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Paul Schrader’s First Reformed: The Prodigal Returns?

A life in the arts can be a tenuous, reckless, and holy pilgrimage. Creating one’s best work near the end of a career, especially following an extended fallow period, should rightly cause great joy and celebration. By this measurement, the 72-year-old Paul Schrader ought to be ecstatic. In his sublime First Reformed, this child, rebel, and reverberator of the Reformed tradition has crafted a film that stands with distinction among his very best, a list that includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and my…
Robert J. Hubbard
October 3, 2018

Netflix’s Daredevil: Superhero with a Real Soul

The unexpected news that Netflix had produced and released 13 episodes of Daredevil filled me with a mixture of nostalgic hope and earned skepticism. I loved the Marvel comic as a kid, but I also dolefully recalled Kevin Smith’s 2003 film, latent with bad Ben Affleck and shallow Hollywoodization of Daredevil’s gritty mythology. I feared this second installment would again sanitize the melancholic beauty of Marvel’s dark morality tale. Upon viewing creator Drew Goddard’s inspired retelling, fear thankfully transformed into…
Robert J. Hubbard
October 31, 2015

Shakespeare 2008: Wars Without and Within

NOVEMBER 2008: REVIEW by Robert Hubbard Shakespeare's "difficult" plays fall into two categories: alluring messes and rigorous masterpieces. On the last day of May 2008, I visited the opposite ends of this continuum. I caught the matinee of Cheek by Jowl's alluring deconstruction of Troilus and Cressida performed at the Barbican Theatre in London. Later that evening, I stood in the pit of Shakespeare's Globe for a powerful if conservative production of King Lear. Exposed to over six nearly continuous…
Robert J. Hubbard
November 15, 2008

Transitions at the Guthrie: A Review of Hamlet

"Tyrone Guthrie must be mad." So whispered the English theater kingdom when, in 1963, the esteemed sweet prince of the London stage founded a theater in, of all places, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA! Guthrie's decision eleven years earlier to become the first-ever artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario had already called his sanity into question. That this boondocks in North America shared the name of Shakespeare's birthplace prevented Guthrie's benefactors from permanently committing him to a nunnery for…

The Exonerated: A Docudrama

"Before acting in this play I philosophically didn't have a problem with the death penalty. What I've learned is that the problems lie in implementation." So says two-time Tony Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy during a post-show talk some fifteen minutes after receiving a standing ovation from a Minnesota audience. Dennehy refers to his experience playing Gary Gauger in Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's play, The Exonerated.  Dennehy's character is a man mistakenly convicted of murdering his parents. Touring cities across…
Robert J. Hubbard
June 1, 2004

Performing a Christian Icon: Tom Key’s C. S. Lewis on Stage

Witnessing an actor play C.S. Lewis on stage hardly strikes the contemporary viewer as a novel experience. For over a decade, various versions of William Nicholson's drama Shadowlands have traversed their way through different mediums, providing Lewis impersonators with unprecedented employment. Joss Ackland first played the Oxford don in the BBC teleplay (1985), followed by Nigel Hawthorn on stage in the West End and on Broadway (1989), followed by Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-nominated film portrayal (1993). Although these high-profile productions dominate…
Robert J. Hubbard
May 16, 2004