"Can one desire too much of a good thing?" asks Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard), the heroine in male drag of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," coming to HBO in a new production directed by Kenneth Branagh. In regard to the works of the man who wrote the play, the answer is: never.
For his fifth Shakespeare adaptation for the screen -- and the first in which he doesn't appear -- Branagh has set the action in late-19th century Japan, where, a title card explains, Western merchants "brought their families and their followers and created private mini-empires where they tried to embrace this extraordinary culture, its beauties and its dangers." This lets him bring in ninjas, sumo wrestling, rock gardens and martial arts -- to have his Zen and his Englishmen too. Still, if "all the world's a stage," as the melancholy Jaques (Kevin Kline) says, then one place is as good as another. Besides, most of it is just set in a forest.