our pick & pans
In a world of frivolous flicks, here is one that mulls big topics — aspects of society, sexuality, power dynamics and more. It’s engrossing, despite its dependence on speechifying and ideological discussion. (It often feels very much like a play.) Director Sarah Polley co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay from Miriam Toews’ book of the same name, about the women in a Mennonite enclave who realize they have been repeatedly drugged and raped by the men in the group. The women’s accusations were dismissed as the result of ghosts, or of the women lying to get attention, or some other excuse. The men are all away after an arrest, and before the men return, the women have to decide if they are going to stay and fight or leave. “Women Talking” is an acting showcase for the likes of Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara and, in an unfortunately tiny role, the great Frances McDormand. “Women Talking” will have you talking after seeing it.
— Kristina Dorsey
Facing Nolan Netflix
The Bitter Old Man emerging in me suggests that most young baseball players coming into the big leagues have no idea who Nolan Ryan is — or, for that matter, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and on and on. Anywhere but baseball, that sort of generational lack of historical awareness isn’t that unusual. But ... baseball? Get thee to Netflix and watch this amazing account of the life of one of baseball’s greatest pitchers — and a genuinely unique athlete and personality.
— Rick Koster
Hadestown Through Sunday, Providence Performing Arts Center
Can a musical about hell be, uh, a bit of theater heaven? If it’s “Hadestown,” the answer is yes. The piece created by Anais Mitchell reimagines the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a modern world, resulting in a thoughtful, darkly compelling show. No wonder it nabbed the 2019 Tony for best musical. Orpheus and Eurydice fall in love in a rundown New Orleans-esque setting, but then a hungry and cold Eurydice sells her soul to Hades and has to slave away in his underworld factory. Orpheus vows to rescue her. The echoes of the real haves and have nots are clear; Hades represents capitalism gone mad. Matthew Patrick Quinn, who plays Hades, has a voice so deep he makes Johnny Cash sound like a soprano. Quinn looms large (literally, since he’s a long, tall fellow), but the cast as a whole impresses, too. Mitchell’s Americana score envelops you, and Rachel Chavkin makes “Hadestown” pulse with her wildly imaginative direction. If you’re a theater fan, you should see this production.
— Kristina Dorsey