My only caution about The Father, the extraordinary new film starring Anthony Hopkins and written and directed by Florian Zeller, based on his play, is that if you have are dealing with a loved one struggling with dementia, its stark depiction of a man whose memories have been ravaged by the disease may simply be too painful to watch.
For me, it has been several years since my dad was alive, though i remember his struggles with dementia vividly. Perhaps because I recall my dad's condition so vividly, I found The Father to be revelatory - Hopkins is amazing as his character strains to understand past and present, and the film does a remarkable job of making us feel his confusion and how unmoored from reality he is. The supporting cast - Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, and Mark Gatiss - is first rate, shading their constantly roles in a way that keeps Hopkins- and us - off-balance.
The Father is as powerful a depiction I can imagine of the human cost of dementia; it makes us not just understand elements of the disease, but to feel it emotionally. But again, a warning - it simply may be too painful for some to watch.
I finally caught up with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the film adaptation of the 1982 August Wilson play that is part of his 10-play cycle depicting various parts of the African-American experience. The film, co-produced by Denzel Washington, is a fictionalized depiction of a 1920s recording session of a real-life blues singer, Ma Rainey, and her band.
Played with raw gusto by Viola Davis, Ma Rainey is willful, proud, defiant, and angry - she is painfully aware that her race both defines and limits her art. The fact that the recording session is being run by two white men - who manage to both cater and condescend to her at the same time - infuriates her, and the rage inhabits every line reading and every lyric. The late Chadwick Boseman, in his final film role, plays Levee Green, a trumpeter with a high opinion of his own talent and potential; but, because he also is Black, it remains to be seen whether his self-regard is inflated or realistic.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a terrific film - written by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson - that is yet another piece of 2020 filmmaking that helps to illuminate elements of the Black experience. Along with One Night in Miami and Judas and the Black Messiah, it is an example of film as art form. Great work by all.
The recent passing of Larry McMurtry prompted me to find the 1989 TV adaptation of his "Lonesome Dove" online, and I'm happy to tell you that it is good old-fashioned entertainment. Its eight hours' playing time unfolds at a leisurely pace that would be almost impossible to replicate today - picturesque Western vistas and small but character-illuminating subplots give the actors time to breathe and imbue their iconic characters with a dusty, leathery sense of time and place.
It actually is extraordinary how many of the actors - Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Chris Cooper and Diane Lane (so young in "Lonesome Dove" that I didn't realize it was her) - are still with us; of the leads, only Robert Urich has passed away (he died in 2002).
It takes a bit of a time commitment to watch "Lonesome Dove," but if you're in the mood for something elegiac, I recommend it.
Finally … several years ago, a TV series based on the film Three Days of the Condor and its source material, the novel "Six Days Of The Condor," was released on a streaming network called Audience. Don't kick yourself if you've never heard of it - neither had I.
But now, the series - shorted to "Condor" - ids available on Epix, and I have to say it is pretty good - the times we live in call out for a good conspiracy thriller, and the adapted "Condor" serves up an healthy dose of paranoia leavened by a kind of precarious apprehension. Max Irons takes the Robert Redford role, and he makes it his own, and a supporting cast of Brendan Fraser, William Hurt, Mia Sorvino and Bob Balaban certainly has me guessing about allegiances and duplicities.
Check it out. I think you'll be as engaged as I've been.
The weather is warming, the patio furniture has been brought out, and so it must be time for rosé … which is why we found ourselves the other evening enjoying the 2019 Rosé del Borro - delicate and crisp and delicious. Plus, it comes from Tuscany … which I find myself thinking about constantly since watching "Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy" on CNN.
That's it for this week. I hope you have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.
Stay safe. Be healthy.