People have asked me what I think about THE CROWN, and I say the casting for the royal family was great, and the acting by Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and Vanessa Kirby, who play them is terrific (though the role of Margaret's photographer love and eventual husband, Tony Armstrong Jones, was terribly miscast, Matthew Goode has nothing like the physical charisma the original had), and the writing is very good giving emotional and psychological depth to the royals, creating dialogue and drama that I doubt ever really existed. My guess is that the royals are as banal, shallow, and superficial as they seem to be, (and we know that factually Princess Margaret was a bigoted, racist, self-indulgent, narcissistic horror) and that being a witness to their actual private lives would be as boring as being a witness to their public ones usually is (which is why Princess Diana was such a breath of fresh air).
People have asked me what I think of the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary THE VIETNAM WAR, and I say I can understand the perspective of those on the left who feel it doesn't cover enough of the leftist perspective on and experience of that tragic mistake, or even those on the right who feel the same way from their side. But for me it is the documentarians' perspective that counts, and this is theirs, a work of filmic art that is relatively comprehensive, given the enormity of the subject, relatively balanced, and relatively successful, especially emotionally. I witnessed some of the scenes in the movie (the protest ones, including the throwing of metals by Viet vets, over the fence etc.) and lost friends in the conflict, so to re-experience this through the film moved me, despite the fact that given the chance I would have done an entirely different film on the subject.
People have asked me what I think about the recent three-part TV series GUNPOWDER, starring Kit Harrington, about the plot to blow up the English Parliament and King James I during the early years of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Though it had some moments of historically appropriate acting and writing (some great Shakespearean turns of phrases) and costuming etc, it also had scenes shot in ways that made Harrington seem like a boy in the presence of men (I guess for whatever reason as a producer he wanted to be shown as a small man compared to many of his followers, but then his director and cinematographer shot him in ways that at times made him seem boyish and even unattractive, which counters the main reasons audiences fell in love with him in GAME OF THRONES. So, in the end, it's not something I would recommend.