Film

'Hyde Park on Hudson': Another Laura Linney Sneak Attack!

If there is something Laura Linney has proved time and time again is that it’s simply ridiculous to underestimate her award chances.

If there is something Laura Linney has proved time and time again is that it’s simply ridiculous to underestimate her award chances. In 2007, she came out of nowhere and scored a surprise Best Actress nomination for her wonderful work in the dark comedy The Savages. This was the same year when high profile actresses like Keira Knightley, Amy Adams, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Naomi Watts and indie sensations like Keri Russell and Anamaria Marinca were all vying for that competitive fifth slot available after the usual suspects cemented their status.

Linney isn’t only one of the greatest working actresses (in effortlessness levels she is only rivaled by Jeff Bridges) but, despite this very greatness, she is also dearly beloved by her peers who have so far rewarded her with three Emmys, two Golden Globes, a SAG award and three Tony nominations. Earlier this year she was the Oscar “front-runner” for her work in Hyde Park on Hudson which seemed to be made specifically to get her the elusive award.

In the Roger Michell-directed film she plays Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, one of FDR’s most beloved cousins who eventually became his mistress. That’s two Oscar qualification checkbox yeses in a row (real life person, mistress). On paper it seemed as if no one else would even come close to challenging Linney’s chances - especially when she’s regarded as being overdue -- but up to that point no one had even seen the movie.

Hyde Park on Hudson itself had many things going on for it; in terms of awards bait-ness, not only does it deal with one of America’s most beloved political figures, it also has a fantastic ensemble and even features Bertie and Liz, the jolly English monarchs who notoriously won every award in the world for The King’s Speech.

After having seen the movie however, it remains quite clear that lightning most certainly won’t strike twice and the movie won’t be as popular as its British counterpart. Even if technically the film is quite remarkable, its characters seem too “immoral” to have that across-the-board appeal that made The King’s Speech so beloved. And yes, award voters often feel the need to like the characters they’re voting for, if not that at least they like pitying them.

This is where Linney’s extraordinary work surprises. Throughout the entire movie, she seems to be acting around Bill Murray’s FDR. Her character is given ridiculous lines that would seem more purposeful on a Downton Abbey parody and she isn’t given much to do considering that this is her story after all. But lo and behold, Linney overcomes all her character’s flaws and instead of making her saintlike in her humbleness she infuses her with a quiet dignity which makes us question who are we to dare and judge this woman.

Daisy’s plight might not always be easy to understand but Linney’s is, she asks us to see this woman like she saw her, without any judgment, with an open heart and mind. For she, like anyone else, suffered fools for love, even if the object of her affection had the power to start a world war. Where lesser actresses would’ve been condescending, Linney embraces Daisy and by the end of the movie she’s the only one we see.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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