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The American Utopia by David Byrne and 3 great new films about America

See, I think many of us may agree that America does not look good these days. The land of the free and the home of the brave is exhausted, sick, anxious, disturbed, and self-sufficient. Since we are only a few weeks away from a very important election, it is not controversial to say that this is not the shining moment of the country.

So while I don’t know if it was by design or by accident, it is serendipitous that the four films that started digital services this weekend will try to thread a tricky needle: see America for what it is, and find hope in it. There are two movie versions of the acclaimed Broadway play; another is from one of the country’s most popular screenwriters; and one is one of the best documentaries of the year.

The pictures painted by these films are not really pink. They do not traffic in myths about restoring former greatness or being the best of us. But the people who made them are looking for the kernel of humanity in the midst of injustice, and in their own way, each of them will find it.

Incorporate everything, and you will begin to see a picture of America with thought, layered, and hopeful, drawing on the past to understand the present and find something in the present to point us to the future. I can’t think of a better theme to look for in today’s tests, challenging.

Watch Time for an offensive story of true courage and hope

Heartbreaking and passionate, Time is the narrative of a postponed love and the life that hope can give. Garrett Bradley’s documentary follows Fox Rich (aka Civil Richardson), who spent 21 years doggedly petitioning for his wife Rob, to be released from prison. Rob serves a 60-year sentence for a youth crime in which they are both involved; Fox, meanwhile, raised their six children and became a strong advocate for change in his community.

Time the detail of his struggle, showing how the masses continue to separate Black families in America, as well as how bureaucracy and centuries of narratives hide the reality and pain of those separations. And all the while, Fox makes videos at home, like a diary of his pain, endurance, and promise of hope.

How to watch it: Time is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Watch What the Constitution Means to Me for an angry and dependent view of law, debate, and rights

When Heidi Schreck was 15, she would travel around the Pacific Northwest for speech competitions prepared by the American Legion chapters, providing timely addresses about the meaning and importance of various arrangements. of the constitution. A few years later he recreated that experience together What the Constitution Means to Me, who garnered the nominations of Tony and Pulitzer during the 2019 Broadway run. Schreck writes and stars in the play, in which he pretends to be 15 years old, talking about the Constitution – even up to his youthful hopes. hope is challenged by both of her long-term realities and stories of her family’s past.

The downloaded version of What the Constitution Means to Me (with direction from Will You Not Be BothMarielle Heller) captures the moving, angry, heartbreaking, and strangely inspiring Broadway show. Schreck makes great changes between his own personal history, stories from the lives of his female ancestors, and deeply researched knowledge of Supreme Court decisions and arguments, policy weaving together, discourse on rights, and life experience. And he ended up sparring with a teenage partner in the debate about the future of the Constitution – a moment that demonstrates the power and true purpose of a genuine, thoughtful debate.

How to watch it: What the Constitution Means to Me is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Watch The Test of Chicago 7 for a provocative call to disapproval and placing the honor where it belongs

The Test of Chicago 7 is a signature Aaron Sorkin humdinger, a court drama about the past with the present in mind. Its theme was the six-month trial of a group of men charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intent to provoke a riot in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The men traveled to Chicago to protest the Vietnam War. The commotion happened. But the men did not conspire – and moreover, they insisted that the Chicago Police Department started the violence.

Sorkin wrote and directed The Test of Chicago 7, which revolves around a bit of actual historical events in the story service. But the film draws parallels between issues that were important in the past – racism, police militarization, unequal justice, challenges to the right to protest – and still sound. With a brilliant cast that includes, among others, Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Test of Chicago 7 is a film that seeks to connect the dots of the past with the present, and suggests that sometimes the long arm of justice runs through rocky territory.

How to watch it: The Test of Chicago 7 is streaming to Netflix.

Watch American By Utopia by David Byrne for a buoyant, beautiful musical celebration of our differences

In 2019, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne mounted a Broadway show that was not a concert or a play or a musical or anything, really, other than the recognizable Byrne-ian production. In a gray-hued stage full of lights and craftsmanship, accompanied by a team of brilliant musicians and singers dressed in matching gray suits, Byrne weaves an American story . The songs from his catalog were redesigned for a fun ride in his mind – and by how he imagined the possibility of an American utopia.

Spike Lee got the whole thing in the movie, and the result was American By Utopia by David Byrne, a simultaneous realistic and unrealistic journey through why a nation is a nation: We share the same home. Byrne’s songs question the notions of home and house and what they mean in an American context. His answer is that we are all different; we look different, we talk differently, we believe in different things, and there is still hope that we can decide to rebuild our house. I dare you not to dance while watching it.

How to watch it: American By Utopia by David Byrne aired 8 pm East on October 17th and starts streaming HBO Max at the same time.

If you are still looking for something …

  • Kajillionaire, Miranda’s latest comedy July, when it comes to digital services requested this week (find the full list of services here). Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger, and Richard Jenkins, it is an eccentric, loving story of growing up and learning to love. (I loved the film and wrote about how it shows July’s unwavering love for what is unique to all of us.)
  • Coming to select virtual cinemas: Martin eden, which seems to be a tribute to the Italian cinema as an adaptation of a Jack London novel. This is the story of a young man named Martin (Luca Marinelli, whom you may have seen on Netflix) The Old Guard) seeking to join the ranks of the elite through self-education. It was a critically acclaimed, green shot of tragedy.

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