting. I fully expected a mincing Gilbert & Sullivan chorus to break into "If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Japan, on every vase and jar, on every screen and fan." I have no objection to updating, nor to removing the setting to another location--or as Shakespeare would say, to another part of the forest. Such a removal was successful in Trevor Nunn's "Twelfth Night," which was set in a Cornish "Illyria." It was also done with delightful tongue-in-cheek in the 1960s' "Midsummer Night's Dream," which focused on a stately British home, labeled "Athens." Furthermore, I even suspended my disbelief when Brannagh set "Much Ado about Nothing" in Tuscany (partly because I love Italy). In none of these cases, did the change of setting disrupt the illusion. By placing "As You Like It"--most of which takes place in the fantastical "Forest of Arden" (to which the characters refer repeatedly)--in the historical context of a violent nineteenth-century Japan, Brannagh disrupts the magic as irrevocably as if he had placed the first scenes in the 1930s' Leni Riefenstall-inspired glamor of the Third Reich and then had everyone escape to the Forest of Bavaria, still calling it the Forest of Arden.

Because Brannagh has already burst the bubble of Shakespeare's magic, his final metatheatrical conceit, of having Rosalind deliver the epilogue (full of gender-bending innuendo, since the part was originally played by a boy playing a girl playing a boy) among the actors dressing-room caravans, falls flat. I also think that Brannagh's moving scenes around, his making cuts (Touchstone, one of Shakespeare's greatest clowns, got lost somewhere in the forest), spoiled the rhythm of the play which takes on an incantatory magic in the "And I for Phebe, And I for Ganymeade, And I for Rosalind, And I for no woman" scene between the pastoral Silvius and Phebe, and the lovers Orlando and Ganymede/Rosalind.

I am also cross with Kenneth Brannagh for recycling the ending which was delightful and far more effective in "Much Ado" ("Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more!"), complete with the actors dancing in circles--all viewed from above among cascading rose-petals (Perhaps they were cherry blossoms this time.).

On the plus side, English subtitles were available, and, as I said, the acting is excellent and Rosalind is more than lovely to look at, as are the costumes.

Although I am generally a great fan of Kenneth Brannagh, I do wish he had left the Forest of Arden in its magical land of nowhere.
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'All the world's a stage' Aug. 22 2007
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Kenneth Branagh, aside from being a gifted actor with an enormous range of creative character abilities, has once again brought Shakespeare to life on the screen. His previous excursions into the bard's repertoire have included 'Much Ado About Nothing', 'Henry V', 'Love's Labour's Lost', 'Hamlet', and 'Othello', and now he adds one of the bard's most successful comedies AS YOU LIKE IT to his list of successes. Branagh has the gift of making the visual aspects of Shakespeare's stories enhance the language and in doing so he makes Shakespeare sound like brilliant conversation (which it of course is) instead of stilted and brittle old English.

The 'gimmick' used here by Branagh in adapting Shakespeare's play is placing the action in 19th century Japan, and while other less sensitive directors might have opted to insert parody here, Branagh instead makes the story seem all the more plausible - the two feuding brothers (one dark and one light) whose struggle over their estate opens the play before credits with an ingenious silent drama of black leather feudal costumed men invading a genteel house party of lovely people enjoying a Japanese dancer's performance. The original brother is banished with his clan to the Arden forest and there the magic begins. Love between several couples is played in all its manifestations with disguise, misconceptions, lust, and poetry until the play's rollicking end in a song of Hey Nonny Nonny!

The lovers include the disguised Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Orlando (David Oyelowo), Celia (Romola Garai) and Oliver (Adrian Lester), the court fool Touchstone (a brilliant Alfred Molina) and Audrey (Janet McTeer), and Sylvius (Alex Wyndham) and Phoebe (Jade Jefferies). Brian Blessed plays the roles of both feuding brothers with style and authority, and Kevin Kline offers a fully realized Jaques - the character who is given the most memorable soliloquies in the play. The settings and imagery (Tim Harvey) are artistic and beautiful and captured with style by cinematographer Roger Lanser, and as with all of Branagh's production the music score (here by Patrick Doyle) is letter perfect and atmospheric.

But in the end the kudos go to Kenneth Branagh for his consistent courage and conviction that Shakespeare's plays are timeless, and his devotion to bringing them to the contemporary audience is to be applauded. This is a fine film - one to own! Grady Harp, August 07
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure joy July 22 2008
By Sheldon Polonsky - Published on Amazon.com
This is my first review at Amazon.com despite being a customer for countless years, but I felt compelled to add my praise to what is undoubtedly a very polarizing version of "As You Like It". Like other reviewers, this is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, for reasons that were not clear even to me until today. And like others, I was initially taken aback by the Japanese setting and conglomeration of styles and cast (I watched this on an airplane and initially thought I had chosen the wrong movie!). But as it went on, I fell in love with the diversity and power of the production. I had just come back from one of the most difficult trips and days of my life, and the theme that shone through most clearly to me in the movie--finding joy even in adversity--was just what I needed. The thought that this modern production of words penned by someone dead for 400 years uplifted me in a way I can hardly describe. It showed that some things--love, poetry, kindness, humor--can transcend all time and space. By the end I felt held in a place of pure joy, which I think is what has always drawn me to the Forest of Arden. If you are a purist, I can't promise you will love this, but if you want to be truly enraptured by the passion and wit of Shakespeare's words I cannot recommend it more highly.
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