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.
A little bit like the musical 1776 and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster, Hamilton,The Fourth of July is a theatrical celebration in honor of the United States of America.
That whole nativist thing doesn’t really fly– you know, as in “Immigrants get the job done”– although we might say, we are all immigrants. This is a country that started with a group of British subjects, not native to America, rebelling against their King and country across the seas.
They came as colonists to this land, as all immigrants do, to seek a better life. Economic and religious freedom, and opportunities are common denominators; this is what we all commonly seek for ourselves when we emigrate from one place to another.
This election year is reality TV, or, perhaps, unreality theater, unscripted and unwelcome in so many ways. The circus atmosphere in no way diminishes the importance of the choice we make on November 8th:
The people have spoken. Who says no one listens to you. You said you did not want professional politicians running the country. Congratulations. The tea party congress has consistently acted most …
Some of us are saying, this can’t be happening. Others are pleased to see it unfold as it has.
You don’t have to go very far afield to find someone who disagrees with your assessments. Such disagreements, like charity, often begins at home.
By Edwin S. Porter (YouTube) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This is the critic’s dilemma: if you cannot get those nearest and dearest to you to buy your point of view, how will you convince the larger public to accept your criticism. How do strangers feel about what you have to say? Can they trust your guidance? Will they?
Entertainment merits a very personal response. Let’s face it, there are many human beings involved in the giving and the getting.
The author creates characters, who, as anyone who has written knows, sometimes take off with their own stories. The actors, with the counsel of the director, people the plotlines and add spice and dimension. There are many other hands involved, designers of sets and lighting, sometimes musicians, and the helpful stage managers, in making a play the thing worthy of our time and attention.
The critic is the least of the equation. And like any audience, he/she is not passive. No one in theater seats is a blank slate, absorbing what the playwright, the actors, the designers, the director have put before them. You, and I, may react to something viscerally, or you may reject it outright. On a different day, and wearing a different outfit, I might respond differently to what I see. My interpretations are personal and individual, and subjective.
The theater is an all-encompassing experience. It creates great truths within a world of artifice. Theater is a fake that revelas the world as it is to us.
In theater, we see life as it is, as it should be, as we would like it to be. There is aspiration, expectation and instruction.
Theater teaches us who we are and who we ought to be. It exposes our foibles, shows off our wisdom. and demonstrates our humanity. It introduces us to the new and reintroduces us to the traditional and sometimes forgotten. Theater constructs and deconstructs. It fires and frees the imagination.
Theater is life writ large enough to play to the rear balcony. For those to whom it speaks, it is a siren call. It shouts and whispers.
Theater requires an audience. Or at least, it prefers to play to one. For best results, it must be witnessed. It mimics the everyday, imagines the unusual and unexpected.
A little bit about Tamara (& Burt) Beck, theater goers:
In just 5 (short) years of reviewing theater and dance, we’ve covered hundreds of performances. As advocates for theater, we are seldom completely impartial, but we try to find the best in everything we see. There’s always a kernal of an idea, a soupcon of a concept that is praise-worthy.