mon 13/07/2020

Hollywood, Netflix review - rosy escapism serving good causes | reviews, news & interviews

Hollywood, Netflix review - rosy escapism serving good causes

Hollywood, Netflix review - rosy escapism serving good causes

A top ensemble makes this slick fantasy rewriting of Tinseltown history very easy to watch

Unfashonable defiance: Jeremy Pope, Jake Picking, Samara Weaving, Laura Harrier, Darren Criss and David Corenswet

If you're catering for wish fulfilment, you might as well go the whole hog. Some say that Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, in their latest peachy extravaganza, aim no higher than the cheesier fantasies of the late 1940s Hollywood they take into neverland. But there are two key aspects to consider, beyond the always tasteful cinematography, the fashions and the ever-present pastichey music. One is a true ensemble of 10 fine characterisations, roles for four oldies plus six young to youngish and decidedly glamorous aspirants. The other is that so much of Hollywood then created escapism in the service of a lie; here it's the possible and - for the audience at which this is aimed - desirable which Murpy and Brennan put centre stage, showering awards on it.

It's been said that Hollywood goes off the rails in pursuing a parallel universe; but it never has an interest in being on them, beyond the gift-wrapping. True, we have three famous names whose lives moved along different paths from those taken in the series' later episodes: glossy if charismatic cameos of Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) and Hattie McDaniel (Queen Latifah), and a plum role for Roy Fitzgerald, screen name Rock Hudson (Jake Picking), who gets the guy (black scriptwriter Archie Coleman, winsomely played by Jeremy Pope) early on and (possible spoiler only if you haven't grasped the Murphy ethos early on) keeps him. David Corrensweet and Patti Lupone in HollywoodBut it's all apple-pie improbable right there in episode one: good lord, people have compassionate conversations before and after transactional sex - what's the likelihood of that? Possibly more so where everyone's in the same area of entertainment, the exploiter and the waiting-to-be-exploited. Inevitably one wondered how often another attractive young man was going to take his shirt off (it wouldn't be a Murphy/Brennan series otherwise), though I'm not complaining. Even so it needed another episode to shake off the disagreeable oh-look-here's-Patti-LuPone-as-predator first impression (pictured above with David Corenswet).

As in every romantic comedy, Jacks and Jills of all ages will find a way, though much must go ill first. But not really. Is there any doubt that what we're rooting for - a black leading lady (the stunning Laura Harrier) and writer promoted by a hitherto-safe film studio in a film plot that will also buck the trends - must come to pass? That two closeted men of power will find the courage to come out of the closet? The race issue, at least, is less improbable than it might seem in the light of an astonishing BBC World Service documentary about Hazel Scott, the jazz singer who went to Hollywood on her terms, never played the maid and brought folk out in protest when she saw exploitation at its worst.Scene from HollywoodIt's funny, though; in writing about Hollywood the stardust slips through one's fingers. That leaves not much else to say other than that the only false notes are incidental (embarrassing impersonations of Vivien Leigh and Noel Coward at one of George Cukor's naughty parties). The oldies - LuPone, the equally sassy Holland Taylor as coach and executive Ellen Kincaid, a nuanced performance from Joe Mantello as closeted Dick Samuels (the two pictured above) and a flamboyant one from Dylan McDermott as failed actor-turned-petrol-station pimp Ernie West - are note-perfect, the youngsters, led by the undeniably gorgeous David Corenswet as nominal hero Jack Castello and graced by that remarkable actor Darren Criss in a part slightly blander than he's used to, always easy on the eye. Jim Parsons in HollywoodMost variegated is Jim Parsons' exploitative talent scout Henry Willson (pictured above), the most skilful performance of all in turning on a penny. Babylon Berlin it isn't, but when acting's as good as this and the script is smart, you just have to sit back and succumb. Could there be another series? I can't see what it could do or where it could go, but with this line-up I'd happily suspend disbelief again. In the meantime, if you're feeling in need of more comfort TV at this time, you could go back and turn to all seven series of Murphy's and Brennan's endlessly watchable Glee.

As in every romantic comedy, Jacks and Jills of all ages will find a way

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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