WHAT TO WATCH THIS FALL
People have been watching more television than ever before as a result of the pandemic. Hollywood and cable are making sure it stays that way by feeding us some delectable TV fare. . .
SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE on HBO
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Issac at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month
American actress and producer Jessica Chastain is in the news…again. The Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award has twice been nominated for an Academy Award and as many times for a British Academy Film Award. I first saw her almost 12 years ago, when she played the English nanny Mary Debenham in the 2010 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s
Murder on the Orient Express, starring British actor David Suchet (who, over and above any actor who has played the great Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is Poirot.) She was electric—as she in all the many roles she has brought to life.
Now Jessica plays opposite her longtime friend, actor Oscar Issac, in Hagai Levi’s five-part HBO adaptation of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 miniseries, Scenes from a Marriage, which premiered Sunday (September 12) on HBO. Proclaimed “raw” and “real,” Chastain and Issac deliver brilliant performances as tech executive Mira and her philosophy professor, Jonathan, whose loving marriage is whittled down to nothing by resentment, anger, and emotional distance.
The on-screen couple fired up headlines around the world when they shared a surprisingly intimate moment in front of the cameras at the Venice Film Festival. It was a perfect piece of staged Hollywood P.R. for the two who went to college together and remain friends after 20 years. It seems the fingertip-to-armpit kiss Oscar gave Jessica was not original: Gomez Adams first kissed Morticia onscreen in the same way.
Jessica next appears in the Michael Showalter-directed bio-pic The Eyes of Tammy Faye in the title role of the late Tammy Faye Bakker, who, with her husband, Jim, experienced the rise and fall of TV largest, scandal-infested evangelist empire, in the 1970s and 80s. The film will be released in theaters on September 17.
DOPESTICK on HULU
Adapted from Beth Macy’s New York Times best-seller, Dopesick comes to Hulu on October 13. Created by Danny Strong and produced by Barry Levinson, this eight-episode series features a dynamic cast led by Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson. This hard-core look at America’s opioid addiction crisis is based on the true story of OxyContin, the “wonder drug” hyped by its manufacturer “to cure the world of its pain.” Dopestick is an intensely riveting, often disturbing drama that exposes the deceitful, bribery-based, trust-winning sales strategy by its executives to become the world’s largest pharma company—at all costs. The series tells the story of one doctor’s fight (Keaton) to expose the grievous deception that, according to the CDC, has been responsible for more than 14,000 overdoses that caused the deaths of adults and children alike. “My patients trusted me,” Michael Keaton, as Dr. Samuel Finnix, mourns in what assuredly will be yet another award-winning role for the acclaimed actor. “I can’t believe how many of them are dead now.” (Keaton is currently filming The Flash, where he will star once again in the dual role of Batman and Bruce Wayne.) The series is devastating to watch in many places—and that’s all right. The fact that the opioid crisis continues to take lives every day in our country means the problem continues…and still is out there, needing desperately to be resolved.
AN OLD-FASHIONED AGATHA CHRISTIE WHODUNIT WITH A FIRST-RATE CAST
This 2017 film adaptation of the 1949 Agatha Christie mystery novel is fabulous not only for its cast but for one of its screenwriters—Sir Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park. Terence Stamp, Glenn Close, Gillian Anderson, and Christina Hendricks star in a riveting stately home murder whodunit like only Agatha could write and Sir Julian adapt. Set shortly after the end of the Second World War, Sophia Leonides (Stephanie Martini) seeks the help of her former lover, private detective Charles Hayward (Max Irons) when she suspects her infirm, multi-zillionaire, rags-to-riches Greek grandfather has not died from natural causes. Someone injected a lethal dose of insulin! Which of the suspicious family members—all of whom cohabitate Three Gables—is the murderer? The plot, like the house, is indeed crooked—and the ending—as always, with Agatha—a complete and utter surprise. Filmed at three magnificent locations: Dyrham Park, West Wycombe Park, and Minley Manor in England.