Trying to get back into the swing of blogging after some time away. Saw and read a few things recently, so instead of posting about each one, I thought I'd give a few thoughts about each. Capsule style.
The Social Network - I'm the last one to the dance on this movie, which was built up tremendously for me before I saw it. Movie of the decade and all that jazz. Expectation is funny that way. The movie, to me, is a Perfectly Acceptable Film with some good scenes and good acting, but it never really soared for me. There are great films I've seen in my life that made me sort of go "Wow this is working for me on every level." This film never hit that for me. It's got some writerly Sorkin-esque quick dialogue that was fun but entirely expected and the promised pettiness and betrayals that make a movie like this fun. But ultimately, too much of it happened over conference room tables for me to be blown away. I liked it, a lot, but it never made me want to cheer.
After my initial response, I was able to say: yes this is about how people ache for acceptance, about how seemingly new technology is just harnessing our desire for connection, and about the irony of a software that was built by misanthropes that does the math on how to be social. I mean, the ideas are there and the performances are there. It just never flew for me.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - Read this. Not a groundbreaking response: fantastic. I will say that the sheer number of people with what sounds like clinical depression gets to be rather overwhelming, but that reads true for the characters involved. There's something painful on every page, but it's also exhilarating. I've heard that some people think Patty Berglund writes a bit too well to be a convincingly true character, but I loved the sections in her voice. Her competitiveness and family dynamics just seemed heartfelt, cruel and authentic.
Little Foxes as directed by Ivo Van Hove - Pam and I saw Misanthrope a few years back and that production was absolutely one of the best things I've ever seen. There was something primal at play, and the way the characters churned in the stew of their own misery and hate, counterpointed Moliere... just floored me. Here, though, the text is not reimagined so much as turned up. The drama is nullified as actors hump the walls or spit in one another's faces. Without a constricting Southern culture to put the characters behavior into a context, it just all gets wiped clean.
That isn't to say that I was entirely unmoved or unimpressed. There's nothing but competence as far as the eye can see at NYTW. I'd much prefer to see something that goes for the gusto and misses with all it's might than something that has carefully trained to hit the "surprise me" "shock me" and "sadden me" buttons.
Qui Nguyen and Abby Marcus are moving to Minnesota - Say hi to my family out there guys! And Isaac Butler! And come back soon!
The Force Unleashed II - Man, I beat this video game in like 4 hours. Seriously.
Rubicon - What a great show! Very old fashioned: mature, smart, well-paced. The season is over now, but get it on iTunes or whatever. It's filmed in NYC, which means lots of great local actors (Christopher Evan Welch, James Badge Dale, Dallas Roberts) and locations. Also, my dear beloved Natalie Gold is all over that show and is awesome. Plus Keira Keeley!
There. That's out of the way. Maybe I can actually blog a bit now.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.