Projections - Movie Reviews

Cradle Will Rock Cradle Will Rock

Cradle Will Rock relives the spirit of the 1930's.  This is a decade when American culture was going through turbulent changes.  Politics clash with art fervently in this story.  Cradle Will Rock is a high minded film that will really appeal to the theater set as there is a battle for a federally financed theater.

Directed and written by Tim Robbins, this fine actor captures the period with diversity.  He uses a rich cast and sharp camera work from Jean Yves Escoffier.  He makes the New York City streets evoke desperation.  Political and theatrical forces collide with the opening of a contentious musical, "The Cradle Will Rock" by Marc Blitzstein (Hank Azaria).

Robbins writes his screenplay with a passion.  He reveals a kaleidoscope of significance regarding the flowed play that is pressured by right wing activists who get the police to shut down the theater at its premiere.  The troupe led by the young Orson Welles and partner John Houseman, united to cross union lines and perform in another auditorium, assisted by Blitzstein on the piano.

This actor's director has a cultural awareness that boldly fuses politics and art soundly as he slyly threads the tumultuous story.

Inter-cutting early scenes of Emily Watson's acting with Blitzstein's drafting and conniving between the industrialist husband of a Welles supporter and a lovely Italian delegate who just happens to be Mussolini's ex-mistress is accomplished with pace and skill.  There are problems at the Works Progress Administration, a clerk, Jaze Huffman, speaking out against the Federal Theater.  She develops a relationship with a ventriloquist, Tommy Crickshaw, who assists her in testimony to a government committee to derail the politically radical Federal Theater.

The forging of a pro-labor musical is enlivened by Angus Macfadyen's pretentiously creative, but loud Welles, and Cary Elwes magisterially stuck up Houseman.  Cherry Jones shows her unflagging stage presence as theater lobbyist Hallie Flanagan.  Even Joan Cusack's work specialists and Vanessa Redgrave's elegant LaGrange add zest when working opposite a self effacing Bill Murray and the busy Philip Baker Hall.

Though it may appear to reveal some of its many performers in a less detailed manner, Robbins convincingly finds a way to rock this cradle with style.

Cradle Will Rock

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