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Serially entertaining

Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.

We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?

Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.

The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)

Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.

Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.

Posted in 2-hander, anger, bile, brutality, love story

Love Gone Drastically Awry in "Tender Napalm"

Explosive love affairs sometimes turn into even more explosive marriages.

In “Tender Napalm,” at 59E59 Theaters through September 9th, man and wife take turns abusing each other. Bombast and bragging rights are frank and fertile ground for the ugly wreckage of their marriage.

Ameila Workman and Blake Ellis in Philip Ridley’s “Tender Napalm”

They are embittered by the tragedy that has torn what love there may have been between them asunder. Their fighting and feuding goes well beyond the standard in its bile and brutality.

“Tender Napalm” is not an easy drama to watch or listen to, with its vituperations and imaginings. You don’t want to get caught in the crossfire between Amelia Workman’s and Blake Ellis’s angry characters. Their exchanges are toxically foul-mouthed, even in an era of shameless liguistic free-for-all.

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