Andrew Rossi, Boston Marathon bombing, Comedy, Dance piece, David Gordon Green, Documentary, Drama, Jake Gyllenhaal, Literary adaptation, Okwui Okpokwasili, Previews, Roger Allam, Stephen Fry, Tatiana Maslany, Trailers, True story
If you’ve seen the New York-based writer, performer and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili then you’ll be aware of just how magnetic a stage presence she is, and how impressive is her ability to manipulate her frame in such a way as to give full expression to an incredible range of feelings and desires and emotions. In 2014, Okpokwasili performed her one-woman dance piece, Bronx Gothic, where she used a series of letters sent between two young girls in the Bronx – and her remarkable body – to illustrate how little one of them knew about her body, and how they were able to connect with each other. It was a tour-de-force performance, and is now the subject of Andrew Rossi’s latest documentary. Rossi, who also made Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) and The First Monday in May (2016), goes behind the scenes of Bronx Gothic and examines the way in which Okpokwasili conceived and created the piece, and how she used elements from her own life in the process. This may not attract a particularly wide audience base, but it promises to be one of the more original and impressively mounted documentaries of 2017. And with Okpokwasili being such an incredible performer to watch, any chance to see her is absolutely worth taking.
Following on the heels (no pun intended) of Peter Berg’s gripping Patriots Day (2016), Stronger tells the smaller scale story of one of the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) was caught in the first blast and lost both his legs. The movie, based on the book of the same name written by Bauman and Bret Witter, charts Bauman’s recovery and readjustment to life in the wake of the tragedy, and how his rehabilitation affected him, and his relationship with his girlfriend, Erin Hurley (played by Tatiana Maslany). Without trying to denigrate or undermine Bauman’s efforts to learn how to walk again, and overcome the emotional trauma he experienced, the trailer for Stronger hints at the movie being a straightforward re-telling of Bauman’s struggle, and the trailer’s content seems to include all the clichés you’d expect, right down to the moment where Bauman cries, “I showed up for you!” Let’s hope then that director David Gordon Green has a tighter grip on the material than is evident from the trailer, and that Bauman’s story is given a better handling than what we’ve seen so far.
When he’s not appearing on television or in the movies, Stephen Fry is also a well regarded writer with a string of successful books to his name. The Hippopotamus was his second novel to be published, and if you’ve read it then you’ll know that it’s ripe for a big screen adaptation (or a small screen mini-series). And at last that big screen adaptation is here, and for once, with the perfect choice for its lead character, disgraced poet Ted Wallace, in the form of Roger Allam. Allam’s crumpled features and unimpressed demeanour are a terrific combination for the part, and from the trailer it’s clear that the actor has the measure of the role and is also enjoying himself immensely. Whether or not the script will allow him to be the singular focus of Fry’s typically erudite comedy of manners remains to be seen, but if so then this could be the movie that provides a well-earned boost to Allam’s career. Let’s hope then, that Fry’s eccentric yet amusing novel has been given the adaptation it deserves.