Sunday, October 01, 2017

The link below will lead you to a youtube site with one of the most riveting hours of drama I've ever seen, beautifully conceived, perfectly structured, with vivid characters, delivering reams of brilliant dialogue trippingly off the performers' tongues. I long to produce media this entertaining, artful and meaningful on a subject so controversial and topical. It's like Dave Chapelle or Aaron Sorkin got in a time machine and went back to 1965 to a produce a drama about race relations superior to "To Kill a Mockingbird"
My main, minor criticism is that the actor playing William Buckley, Jr. often goes beyond over-the-top, evoking a bug-eyed monitor lizard, or Nicholas Cage on acid playing Vlad the Impaler. Spoiler alert, the villain's ultimate defeat is telegraphed too early for my taste. Before he even speaks, his slumping posture and sneering facial expressions signal the viewer that he is thoroughly corrupt and consciously evil, and, therefore, destined to be defeated by the hero. (See Peter Sarsgard in last year's "Magnificent 7" for a character so irredeemable.) The deck is stacked, so to speak, which is not generally good for drama, but it works here for some reason. He also reminds me of Snidely Whiplash from "Rock and Bullwinkle" in his rubbery malevolence, except, for all I know, Snidely Whiplash was based on William Buckley, Jr.
It's an even slighter criticism, but James Baldwin's character is a bit too obviously the Apollonian hero, given lines of such crystalline logic, righteousness, and artful syntax that he would upstage Jesus Christ himself, even Jesus Christ rewritten by Shakespeare (which no doubt Shakespeare would have given a shot at, if not for fear of a literal roasting).
Likewise, the thundering, prolonged ovation of the crowd after Baldwin's speech gives away the dramatist's intent too early in the first half of the show.
Why wasn't I shown this oration when I studied public speaking at Southwest High School in Fort Worth Texas in the 1970s?
God bless youtube, the best channel on TV.

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