Bullet Train (2022)

*. David Thomson is a big fan of John Wayne’s walk, saying “He moved the way singers sing, with huge confidence and daring.” It was a signature as much as his voice, and as he walks away at the end of The Searchers that’s how it’s supposed to register.
*. In our own time singer sing and dancers dance to a different beat, but you can still recognize a great walk. Brad Pitt has one. I remember first noticing this in the Ocean’s movies. When he saunters into frame here to the tune of a Japanese cover of “Stayin’ Alive” we understand the point being made, especially if we’re familiar with the English lyrics and think of John Travolta strutting down the street at the start of Saturday Night Fever. Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk . . .
*. I’m sure Pitt, and director David Leitch, understand all this. Pitt’s walk is an integral part of any of his performances. I don’t know if it has daring, but it has huge confidence and style. And this is a movie that trades in style. Note how impressed Channing Tatum is when he sees the stylish killer Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) stalk down the aisle of the train. What strikes him the most? Tangerine’s walk.

*. Bullet Train is also very much a movie of its moment. Leitch had previously helmed Deadpool 2, which had lots of the same sort of wisecracking superhero nonsense. And there’s more to the connection between the two movies than just the appearance of Ryan Reynolds in a cameo here playing Brad Pitt’s younger replacement. This is the kind of role Reynolds has taken over, in such films as The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and Pitt is just a more rumpled version of the same character, with grey in his beard, a Gilligan hat, and some issues he’s trying to work through with therapy.
*. Actors like Pitt and Reynolds are so charming and cool that it’s a kind of superpower. You can’t take anything they do seriously and every action scene is a kind of comic set-piece. There’s a cultural evolution noticeable in all this in how we imagine cool. Pitt and Reynolds aren’t badasses. As violent as these movies are, they don’t even project any toughness. Their whole attitude toward shooting people and beating them up is ironic. It’s all a joke, signed off with a smile and a quip. They’re Bruce Willis’s John McClane, but better looking and more graceful.

*. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and Bullet Train is a lot of fun. Watching it, I was reminded of Leslie Halliwell’s observation, some fifty years ago, of how movies had become amusement park train rides. Halliwell was disapproving (naturally), but a rollercoaster is exactly what this is. What’s more, seeing as this is 2022 it doesn’t mind letting you know. The hitman Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) is a fan of the children’s television show Thomas the Tank Engine, which he defends by comparing it to contemporary movies: “Hey, you watch something nowadays, what is it, huh? Nothing. Its twists, violence, drama, no message. What’s the point? Huh?” You see? Everyone’s in on the joke.

*. All the usual elements are arranged well. The fast talking. The scrambled, Easter egg narrative that uses the flashiest of flashbacks to show how everything is connected. The retro-with-a-postmodern-twist soundtrack. That’s Engelbert Humperdinck, by the way, singing a revamped version of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” The week I saw this movie an acquaintance had been to see Humperdinck in Toronto. I was stunned when I heard she was going, since I had seen Humperdinck in Toronto in the mid ’70s. Anyway, he’s 86 years old and still played a two-hour set. Wow.
*. Bullet Train is silly, goofy, expensive fun (Pitt was reportedly paid $20 million, nearly a quarter of the total budget). It’s twists, drama, violence . . . and despite all the blood and explosions it’s utterly harmless, especially since you know the good guys are all (or mostly all) going to be OK and the bad guys are going to be smashed or blown to pieces.
*. There’s a scene here where Tangerine faces down a train station full of gangsters by saying they look like they’re trying out for an ’80s dance-off. It’s a funny line, but the thing is this whole movie is a 2020’s dance-off. One expects a sequel given its success, and maybe Reynolds and Pitt will get to bust some moves together. Or just go for a walk.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

*. Sometimes you just feel like throwing your hands up.
*. I’ve said before that I think Edgar Wright is an overrated director. Not bad, just overrated. I still think his best movie is Shaun of the Dead. With Last Night in Soho, which he came up with the story for, he is on form. Meaning it’s a great-looking movie, slickly (and expensively) put forward with some astounding technical virtuosity, but without a brain in its head or, for that matter, a whole lot of style.
*. Here’s the plot, which is where I throw my hands up. Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) is a young woman from somewhere in ye olde rural England who goes to London to study fashion design. She is haunted by visions of her dead mother, who apparently had mental health issues. This makes us think Ellie may be schizophrenic, especially when she doesn’t fit in with the fast crowd of mean girls at school and starts having these very real-feeling fantasies where she’s a glamorous girl called Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) clubbing in ’60s Soho. But Sandy is being hunted by a killer, or maybe she is a killer, and the same goes for Ellie. Or maybe she’s just going crazy.
*. There’s no spoiler for saying that Ellie isn’t crazy (though she does imagine things), because the fact that she isn’t crazy just makes the rest of the story even crazier. It literally makes no sense at all so I won’t bother trying to sort it out. But it’s too bad because I had the sense that Wright was going for something with a giallo vibe and the thing about most gialli is that even the most far-fetched of them still have an inherent logic, however twisted. Last Night in Soho doesn’t.

*. The plot also takes a backseat to Wright’s other obsessions. Like the idea of a character whose life has a soundtrack that gradually seems to take over that life. That was Baby Driver, but it’s even more pronounced here. Ellie, like Wright, has a fixation on the 1960s that, like Wright, she picked up from her mom. Wright was born in 1974 so it’s not like he has any other personal connection to the period. But he has a theory that “you’re always obsessed with the decade you just missed.” I wonder if that explains Cruella, a movie that came out the same year, also set in the fashion world of London in the ’60s. Or maybe it’s just coincidence.
*. McKenzie and Taylor-Joy both play well. Matt Smith (a wildly popular actor in the U.K., or so I’m told) plays a sinister weirdo only half as well as Terence Stamp (the “Silver Haired Gentleman), who by this point has the role down pat. Diana Rigg, in her last film appearance, at least goes out on an operatic note.
*. It’s not a movie I enjoyed for a moment, though I was impressed by the care taken to recreate London and all the fancy shots playing with Ellie/Sandie appearing in mirrors. But it’s a failed giallo and a third-rate ghost story, with characters I don’t think are worth sorting out. Are we supposed to see Sandie as a victim of the patriarchy turned angel of vengeance? I would try and draw something out of this if I cared either way, but I don’t.
*. Ellie’s grandmother is a seamstress and she pronounces it seem-stress. I always thought the British said sem-stress, at least in the ’60s. I can remember being corrected for saying seem-stress in Canada in the ’80s.
*. There’s a contradiction I sense between the lurid slasher plot and the lavish production values. A movie this trashy shouldn’t be dressed up for a gala. Apparently Wright was influenced by psycho-art house thrillers like Repulsion and Don’t Look Now, but they were intellectual buffets compared to this confection. Such movies are inaccessible in spirit to filmmakers now, even with a supernatural, schizo time machine and all the money in the world.

The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920)

*. For all its importance, I find there actually isn’t that much discussion of The Golem these days. When you do hear it mentioned it’s usually seen as a precursor to Frankenstein or as an example of early German horror. I think both approaches are a bit misleading.
*. There had actually been a production of Frankentstein in 1910 that still survives. Mary Shelley’s novel is often considered one of the first works of science fiction, with the corpse being reanimated by an electrical charge, but in that 1910 film science is tossed out the window for magical effects. The Monster rises out of a sorcerer’s cauldron that a bunch of chemicals have been thrown into.
*. In The Golem magic is again made to do all the work. Rabbi Loew’s creature is also not a corpse but a clay model, though his book on Necromancy does state that the “life-giving word will awaken any and every thing, whether corpse or man’s creation.” So this is not really a Frankenstein story in that regard. The fantastic lab in the 1931 Frankenstein was something new on film.
*. I think it’s also a stretch to think of The Golem as a horror film. I don’t say that because it’s not a scary movie. I think we can agree that most scary movies from a hundred years ago aren’t very scary today. But I don’t think The Golem even tries to be a scary movie. The Golem isn’t a monster to be revealed like in those shocking jump cuts in Frankenstein. Within the film he’s not a source of fear but a figure to be marveled at, with the children of the ghetto following him around like he’s the friendly giant. The only time he seems scary is when he hunts down the foppish lover, who he is perhaps jealous of (they both like smelling flowers). But even in these scenes he looks to me like the Stay Puft marshmallow man at the end of Ghostbusters.

*. The Ghostbusters reference probably isn’t fair, though I can’t not see it. I also think the people behind Iron Man must have been thinking of this movie when they gave Tony Stark a power source in his chest not unlike the amulet here. And that’s what the Golem really is more than a horror icon: a superhero out of a folk tale (the comic books of yesteryear). His reverse-Samson being the most obvious Superman moment.
*. Is the Golem still a Jewish superhero? It seems more to have been a fixation of Paul Wegener’s, and this was in fact his third Golem film (his appearance being much the same in each). As far as its representation of the ghetto though it strikes me as problematic. I’m not sure what we’re to make of the way that the knight Florian is disposed of. Sure he’s a fool, but is he a bad guy? And is Loew’s assistant, who Miriam is apparently reunited with at the end, any better? What is he asking forgiveness for? What he did to Florian, or for burning a big chunk of the ghetto down? It seems as though there’s some kind of fear of miscegenation driving all this.

*. This point is left up in the air, but I feel that it’s important, as the relationship between the Jews and the other townspeople is a major theme in the film. I don’t know how, or if, it’s resolved.

*. For the most part this seems to me to be a film of mainly historical interest. Cinematographer Karl Freund would go on to shoot Dracula and directed The Mummy and Mad Love, allowing him to play a big role in defining the visual atmosphere of American horror in the 1930s. That said, The Golem doesn’t strike me as a particularly rich film visually. It looks good, but it’s not striking in the way that Caligari or Nosferatu still are, and its eponymous hero never achieved the same iconic status as the vampire or mad doctor. Meanwhile, the story doesn’t hold my interest as much as those films either.
*. Classic American horror films were B pictures, and sometimes not even very good B pictures, that for one reason or another struck a nerve and kept on growing. Despite its production values, The Golem feels like a B picture that still is.

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

*. Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is unique in having an opening Induction that presents the main story as a play-within-a-play. This was something a little more developed than just a chorus or prologue, like you get in Henry V, but Olivier’s Henry V may have provided some inspiration for this production, taking us behind-the-scenes at first and only gradually opening up into the play proper as we leave the theatre behind.
*. There’s nothing like the play’s Induction in this film version of the Cole Porter musical of the same name, but what we have operates in a similar way, beginning with a backstage story about a pair of divorced and now dueling stars — Fred Graham (Howard Keel) and Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) — getting ready to put on a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. “Cole Porter” even shows up as a character. It’s all very meta.
*. The rest of it does what a film musical has to do. The songs are first-rate, with “I’ve Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua,” “Where Is The Life That Late I Led?” and “Always True To You In My Fashion” standing out for me. The last mentioned also gets away with what I thought were some pretty bawdy lyrics. The “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” number performed by a pair of gangsters (Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore) felt flat to me. Neither Wynn nor Whitmore were dancers and by their own admission they didn’t even bother practicing. Which is fine if they were just going for rough charm, but even that takes effort.
*. Keel looks raffish with his Don Juan stage beard. The ladies are musical ladies of the 1950s, and not very memorable. The dancing is terrific. The actual musical-within-the-musical is great, but the back story with the gangsters and Fred and Lilli getting back together flagged for me. Of course it’s frantic and silly, and gets resolved in the end only with a bunch of improbabilities thrown at the screen like the items used to show off the (lame) 3-D effects, but it only underlines how idiotic the whole thing is as anything other than an excuse for the big numbers.
*. Few film genres date as quickly as musicals. Tastes in music change with the seasons, and the whole idea of casts breaking into song and dance every five minutes is a tough sell, as witness the celebrated recent box office bombings of Cats and West Side Story, both of which were established properties. I think if you’re going to enjoy these movies you have to go back to the source and take them for what they were. And if you’re still singing the songs a week later, that’s a win.

This Is Not a Movie (2019)

*. The title has nothing to do with Magritte. Instead, this is a documentary on the journalistic career and ethos of reporter Robert Fisk, and the title comes from something Fisk says at the end about how real life, which is what he hopes to capture in his writing, isn’t like a movie.
*. Fisk died in 2020. I thought he did a great job covering the Middle East, and his book The Great War for Civilisation is a landmark work on the history of recent conflicts in the region. This film isn’t about the Middle East though, but instead lets Fisk tell his own story, laying out his philosophy on the role of a reporter today.
*. That philosophy involves leaving “a direct and emotional record” as a witness, so that ages hence no one will be able to say they didn’t know or weren’t told about some specific crime or outrage. Journalism is, in other words, a calling, which it pretty much has to be for someone so willing to put himself directly in harm’s way as both a columnist and a street reporter. And if having a calling can make you sound at times a little full of yourself, that also comes with the territory.
*. I didn’t mind this, because I think journalists need a sense of idealism. It serves as an anchor, and antidote not just to the lack of rigour exercised in a lot of Internet reporting but to the nihilism that infects so much of our post-truth dispensation. People often mistake outraged idealists as cynics, but the true cynics are the ones who make such charges because they’re afraid of the idealists, seeing them as whistleblowers.
*. It’s not just the nihilistic spirit of the age Fisk opposes but the digital form it takes. Fisk is presented as the last of a breed, writing with pen into his notepad and with a study at home that’s lined with bales of newspaper cuttings and other physical records. As with other aspects of his belief system, this can come across as a little much. But he does have a point. Where will we find the truth when everything is in the cloud, where it’s far easier to manipulate or be made to disappear entirely?
*. In one conversation with a younger journalist I thought Fisk even came out a bit worse for wear in an argument over the value of digital journalism. Fisk doesn’t condemn the Internet, but he has his doubts, while insisting on the value of his own old-school methods. “If you don’t go to the scene and sniff it and talk to the people and see with your own eyes you cannot get near what the truth is. I more and more feel, especially in the age of the Internet, when so little is proved and so little checked out, that there’s more and more reason to do the old kind of journalism.”
*. But against a deeper form of nihilism, moral rather than epistemological, there is no defense. “It doesn’t matter how much we blame the bad guys, I don’t think it has a lot of effect. It would be nice to believe that the Foreign Correspondent movie was the real thing, he manages to get the bad guys, the German spies, everything works out fine. But the truth is that this is not a movie, and it’s very arrogant of any journalist to think they can change the world or alter the course of a war. You do like to think that sometimes you can switch on the lighthouse and the beam touches something and something that otherwise would happen will not happen. When you try to tell the truth maybe occasionally the torture stops and the condemned’s cell opens. and maybe we helped. Mostly, I fear, what we write doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Like constantly having to tell the story of the Palestinians. You will never win over the world to your version of events, however accurate, however truthfully told, however angrily written. You’ll never win. But you will lose unless you keep on fighting.”
*. This seems a “heads you lose, tails they win” sort of thing. Still, like Camus’ Sisyphus we have to believe Fisk was happy fighting his battles. If he suffered from illusions, at least they were of the productive kind.

Zoolander (2001)

*. While I can appreciate that they do have talent, work hard at their craft, and are “really, really ridiculously good looking,” let’s face it: male models are kind of funny. Give “male model” a bit of a push and you don’t even need any jokes. Just have Derek Zoolander doing one of his trademark pouts (Blue Steel, Ferrari, or Le Tigre) at the camera and otherwise have him being dense. That’s all the joke you need. That’s the movie.
*. There is more to Zoolander. Lots more. But even though this movie is only 87 minutes and has an overload of plot (which might have been influenced by Bret Easton Ellis’s Glamorama, a novel I actually liked at the time) involving Derek being brainwashed by a cabal of evil fashion designers into killing the Malaysian prime minister, it’s all just running hysterically in place. Ben Stiller plays Zoolander, and he also co-wrote and directed, but despite the fact that he’s a very funny guy he’s upstaged here throughout by Owen Wilson as his fashion rival/bosom buddy Hansel and Will Ferrell as the mad designer Mugatu. Throw in more, way more, cameos than you can shake a press card at, and Ben/Derek actually disappears a bit from his own movie.
*. Which I think a good thing, on balance, since there’s no there there. That’s on purpose, of course, but it makes it hard to get that interested in whatever Derek’s up to. I’d also add that I found his voice to be really annoying. That might have been deliberate too, in the way that you wish models wouldn’t talk because whenever they do it’s like what legendary porn critic Al Goldstein called spiritual bad breath.

*. Twenty years later, I don’t think the funny stuff holds up that well. Which, given the talent assembled, is disappointing. It’s sketch comedy where only a few of the sketches work. The brainwashing stuff, which I guess was riffing on The Parallax View, was the best. Otherwise, there’s not much going on. Christine Taylor as the straight girl is reduced to just being a cutaway for far too many reaction shots. David Duchovny’s hand model wasn’t interesting. And to be honest, the clips included with the DVD from the VH1 Fashion Awards were just as funny as anything in the movie itself.
*. That final point leads into another thought I had watching the DVD. I was amazed while listening to the commentary track to find out how much of the material here was worked and reworked for years. They had all sorts of ideas, like a climax on Mount Rushmore and stuff about Derek’s father (Jon Voight) having been a model himself, that didn’t make it in. Given all they left out, you’d think that what was included would only be the best stuff, but with comedy I find that’s not always the case.
*. What’s left today are the memes. “Obey my dog!” “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. Not much, but enough for some good box office and the catchiness of the name alone pretty much guaranteed a sequel.

Crimes of the Future (2022)

*. Crimes of the Future was David Cronenberg’s first film in 8 years (and first original script in over 20) but wasn’t as much a big change in direction as it was a throwback, as even the title suggests (Crimes of the Future was also the name of one of Cronenberg’s first movies, a lifetime ago in 1970). Put another way, the crimes of the future we see here are really the crimes of the past, or a future that’s grounded in Cronenberg’s vision of the 1990s.
*. Instead of a gleaming city of the future and scientists in lab coats we have some dark and dirty streets that look like Interzone from Naked Lunch (the film was actually shot in Greece) and a hero named Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) who dresses like a homeless ninja. Even the tech is laughably crude. There is a breakfast chair that seems designed to frustrate digestion and a surgery pod that looks like a scaled-up version of the children’s game Operation.
*. Cronenberg’s aim, and theme, remains alienation. Alienation from our own bodies and alienation of the audience. The idea here is that growing designer internal organs has become a form of high art or mass entertainment (nobody is reading books or watching movies in the future), meaning that “surgery is the new sex.” That said, and despite all the potential such an idea has for gross-out body horror, I really didn’t find it repulsive or shocking at all. And I imagine anyone going into it expecting to see a scary or gory movie was likely disappointed, not to mention bored by all the talk.

*. Almost equally alienating are the performances, which are (again, true to form with Cronenberg) almost anti-human. Without subtitles I wouldn’t have had a clue what Kristen Stewart (looking “attractive, in a bureaucratic kind of way”) was saying, as she seems to have turned her preferred form of whispering/muttering her lines into a trademark now. Mortensen, who apparently could barely walk due to a recent injury, sounds like he’s been growing a new organ in his throat as he is barely able to rasp out a few words at a time. Léa Seydoux is suitably foreign even before she gets implants to turn her into one of the freaks.
*. I’m not going to go into the plot, as you’ll have guessed it’s more or less just a clothesline for Cronenberg to hang his usual anxieties on. He’s like a literary scholar doing a deep dive into the text of the body, or a psychoanalyst digging into the subconscious and only to find (no surprise) a brain with “Mother” tattooed on it. Whether all of it really looks forward to a merging of man and machine, as films like Videodrome and eXistenZ did, or back to something more primitive and archetypal I couldn’t say. Meanwhile, the retro pull feels strong here, and we’re very much in a (painfully) analog not digital world.
*. It’s a movie that didn’t do much for me in any respect. Some of the ideas seemed kind of interesting, and thinking about directed evolution as a fetish is a pregnant parable for our time, especially with the fillip about transforming our digestive tracts so that we can consume plastic. But the exposition was mostly dull and off-putting in a deliberate way, and you have the sense of flipping through scraps from the cutting room floor of Cronenberg’s oeuvre, and finding props that don’t quite fit, weird furniture ready to be marked down, and what feel like deleted scenes from other movies thrown in.
*. More than anything, I came away thinking that Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor (2020) was in every respect not just a better movie but a better Cronenberg movie, done up very much in the style of his father. There’s nothing wrong with this Crimes of the Future, but there’s nothing new here either, and while it’s weird it doesn’t feel weird enough to make much of an impression.

King Lear (2018)

*. I’ll be honest and say that I had my heels dug in against this version of King Lear, directed by Richard Eyre, right from the start. The glittering lights of the City. The black SUVs gliding toward the Tower of London. This doesn’t feel right.
*. The earliest film versions of King Lear had Stonehenge as a backdrop, or men in furs and horned helmets (see what it looked like in 1909 and 1916). The actual story is set in an ancient, pagan Britain, so this isn’t far off the mark. But does it work in modern dress? Yes, for its cruelty and sense of the absurd, even its post-civilization air of collapse. But the tribal code feels out of place. Is a prime minister or a CEO more or less than an ancient king of England? I had to wonder.
*. Then there is the opening scene. I think this only makes sense as a big public show, as it’s already been made clear that Lear has decided how he’s going to divvy up the kingdom. So they might have put it on TV here. But instead it’s done in a room in the Tower among a small, select group of family and courtiers, which kind of upsets the notion of Lear asking for a public declaration of love.
*. After that, however, my cavils were mostly silenced. I still didn’t like what they made of Edgar (a nerdy academic), but this is a solid production that moves really well (coming in at just under two hours), with some excellent performances. Even Cordelia (Florence Pugh) works in this first scene, not playing a shrinking violet but a modern woman not interested in all this profession-of-love bullshit. And given what I’d seen of her in Lady Macbeth and Midsommar I had no trouble buying her resolve. A Cordelia we can believe in is a rare thing in productions of this play.
*. There’s a modern tradition of emphasizing Lear’s mental deterioration even before his semi-abdication, with suggestions of erratic behaviour and perhaps the onset of some mild dementia. This has the effect of making Goneril and Regan, who remark on this, more sympathetic.

*. That angle is really played up here, as I think we have to be on the side of Goneril (Emma Thompson) in the early going. Anthony Hopkins’ Lear comes off as downright abusive, both verbally and physically, while his men are boorish louts who even track mud into her palatial digs. We have the sense that he’s the one driving her mad at the beginning of the play, and not the other way around. We don’t see her as someone bad by nature, but rather as a society lady who snaps when pushed to her limit. Oswald (Christopher Eccleston) makes a nice complement, being a foppish personal assistant who didn’t sign on for any of this drama. Regan (Emily Watson) is the quieter, but dominant sibling. Which is not how she’s usually drawn, but after all, she’s the one who married the odious Cornwall.
*. Effective performances throughout, though I’m starting to wonder at the casting of Black actors as villains in what are otherwise mostly or all-white casts. Here we have John Macmillan as Edmund, which made me think of Sophie Okenedo as Queen Margaret in The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. And while I guess it fits with the idea of Edmund’s bastardy, is that somewhere they really wanted to go?

*. It plays like The Hollow Crown adaptations too in the way the script is cut to run more naturalistically, like a quickly-edited TV drama. Don’t expect a lot of long takes and full speeches. But this is what twenty-first century Shakespeare looks and sounds like because we’ve changed too.
*. I also liked Karl Johnson as an old Fool. That part is usually played as a younger part, but here it makes perfect sense that he’d be a frail old man, a companion of Lear’s going a long way back. Plus, they can explain his disappearance by having him suffer a heart attack after the hovel scene.
*. The hovel itself is a cargo container (rather nicely turned out) that’s in a tent city of homeless. That worked as a modern update. The fight between Edgar and Edmund, however, has to be done as an MMA-style fight because obviously no one has a sword or armour (Edgar’s face is concealed behind a black balaclava). I didn’t much care for that. And finally there’s yet another underwhelming storm on the heath. I wonder if Shakespeare really knew what he was doing here, as it’s hard to work on stage as well. But he wanted a world falling into chaos so that’s what he dialed up.
*. In sum, it won me over and I came away enjoying it quite a bit, being thoroughly entertained throughout. Very much a King Lear for our time, which is as it should be.