Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner

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Lincoln Review


Excellent

A historic epic from Steven Spielberg carries a lot of baggage, but he surprises us with a remarkably contained approach to an iconic figure. What's most unexpected is that this is a political drama, not a biopic. It's a long, talky movie about back-room deal-making on a very big issue: ending slavery in America. It also has one of the most intelligent, artful scripts of the past year, plus a remarkably wry central performance.

Daniel Day-Lewis constantly grounds Abraham Lincoln in his earthy humanity, good humour and tenacious desire to do the right thing, no matter what it takes. The film essentially covers just one month in which Lincoln works to outlaw slavery before ending four years of civil war. Secretary of State Seward (Strathairn) reluctantly supports this plan, enlisting three shady negotiators (Spader, Nelson and Hawkes) to convince wavering members of Congress to vote in favour of a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile at home, Lincoln is under pressure from his wife Mary (Field) to keep their oldest son Robert (Gordon-Levitt) off the battlefield.

All of this political wrangling makes the film feel like a 19th century version of The West Wing, and Kushner's script crackles with wit, nuance and passion, clearly echoing today's political debates about issues like gun control and human rights. We find ourselves wishing that our own politicians were this creative about getting the votes they need on important issues. This meaty approach gives the cast terrific dialog to bite into, although Spielberg never lets anyone run riot with scenery-chomping antics. The closest is probably Jones, as the fiery anti-slavery supporter Thaddeus Stevens. He's terrific in this role. And Field shines too in as the spiky Mary. Even if she's about a decade too old for the character, she brings intelligence and emotion to every scene.

Continue reading: Lincoln Review

Christian Borle, Fantasia, In America and Tony Kushner Thursday 28th October 2010 Opening night afterparty for the Off-Broadway production of 'Tony Kushner's Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes' held at Pio Pio Restaurant New York City, USA

Christian Borle, Fantasia, In America and Tony Kushner

Angels In America Review


Good
There are times when Mike Nichols' long-awaited HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's award-riddled Reagan-era AIDS epic play, Angels in America, just about achieves that grand moment of completion that it's been striving for, and the failure to do so is almost heartbreaking. There are numerous reasons why Kushner's play has never been brought to film before, despite serving for many years as the landmark theatrical statement on AIDS in the 1980s - the lyrical counterpoint to the factual reportage of the book and film And the Band Played On - and highest among them is its length. Nichols' version takes the play at its original, somewhat off-putting size, divided up into two three-hour parts, and does pretty much the best with its material that one could ask for; any problems with the finished product are likely Kushner's own.

Part one, "Millennium Approaches" is full of ominous portents, plague and destruction, the rampant spread of AIDS in the chilly clime of '80s conservatism, while the second, "Perestroika" makes the political issues bandied about earlier in the film devastatingly personal. The story runs from 1985 to 1990 and takes in a broad sweep of characters, but not nearly as many as other writers would have packed in, simply to give a broader demographic sampling. Central to the film is Prior Walter (Justin Kirk), a 30-year-old AIDS sufferer whose boyfriend Louis (Ben Shenkman) leaves him in an astonishingly heartless manner, only to take up soon after with recently uncloseted U.S. attorney Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson). Left mostly to his own devices, with only his friend Belize (Jeffery Wright) to help, as Walter gets sicker, he begins to have visions of an angel (Emma Thompson, odd, arrogant and completely captivating), determined to make him a prophet, claiming that God has deserted the world and that humans are at fault.

Continue reading: Angels In America Review

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Tony Kushner Movies

Lincoln Movie Review

Lincoln Movie Review

A historic epic from Steven Spielberg carries a lot of baggage, but he surprises us...

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