Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Back to Homeland

Homeland promo

You know those halcyon days that dominate the early stages of a relationship, be it with new friend, colleague or lover? They seem to carry a golden glow of perfection. Then something happens...maybe an outburst of inappropriate anger...maybe a broken promise...whatever it is, you discover they have flaws, and they go from extraordinary to ordinary status.

So goes the saga of my love affair with Homeland. As I work my way through the season-two DVDs, I've had to accept that this drama is not the beacon of perfection it was on its maiden voyage.

Things were going along just fine until episode three. Even Damian Lewis's stellar acting couldn't make me swallow the plotline that sends Brody to Gettysburg to take the tailor who made his bomb vest to a safe house. Brody is supposed to be Abu Nazir's secret weapon; his access to CIA officials and the Vice President are key to Nazir's desire to exact revenge on the U.S. Why would he risk putting him out in public with someone the CIA is chasing, especially in a car with a license plate that could be linked to Brody?

Lewis, as usual, was a whirlwind of mad-eyed intensity, panting and sweating as he got ever more bloody and dirty and the situation spiraled out of control. Nevertheless, those scenes marked the first time that I ever laughed at something I wasn't meant to on the show.

And then...two episodes later came one called "Q&A," written by the late, great Henry Bromell. Brody is arrested and spends most of the hour facing Claire Danes's Carrie in an interrogation room. It showed the series at its best. Lewis has got to be one of the most convincing criers on TV, and his scenes with Danes are riveting.

So I'm back in love with Homeland--and also with the person who created the promo above, which beautifully conveys the enigma that is Brody and Carrie's fascination with him--at least until the next DVD arrives from Netflix.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Romeo the Right Way

Daphne Rubin-Vega and Elizabeth Olsen in Romeo & Juliet.

CSC's nervy, nontraditional Romeo & Juliet, which I caught at a Sunday matinee a month after I saw the current Broadway revival, is a welcome surprise. I didn't expect it to be universally embraced, but I'm surprised it was lambasted by so many critics. I'll take Bosnian director Tea Alagic's carefully conceived interpretation over the one full of sound and fury that's on Broadway.