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« A Year with Kate: Woman of the Year (1942) | Main | Tribeca: Golden Bear, Black Coal, Thin Ice, Great Movie »
Wednesday
Apr232014

Tribeca: Spacey, Shakespeare, and Sightseeing

Tribeca Film Festival Coverage continues. Here's abstew on a Kevin Spacey doc

"That's why the film is called 'Now', it's not just the first word spoken at the beginning of the play, but it was meant to evoke that immediacy of live theatre. It's happening right now, in front of you," director Jeremy Whelehan said to a packed audience at the world premiere of his documentary film Now: In the Wings on a World Stage.

The film chronicles The Bridge Project, a transatlantic theatre company that was a collaboration of the British Old Vic (which for the past 10 years has had two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey at the helm as Artistic Director) and New York's BAM, and the last production the company performed, Richard III. The documentary (which Spacey also produced) goes behind the scenes of director Sam Mendes' production of the Shakespeare work about the deformed, power-hungry king and the year long, globe-spanning journey of its company of players. Spacey and the entire cast were on hand to introduce the film and stayed afterward for a discussion moderated by legendary anchorman Charlie Rose. [More...]

(L to R) Charlie Rose, director Jeremy Whelehan, Jeremy Bobb, Haydn Gwynne, Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones and the Dashwoods' mom!), and Kevin Spacey

With cameras backstage as the actors wait for entrances, in the rehearsal room as they discover the characters, and on stage as they performed in theatres across the world (Greece, Italy, China, Turkey, Qatar, Australia, to name a few), the film serves as a glimpse into the artistic process. But unlike Al Pacino's 1996 documentary Looking for Richard, that delved deeply in to what the play was about and why it has such significance, Now seems more content to make us feel as if we are a member of the company ourselves. (Interestingly enough, Spacey also appeared in Pacino's documentary as well. I guess he really likes the play. Although when Rose asked if it was his favorite work of Shakespeare, he didn't give a definitive answer, only saying there are more plays he would like to do.) A recurring theme in the film's on-camera interviews with the cast and crew is how they all felt like a family. You generally feel the connection these people have for each other, but at times you wish they would share a little bit more insight or dish a little dirt about backstage troubles.

The film also doubles as a travelouge as we go with the actors on their days off as they explore the wonders of the world. Amazingly, one of the actors states this is his first time outside of the United States. And as a proclaimed atheist seems to experience some spirituality at a Buddhist temple in Beijing. Another talks about his diagnosis with breast cancer (no, that's not a misprint. He said men have a 1 in 100 chance of getting the disease) and how walking on the Great Wall is something he never dreamed he'd be able to do. But mostly we get to see them having a lavish good time as they take yachts up the Amalfi coast or ride sand dunes in SUVs in Doha. It all looks really fun, but starts to feel a little like watching other people's vacation videos.

Your ultimate enjoyment of the film really depends on your love of theatre, Shakespeare, and Spacey. If any or all interest you (I'm a yes for all three), you're bound to find the film entertaining. There was much discussion after the film about the difference between film and theatre. Spacey stated he wouldn't have a career if it weren't for his work on stage and said that the sort of community you have while doing a show isn't like film where everything is set around schedules of availability. He also discussed how nothing can replicate the experience of seeing live performers acting in front of you and felt that a documentary of the play as opposed to a filming of the stage production would better capture that spirit. B- The film opens in theaters May 2 or can be watched at Kevin Spacey's website on that date.

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Reader Comments (3)

The giant head image of Spacey is ruining to look at.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The "giant head" doesn't bother me. Sometimes it takes a "giant head" to get people into seats to further a message. And if you have spent time with Spacey (I have (not that kind of time, get your minds out of the gutter)), you would realize it fits his personality.

What Spacey (whom I find annoying in many ways) is accomplishing here is important. His dedication to the theatre (without which we would not have film or movie stars to dish about) and Shakespeare is laudable. We could do with more "movie stars" and Oscar winners who did as much.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I cannot read about Richard III without reliving the pink-hued adaptation seen in The Goodbye Girl! Can we see THAT version? It could be woefully misunderstood LOL.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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