Hopkins dazzles in sobering Father
Anthony Hopkins delivers perhaps his best performance as Anthony in Florian Zeller's The Father, an adaptation of his 2011 play that effectively puts the viewer in the shoes of the titular character, an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer's disease who suspects his grasp on the world is slipping away from him. Living with his daughter, Anne (Olivia Coleman), in a London flat, he spends his days reading, wandering around their roomy apartment and driving off caregivers, accusing them of theft, taxing their patience until they reach their breaking point. Anne realizes that her father's mind is slipping and that things will get worse when she moves to Paris and he will be sent to a care facility. Subtle tricks are used throughout to help us experience the confusion, frustration and anger Anthony is dealing with, all of it done with such effective sleight-of-hand you may feel as if your own mind is slipping, which is exactly the point. To be sure, this is heavy lifting, but the degree of empathy this approach generates for both the afflicted and his caregiver is undeniably powerful, reminding us all of our own humanity. As for Hopkins, he proves once more that when it comes to acting, there's nothing he can't do. Available through Video on Demand.
Holland no superhero in Cherry
Todd Holland gives a career-best performance in the title role of Anthony and Joe Russo's Cherry, an adaptation of the novel by Nico Walker. He plays a lonely young man who finds his soulmate in Emily (Ciara Bravo), a woman with issues of her own. Their co-dependent relationship is put to the test when our hero impulsively enlists in the Army, a decision that sets off a chain reaction of events that will ultimately consume them both. PTSD and drug abuse rear their ugly heads as the couple embark on a life of crime to feed their habit, associating with the requisite lowlifes that comes with the territory. There's no question this is a familiar story, and their future is bleak. Yet, the Russos bring a vitality and urgency to the story that demands the viewer acknowledge the pain and struggle of its main character, one that represents many who are too often marginalized by our judgmental society. Without question, Holland is impressive here, proving he can do much more than sling webs and crack wise. Streaming on Apple TV.
Having learned to love the acerbic nature of Billy Eichner's humor from watching his confrontational interview show Billy on the Street, I was anxious to see if this would translate to a more traditional sitcom setting. Hulu's Difficult People does not disappoint as it pairs the impatient comic with the equally thorny Julie Klausner, the duo playing a pair of wannabe celebs who are only interested in one thing – themselves. Their efforts to make it big on any media platform are constantly stymied by one inspired quirk of fate after another, their frustration over their misfortunes producing laugh out loud moments. That they take their woes out on the innocents around them is mean spirited, but karma always evens the scales as any abuse these two dish out comes back to haunt them in the most inspired ways. Familiar faces abound over the three seasons- Julianne Moore, Seth Myer, Amy Poehler and John Mulaney among many- each reveling in playing the deplorable. If you're inclined for safe, predictable laughs, this is not for you. However, if you tend to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, this is right in your wheelhouse.
Streaming on Hulu.