5 items from 2017
The shock feels less than shocking and the awe less than awesome in Rob Reiner’s righteously motivated but clunkily executed exposé of media manipulation in the run-up to the Iraq War, a distributor-seeking drama which premiered Friday at the Zurich Film Festival, before the left-leaning director’s last political foray, “Lbj,” has even reached theaters. While its message, literally spelled out in an opening quote about the necessity of a free press in a true democracy, should sing with resonance in today’s divided social climate, the comfortable filmmaking sands its potential relevance down to a polished, unprovocative sheen. Romantic subplots, exposition-heavy conversations and underdeveloped secondary characters further contribute to a remove that’s at odds with the still-raw recent history the film tracks.
With elements of courtroom drama and high-level corruption investigation mixed into the heroes’ journey of four crusading reporters pursuing the truth about WMDs and Iraq when so many others became mouthpieces for »
- Jessica Kiang
Frantic Beauty Conceived and directed by Ximena Garnica and Shige Moriya Presented at Bam Fisher, NYC September 14-17, 2017
Frantic Beauty, the third installment of multidisciplinary artists Ximena Garnica and Shige Moriya’s five-part Becoming Series, offers up a challenging piece of experimental dance theater. Choreographed with and performed by the Leimay Ensemble (Masanori Sahara, Krystel Copper, Derek Dimartini, Omer Ephron, and Mario Galeano), it takes as its theme what its creators describe as "beauty, frantically calling out from its captivity." In doing so, the production seeks to unsettle the boundaries of the beautiful.
The performance opens with its quintet of dancers criss-crossing in front of a single, audience-facing light in the otherwise completely dark and unadorned black space of Bam’s Fishman Space. The dancer’s bodies are segmented by, rise above, and fall below planes of light, inaugurating a play with light and shadow that carries throughout. At other points, »
- Leah Richards
NBC’s “This Is Us” pulled out a big win with the last award of the night — the guest drama actor win for Gerald McRaney. The same was true for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Alexis Bledel prevailed for guest drama actress.
“Saturday Night Live,” the venerable NBC sketch comedy, also took five wins, including comedy guest actor and actress awards for Dave Chappelle, as host, and Melissa McCarthy, for her guest appearances as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“Stranger Things” took the drama series casting kudo — a category that is often a bellwether for program wins at the televised Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, which is set for Sept. 17. HBO’s “Big Little Lies” won for casting for a limited series.
- Cynthia Littleton
Ascending queens Elizabeth (“The Crown”) and Victoria (“Victoria”) face off in the Emmy race for Series Original Dramatic Score, while old Hollywood (“Feud: Bette and Joan”) counters Russian classicism (“Fargo”) for Limited Series, Movie, or Special Dramatic Score.
Meanwhile, political (“House of Cards,” Taboo”) and survival overtones (“Planet Earth II” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events”) clash in the Series category, as well as war (“Five Came Back,” “The White Helmets,” “Suite Française”) and culture (“O.J.: Made in America”) in the other category.
Not surprisingly, the odds are with Rupert Gregson-Williams (“The Crown”) and last year’s “Mr. Robot” winner, Mac Quayle (“Feud”), for their respective retro scores. While Williams reached for orchestral nobility, Quayle went for more orchestral glam.
- Bill Desowitz
Among the more diverse Emmy groupings that were revealed on Thursday’s nominations announcement: the brand new Outstanding Music Supervision award, which featured three women among the five episodes in contention. Netflix and HBO rule the category, with each up for two — Netflix’s “Master Of None” and “Stranger Things,” and HBO’s “Girls” and “Big Little Lies” — while AMC’s “Better Call Saul” rounds out the group.
Some 75 shows were submitted for the category, which music professionals and fans alike have long complained was overlooked in the Emmy race. In May, Michael A. Levine, one of the Academy’s two music governors, explained that, “The job of music supervision has evolved, from what was once primarily an administrative task to becoming a creative and artistic one.”
Indeed, beyond the complexities of licensing and clearances for recorded tracks, which can easily push a music budget to over $1 million if songs by top-tier artists are used, the »
- Shirley Halperin
5 items from 2017
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