A scene from Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing opens this weekend at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. Whedon, of course, made last year's mega-blockbuster The Avengers, but turned to his modern twist on the Shakespeare classic for his follow-up. John Carpenter's 1982 classic The Thing will screen as Film Society's Midnight Movies offering this Friday, while European Film Awards winning animation Mia and the Migoo will play over the weekend in Family Films. Open Roads: New Italian Cinema has a lengthy program of new work, including Marco Bellocchio's Dormant Beauty and Maria Sole Tognazzi Cannes feature I Travel Alone.

Much Ado About Nothing (Opens Friday!)
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Joss Whedon (screenplay)
Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond

From the filmmaker that brought last year's biggest blockbuster to the screen, The Avengers, comes a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

The Guardian praised Whedon for creating the “first great contemporary Shakespeare since Baz Luhrmann's Rome and Juliet,” adding, “Whedon's key coup is in simply directing a very good version of the play. He's got a keen ear for comedy, a no-nonsense approach to ditching the gags that don't work, a deft hand for slapstick and an eagerness to use it. Just as with this summer's surprise smash, he assembled a crack squad of a cast, then dispatched them with purpose.

The Thing (Midnight Movies, Friday)
Director: John Carpenter

In this classic 1982 horror sci-fi, scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Roger Ebert had this to say about the movie: “The Thing is basically, then, just a geek show, a gross-out movie in which teenagers can dare one another to watch the screen. There's nothing wrong with that; I like being scared and I was scared by many scenes in The Thing. But it seems clear that Carpenter made his choice early on to concentrate on the special effects and the technology and to allow the story and people to become secondary.”

Mia and the Migoo (Family Films, Saturday + Sunday)
Director: Jacques-Rémy Girerd
Writers: Benoit Chieux (screenplay), Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Antoine Lanciaux, Stephanie Sheh, Iouri Tcherenkov
Cast: Dany Boon, John DiMaggio, Garance Lagraa, Charlie Girerd, Matthew Modine

In this 2008 animated feature, Mia has a premonition. After a few words of parting at her mother's grave, she sets out on a journey that takes her through mountains and jungles to search for her father, who is trapped in a landslide at a remote construction site.

Noted Variety: The film’s strongly coded imagery and supernatural concepts anticipated those in numerous higher-profile live-action pics: A year before the release of Avatar, helmer Girerd had similarly imagined an all-important Tree of Life threatened by man’s greed and stupidity. The innocent befuddlement and jumbled group dynamics of the mythical Migoo (especially as voiced by Wallace Shawn) sometimes echo the shenanigans of the beasties in Where the Wild Things Are.”

Dormant Beauty (Open Roads, Thursday + Friday)
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Writers: Marco Bellocchio, Veronica Raimo, Stefano Rulli
Cast: Toni Servillo, Isabelle Huppert, Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Maya Sansa

The feature, which will screen in Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, is a mosaic of several intertwined stories questioning the meaning of life, love and hope. It's set during the last six days in the life of Eluana Englaro, a young woman who spent 17 years in a vegetative state.

THR said of the film at last year's Venice Film Festival: “With typical intelligence and complexity, director Marco Bellocchio weaves three stories around the politically hot topic of euthanasia, turning a real-life Italian national drama into engrossing narrative for sophisticated audiences. Refusing to offer easy answers or perspectives, Dormant Beauty is directed in such a way it doesn’t need to take a clear-cut position on the question, because like all the director’s work it has no concern with convincing people of anything, but a great deal of interest in illuminating contemporary Italian society.”

I Travel Alone (Open Roads, Saturday, Tuesday + Wednesday)
Director: Maria Sole Tognazzi
Writers: Ivan Cotroneo, Francesca Marciano, Maria Sole Tognazzi
Cast: Stefano Accorsi, Henry Arnold, Eirik Bar, Alessia Barela, Margherita Buy

Also in Open Roads, I Travel Alone (Viaggio Sola) follows Irene, a single woman who is an inspector of luxury hotels. Always traveling, she indulges in expensive pleasures at top tier resorts, but always incognito and alone, only to take off to the next exotic destination with her laptop. When her best friend and ex Andrea, who has always been a source of support, is suddenly unavailable, she is thrown into a crisis. “Luxury is a form of deceit,” a fellow traveler tells her. And suddenly Irene journeys to find more in life.

In its Cannes review, THR said: “Margherita Buy (Habemus Papum) offers up a convincingly restrained performance that adds some depth, though little humor, to the proceedings, while Accorsi (Romanzo Criminale) is strong as her seductive and apprehensive buddy. Polished tech credits, including slickly lit photography by Arnaldo Catinari and uber-chic production design by Roberto De Angelis, handsomely capture all the snazzy locations, even if the film seems to be saying that such places are actually less appealing than they look.”