HBO has long been at the forefront of quality TV movies. Among this year’s offerings are three based on real people, two of which are based on Tony-winning plays. Each is primed for Emmy consideration.
All the Way
Following up his Oscar-nominated performance in Trumbo and four Emmy wins for portraying Walter White on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston reprises his Tony-winning role of LBJ in this TV adaptation of the 2014 Tony-winning Best Play. I caught this Robert Schenkkan-penned play on Broadway—liked it, but didn’t love it. Schenkkan adapted his own work for HBO, so I’m curious to see how he interpreted this story for a different medium.
Logline (courtesy of IMDb): Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the President of the United States in the chaotic aftermath of JFK’s assassination and spends his first year in office fighting to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Director: Jay Roach Screenwriter: Robert Schenkkan Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Melissa Leo, Bradley Whitford, Frank Langella Runtime: 132 min.
I’m a huge fan of HBO and much of its original programming. In addition to the network’s terrific series that I frequently watch, I also watch as many of its miniseries and original movies—most of the newest offerings are sitting on my DVR. Here’s what I have to look forward to …
While most of the US is discovering Benedict Cumberbatch for the first time thanks to his role in Star Trek into Darkness, I’ve long been a fan and am excited to see him opposite Rebecca Hall (another of my favorites) in this five-part miniseries.
Logline (courtesy of IMDb): Revolves around a love triangle between a conservative English aristocrat, his mean socialite wife, and a young suffragette.
Director: Susanna White Screenwriter: Tom Stoppard Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Adelaide Clemens Runtime: ~ 300 min.
It doesn’t take much to realize that Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director (as is established by the giant visual homage to the “Master of Suspense” on my living room wall). So imagine my excitement that two Hitchcock-themed movies are coming out shortly, each delving into one of the first two of his movies that I’ve seen: Psycho and The Birds. (Psycho is my favorite of his films.) Also, each movie is being released by either Fox Searchlight (my favorite film distributor) or HBO (my favorite TV network). Check out the trailers below. Which looks most appealing to you, and who do you think portrays the famed filmmaker best: Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock) or Toby Jones (The Girl)? (And, incidentally, has anyone else noticed that Jones seems to “always” play the “other” person in movies? He played Truman Capote in the “other Capote movie” [Infamous, 2006; in contrast to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal in Capote, 2005] and now he’s playing Alfred Hitchcock in the “other Hitchcock movie.”)
Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb):
A drama centered on the romance between Ernest Hemingway and WWII correspondent Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s inspiration for For Whom the Bell Tolls and the only woman who ever asked for a divorce from the writer.
Premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival out of competition, Hemingway & Gellhorn began its run on HBO this past May. Following Rabbit Hole (2010), this appears to be another film in the newest string of good Nicole Kidman movies. Since her series of great movies and performances in the early 2000s (culminating in an Oscar win for her performance in The Hours, 2002), I’ve long held that Kidman is one of the best actresses around today. Unfortunately, a slew of bad movies took her out of favor with some people, but she seems to be back and stronger than ever.
Director: Philip Kaufman Screenwriters: Jerry Stahl, Barbara Turner Cast: Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, Parker Posey, Tony Shalhoub, David Strathairn Genres: Drama, Romance Distributor: HBO Runtime: 155 min.
Currently on my DVR is the 2010 Sundance award-winning documentary GasLand. This HBO film was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar this past year and is currently nominated for four Primetime Emmys in nonfiction programming categories, including directing, writing, and cinematography. I’m not sure how a film that has both theatrical and television distribution can be eligible for the top prizes in both media, but I’m sure it’s got to be great. Here’s the synopsis from the film’s IMDb page:
It is happening all across America—rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease their property. Reason? The company hopes to tap into a reservoir dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground—a hydraulic drilling process called “fracking”—and suddenly America finds itself on the precipice of becoming an energy superpower. (Written by Sundance Film Festival)
Director: Josh Fox Screenwriter: Josh Fox Producers: Trish Adlesic, Josh Fox, Molly Gandour Cast: Josh Fox Genre: Documentary Distributor: HBO Documentary Films Runtime: 107 min.