Tuesday, May 26, 2009

John Adams

Tom Hooper, 2008, 7 hrs (8.4*)
Emmy for Best Miniseries
This was my Memorial weekend film selection due to the historical tie-in, and I expected a boring seven-hour history lesson about our first VP and second president. I was pleasantly surprised by some action in the early episodes, and an absolutely incredible performance by Emmy-winner Paul Giamatti in the title role, his best performance by far. It begins with a literal bang with the Boston Massacre, when lawyer Adams defends the British, and also includes a well-done naval battle in part 2. This was produced by Tom Hanks, and won five major Emmys and a record 13 overall, so it's not a low-budget PBS series - it's a high budget HBO series!

Laura Linney, also an Emmy-winner, is good as wife Abigail, but she speaks as if giving speeches or elocution lessons, so I'm not sure about her Emmy. Veteran character actor Tom Wilkinson (Emmy-winner for supporting), always impeccable, was a standout as Benjamin Franklin at the royal palace in France; some of the locations in Europe are stunning. The series starts strong and gets a little slow in the Presidential years with some family dinners, and a cotton-chewing David Morse didn't do much as George Washington. However, to cover decades in a founding fathers life still must be done with only important episodes in that life, so that keeps the series moving. A must for history buffs, maybe too slow for the action-adventure, shoot em up crowd.


Barbara Ehrentreu May 27, 2009 at 12:10 AM  

See I disagree with you about Laura Linney's Emmy. The part of Abigail Adams is not easy, because she has to be speaking as if she were writing a letter. The whole point of this is that when she sounds like she's doing public speaking she's really writing a letter to him. Their scenes together, though were very tender and normal. I thought she was great and definitely deserved the Emmy!

José Sinclair May 27, 2009 at 12:36 AM  

She was very good in the more emotional parts, toward the end especially, I just had a problem with her in the beginning - she seemed like an actress on stage, Giamatti never did. and I thought Wilkinson was superb as Franklin, terrific acting without dialogue in places.

13 Emmys, a record - it sure did look just right! Anything Hanks produces now, the Band of Brothers series with Spielberg, the space one.. great stuff for tv!

Everyone sure liked Laura Linney, and I do usually like her a lot - she was overdue for a major award.

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Lisa May 29, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

You didn't mention Stephen Dillane's sublime Thomas Jefferson. I think he was better even than Wilkinson as Franklin, who won the Emmy. Dillane created a Jefferson who was not a caricature -- as Wilkinson's Franklin was, sort of -- and was an intelligent enigma. But it's a great miniseries -- stands up to repeat viewings, too!

José Sinclair May 30, 2009 at 3:12 AM  

You're right - he's so good he just blends right in..
I forgot him b/c I don't know the name at all.

Not sure he's as good as Wilkinson, who did a lot with body language and facial expressions without any dialogue, but he was terrific..

I don't think he was a caricurature - Franklin was pretty risque and wacky - one of his quotes is:
"When riding a horse, sit heavy and tight, when riding a man, sit loose and light" (Poor Richard's Almanac, which was on every nightstand!)

thanks for info - Dillane should be in the reviewt! - Jose

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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