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I’m always leery when I engage with a creative work from an artist who is operating outside their usual purview. It’s not that I question the ability to branch out – I’m a firm believer in the artistic power of multihyphenates – so much as that I recognize how difficult it is to excel in one aspect of creation, let alone more than one.

And so it was with trepidation that I approached Ethan Hawke’s new book “A Bright Ray of Darkness” (Knopf, $27.95). Specifically, I’ve been burned by actors-turned-novelists before, so you understand my caution. Hawke has four books in the rearview (though distant – it’s been 20 years since the last one) but I hadn’t read any of them, so again – maybe the most interesting part of the book is the name attached to it.

I needn’t have worried. Hawke has crafted an engaging work of literary autofiction, a story clearly drawn directly from his own personal experiences, yet rendered in such a way as to not feel bound to his life as it was lived. It’s something that many writers – many talented writers – fail to pull off, but he manages it quite deftly.

This tale of an actor struggling with his shifting reality – moving from a world of movie stardom to the Broadway stage, torn between accepting his crumbling marriage and striving to reassemble it – and making sometimes questionable choices in the process is tightly woven and densely packed, a meditation on masculinity and the value – both external and internal – of the redemption he seeks through his art.

Published in Style
Sunday, 23 August 2020 20:18

Power to truth – ‘Tesla’

When we hear a movie described as a biopic, we have a general idea of what that means. Sure, the actual timeframe covered varies – some do snapshots, others go full cradle-to-grave – but the beats that are hit along the way rarely do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s the story of a real person, so a degree of structural familiarity makes sense.

However, sometimes you get a biopic that is not at all what you’re expecting. A biopic like “Tesla.”

The film, written and directed by Michael Almereyda, is a biopic in the sense that it tells the story of famed inventor Nikola Tesla – played by Ethan Hawke – from his early days working for Thomas Edison through his time of up-and-down prominence in the overlapping worlds of science and industry. We see the high points and the low as he seeks to make his mark on the world.

Stylistically, however, it is something altogether different. Whether it’s a motif of stage-like projected backdrops or moments of striking anachronism or a meta sense of razor-sharp self-awareness or any of a handful of aesthetic choices, “Tesla” doesn’t look or feel quite like any biopic you’ve ever seen. And with a narrative structure offering its own sense of fracture, the film is as weird and watchable as it is unexpected.

Published in Tekk
Friday, 23 September 2016 10:03

'The Magnificent Seven' worth a shot

Western remake features engaging action, talented ensemble

The cinematic Western has been making a bit of a comeback in recent years. There have been some critically-lauded offerings - last year's Best Picture-nominated 'The Revenant,' for example, or this year's celebrated 'Hell or High Water' that have helped the genre regain some of its once-massive cachet.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 14:16

Anarchy, American-style The Purge'

Near-future thriller doesn't quite deliver

It can be easy to feel like every story has been told before especially in an era when the recycling of ideas is a cottage industry in the entertainment world. So when an interesting twist on an old idea comes along, it can pique your interest. We all want to see something new or at least something old done in a new way.

'The Purge' wants to be that movie. Unfortunately, the film doesn't quite pull it off.

Published in Movies

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