2 items from 2013
Sometimes, it takes a familiar face to put a face on a problem ... even one that is international in scope.
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank is no stranger to championing social causes, and she takes up another as she and "My Left Foot" Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn play the title roles in the HBO drama movie "Mary and Martha" Saturday, April 20. Written by Richard Curtis ("Love Actually," "Four Weddings and a Funeral") and filmed largely in South Africa, the BBC and NBC Universal co-production tells the story of two very different women who unite to crusade against malaria after both lose sons to the illness.
Mary (Swank) is an American who takes her child (Lux Haney-Jardine, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") away from bullying classmates for an "adventure" abroad, and Martha (Blethyn) is an Englishwoman whose son (Sam Claflin, "Snow White and the Huntsman") volunteers at an African orphanage. After both »
The TV movie remains in relative decline, which makes a weekend in which two high-profile versions with big-name stars and overt messages playing directly opposite each other especially noteworthy. It’s also instructive, in a compare-and-contrast sort of way, to consider why “Mary and Martha” — a moving return to intimate form for HBO — represents an emotionally stirring triumph, while Lifetime’s “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film” feels like an empty gimmick, an all-star marketing hook/public-service campaign in search of a movie.
After a stretch in which HBO has relied almost exclusively on attention-getting fact-based films like “Game Change” and “Phil Spector,” “Mary and Martha” harks back to when the service was content to tell great little stories — often with an agenda — that might not have been commercial enough to find a home elsewhere. And if one’s first thought is the 2005 gem “The Girl in the Cafe,” it »
- Brian Lowry
2 items from 2013
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