Fosse/Verdon. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams star in this limited FX series that explores the five decade relationship between director/choreographer Bob Fosse and dancer/actress Gwen Verdon. Executive produced by Thomas Kali (Hamilton), Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) and Lin-Manuel Miranda, it tells the story of how Verdon and Fosse transformed American entertainment through such classics such as Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, New Girl In Town, Cabaret, and All That Jazz. It also goes in depth on how Fosse used sex, drugs and alcohol to fuel his creativity, while Verdon deftly managed a marriage, motherhood and a successful career – all while dealing with an industry that marginalized women and was obsessed with youth. Williams is absolutely electric as Verdon, capturing all of her mannerisms, nuances and faithfully re-creating some of Verdon’s show-stopping routines. Rockwell goes all in as the womanizing, pill popping, chain-smoking, yet obsessively driven Fosse. Together, they have undeniable on-screen chemistry and both are in peak form. By jumping cutting through various periods in their lives, Kali and Levenson have together a series that has the energy and the flow of a Fosse musical, but still carries the dramatic anchor that would be seen in such Fosse-directed dramas such as Lenny and Star 80. With great dance sequences, skillful direction and two incredible leads, don’t be surprised if this series will be making big noise during awards season. Fosse/Verdon airs Tuesday nights at 9pm on FX. You can also go to www.fxnetworks.com for more information.
Native Son. Richard Wright’s classic novel gets a 21st Century makeover in this latest offering from HBO Films. In this version, Bigger Thomas (Ashton Sanders) is a Chicago native who likes metal and classical music, and is still looking to find a sense of direction in his life. When he takes a job as a chauffeur for affluent businessman Will Dalton, Bigger is quickly seduced by the immediate access to money and power – which also includes a precarious relationships with Dalton’s daughter Mary (Margaret Qualley). As Bigger gets pulled deeper into this new inner circle, he’s suddenly finds himself facing unforeseen choices and situations that will alter his life forever. Outside of its contemporary backdrop, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks doesn’t stray too far from the powerful tone and texture of the novel, which still packs powerful punches when dealing with race and class in America. Sanders takes the role of Bigger Thomas to the next level, capturing both his eagerness and disillusionment with his newfound surroundings, along with the dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t situations that Black men have had to deal with in this nation. With solid direction by Rashid Johnson, this is a formidable adaptation to one of literature’s greatest novels. Native Son is available now on HBO, HBO Go and HBO Now. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable. After a run in theaters last fall, Sasha Waters Freyer’s look at the life and legacy of photographer Garry Winogrand will premiere on PBS as part of its American Masters series. It’s the first all-encompassing look back at his work, which includes selections from the thousands of rolls of film that Winogrand had yet to develop before his unexpected death in 1984. The film shows how Winogrand’s ‘snapshot aesthetic’ of everyday people, the Mad Men era of New York, the formative years of the Women’s Movement, and the post-Golden Age Hollywood became the blueprint for contemporary image making. Tod Papageorge and Matthew Weiner are also aboard to discuss Winogrand’s tremendous influence on culture is documented and how ‘a city hick from The Bronx’, is now in the same pantheon as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank. It’s a much deserved look at legend in the world of photography. Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable premieres April 19th on PBS. You can also go to www.pbs.org for more information.
Be Natural: The Untold Story Of Alice Guy-Blache. She directed over 1000 films, and ran her own film studio. So why has the life and career of Alice Guy-Blache has been largely forgotten? That’s at the heart of this new documentary by Pamela B. Green. Narrated by Jodie Foster, Green travels to Paris to tell the story of how a young Parisian secretary saw the cinema’s possibilities and, for nearly 20 years, would go on to write, direct, edit and produce films that would introduce many techniques that are now standard: close ups, hand tinted color and synchronized sound. The doc also explores the circumstances in which Guy-Blache’s career came to an abrupt end, why her films faded into obscurity, and the campaign to have her work restored and the campaign to have her name rightly placed with the giants of cinema. Part detective story and a full on tribute, Green has put together a doc that sheds a much needed light on a true iconoclast. Be Natural: The Untold Story Of Alice Guy-Blache opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, with a national rollout starting on April 26th. You can also go to www.zeitgeistfilms.com for more information.
Guy by Steve Earle & The Dukes. When singer-songwriter Steve Earle arrived in Nashville in 1974, he sought out two of his musical heroes: Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Earle would eventually befriend both, becoming an eager apprentice to whom many consider the pioneers of outlaw country. After Earle released his Van Zandt salute Townes in 2009, he felt compelled to do the same for Clark – especially after turning down a request to write a song with Clark shortly before he passed away. Recorded live in the studio with the reformed Dukes, they revisit such Clark classics as ‘Dublin Blues’, ‘L.A. Freeway’ and ‘Desperadoes Waiting For A Train’ that capture the spirit of the original while retaining the Dukes sound. The album’s elegant and moving closer, ‘Old Friends’ features other Clark devotees and protégés Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Terry Allen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mickey Raphael, Shawn Camp, Verlon Thompson, Gary Nicholson and Jim McGuire all trading verses and joining in on the chorus. Serving as both a thank you and an elegy, this is an album that showcases one of the best in the game proudly honoring an all-time great. It will also move you to go out and further explore the greatness that was Guy Clark. One of the year’s best. Guy by Steve Earle & The Dukes is available now on Amazon, Itunes, Apple Music and all major streaming services. You can also go to www.steveearle.com for more information.
Los Angeles. Soul Of A Nation: Art In The Age Of Black Power. After blowing away New York audiences during Black History Month, this powerful new exhibit makes its way to The Broad in downtown Los Angeles. It’s devoted to Black painters, graphic artists, sculptors and photographs whose work reflected the The American Civil Rights Movement from 1963-1983. It features over 150 works spanning over 20 years and includes the groundbreaking work of Emory Douglas; Jack Whitten’s abstract tribute to Malcolm X; the contorted metal sculptures of Melvin Edwards, painted portraits of every day Black people by Barkley Hendricks and Emma Amos, and much more. This is a wonderful opportunity to see these amazing pieces documenting a crucial period in American history. Soul Of A Nation: Art In The Age Of Black Power will be at The Broad through September 1st. You can also go to www.thebroad.org for tickets and additional information.