What We Do Next by Stephen Belber looks at Uptown corruption - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Sunday, April 3, 2022

What We Do Next by Stephen Belber looks at Uptown corruption


What We Do Next

What We Do Next, directed by Stephen Belber, is about a New York City politician, Sandy James (Karen Pittman), trying to climb the political ladder and is forced to navigate her complicated past. 

The trouble begins when Elsa Mercado (Michelle Veintimilla) is released from prison and Sandy is forced to deal with their complicated history which she also shares with corporate attorney Paul Jenkins (Corey Stoll). 

Described in the marketing materials as a timely emotional thriller sitting at the intersection of race, class, and criminal justice, and coming in at a swift 77 minutes, I understand why producers Chris Mangano, Max Neace, and Merry-Kay Poe thought this might work as a film. But here's the truth about this story, it began as a play and it's still basically a play but now, shot on film.  For example, it's close to 15 minutes into the first act, and the two main characters are just talking, stuck in the same location (an office) telling us about the situation instead of showing us. Now, there is solid dialogue, because essentially this is a play but the characters just drone on, and on, telling us (great, for TV and plays) but not showing us.  Showing us instead of telling us is what separates film language from plays and television dramas.

It’s beautiful to look at, so kudos to the director of photography, Garrette Rose, production designer, Christelle Matou, and editor Justin Chan. 

I can easily see director Belber's skill but as a screenwriter, there are major issues because, again, he's filmed a play.  

Please understand, that I did not make up the rules of engagement. Movies, show. Television and plays, tell. 

And what we get in What We Do Next is talking, talking, talking, talking in one spot/location, scene-after-scene. It's interesting to listen to the story unfold but it's boring to watch. 

Drama, 77 min.

Director: Stephen Belber.

Producers: Chris Mangano | Max Neace | Merry-Kay Poe

No comments:

Post a Comment