Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch this weekend, including the screen adaptation of “Hamilton,” the semi-biographical “Shirley,” starring Elisabeth Moss and “American Woman,” a new take on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard and CP24 anchor Leena Latafat have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the much anticipated small screen version of the big Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the semi-fictional psychological drama of “Shirley” and “American Woman,” loosely based on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Todd Van Der Heyden to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the small screen version of the big Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the semi-fictional psychological drama of “Shirley” and “American Woman,” loosely based on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to help fill the hours during the pandemic, including the crime documentary series “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a tip of the hat to Tom Cruise on his birthday, the surreal and sweet “Forever” on Amazon Prime and a rave review for “Hamilton.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Disney+ presentation of “Hamilton,” the most popular musicals of recent years, the psychological drama of “Shirley” and the crime thrillers “American Woman” and “Strange But True.”
In the now-shuttered world of musical theatre the name “Hamilton” is said in hushed reverential tones. The groundbreaking show, which mixes-and-matches hip hop, R&B, pop, soul and traditional show tunes to tell the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, was called “the phenomenon of the season, perhaps of a generation,” by Forbes. Its appeal to a younger audience, who packed NYC’s Richard Rodgers Theater night after night, gave Broadway a desperately needed shot in the arm and at one point the show was responsible for more than 5% of the Broadway districts total gross.
A new, filmed version, headed by creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, offers up a chance for people who couldn’t afford to blow a mortgage payment on tickets to the original production, to watch the show from the comfort of their Disney+ stream.
The movie, shot in June 2016 at the height of “Hamilton”-mania is anything but hushed or reverential. The show, which features a diverse cast including Black, LatinX and Asian actors to tell the story described as being about “America then, as told by America now,” is passionately political, raucously rebellious and emotionally deep. “Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” Miranda sings in a phrase that could be about the musical as much as it is Hamilton’s personality.
A toe-tapping history lesson, the show details the American Dream life of Hamilton, from an outsider born to unwed parents on the Caribbean island of Nevis to war hero to George Washington’s Revolutionary War aide, and, as first Secretary of Treasury under Washington’s administration, the founder of America’s economic system. It’s a bootstrap story about legacy, reputation, honor and if that wasn’t enough, there’s an extra-marital affair and, of course, the fateful duel with Aaron Burr.
Director Thomas Kail, who also directed the show’s Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, keeps the camera work to a minimum, simply and effectively capturing the show from a front row center perspective. It’s handsome work that tries to preserve the integrity of the live presentation while still creating a kind of cinematic experience.
As far as the show goes, what the filmed “Hamilton” presents is a moment in time when the musical lived at the very center of pop culture. The original cast, including Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs and Jonathan Groff among many others, are working a peak form. As a document of a special show the filmed version doesn’t add anything to the presentation, but perhaps that’s the point. Miranda’s daring, genre busting show speaks for itself, often with beautiful tongue-twisting wordplay, and doesn’t need flashy cinematic theatrics to bolster what is already a provocative and timely story of creating a union where none existed.
David Gordon Green has one of the strangest careers in Hollywood.
He made his name directing keenly observed art house films about life in the rural South like “George Washington’ and “Undertow.” They are rich with details, if sketchy story wise.
He’s probably better known, however, as the filmmaker behind the ribald comedies “Eastbound & Down” and “Your Highness.”
His career is a study of contrasts, of high art and low culture. His latest, “Joe,” rests somewhere in the middle. Like his early work it’s a Southern Gothic, set in a rugged small town where rusted pick-ups are a prized possession and there’s only work when the sun is shining. The outrageous humor of his comedies is absent, but what “Joe” lacks in laughs, it makes up for in story.
Nicolas Cage is Joe Ransom, foreman of a work crew who poison healthy trees so a forestry company can come in, raze the area and raise more valuable saplings. He’s also an ex-con, constantly struggling with a volatile temper.
When he meets and hires fifteen-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) he finds a kindred soul, a damaged kid with a drunken violent father (Gary Poulter). Gary is a hard worker—the main breadwinner for his drifter parents—and looks to Joe as a role model.
Emotionally involved, Joe puts himself in the middle of a father-and-son conflict.
Like Green, Cage’s career is marked with high highs and low lows. “Joe” sees him hand in his best performance since “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans.” He’s not exactly understated here, but he is textured and nuanced, giving Joe some real depth. The histrionics that earned him the nickname “Ragin’ Nic Cage” are mostly absent, replaced by an actor who convincingly portrays a raw nerve of a man who fights against his impulses on a daily basis.
He is supported by Sheridan, who delivers on the promise he displayed in the Matthew McConaughey film “Mud.” He’s a terrific actor and doesn’t allow Cage to overpower him.
The film’s tour-de-force performance comes from the late Gary Poulter in his film debut as Gary’s violent degenerate sot of a father. Green plucked him from the streets of Austin, Texas, where decades of addiction had ravaged his body. He passed away two months after filming was completed, drowned, after a night of heavy drinking. In the movie the 53 year-old is menacing, dangerous and disturbing in a role that requires him to pimp out his own daughter and physically abuse his son. It’s the work of a pro and it’s a shame we won’t see more of his work.
“Joe” may be mainly a character study of the three men, but it doesn’t skimp on the story. It’s bleak, with little relief from scene to scene, but is a happy medium for Green, melding his indie work with his Hollywood films in an interesting and satisfying way.