Monday Movie: Six Degrees of Separation, by David Bax
Every Monday, we’ll recommend a movie–it could be a classic, an overlooked recent treasure, an unfairly maligned personal favorite or whatever the hell we feel like–and we’ll tell you where to find it online.
This movie may be slightly better-known than some of the other stuff I pick for these Monday Movies. It’s known as the movie Stockard Channing got her Oscar nomination for. It’s known as the movie where then-Fresh Prince Will Smith plays a gay man. It’s known for being one of younger J.J. Abrams’ few acting roles. In fact, it’s probably known for its impressive cast in general. In addition to Channing, Smith and Abrams, the film also features Donald Sutherland, Ian McKellen, Bruce Davison, Anthony Michael Hall and Heather Graham. It seems, though, that I rarely hear people talk about how damned good the movie is. Fred Schepisi’s film of John Guare’s play (adapted for the screen by Guare himself) is one of my favorite stage to screen transitions. Unlike lesser such projects, it doesn’t do things like move the action out onto the street just because it can but it doesn’t stay put either. The movie, like the play, explores many different facets of the wealthy, liberal New York City elite and the ways in which their insularity makes them hypocrites in ways you almost can’t blame them for. The film asks whether charity is worth any less if the charitable party only took part to have a good story to tell. Guare expands on that question by actually telling a good story, assuming the role of Channing and her ilk. Schepisi, on the other hand, uses his camera to approach the work from the point of view of Smith’s charming hustler, flitting through the world and finding purchase where he can for as long as he can. It’s the perfect tandem. And the cast is great too.
Six Degrees of Separation is available to rent on Amazon.