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It almost seems redundant, or maybe pointless, to say that the live-capture version of "Hamilton," now streaming on Disney+, is brilliant.  But it is.

I've seen "Hamilton" on stage - and loved it - but I found the streaming version to be revelatory in the sense that it animated parts of the story and some of the characters that perhaps did not seem as important when seen live.  Part of this may be because I saw a replacement cast, and the Disney+ "Hamilton" features the original cast.  But I also think that the ability of the camera to move in and pick up the specifics and subtleties of performance brought different things to life.

Such is the case of Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr - for whatever reason, the depth of his bitterness and jealousy seemed far more toxic on screen as opposed to on stage.  The same goes for Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton and Renée Elise Goldsberry as her sister, Angelica Schuyler … while Angelica seemed like the far more robust character on stage, it seems far more balanced on screen, and this is good for the play.

The odd thing is that as strong as Lin-Manuel Miranda is - and should be, since "Hamilton" is his baby - he, oddly, is possibly the least impressive singer on  the stage.  But it doesn't matter - he is so deeply committed not just to the character and story, but the overarching vision that he is using "Hamilton" to communicate, that he dominates every scene that he is in.

Again, it is almost redundant to point this out, but the casting in 'Hamilton" of people of color in almost every part - the lone exception being Jonathan Groff as King George III, a role that calls for a pudgy, out-of-touch white guy - does drive something important home - that America is a country built by immigrants and outsiders who had a vision of freedom and opportunity that is shared by so many of the immigrants who have come to the country over the past 244 years.  Immigrants, "Hamilton" argues with great persuasiveness and in songs that will remain in your head long after the curtain has fallen, are the  foundation and purest expression of the American dream and its basic value proposition.  To think of them otherwise, the play suggests, is to risk throwing away or shot at a more perfect and vibrant union.

See "Hamilton."

Greyhound originally was supposed to be in the movie theaters this summer, but in response to the pandemic Apple TV+ bought the Tom Hanks film and started streaming it last week.  Based on a novel, "The Good Shepherd," by CS Forester, Greyhound is a fictional story based on reality - once America entered World War II, its ships had to bring supplies and soldiers to Europe by going across the Atlantic.  The space in the middle of the ocean that could not be protected by air cover from either coast was called the Black Pit, and was the place where German U-boats were able to prey on Allied craft.

Hanks stars as Ernest Krause, captain of the escort ship USS Keeling, codenamed Greyhound.  It is Krause's first wartime command, and Hanks effectively communicates the character's combination of dedication and insecurity.  Almost the entire film takes place on the bridge of the Greyhound, and I found it to be relentless and nerve-wracking as the three days unfold.  

I'm not sure if Greyhound would have played better on the big screen.  Maybe, but I thought it was a perfect Saturday night entertainment at home - a crisp 90 minute movie, written by Hanks (who pretty much owns the World War II movie oeuvre at this point), and a great example of how streaming can bring in a big audience - apparently 30% of its viewers were new to Apple TV+.

I also loved The Old Guard, the new Charlize Theron movie playing on Netflix.  It is based on a comic book with which I am unfamiliar, but it doesn't play like one - it is a taut action thriller about warriors who have been around for centuries, fighting a wide variety of battles (largely for the good guys).  When a pharmaceutical executive decides to capture them and perform experiments to discover what makes them immortal and with amazing regenerative abilities, it sets up a conflict that plays out from Afghanistan to London … and it is a thrilling, terrifically directed piece of escapist filmmaking (by Gina Prince-Bythewood, apparently the first Black woman to direct a comic book/superhero movie).

Theron is terrific - but then she always is, in pretty much anything she does.  Just as impressive is KiKi Layne, who plays a Marine who discovers that she has become immortal, but struggles with what this will mean to her future.

The Old Guard is just a lot of fun, but with enough sense to never seem frivolous.  

Loved it.

That's it for this week.  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Stay safe.  Stay healthy.