Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Abuses of power

Ben Brantley served up a much more measured review this time of the great Frank Langella in A Man for All Seasons at the Roundabout Theatre in Manhattan. I saw the posters for this in August, and I knew it would be a staple of the theater scene for Langella's sake alone. I was never wildly fond of the play when reading it, but the film version with the late Paul Scofield was a great, if somewhat dusty, political costume drama.

Dustiness seems to have been the issue here as well in Brantley's view; it's not a play with any great dramatic tension. However, Langella seems to be making quite a statement lately by starring in plays that are specifically aimed at the Bush administration and its abuses of executive power. This one, for example, which is all about Henry VIII and his murder of a righteous man who won't go along with him in his grasp after power, or a son, or Anne Boleyn's knickers, whichever version you like. Frost/Nixon, about which I've raved endlessly in this blog, depicts the aftermath of a president run amok, though subtler in its dual portrayal of a man who equally loves the power and limelight that come with celebrity. Langella's film turn is already generating quiet Oscar buzz, and as I have blogged before, Peter Morgan deeply wanted the film to come out before the Bush administration left office. It'll just make it.

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