Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Hero

★ ★ ★ The Hero was made completely in Angola, which is noteworthy given the country doesn’t have a movie industry. So making the movie at all is a fairly remarkable accomplishment, but The Hero was sufficiently impressive to win the World Dramatic Grand Prize at Sundance. (Apparently, this was something the director had never expected, as he had left the festival before the winners were announced. The “sales agent” was the only one left to talk about the movie at the awards screening!)

This is a powerful, touching and compassionate film about the intersecting lives of individuals as Angola attempts to rebuild from within after a devastating 30-year civil war. First-time director Zeze Gamboa clearly has an intimate understanding of the challenges facing the country. (Interesting fact, there are over three active land mines in Angola for every one person!) But at the same time, you can feel Gamboa's conviction that humanity can shine through the challenges and adversity. And while rebuilding the infrastructure and curing the social ills will take time, the human spirit can still triumph through individuals.

This is an inspiring and enlightening movie.


★ ★ ★ In South Africa in the 1950’s, young journalist Henry Nxumalo helped fashion the magazine Drum into an outspoken voice against the repressive and dehumanizing effects of apartheid. Director Zola Moseka tells his story, from the lively Harlemesque nightlife of Sophiatown to the courageous infiltration of the farms and prisons outside of Johannesburg.

Taye Diggs gives a moving and multi-dimensional portrayal of Henry, supported by surprisingly strong performances from the entire cast. The film is shot completely in South Africa, and the sets and backdrops make for a much more believable period piece than you would expect to see from its $5 million budget.

One could argue that the movie too often uses an easy cliché and forced screenwriting to keep the story tidy. But nevertheless, Drum manages to both educate and entertain. Those of us not intimately familiar with apartheid will find our eyes opened by the parallels to the civil rights struggles of our own country. At the same time, the story of Henry Nxumalo makes for compelling drama, and Moseka tells it with honesty and compassion.

How to Speak Sundance

Every year Sundance publishes a catalog of all the movies in the festival. These are meant to help the moviegoer decide which films to attend. Now to be clear, these are not your traditional “reviews.” They typically include a brief synopsis, accompanied by over-the-top glowing praise of the film set to lofty and pretentious prose. For example (and I’m not making this up):

“… (the director’s) brilliance lies in her ability to maximize dramatic moments and expose the machinery of psychological change while lithely moving the story forward.”

Based on a bookful of descriptions like these, you might expect to see 212 Oscar nominations coming out of the festival this year (one for each movie). But that’s never the case. In fact, despite these glowing reports, some of the movies are painfully bad and will never make it to a single theatre. So what can you really know from the catalog?

After years of practice, I have begun to understand the hidden meaning in these commentaries, but it takes a certain amount of deciphering. Here are few examples taken out of real-life descriptions from the 2005 catalog:

If the movie has "nuanced phrasing” …
It means that it is slow-moving and boring.

When it says the movie provides a “sobering look at life” …
It means you’ll be completely depressed, perhaps even suicidal, by the end.

If the director “creates an aesthetic” …
It will be a weird movie.

If the word “experimental” is used anywhere in the description …
It will be even weirder—a truly bizarre film that will never get released and only a few sociopaths will even buy the DVD.

If you’re told that it is a “moving film” …
It means somebody dies, probably your favorite character.

If we learn that the director has captured “earthy desires” of the characters …
This will be a dirty movie.

If the term “sexual energy” appears anywhere in the description …
It will border on pornography, but with "nuanced phrasing."

If the movie is “charming” ...
It will be one of the few at Sundance with a happy ending.

If the movie is “complex” …
You probably won’t understand it.

If the film is a “metaphor”…
You’ll never really know what it’s about, but neither does the director, no matter what he says.

I hope this helps. But if the catalog says something like “This exquisite visual aridity, an austere editorial pace, and magnificently layered ambient sound create an atmosphere of stagnation and futile clamor…” Well, you’re on your own.

Rock School

★ ★ ★ No one in the Sundance audience had the temerity to ask director Don Argott if he began this documentary of the real-life School of Rock before or after Jack Black’s eponymous comedy became a smash hit. In any event, it is fascinating to meet Paul Green, the school’s founder, up close and personal. Green is a 30-something adolescent that has never recovered from his dream to be a rock star. So he lives his life vicariously through the kids, teaching them, getting them gigs and trying to mold his place as the greatest developer of young rock ‘n roll talent in the world. (It’s a nice moniker, but probably doesn’t impress the chicks nearly as much as “Rock Star.”)

Please enter Rock School. Imagine if you will parents paying good money for an after-school program where their children learn the music, history and cultural significance of bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Metallica. Watch Mom join in the fun by dressing up her nine-year-old boy like Ozzy Osbourne, with a fake cross tattoo on his forehead. (Being something of a traditional parent, she couldn’t quite be convinced to allow her child to wear the pentagram and other satanic symbols he requested, but it was a close call.)

No, this isn't the Student Council. But maybe it's a worthy effort, because some of these kids can make a Fender Strat riff like Jimmy Page. And if they fully apply themselves, maybe they can even be big-time rock stars some day, which I’m sure will make them model citizens and bring unbridled happiness to all.

Pardon the cynicism. I do love rock ‘n roll. And the fact is, Rock School is an entertaining film that flies by—which is a little unusual for a documentary. Clearly the kids like and respect Green, and in turn he genuinely cares for them. But as a parent, I can’t say that I’d wish the lifestyle on my kids. And I couldn’t help but have a sick feeling hearing Mr. Green launch into profanity-filled tirades, or hearing some of the kids return fire.

I’m sure that some good comes out of the experience. But if this is how you expand your kids' horizons, than maybe you need to find a new compass.


★ ★ ★ ★ This is a visually mesmerizing film that takes movie fantasy into new territory. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Wizard of Oz performed by Cirque de Soleil. MirrorMask takes a comic-book approach to Good vs. Evil, with 15-year-old Helena as the protagonist who must find the MirrorMask and save the Light Kingdom.

But the story isn’t nearly as important as the fantastic creatures and hallucinatory imagery that parade non-stop through Helena’s fantastic journey. Director and writer (and frequent collaborators) Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman leap into the movie business with extraordinary confidence and derring-do. They are both legendary successes and have a devoted fan base from comic books (the Sandman series, for one), novels, short stories, posters, CD art, and much more. It quickly becomes clear that MirrorMask is the creation of talented and imaginative artists completely unfettered by the bounds of traditional filmmaking. As a result, it is a bold departure from anything you have ever seen on the screen before. The story is simple enough and the visuals so wondrous that most children should find the movie enjoyable (unless they’ve become action-oriented adrenaline addicts). Yet the writing is sufficiently deep to satisfy the most thoughtful of adults.

I spoke to both McKean and Gaiman at one of the screenings and found them both polite, thoughtful and interesting. I told them that MirrorMask was the kind of movie I wanted to see again immediately. It is lovely enough to warrant a second look. And there’s enough meat on the bones to go back and catch what you might have missed. The last movie I felt that way about was Memento, one of my all-time favorites.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Lonesome Jim

★ I think Steve Buscemi is a fine actor. In fact, I love him in almost everything he’s done. But if Lonesome Jim is representative of his work as a director, he has wandered into the wrong end of the field. Despite getting a reasonably good performance from Casey Affleck, a perfect complement from Mary Kay Place and good face from Liv Tyler, this movie suffers from a depressing script shot at a pace so lethargic it appears to be walking to an arthouse seeking limited distribution. There also could have been more attention to detail in the editing, which exposed a few gaffes.

I do know people that liked this movie. But I found it just as depressing as a Greek tragedy, but not nearly as complex or thought-provoking. Affleck’s character Jim is so insensitive and selfish that it pained me to watch him. And that’s pretty much the movie, until for some inexplicable reason he starts to round the corner just in time to roll the credits.

Filmed entirely on location in Goshen, Indiana, the movie is at its best portraying Midwestern small-town life. That’s a small consolation.

Rory O'Shea Was Here

★ ★ ★ ★ What a unique and risky premise: two young men, both mentally astute but almost completely disabled with MS and cerebral palsy, leave the group home environment to get their own place in search of independence, romance and excitement. This is a story of friendship, love, and self-awareness. It has less to do with handicaps than with the development and growth of two unique and memorable characters.

Damien O’Donnell's directing keeps the story moving briskly, but it’s James McAvoy as the eponymous Rory O’Shea who steals the show with his bravura performance and riveting screen presence, even though he’s only acting with his face and two fingers. Steven Robinson is nearly as good as Michael Connelly, the MS patient who Damien befriends at the home. It really is hard to believe these two fine actors aren’t truly paralyzed. (Some of the audience thought they were.) Romola Gorai is the most likable of the bunch (how politically incorrect!) as the blonde the boys meet in a bar and convince to become their paid caretaker.

O'Donnell manages to tell this story with extraordinary grace and humor. In the process, he shatters some of our expectations about the physically handicapped, while never forgetting to entertain us. Thank you, and bravo!

Love Ludlow

★ ★ ★ The opening of Love Ludlow reminded me just a little of a movie I saw a few years ago at Sundance called Haiku Tunnel. But Ludlow quickly developed into a romantic comedy between Myra (Alicia Gordanson), a tough-talking office temp from Queens, and Reggie (David Eigenberg), an nice-guy office loner who lacks confidence. Reggie is immediately attracted to Myra, who eventually gives him a shot. But things get off to a rocky start when Reggie meets Myra’s brother Ludlow, a man-child in his early 20’s that Myra cares for in their apartment. Smart but inexplicably immature, Ludlow is committed to sabotaging Reggie so he can remain Myra’s sole human interest.

The movie has clever writing with some very funny lines, but often feels like they were designed for the stage. (Reggie: You’re being sarcastic. Ludlow: It’s the number one export from Queens.) Gordanson and Eigenberg provide strong performances with some tantalizing, if often awkward, chemistry. But the plot drifts at times and the ending fails to satisfy. (I was longing for a little more resolution.)

Love Ludlow
is an interesting twist for a romantic comedy. Most viewers will find the movie enjoyable. But it’s better not to look at this one too critically. If you do, you’re liable to love Ludlow a little less.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Dying Gaul

★ ★ Somehow, this movie managed to hold my interest despite the fact that I never really cared about the characters or what was going to happen to them next. It’s not a love story. Not a very good relationship tale. Not a mystery or thriller. Instead, Dying Gaul is a modern day Greek tragedy that uses Hollywood and homosexuality as simply vehicles to generate interest.

This is Craig Lucas’ first time in the director’s chair. He wrote The Secret Lives of Dentists (previously at Sundance, starring Patricia Clarkson). The movies tackle the same themes---the value and meaning of marriage, the impact of dalliances, the complexities of finding happiness and satisfaction without veering from tradition. But Dying Gaul comes at it with a different … orientation, and even outcome.

Patricia Clarkson is always excellent, but here she shows a little evil in her character, which is outside her normal range. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast comes off as wooden, certainly uninspired. Pay attention, because there are liberal doses of philosophy in the form of quotes and counsel. But the real tragedy here is the lack of a meaningful story or compelling characters.

Puffy Chair

★ ★ ★ I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for road trip movies. Haven taken a few road trips of my own, seeing them on the screen rekindles the excitement and adventure from my youth. Puffy Chair puts its own stamp on the genre with the tale of Josh and his girlfriend Emily going to visit Josh’s father. On the way, they plan to pick up a purple puffy chair like one they used to have in their family, which Josh has purchased on eBay. They stop to visit Josh’s brother, Rhett, and he joins in for the trip.

The movie is funniest when the focus is on Josh and Emily defining their relationship. “I want a percentage,” she demands. “What do you think is the percent chance that we’ll get married?” As anyone that has had a girlfriend will quickly realize, there is no good answer to this question.

There are more funny moments, but sometimes not enough in between them. The action needs an occasional prodding. The performances, while striving for realism, could take the professionalism up a notch. And the cinematography is clearly low-budget. Nevertheless, director Jay Duplass has crafted a distinct tonality that makes it worth the trip, although Puffy Chair is not the Garden State or Napoleon Dynamite of 2005.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School

★ ★ ★ ★ There is something about Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School that audiences will find enchanting. The script is quite good, but not overwhelming. The acting very solid, but maybe not as good as I would have expected from Robert Carlyle, John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen, Marisa Tomei and plenty of other all-stars. And cinematography was used in some interesting ways to delineate three different periods, which provided perspective, but was hardly revolutionary.

But the beauty of the movie is really none of these. Robert Carlyle plays Frank Keane, a baker (from a long line of bakers in the family business) recovering from the tragic loss of his wife. One day while driving he encounters a car wreck, and begins to talk to the mortally wounded driver, Steve (John Goodman). What unfolds is the interweaving of stories—Steve’s experience as a 12-year-old in the Marilyn Hotchkiss School, and Frank’s as he fulfills a promise to the dying Steve.

What emerges, rather remarkably, is a story filled with tragedy that nevertheless manages to be warm, light-hearted, nostalgic, funny and inspiring. Carlyle seems an unlikely protagonist, but his character gradually blossoms into someone that is quietly heroic, as his encounter with Goodman takes him on a path of exploration, self-discovery and love. Director Randall Miller has done a remarkable job of telling a story filled with meaningful insight and compassionate charm. I flat out loved this movie, as did the rest of the audience at Sundance.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


★ ★ Robert Nelms and Director David Ocanas have penned what was referred to at Sundance as a “metaphysical thriller.” It almost works. The movie begins with a mysterious sequence of a woman seen only by her bare feet walking along a sidewalk in a Mexican city. Shortly thereafter, we are introduced to Nadine James, an attorney who soon learns that her sister is missing in Tijuana.

Although they were not close, Nadine is haunted by dreams of her sister, and immediately heads for Tijuana to try to find her. But it quickly becomes clear that what we are experiencing is not the linear and tangible reality we are all accustomed to. Dream-like sequences come and go. Events are repeated, but not exactly. Nadine runs into Kafkaesque characters in an Alice in Wonderland setting. On one level, she is playing the role of a detective, trying to unravel a mystery. But on another, she is clearly battling her own demons and trying to decipher the meaning of her own psychological flailings.

You get the feeling that Ocanas is attempting to follow the success of M. Night Shyamalan. But there are too many flaws in the script; too many contrivances. The tension drags on without building to a climax. Some of the clues are too obvious, and some absolutely elusive. Having said all that, I believe that thrillers need to play by a simple rule: At the end of the film, do I realize that I could have figured it out if I had been sufficiently smart and observant? And to be fair, Between passed this litmus test.

As an aside, I sat next to the producer of the movie at its world premiere. He was coming out of his seat in excitement. (That’s a great part of the fun at Sundance. There is so much anticipation and enthusiasm accompanying each movie.) Turns out I was right in the midst of the cast and crew. For many of them, including Ocanas, it was their first feature-length film. To their credit, this was an ambitious maiden voyage.

Nine Lives

★ ★ ★ Director Rodrigo Garcia specializes in directing films composed of numerous vignettes. His characters emerge in more than one segment, creating a tapestry that helps weave together his themes of both connectivity and isolation. He debuted at Sundance in 2001 with Ten Things You Can Tell by Looking at Her, which featured Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Amy Brenneman, Cameron Diaz and many other notables. Close, Hunter and Brenneman all returned for Nine Lives, along with Robin Wright Penn, Dakota Fanning, Sissy Spacek and others.

It is noteworthy that both of these movies are mostly about women, with men allowed only supporting roles, even within such ensemble casts. As Garcia freely admitted in the Sundance Q&A, he writes women better than men. Also evident in the Q&A is that the women of the cast adored him. And they rewarded him with outstanding performances.

Garcia treats his characters with a gentle touch, even when revealing their flaws. We feel compassion for them in their anguish. It is as if we have seen each of these women before, but only in passing. Now we are allowed to gaze into their souls, but never for too long. Garcia tells us enough to empathize, but not enough to judge. It felt like I was walking down a sidewalk on a Sunday afternoon, listening to conversations through open windows, catching only a glimpse of each family, but creating a powerful and lasting impression of the neighborhood. That is Garcia’s world. And he is becoming master of the genre.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Seeing Roger Ebert

I saw Roger Ebert last night. He has been a regular at Sundance for as long as I’ve been going, although he missed last year due to poor health.

I met Roger a few years ago in the lobby at Eccles Theatre, where many of the major movies at Sundance premiere. I wanted his feedback on my business (ClearPlay) and he wasn’t very complimentary. He had just gotten a camera, and asked to take my picture for some unknown reason. Roger is a recognizable celebrity, and I most certainly am not. But everyone in the lobby was wondering who I was that Roger Ebert would be photographing me.

The next day in his column he referred to me as “a candidate for the most hated man in Hollywood.” I ran into him later during the festival at a restaurant in Park City and gave him a bit of a hard time over the characterization. (Considering 99% of Hollywood has never heard of me, I was torn between being flattered and indignant.) He gently defended the column, and then introduced me to his guests, one of which was Darryl Hannah. So I figured we were even, and if ever there was the opporunity to meet J-Lo he could call me the devil incarnate if he wanted.

Last night he was sitting in his familiar place at Eccles. He is always in the same spot, and last year they should have left the seat vacant out of respect. I asked him how he was feeling (all is well, he said) and I told him very sincerely that we missed him last year. We chatted a bit, and talked about a few movies, including an obscure Sundance documentary from 2002 that was one of my favorites and that he liked as well.

It was good to have him back.

Game 6

★ ★ ★ Any good baseball fan will tell you exactly where he was during the sixth game of the 1986 World Series when Mookie Wilson’s ground ball rolled through Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. The infamous error gave the Mets a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the game and ultimately the Series. Director Michael Hoffman and producer Amy Chamberlain made a movie around the event, which loses little of its luster after the Red Sox improbable World Series win this past October.

Michael Keaton stars as a successful playwright and lifelong Red Sox fan whose opening night of his latest Broadway play coincides with the fateful Game 6. These events serve as a catalyst for the exploration of love, marriage, sex, parenthood, friendship, hope, despair, values and much more.

Although it drags in parts, the movie has a lot of heart. Keaton, along with Griffin Dunne and Robert Downey Jr., provide fine performances that bring the script to life. This will be a must-see for everyone in Beantown, as well as all those perennially cursed Sox fans nationwide who found meaning in their collective suffering for so many years. My wife couldn’t see what all the fuss was about; but I understood it perfectly.

I wasn’t at any of the 1986 World Series games. But I vividly remember listening to Game 6 on the radio, and having to stop and collect myself after the Buckner error. (I've always liked underdogs, so the Sox are a perfect match for my affections.) I did, however, attend the nearly as legendary Game 5 of the American League Champion Series that year. The Red Sox were down 3-1 in the series, but battled back to beat the Angels at Anaheim with a dramatic ninth-inning two-out home run by Dave Henderson, who had been brought in as a defensive replacement. The Sox went on to win the AL Championship and meet the Mets in the Series.

Gene Mauch, the Angel’s manager, was widely regarded as one of the best in baseball. But he’d never been to a World Series. He was one out away in 1986, but fate called the score. He retired in 1987 and went to his grave having managed 26 years and 3942 games without ever reaching the October Classic. The pitcher who gave up Henderson’s homer was Donnie Moore, a 20-save reliever that year. Moore was never the same after that fateful at-bat. He retired shortly afterwards, drifted into alcoholism and committed suicide in 1989.

Nearly 20 years later, I can recite these details with clarity and emotion. For those of us that grew up on baseball, it was never just a game. These events hold special meaning in our lives. When you understand that, you know that Game 6 is more than a movie. It is a homage to seasons that end in despair, but never starts without hope. Such is life.

Ellie Parker

★ ★ I’ve always suspected that some movies make Sundance mainly because a famous Hollywood personality is involved. If said star chooses to make a low-budget non-commercial film, it warrants a free pass to the big dance based on risk-taking and “independent spirit.”

So it is with Ellie Parker, a movie produced by and starring Naomi Watts (and directed by actor Scott Coffey) about the travails of a young actress searching for her identity in L.A.’s shallow and artificial cultural wasteland. It is clear that it was made for industry insiders, who saw in it a painful mirror to their world. The rest of us enjoyed a few funny moments in a movie that had no apparent beginning, middle or end, no discernible plot, plenty of conflict but no resolution. I’m sure there was a point in all that depressing futility. To make it worse, it was shot on a Sony HD cam, so the quality was maybe a tad better than my home movies.

Ellie Parker would be useful if one were trying to thin the herd of aspiring actresses. Maybe they should show it in high schools, kind of like Reefer Madness 50 years ago.

By the way, Chevy Chase has a small and rather cryptic role as an agent. (The audience wasn’t sure if he was trying to be serious or comedic.) I love Chevy Chase, but unlike his old SNL partner Dan Akroyd, he should stick to comedies. He gives a really dreadful performance. But he was refreshingly funny at the Sundance Q&A.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Happy Endings

I didn’t see this film, which was the big opener Thursday night, starring Lisa Kudrow and Maggie Gyllenhaal. But I had to laugh when I read the description in the catalog, because it seemed so typically a Sundance movie:

"The multiple narrative lines include a filmmaker blackmailing a woman about a son she long ago gave up for adoption, a gay man whose partner was, or perhaps wasn’t, the sperm donor for two of their best friends, a lesbian couple and a 30-something girl who shacks up with a young man trying to convince his father he’s straight and then moves on to the dad."

By the way, Variety panned it.

Who Goes to Sundance?

There are three kinds of people that come to town for Sundance:

1. Those that work in the movie industry. Typically from LA or New York. They dress fashionably casual (black on black, wool scarf and sunglasses). These folks typically see quite a few movies, and can sometimes have penetrating insights. It’s a pity if you get stuck sitting next to one of the arrogant ones, however. Obnoxiousness exudes from their pores, like a bad drunk they can never quite sleep off.

2. Celebrity Seekers. These lost souls come to Sundance because of its mystique. They try to see as many star-studded movies as they can, and hang around Main Street every night chasing celebrity sightings and good parties. They usually come with tickets to 10 movies, but end up missing half of them—especially any that start before noon—when they discover that they really don’t like most indies. This is the group that really gives Sundance a bad name to locals, and we try to avoid them at all costs.

3. Independent Movie Lovers. Surprisingly, there are quite a few of these out there, and one of the highlights of my Sundance every year is comparing notes on movies we’ve seen. They love to find hidden gems—films from first-time directors on low budgets with no stars. They come from all over, but mostly in the U.S. and many from Utah. Sundance is often just one of the festivals they attend every year. They often have special interests, such as documentaries, shorts or foreign films. These represent the true spirit of Sundance—with a passion and appreciation for independent films and filmmakers.

Layer Cake

★ ★ From the producer of the raw crime flick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch, comes another gritty British gangster movie. This is a genre that has become increasingly popular lately, typically featuring highly stylized violence, gratuitous sex, at least 100 F-words and a few mandatory plot-twisting double-crosses in the end. Layer Cake follows the formula carefully, but a lack of inspired writing causes it to miss the mark as a great, or even really good, crime movie.

Having said all that, this film has two things going for it: a steady funnel of action that keeps a firm grip on audience interest, and a compelling performance by Daniel Craig.
Unfortunately, I missed quite a bit of dialogue in the movie because I’m not fluent in British. Oh I could catch a word here and there, but I do with they’d speak more slowly for us foreigners.

Shakespeare Behind Bars

★ ★ ★ One of the best parts of Sundance is seeing movies that you would otherwise almost certainly miss. Unless you’re a real art-house devotee, you probably don’t catch many documentaries. Only a handful get any recognizable distribution. Fortunately, Sundance has increased its commitment to documentaries in recent years.

Shakespeare Behind Bars is a powerful documentary about a dramatic production group at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. Every year a group of inmates present a Shakespearean play. Director Hank Rogerson and his crew follow the troupe as roles are self-selected, interpreted, rehearsed and ultimately performed.

The movie is filled with fascinating revelations for those of us that have not been exposed to prison environments. Despite the labels we know them by (convict, felon, murderer, etc.) we soon began to appreciate and respect these men as thinking feeling human beings. Serendipitously, the play chosen for the year of filming was The Tempest, with its penetrating focus on forgiveness and redemption. The actors all grapple with the relevance of the play to their lives, finding patterns and parallels with their characters and the meaning of the drama.

For a documentary film, like a book, the best that can be hoped for is that we experience something that changes our lives. Shakespeare Behind Bars was a personal revelation for me. “O brave new world, that has such creatures in it.”