Monday, July 7, 2008

John Adams Update

So, I watched the entire HBO miniseries John Adams Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I enjoyed it immensely but then I'm a nut for history, and an avid fan of the Founding Fathers, so my opinion on this matter is probably not common, but no matter. Paul Giamatti gives a finely-tuned performance that may admittedly occasionally find itself playing the same beats at fairly regular intervals but it should be remembered that this highly ambitious miniseries begins in 1770 and concludes on July 4, 1826 (the date of the second president's death, along with the third president's, Thomas Jefferson).

Laura Linney is quietly powerful as Abigail Adams, even if, like Giamatti, she sometimes finds herself playing nearly identical kinds of scenes in the miniseries because of the turbulent, repetitious existence that is known as life. Tom Wilkinson received deserved praise for his supporting turn as Benjamin Franklin, and he's definitely quite good, and Danny Huston gives a perfectly solid performance as cousin-to-John, Samuel Adams, but I actually favored most of all Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson. Dillane masterfully captures Jefferson's soft-spoken demeanor, ill-suited for political confrontation, aloofness and brilliant genius, frequently all at once.

As I said over at the remarkably estimable Craig Kennedy's Living in Cinema earlier today in his Watercooler section, I found the entire enterprise very worthwhile and completely enjoyable.


Craig Kennedy said...

"Remarkably estimable" I don't know about that but it's certainly the best blog ever to rhyme with Shmiving in Shminema.

I'm one of those weirdos who refuses to get cable. I'm happy with the HD I can pull out of the air for free. I do miss the occasional show however and Adams is one of them.

I'll catch up to it on DVD long after the conversation train has left the station.

Or is it on DVD already?

Did you read whatsisname's book on which it was based?

Alexander Coleman said...

I believe it's on DVD already, Craig. HBO was showing it continuously all weekend as well... I recorded them in HD thanks to Comcast.

I first spotted McCullough's book "John Adams" back in May of 2003 when I visited Boston. (It was in a gift shop.) I did end up reading it and I liked it very much. Ultimately, it points to Adams being just about as indispensible to the revolutionary cause as George Washington. Quite fascinating on the whole, and despite being a huge book it was full of very interesting information and insights.

Anonymous said...

just love stephen dillane's Jefferson,brilliant!

Alexander Coleman said...

I must agree, Anonymous. Dillane sort of stole the miniseries in my mind as well. His Jefferson was a creation of sheer beauty.