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  Art For All PeopleŽ    We Talk Contemporary Art    April 2017
FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN: A REVIEW

If you haven’t been watching this spectacular Ryan Murphy miniseries on FX, you are missing out.

Murphy has the uncanny ability of going right for the jugular and getting to the heart of the matter. It stings, but it sings.

This is something I often aim for in my own writing.

Life is short. While you’ll never hear me complain about long, wide, sweeping vistas and the most elegant dialogue you’ve ever heard, I also want to get to the point. Don’t bury the point. In “Feud: Bette and Joan,” Murphy doesn’t bury the point, he shines a spotlight on it.

Murphy and all of his directors and one of the most stellar casts you’ve ever seen anywhere – TV, stage or film – tell the hell out of the story of the notorious feud between Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

This is simply a master class in acting, screenwriting, producing and storytelling. I’ve never seen anything like it. The actors – and I mean all of them – are absolutely KILLING these roles. Every single one of them is simply at the top of their game.

I’m writing this review after having seen Episode Six of this eight-installment miniseries. Sorry it took so long.

All I can think is this … it was such a shame that Hollywood was hell bent on destroying Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both of whom were just hitting their strides when Jack Warner felt they were too old to contribute anything worthwhile.

There are so many lessons to be learned here. Here are a few:

Aging isn’t a bad thing. It’s a glorious thing.

Talent doesn’t fade with time, it grows.

Beauty doesn’t fade, it changes.

Women get better with age. Period.

Power hungry men are scared little boys.

Hollywood was – and is – a machine that will chew anyone – and I mean anyone - up and spit them out in an instant. Same yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.

Why feud when you can join forces?

Make peace with your past. If you don’t, it will haunt you.

Marriage is not for the faint of heart.

Get in front of the story before the story stabs you in the back.

What goes around will surely come back around.

Artistry and fame can co-exist, but it’s a tough trick.

When you dig someone’s grave, dig one for yourself.

Success is subjective and life is a rollercoaster.

I could go on and on. What fascinates me so much about “Feud: Bette and Joan” is the fact that it’s about so much more than a feud between two Hollywood legends. It’s truly a cautionary tale about work, ambition, gender, social class, love, marriage, success, money, survival, family, morals … you name it.

It’s such a pleasure to sit and watch these actors, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Alfred Molina, Judy Davis, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Jackie Hoffman and others … just having the time of their careers with these roles. It’s like watching kids playing, only they’re adult actors on screen.

While there are many talented young actors out there, they simply don’t have the commanding presence and gravitas of these seasoned veterans. Good actors only get better with age.

Too bad Jack Warner refused to believe that.

Even today, while Hollywood is a bit more generous, any aging actor knows that while wrinkles and thinning hair are great for characters, they signal the death knell for screen careers.

But … if you’re the vengeful sort, take heart. There’s a simple reality that we simply cannot escape … whether you’re in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Washington, DC, Wall Street or the Great Plains … feud or no feud … politics or no politics …  

No one is getting out of this alive.

 

 

 

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