TV Show: ‘Turn’

This new AMC historical drama series based on the 2007 book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring hasn’t yet fully grabbed me in its initial episodes. But I recently said the same thing about “Game of Thrones” and soon after feasted on all three previous seasons and am now up-to-date on season four, eagerly awaiting the next episode. It feels authentic to colonial times, and as the intrigue grows I hope and imagine I will enjoy this new show.

TV Documentary: ‘Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes’

Excepting the Olympian stature of Bob Dylan by his past alone (though he still remains a vital artist), Bruce Springsteen is the closest thing we have to an American musical poet laureate. A national conscience as well as chronicler and champion of the common man, he continues to create earnest, sincere and rich rock’n’roll on his 16th album, which this jam-packed half-hour HBO special chronicles the making of and spotlights well with exciting concert footage backed by his E Street Band along with auxiliary players and guest star Tom Morello.

Movie: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Heartwarming drama is a Disney specialty, and the story of Walt Disney’s concerted campaign to transform author P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins” tales into a family film has that in spades. Truth be told, the true story is far from what’s portrayed here as a struggle between movie producer and writer with a happy ending of the hit “Poppins” movie – Travers remained unhappy with it – but underneath the soap suds and a glossily colorful depiction of Southern California in the 1960s are some fine performances, especially by the always-brilliant Emma Thompson as Travers. Tom Hanks hams up his Walt Disney portrayal a bit much, but Colin Farrell provides a nice counterweight as Travers’ alcoholic father in scenes from her Australian childhood. It all adds up to a quite pleasant diversion with enough dramatic heft to make the extra spoonfuls of sugar not taste saccharine.

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2014


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