Category Archives: film

Pulse Racing Events

Just when I thought the season was dull come some pulse racing events:
August Wilson’s THE PIANO LESSON, Ivo van Hove’s ROMAN TRAGEDIES, Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN and Joe Wright’s ANNA KARENINA.

Classics all, at least two, and possibly three of them are based on classics, Wilson’s play having achieved, with this fine production, that rank too. A play that illustrates Toni Morrison’s principles in PLAYING IN THE DARK, the Signature production features fine ensemble acting, a ghost or two as actors, and the stunning family collaboration of Berenice and Boy Willie in exorcizing the past.

ROMAN TRAGEDIES is a once in a lifetime event: 6 hours of Shakespeare, in Dutch that manages to lucidly present CORIOLANUS, JULIUS CAESAR, and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, defamiliarizing them through the necessary (it’s in Dutch!) use of ample video screens and audiences on the set to the tune of hundreds who come and go, as characters do, as the histories unroll.

One can only second widespread admiration for Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln: the role of a lifetime in a history lesson that comes alive through Tony Kushner’s lucid and affecting screenplay. ANNA KARENINA got some bad reviews but trust this Tolstoy lover when she says that this a great, visually stunning adaptation of a big baggy monster of a novel that allows the complexity of the male characters to come through, though it opts to make Anna a woman in love for whom love means self-immolation; she’s a woman who breaks the rules, knowingly and willingly but then lacks the strength to face the consequences.

Sub theme throughout: strong women, not least of whom are Cleopatra, Mary Todd Lincoln (I know her problems… but she’s a power), and Doris Kearns Goodwin who toughed out a minor scandal to inspire LINCOLN, the triumphant film.

Are you a Rolling Stones or a Beatles Fan? New Film Revives Old Question

David Chase’s Not Fade Away @NYFF revives the old question: are you a Rolling Stones or Beatles fan?  Filled with nostalgia for 1960s #rockandroll, it follows a young man through the end of high school and into college. In the background, Kennedy is assassinated and Vietnam unrolls. But he and his friends remain fixed on music, music, music.  David Chase denied at the Film Festival that it’s an autobiographical film.  But, like all first films, it’s autobiographical in feeling. In fact, Chase’s wife told him what the character’s girlfriend did:  Time is on your side—as it was.

Creator of The Sopranos, Chase got James Gandolfini and Steve van Zandt in the film—Gandolfini stars and van Zandt did the music. I met him when I auditioned for The Sopranos after a friend recommended me.  I did not get the part but liked Chase anyway. A fun film. Not a great one. But very evocative of the decade.