TV Room: ‘Fahrenheit 451’

Michael B. Jordan in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (HBO)

Indie director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo, 99 Homes) takes a detour into the land of splashy classic literature adaptations with his take on the great Fahrenheit 451, which premieres on HBO this Saturday.

My review is at The Playlist:

There’s a lot left out in this noisy and luridly shot but thin adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel. A prescient fable about the death of the imagination and individuality in the postwar war, it imagines a world where the houses have all been fireproofed and firemen race through nighttime streets looking for books to burn..

Here’s the trailer:

TV Room: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1’

The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale is out on DVD now. My review is at PopMatters:

A friend who didn’t know much about The Handmaid’s Tale, either the terrifying series or the even darker Margaret Atwood novel it was adapted from, was surprised when I called it an alternate history. All he knew was glimpses of the ads, which highlighted the show’s visual signature: Lines of meek-looking women shrouded in blazing red robes and face-hiding white bonnets. He thought it was some show about 17th century America. That’s by design. This is science fiction set in the future that looks to the past and magnifies the present…

Screening Room: ‘The Lost City of Z’

For his first cinematic venture outside of New York City, James Gray (The ImmigrantWe Own the Night) takes on an ambitious adaptation of David Grann’s nonfiction rain forest adventure epic, The Lost City of Z.

The movie opens this week. My review is at Film Journal International:

Gray’s movie tracks the obsessive search of British officer and accidental adventurer Percy Fawcett (Charles Hunnam) for proof of a vanished Amazonian city. Fawcett’s modest background keeps him back. Surprisingly, the Royal Geographic Society recruits him for a multi-year expedition with officer Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson, looking and acting slightly consumptive as usual) to map the uncharted border between Brazil and Bolivia. Eager to take the offer of “a grand adventure” to rescue his “ruined name,” Fawcett leaps into the unknown…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘1984’ Tonight

George Orwell started off Nineteen Eighty-Four this way:

It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

That day was April 4.

So in a backhanded compliment to Orwell’s ability to portend, shall we say, certain aspects of the modern political climate, theaters around the country are screening Michael Radford’s movie adaptation tonight. Check out the participating theaters here.

Screening Room: ‘High-Rise’

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Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise is opening this week in limited release and is already available on VOD. My review is at PopMatters:

Setting High-Rise in 1975, Ben Wheatley takes full advantage of what we remember from that time, the macramé, matted hairdos, condo living, and marital infidelity. But more important, the movie—based on J.G. Ballard’s bloody skewer of a 1975 novel and now available on VOD in the US—underlines the era’s capacity for antisocial mischief. Without today’s surveillance culture and social media, it’s easier for viewers to swallow the story’s basic conceit, that the inhabitants of a brand new luxury high-rise can, in mere months, whip up a self-contained, brutally violent maelstrom without anybody on the outside being any the wiser…

Here’s the trailer: