|STEVEN SPIELBERGWIZARD OF OZNEW MOVIEAMERICA|
The American Film Institute has started a new movie club to help those of us who are currently in self-isolation and practicing social distancing. With the help of legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the organization has launched the AFI Movie Club, which will announce a featured cinematic classic each day that movie lovers around the world can watch as a collective online. Steven Spielberg is helping to launch the initiative with its first selection, The Wizard of Oz.
Described by AFI as 'a daily virtual gathering to leverage our collective love of film on behalf of optimism in this time of global uncertainty,' the AFI Movie Club doesn't require any paid subscription or anything of the like. It's simply a way for fans of classic cinema to come together around this shared interest, with the help of special guests. Steven Spielberg, director of cinematic classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, appeared in a brief video to announce the first selection. Here's what Spielberg had to say.'I have the honor of introducing the very first film we would encourage the world to watch, The Wizard of Oz. Now, I know you think you've seen it, but please think again because, right now, at this moment in our history what better message is there than there's no place like home?'
AFI will select an iconic movie each day as they look to create a communal viewing experience, while maintaining social distancing. Other special guests will announce select the AFI Movies of the Day via short videos posted on the group's website and social media platforms. Audiences can 'gather' at the club's official website to view the featured movie each day using preexisting streaming services. The daily selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive. Audiences are encouraged to continue the conversation online using the hashtag #AFIMovieClub. Bob Gazzale, President and CEO of AFI, had this to say in a statement.'AFI's goal is to live in a world of art above anxiety. We're honored to have Steven Spielberg, the greatest storyteller of our day, lead the way.'
The Wizard of Oz was originally released in 1939. As classic cinema goes, it doesn't get much more iconic. Directed by Victor Fleming, the tale of Dorothy Judy Garland and her dog Toto became a massive hit and an Oscar-winner in its day. But its legacy goes far beyond industry accolades, as it is consistently recognized as one of the greatest and most important movies ever made.
There is no word yet on who else will be tapped to help present these movies, but it's probably best kept a surprise until the big reveal each day. The Wizard of Oz isn't currently available to stream for free, but it is available to rent from most major online retailers. Those interested in learning more about the AFI Movie Club can head on over to AFI.com.
Though “The Plot Against America” took its time to get going, it’s full steam ahead for David Simon’s Philip Roth adaptation by Episode 4 — but to what end? With just two episodes to go, the drama has certainly flared up: The Levin familial bonds are being pushed to the brink as Sandy falls increasingly under Lindbergh’s spell, with the help of Aunt Evelyn and her new boyfriend Rabbi Bengelsdorf. The lines have been drawn, and it’s not looking good for either side. While this was by far the most exciting episode so far, it still feels as though Simon is obligingly following Roth’s outline rather than forging his own path.
In both the novel and the series “The Plot Against America,” there’s an unmentioned but implicit rhetorical question reaching out from beyond the page and screen. To borrow from the musical “Cabaret,” one of the only pieces of pop culture to artfully grapple with this unthinkable dilemma: What would you do? If a fascist were elected president of your country, if your sister started dating one of his shills, if your son was secretly sketching his visage by flashlight — how would you behave? Would you flee to Canada, organize the resistance, or stick your head in the sand and hope for the best?
The fourth episode hones in on these questions with laser-like precision, enjoying the fruits of the preceding three episodes that felt, both in retrospect and in real time, mostly like set-up. Having returned from his “Just Folks” adventure in Kentucky, a Hitler Youth-esque recruiting tool of Rabbi Bengelsdorf’s John Turturro design, Sandy has quite literally become the poster child for assimilationist Jews. Evelyn Winona Ryder proudly features him in a brochure for the program, against Bess’ Zoe Kazan wishes.
Sandy’s transformation has been building since the pilot episode, which ended with him surreptitiously sketching Charles Lindbergh from of a newspaper clipping. Having planted the seeds deliberately, the show earns its most uncomfortable moment so far when Sandy spits at his parents, calling them “ghetto Jews — narrow-minded ghetto Jews.” His transformation is complete. When Bess slaps him across the face, it’s hard not to let out a silent cheer. Your Jewish firstborn becoming a Nazi sympathizer may be the rare instance when a kid deserves a good wallop.
Less effective is a Shabbas dinner argument between Herman Morgan Spector and Bengelsdorf, where Herman puts aside any last shred of civility to tell the Rabbi what he really thinks of his man Lindbergh. Maybe it’s the fact that only the men are talking while the women make sidelong glances of...