Screening Room: ‘The Father’

Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his play The Father is one of the year’s best-acted movies, thanks to Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins.

The Father is opening soon wherever movies play these days. Go find it. My review is at Slant:

A quietly terrifying drama about dementia, The Father starts off inauspiciously as a simple chamber piece in which a daughter spars in semi-comic exasperation with her retired father over his inability to live on his own anymore. Set in a tony London flat, the drama initially appears to take place inside the kind of tastefully cinematic milieu where nothing earth-shattering ever seems to happen. But before long, Zeller upends expectations by revealing the true depths of the father’s problems through dramatic perspective shifts that undermine any sense of cozy remove…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Una’

An adaptation of David Harrower’s play, BlackbirdUna is about what happens when a young woman tracks down the older man she had a relationship with when she was far too young and wants … well, it’s not sure precisely what she wants. But he thinks she’s about to burn his whole world down. and she just might.

Una opens this week in limited release. My review is at PopMatters.

Here’s the trailer.

Screening Room: ‘Fences’

fences-poster

Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s award-festooned play Fences essentially reconstitutes the cast of the rapturously received 2010 revival and transforms it into one of the year’s great films—not to mention a strong standard to follow for future dramatic adaptations.

Fences is playing now in limited release, and should open wider later in the month and also in the new year. My review is at PopMatters:

August Wilson’s Fences tells the tale of a black family in ‘50s Pittsburgh, centering on the clan’s domineering patriarch. It also resonates with a host of grandly American themes, from the bloody swell of history and race to the yawning gaps separating rhetoric and action, dreams and reality. It’s a big play, in other words, and requires considerable energy to bring it to life, on stage or screen…

Here’s the trailer.

Screening Room: ‘Macbeth’

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair / Hover through the fog and filthy air" (Weinstein Company)
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair / Hover through the fog and filthy air” (Weinstein Company)

It’s been awhile since anybody has dared make a film of the Scottish Play. Maybe the curse is finally over? In any case, you could do much worse than Michael Fassbender as the ambitious Thane and Marion Cotillard as the scheming Lady Macbeth.

macbeth1A new and very atmospheric Macbeth opens this week. My review is at Film Journal International:

Soaked in foggy Highland gloom, Justin Kurzel’s beautifully dour Macbeth is moody and violent to a fault. Nobody cracks a smile and there’s nary a drop of blood spilled that isn’t captured in slow-motion flight like an outtake from some Ridley Scott medieval sword-fest. That’s all on the page, of course. Nobody would say that the Scottish Play had to be done as comedy. But there’s a reason that some adaptations embed a bitter strain of farce amidst all the plotting, haunting, murder and madness. After all, its protagonists spend a good part of the play completely out of their heads and throwing an entire nation into civil war because of what some witches told them. While their delusions have real-life consequences, to take them entirely seriously is to risk missing at least part of the point…

Here’s the trailer: