From Stage to Screen: 5 Shows That Got It Right (And 5 That Didn’t)

By | November 4, 2020
From Stage to Screen: 5 Shows That Got It Right (And 5 That Didn’t)

From Stage to Display: 5 Exhibits That Obtained It Proper (And 5 That Didn’t)

“Cabaret” and “Cats” are just about acknowledged because the zenith and nadir of film musical variations. However “Cabaret” is so wonderful, and “Cats” so execrable, that neither tells us a lot about what went proper or unsuitable with the method. The identical goes for play variations: “Chimes at Midnight” (1965) stands proudly subsequent to any stage rendition of Shakespeare — and “Gnomeo and Juliet” (2011) doesn’t. Beneath, an opinionated information from theater specialists to the cinematic successes and failures that may nonetheless present Hollywood the way it ought (and ought not) to be executed.

You possibly can say that Hollywood did its common chop-shop job with this adaptation, shedding some songs from the 1961 musical. However the display screen model did retain a key aspect: the present’s biting satirical edge. Principally this has to do with letting Robert Morse reprise his function, by no means a given for Broadway stars. Enjoying a ruthless arriviste in naïf clothes, Morse has a manic, unhinged edge and his efficiency stays sui generis a long time later. (Amazon Prime Video.) ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

Setting this rendition in modern New York was greater than window dressing for the director Michael Almereyda: The play’s discourse in regards to the impossibility of communication and love in an age of suspicion and uncertainty involves vivid life. The thoughts of Julia Stiles’s Ophelia spirals uncontrolled on the Guggenheim Museum, and Ethan Hawke delivers “To be or to not be” in a Blockbuster, muttering in entrance of video tapes and Pringles. It’s a startling visualization of anomie, and 20 years later the scene factors to modernity’s fruitless race in opposition to obsolescence. (CBS All Entry.) ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

Philip Seymour Hoffman made his film-directing debut with this emotionally layered romantic dramedy. Tailored by Bob Glaudini from his play, it stars Hoffman because the scruffy title character; John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega as Jack’s long-coupled buddies; and Amy Ryan because the endearing oddball they set him up with. All however Ryan had been in Labyrinth Theater Firm’s 2007 Off Broadway manufacturing, and their ensemble chemistry is as very good as this film’s really feel for New York Metropolis. (Accessible to hire on Amazon Prime Video.) LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

Shakespeare’s tragedies do high-quality on movie, at the very least in capturing bravura performances. However the comedies, so depending on the acrobatic pleasure of phrases, are inclined to freeze up and land badly. One nice exception: Joss Whedon’s transplant of “A lot Ado” from Sicily to Santa Monica. The black-and-white pictures and the dearth of bigfoot stars preserve the deal with the language as an alternative of the froufrou; it’s as humorous, and due to this fact as shifting, as one of the best stage productions. (HBO.) JESSE GREEN

Spike Lee used 10 cameras to seize Antoinette Nwandu’s viscerally pressing play onstage in Chicago: the story of Moses (Jon Michael Hill) and Kitch (Julian Parker), two spirited younger Black males whose lives are threatened and desires constrained by police violence and extra insidious types of racism. Lee’s viewers was, by design, principally Black and native — and the depth of feeling their presence brings to the movie reveals that it issues who will get to be within the room. (Amazon Prime Video.) LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

Hollywood had a tin ear when it got here to the celebrities it selected for midcentury musical variations, constantly changing unique, oddball skills suited to their roles with overpolished, artificial ones who weren’t. However switching out the considerate, husky-voiced Tammy Grimes for that honeyed ham Debbie Reynolds (with a cease alongside the best way at Shirley MacLaine) was solely a part of what turned this light-weight, tuneful musical into the garish, galumphing onscreen mess typically often known as “The Unthinkable Molly Brown.” (Accessible to hire on Amazon Prime Video.) JESSE GREEN

It’s no nice loss that “Mame” turned a horrible film; it wasn’t that good to start with. However “A Little Evening Music” is an ideal musical, with its Stephen Sondheim rating and its baked-in Bergmanesque melancholy. Each had been butchered on this adaptation, first by casting a horrible singer — Elizabeth Taylor — within the lead, then by dumping the twilight Swedish setting in favor of schmaltzy Austria. Typically opening up a stage property is extra like tearing it down. (Accessible on DVD.) JESSE GREEN

Regardless of being co-adapted by its writer, Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski’s tackle the hit play “God of Carnage” is startlingly heavy-handed. From a title shortened to the banal “Carnage” to the heightening of each line studying into cartoonland — Christoph Waltz is especially egregious — Reza’s witty satire is defanged. Polanski drew all of the unsuitable classes from the expertise; two years later he made a garish French language adaptation of David Ives’ “Venus in Fur.” (Amazon Prime Video.) ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

It’s exhausting to seek out extra self-conscious star turns than within the film model of Tracy Letts’s sprawling household drama. It’s as if the director John Wells left the solid members to their very own gadgets and so they all resorted to their worst tips. The most important offender is Meryl Streep, who takes a treacherous function (a drug-addicted tyrannical matriarch with an Oklahoma accent) and delivers a sizzle reel of hammy overacting. A spot within the Camp Corridor of Fame awaits. (Accessible to hire on Amazon Prime Video.) ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

Riz Ahmed almost steals this adaptation of David Harrower’s incendiary “Blackbird” as Scott, the cocky younger warehouse co-worker of Ray (Ben Mendelsohn), a intercourse offender whose life is interrupted by the reappearance of Una (Rooney Mara), the woman he abused 15 years earlier. Wait a second: I noticed Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in “Blackbird” on Broadway, and there was no co-worker named Scott. Additionally: no flashbacks to a younger Una and no company downsizing subplot. Primarily based on Harrower’s screenplay and stylishly directed by Benedict Andrews, “Una” isn’t a foul film. However with operatic materials like this, opening up the drama defeats the aim. “Blackbird” simmers, then explodes. “Una” is merely efficient. (On Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.) SCOTT HELLER

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