Stranger Things Review

I’ve been away for over three months and that I apologize. I’ll get back to that but now the stranger_things_posterreview for my new favourite TV show. Again, like usually, spoiler-free.

STRANGER THINGS (2016)

Created by The Duffer Brothers

Starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer & Charlie Heaton

Synopsis: “When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.” (IMDb)

Few days ago I read a review of Suicide Squad where the writer complained about that there’s no more heart in filmmaking when everyone is just following same script and making same kind of superhero movies that have worked during the few last years. And I know what that person means. It’s all been about making money lately. Who gets the biggest opening, who hires the biggest starts, who has the biggest audience and especially who makes the most money. I’ve liked quite a few of those films but then again, I’ve kind of forgotten them almost immediately. On TV side there’s been amazingly great television lately but for some reason it’s glorious and looks amazing but it’s cold, dark, brutal, sad, violent and makes you feel dirty. To be honest, Stranger Things is also dark, actually very dark, especially literally and it is sad and a bit violent and people are dirty in it. It’s also cold in it. And brutal too, I guess. But what matters the most, it has huge, beating heart in the middle of it.

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When watching Stranger Things you can feel the love. Love towards filmmaking, 80’s, Spielberg, King, fairytales, good, old-fashioned good vs. evil. All those things that made you (or at least me) to fall in love with movies. That “larger than life” thing, you know? Besides that you can feel it, it is there to see in all those big and little details. You can easily see it in those photos of the set, how they look, how the setting is and obviously story owes so much to all those stories before it but yet again, it’s original and somehow weirdly fresh. And with a lot of twists.

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It’s always risky placing a kid in the centre of your film as child actor can easily ruin your story. It’s even riskier to put a bunch of them there but in Stranger Things all kids can carry their parts and even more. I loved every character, especially the lads in the center of it all and even more specifically Finn Wolfhard as Mike as he brought such maturity to the role that kind of variety might be hard to reach even for an adult. And none of these kids have THAT long careers behind them yet. And same goes for guys who created the show, Matt and Ross Duffer aka The Duffer Brothers. As directors both of them (they’re twins) have four (!) credits in IMDb. Not much. So kudos to them; well done! I wonder if they’re both married. :p

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The Duffer Brothers

Back to Stranger Things. Besides the great cast (only Winona Ryder was a bit too much for me from time to time), set decoration, all production design is basically flawless (surely some have already found flaws); it feels like you’ve watching some strange and much, much scarier E.T. And on that mark, do remember to give this excellent series its whole credit and watch it in dark after the sun has set. And how fun it is to spot all those popular culture references? At least to me it never gets old.

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What else? Nothing really, just watch it. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t liked it. To me it was total 5/5. The best new series since Sherlock (I watched that later than GoT). I don’t know how Netflix manages to do this, finding such talents, but I do hope they will continue doing it.

Rating: ***** (out of same amount)

 

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The Best of the Best – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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I was thinking of saving this for later when MCU is ready with its plan but they probably will continue making those films as long as there’s audience for them, so as I really liked new Cap America, let’s list things to celebrate the success of Marvel!  So far there have been 13 films that are part of phases one, two and three. Obviously there are tons of other films that are Marvel branded, e.g. X-Mens but I will only include films surrounding The Avengers.

avengers-age-ultron-hulk-mark-ruffaloUsually I have in my Best of the Best lists some bubbling-unders and will do that this time too. Though there are only three of them. I’m not a big fan of The Incredible Hulk, the whole Hulk-thing didn’t work for me at all until Mark Ruffalo came along. He’s genious. So that is on the bottom of the bunch and next up is Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s way too American for my taste. Plus Cap is kinda boring. And unfortunately I have to leave Ant-Man out of the final Top-10. I love Paul Rudd but that film was just ok.

10)

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Captain America: Winter Soldier

This is really hard as I’m a fan of the whole universe and all these films are entertaining enough and often more. Well, Cap, until the last chapter, has been way too oldie goldie for me and thus this is my number 10 pick.

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Thor

I love, love, love Loki as many of you might know but if you take him away from Thor films, they are not very entertaining. Especially the first one.

8)

RASPUTIN

Iron Man 2

Perhaps. I just checked and I’ve given all three Iron Man movies 8/10 at IMDb. So… I don’t know.

7)

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Iron Man

Yeah. Still don’t really know.

6) iron-man-3-poster-ben-kingsley

Iron Man 3

Right now it feels like I enjoyed this one the best, I really liked Ben Kingsley’s character.

5)
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Thor: The Dark World

Loki. And London is a plus. But mainly Loki.

4)
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Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s a bit messy and too much but I just love it when they’re all together. And Hawkeye’s storyline worked for me. And it was a bit sad too which is usually nice touch to this kind of action films.

2) dancing_groot_gif

Guardians of the Galaxy

It’s basically tie between this and number two but like said, I love my avengers, so Star Lord and his crew lost. Then again that killer soundtrack gives it an edge. It’s a tie.

2)

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Captain America: Civil War

Like said and like I wrote few days ago, the latest installment to the series is a great one! Go see it! Spidey! Whose side your on?

1) Loki_Empire_header

The Avengers

But it does not beat the original. Josh Whedon is king of this film, the script is absolutely great. And you know; Loki. 😉

What do you think? What’s your favourite?

London Film Festival – Trumbo & Beasts of No Nation reviews

odeonSo, I visited London. Didn’t get to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet but I did see some other celebrities. Domnhall Gleeson was photographed, I guess for some magazine based on the styling, in Soho in some random street corner and stars were taking part to premieres of films. I went to see two films; Beasts of No Nation and Trumbo. The first one had its first LFF screening on Thursday 6th of October and I happened to be in that screening that was also the UK premiere. That meant that the lead actor, Abraham Attah, the writer of the original book, Uzodinma Iweala, AND the director, whom I’ve mentioned before, Cary Fukunaga, were also present. No complaints there.beasts-of-no-nation

BEASTS OF NO NATION (2015)

Directed by Cary Fukunaga

Written by Cary Fukunaga & Uzodinma Iweala

Starring Abraham Attah & Idris Elba

Synopsis (IMDb): A drama based on the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.

Beasts of No Nation is 10 years old passion project for Mr. Fukunaga but it’s as relevant today at it was 10 years ago which is really sad. Fukunaga said in introduction that this film should be felt more than watched and I agree. There are no huge special effects or something extraordinary how it looks or anything that hasn’t been made before. But as Fukunaga said, he wants to make films that can change the views. There isn’t really a message in Beasts of No Nation but no one can watch this film and not somehow get moved by it. Or you are able to do so, I would be concerned.

Abraham Attah is amazing as Agu. According to his own words, he was just playing football when Fukunaga came to tell him and others that there’s an audition. He thought it was for playing football. This is the very first time the Ghanaian boy is acting but he’s simply great. And he even said that it wasn’t hard to do. That’s natural talent then.

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And if Attah is great, so is always good Elba. He plummets in the skin of the commander of the group of child soldiers. And what is the most brilliant in his work, the character, even he is basically the base of the bad, is never inhuman. I think I actually kind of liked him. And that’s scary if anything. I do hope he’ll get an Oscar nomination for the role. As well as Attah, he is that good.

Besides directing, Fukunaga also wrote the script and shot the film himself. The imagery looks beautiful. One would not think that when surrounded by that kind of nature, man would still be capable of such horrible things. I also enjoyed the music, it carried the film and popped out in good ways. The story could have been richer or maybe more dramatic but on the other hand, I appreciate it that Fukunaga kept it small as now everything you see, feels, unfortunately, very true.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Beasts of No Nation will be out in Netflix on October 16th world-wide! Watch it!

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TRUMBO (2015)

Directed by Jay Roach

Written by John McNamara & Bruce Cook

Starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning,  Louis C.K., John Goodman & Helen Mirren

Synopsis: The successful career of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, comes to an end when he is blacklisted in the 1940s for being a Communist.

I actually liked Trumbo more than Beasts of No Nation and it makes me feel horrible. Trumbo does have a proper true story that it is based on but it’s all gone and it’s horribly entertaining and I laughed a lot. “Beasts” is just so much more important. Guess at least the fact that I feel bad tells that Beasts managed to have an effect on me. But back to Trumbo…

First of all, give Cranston an Oscar nom! He is Trumbo. Love him. Helen Mirren was quite over-the-top like I heard but she’s just so good that it doesn’t matter. I also enjoyed performances of Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Roger Bart, David James Elliott, Dean O’Gorman etc. You get the picture, everyone is good. I don’t really have any complaints about this film. Except that. It’s a bit too perfect. It looks like the era before WWII. Clean and steady. The film itself starts right about there but ends much later.

After my stupid complaint, I have to say that I would probably gladly watch this film right now even though I just saw it. It’s very good. And interesting. It looks fab, the script is worth of an Oscar nomination; it’s hilarious but at the same time I did have tears in my eyes. And to a European, it’s kind of always funny to make fun of “true Americans”, in this case I especially enjoyed jokes about John Wayne, he’s so over-rated.

See this film. It’s good. No idea when it opens anywhere.

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

And back to the fact that I didn’t see Benedict Cumberbatch. But I got the second best thing. Or the first. Can’t make up my mind. Anyway, I did see Tom Hiddleston:

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And loads of hearts to him, he seems as genuinely lovely guy that you get from his appearances anywhere. He stayed there for ages to talk to the fans, taking photos and signing autographs. And o’boy, he’s tall! ❤

TIFF #2 – The Oscars 2016 Update vol. 3

Finally. Toronto Update 2. And the Oscars 2016 update 3. Or basically 4 because I believe that The Martian will get multiple nominations. So, which films triumphed at TIFF? Same that triumphed at the earlier festivals already. Mostly Room and Spotlight. The latter has become the forerunner for the best picture and the first got People’s Choice Award at Toronto that usually goes to films like 12 Years a Slave or Slumdog Millionaire (both winners of the Best Picture Oscar). I already wrote both of the films, read it here!

Beautiful Elizabeth Olsen

Tom Hiddleston hot as hell

Anything new then? Well, yes, but nothing really spectacular. I Saw the Light, that I hoped would be fantastic, plummeted. Too bad because it apparently still includes great performances from Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen.

Jean-Marc Vallée’s  (Dallas Buyers Club) Demolition got bumped to 2016 and according to Rotten Tomatoes it stinks (53%). It also, like I Saw the Light, has solid work from Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role. Denis Villeneuve’s (Prisoners) Sicario then again might be one to get some nominations despite the fact that it is supposedly quite dark and gritty. Emily Blunt might have a chance in crowded Best Actress category and Benicio Del Toro his in Supporting Actor. Might. I kind of doubt it but we’ll see. Trailer beneath. Sicario is out around Europe and US now or soonish.

Another transgender flick besides The Danish Girl (talked about it here) this year is About Ray which, according to people, who saw it in Toronto, is too light-hearted to be taken seriously enough. Elle Fanning is good in it but I doubt it helps to gain an Oscar nomination this year when a lot of ladies are giving their best works. And one other film that deals with minority issues (same heritage rights to same-sex couples) is Freeheld, led by always good Julianne Moore and supported by Ellen Page. Unfortunately the film itself doesn’t carry. Michael Shannon in another supporting role is said to be great too. But again, that is probably not enough. But you never know.

Michael Moore screened his new documentary at TIFF too. Where to Invade Next is a flick about how Moore will in the name of the USA invade other countries to get their best stuff to his country. My Finland is there as well as punch of others. I’m not sure it the film already has a distributor but if it does, it’s a candidate for documentary nomination.

Ok, let’s save rest of TIFF stuff, the better half, I think, to the next post. Check out my updated predictions here and stay tuned.

Oh, another big player was revealed today when The Big Short, film starring small names like Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, will premiere at AFI Fest. I do hate those hairstyles a lot but the story is a true story based on same author’s, Michael Lewis, book who wrote The Blind Side and Moneyball (both Best Picture nominees. According to Variety’s Kristopher Tapley The Big Short “as I hear it, could be an awards play for Christian Bale and particularly Steve Carell, with other hopes for best picture and best adapted screenplay lingering.” Trailer with horrible hairs:

Films of the Week Vol. 8

"only lovers left alive"That headline is a big lie. It should be more like “films of the month and some”. I’ve been horribly lazy to watch movies lately. I’ve been hooked to Friends once again and overly busy in real life. But let’s still review the ones I’ve seen in cinema since last time I reviewed a film.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

directed by Jim Jarmusch
written by Jim Jarmusch
starring Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston

only_lovers_left_alive_ver3_xlgThis is again one of those that I would probably have missed if not Tom Hiddleston (am I starting to sound too much of a fan girl?). But I’m still glad I went to see it. Only Lovers Left Alive is dark, kind of gloomy, very atmospheric and sophisticated looking film. The director, Jim Jarmusch, is by no means my favourite kind of director. Maybe he is too, I don’t know, smart for my taste? I do appreciate his sense of style but I don’t find it very appealing. And this one has the same problem. How do you identify to two ages of old vampires?

Only Lovers Left Alive has some poignant themes about the world and how we treat it but as Adam, our male lead, is annoyingly depressed and all the time longing for his better half, Eve, it gets a bit boring and at least I didn’t really care what happens to them. Their lives seemed irrelevant. Maybe that is the difference between humans and vampires, we thrive to actually live. There’s not exactly anything wrong with the film, it just too much is. Nothing is happening. I did enjoy the mood and if I’d had at least a glass of red wine (and maybe some illegal substances) it would have been more enjoyable. In cinema, I struggled to stay awake. But the mood is still superb. It kind of invites the viewer in. And the music works magic. And it doesn’t harm to see shirtless Hiddleston basically most of the time when he’s on-screen. And I admire Tilda Swinton, she’s so effortless yet somehow awkward at the same time.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Captain-America-2-PosterCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Ed Brubaker, Joe Simon (comic book) & Jack Kirby (comic book)
starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson,  Robert Redford & Sebastian Stan

 

 

First I need to point out couple of things. I don’t do comic books, so all of the movies related to them are news to me. I don’t know what is about to happen and I don’t know how well they are executed from the original source. Secondly, I didn’t like the first part.

I don’t know what it is about the Cap. Or Chris Evans, perhaps. I’ve never actually liked him. I have nothing against him but there is just something missing but it is very hard to point out what. I did like this interview of him, though. I kind of hope they would stop making Captain America movies but because the last one has IMDb score of 8.2 and is in top-250 at #203, so I doubt they will stop. I just have to endure.

The movie is not bad. But it’s not good either. I actually gave it a better grade that I think it deserves now. I don’t remember much of it. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow has much more screen time than in previous films. But I don’t care that much of her character either, so… Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks very good. And it does have some nice gags but the tone in general is quite serious. And the Winter Soldier himself is okeish. I don’t know. It’s alright but nowhere near as entertaining as Iron Men or The Avengers. Or Thors. I need some Stark or Loki on my screen, I guess.

Rating: ***½ 

2615607-captain-america-the-winter-soldierNoah (2014)

directed by Darren Aronofsky
written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel
starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman & Emma Watson

noah_posterA friend of mine detested this film. Noah made her really angry. I still don’t know why exactly. Guess she thought that Noah, as a character, is very much like those people today that justify their doings because God said so. I kind of understand her point but I didn’t see Noah as that black and white. In the end there is remorse, there is this wider picture of it all.

But as you can see above, Aronofsky has again done something controversial without actually trying too much. Usually when people want to do controversial stuff (Michael Moore, anyone?), it’s obvious but Aronofsky, as a director, just happens to do so. And for that, I admire him. But when it comes to Noah. Well, I don’t know. It goes to the same bunch with the previous ones (and please, don’t get me wrong, they’re totally different kind of films but all of them were quite meh), nothing spectacular here. It does beautiful_emma_watsonlook beautiful and I especially enjoyed the dream sequences. Crowe is good and they just are amazingly good couple with Connelly. Emma Watson has some very annoying mannerisms (check the scene in the end, that gazing…) but she’s very beautiful and I liked her hairstyle throughout the film.

All in all, the whole cast does a solid job. Technical aspects are not that solid though, CGI looks crap at some scenes. Really bad. Story is told like it is told in the Bible which is admirable, I think. So, yeah, watch it if you’re interested in the subject, otherwise you can skip it. Whatever. I don’t recommend it to people with ophidiophobia. I couldn’t put my feet down for the rest of the film.

Rating: ***

Spring Rambling

springGosh, it’s been forever since I posted anything! Over a month! But for my excuse, I’ve been awfully busy and also sick, so basically exhausted. I didn’t think of writing anything today but I read some of my favourite bloggers blogs for the first time for a long time and I realised how much I actually missed this world! So, thanks to all of you who write the best blogs ever. My e-mail is full of mails that reminds me to read your posts but I just haven’t had time to properly read them and I don’t want to do it in a glance. You all deserve proper attention.

I’m just going to ramble about life in general this time. I’ll get back to films the next time I’ll post something. 🙂 As it has been that I’ve watched something like three films during the last month. All of them in cinema, thankfully, but still! THREE. Pathetic. But I’ve watched some “classy” television like The Vampire Diaries, Friends and Pretty Little Liars. Yeah, I know. But that shows how tired I’ve been. All of my energy has basically gone to the school work and actual work too. Too much of both of them. So, nothing educational to me. And that is also the reason why I haven’t started watching new season of Game of Thrones either. It also deserves proper attention. But I will, soon! I promise. gameofthrones

Thankfully, spring is here. Finally. It’s still a bit grey, we don’t have leaves on the trees yet but at least it’s been sunny for the last four days or so. It’s still a bit cold (7 degrees in celsius) but still definitely spring. And it means that the school year is coming to end. We have only two semesters here, so the end of the term is in three weeks. Yay! I just finished this big marketing report that we did for local arthouse cinema today. We started it already in October, so getting it done is a huge thing. I’m so relieved. So, only few more exams, couple of presentations and a lot of essays of international law and I’m done! And quite well, I have to admit, I got a lot more credits that is expected of me. But I need them to get to the exchange school I want to.

partyWork-wise I’ve been bartending a lot lately. My colleagues are taking their holidays and that means I’m filling up for them. A bit too much to think that I still have school. But I can’t wait to get to summer when I only have to think of pouring those beers. I also have a new roommate and even though I’ve known him for 10 years it has taken quite a lot to get our habits to work together. But it’s good now. We even had a party that celebrated his housewarming and my birthday (I’m actually 34 years old now… that’s a lot, huh?).

Yeah, I don’t know if this was interesting to anyone but I’m glad I wrote something. Stay tuned, I’ll wrote short reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Only Lovers Left Alive (I didn’t get Hiddleston himself as a birthday gift but I did get a lot of messages including his pictures 😀 ) and Noah the next time. Thanks for reading this rambling!

P.S. I also managed to do one thing on my list of 101 Things; bought earrings and wore them for a day. In the spirit of Captain America:earrings

 

NT Live Presents: Coriolanus

National Theatre Live Presents

Coriolanus

Directed by Josie Rourke
Written by William Shakespeare
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss & Deborah Findlay

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Short description: “Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s later plays; believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608 (the latter end of that scale being thought more likely). Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, Coriolanus straddles two genres; it is a tragedy, but it could also be described as a history play. However, it is labelled as a tragedy and is, in fact, Shakespeare’s last great political tragedy. Moreover, it is considered by some to be Shakespeare’s only ‘exclusively’ political play.

It tells of the life of Roman warrior and leader Gaius (Caius) Marcius, who is given the name ‘Coriolanus’ after his bravery during the siege of Corioli, a Volscian city (an event that is depicted within the play).” (Source)

This was my first time to see a play in cinema. And my second time to see an actual Shakespearean play, the other one being one played by high school students about 16-17 years ago and of course in Finnish. I have, of course, seen films based on Shakespeare, some of them even spoken in the original language. But I’ve never seen proper Shakespearean play on a stage. And of course, this was not actual theatre either but at least somewhat close to it. Kind of. I haven’t written theatre review since high school either so this might not have that much content but bear with me.

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I promised to write this review in my first post of Man of the Day and let’s admit it; I went to this play because of Tom Hiddleston. And thankfully I did so. If in the beginning of the play, I was a fan of Hiddleston the Loki, after the play I am a fan of Hiddleston, the great stage actor. He is truly good. I wept with him. This is quite weird considering that in a play you don’t usually get that close to the actors that you could actually feel the pain. At least I haven’t before. Then again, I felt for Coriolanus. To me the character is a misunderstood hero. I read some pieces of Coriolanus on the web afterwards and it seems that he is much debated. But as a huge fan of truth and outspokenness, I could not help but admire him. And Hiddleston portraits the character perfectly.

Deborah Findlay Volumnia Photo by Johan PerssonBecause I’m not that familiar with nuances of theatre acting, I’m not suitable to say if someone overacted or not. I liked the character of Aufidius portrait by Hadley Fraser and I hated the characters of Sicinia (Helen Schlesinger) and Coriolanus’ mother, Volumnia (Deborah Findlay) but I assume that when I bother to hate a character that must mean that the actors are doing a good job. Especially the mother made me angry. Leave your children be! People should make their own lives to count so they don’t have to live through their heir.

Besides the actors I liked the production a lot. The staging of this kind of a play could easily get very messy; a lot of war, blood, Roman accessories etc. Basically too much of everything. But instead of that, Rourke has decided to go to opposite direction and there are only latters and chairs on the stage. Very effective. Colours, written word and lights are used to underline the story. I liked it a lot. The music worked too.

TomHiddlestonCoriolanusTo me, the biggest problem was, obviously, the language. They have subtitles but unfortunately they are so low on the screen that if you want to read them it is hard to follow the faces of the players. So, I stopped reading them and after a while I did get into the flow of the language. Of course there were a lot of unknown words to me but “thee”, “thou”, “hast” didn’t sound so weird in the end. I should start reading those plays of the master that I have lying on my bookshelf.

This was a new experience in a familiar setting. And I enjoyed it a lot. I will go see another play this way again, I’m sure. And I’m also sure that I want to see some Shakespearean play when going to London in the end of summer. Any recommendations?

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

P.S. As a fangirl note; have any of you ever noticed how perfectly shaped bottom Mr T Hiddy has?