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Actor Turned Director Diego Luna Celebrates "Cesar Chavez"

Photo by B. Balfour

Born on December 29, 1979 in Mexico City, Diego Luna Alexander lost his mother in a car accident when he was only two. So Luna became immersed in his father's passion for entertainment as Mexico’s most acclaimed living theatre, cinema and opera set designer. From an early age Luna began acting in television, movies and theater. Once he achieved international recognition, he expanded his resume to include writing, producing and directing as well.

This producer-actor-director’s full bio includes such highlights as big budget sci-fi thriller Elysium (2013),  the Oscar-nominated Milk (2008), Tom Hanks starrer The Terminal (2004), and provocative Y Tu Mamá También (2001). But his most recent directorial effort Cesar Chavez not outlines a slice of the famed civil rights leader and labor organizer’s life (powerfully played by Michael Pena) but also chronicles the birth of a modern American labor movement. The film also tells the story of a man torn between family duties as a husband and father and his commitment to the fight for a living wage for farm workers. 

Passionate but soft-spoken, Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in this struggle to bring dignity to his community and disenfranchised people in general. Chavez inspired millions of Americans who hadn’t worked on a farm or been to California to fight for social justice. His journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one person’s ability to change the world.

Buttressed by two incredibly strong women — wife Helen (America Ferrara) and Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson) — Chavez presciently foresaw the impact the Latino American community would have on this country as he drew attention to this long disenfranchised sector.

chavez posterQ: Once you got this idea, how long did it take you to do this film? 

DL: At the beginning I didn’t know I had to do it; I would’ve quit had I been told this was going take four years and a half of my life. When I started I thought, “Wow, it’s amazing that there’s no film about Cesar Chavez. But this is so powerful and comes in time for many reasons, and  since this community’s growing, everyone’s going to want to do this film.” 

I went out and started shopping as is done with films. You go to studios and sit down with executives and everyone gave us a chance to sit down which sounded like, “Okay it’s happening,” then they said, “Wow, this is great, we love that you’re doing this, we’re not going to join but once you have a film, come and show it to us and probably we’ll be part of it,” and we’re like, “No! We need the money to do it!” 

It’s not like I’m just going out and doing it. I heard things like, “Can you make it more sexy?” and I was like, “How can I make it more sexy? If it was sexier, farm workers would probably be living a different reality today.” 

They said, “What about A-List actors? Can you have Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem in it?” And I’m thinking, the man existed, there are pictures, there’s murals! You cannot just say, “Well now it’s just going to look like something else…” This is about a Mexican-American, a guy who was born in Arizona. Anyway, we found no support in this country. But by that point, I promised the family that I was going to deliver a film.

I promised that it was happening and then invested a year of my life into it at that point. We were working on the script with Keir Pearson, so I said to my partner Pablo Cruz, “Let’s go to Mexico and finance it the way we do in film.” 

We went to Mexico and in a week and a half we found the money. At least 70% that allows the comeback for the other 30%. Then we came back and found the perfect partners, Participant Media and Pantelion Films, two different kind of film [studios], but they’re both doing films that would be perfect for this market — one that we’re trying to prove exists. That’s how everything started in terms of putting it together. 

We wanted to come to the States and open a company and office here, so we said that we have to do a film that mattered on both sides of the border. It would allow us to work here but still do stories that connect us with where we come from and the community we belong to, to the point that my son who was born here, in the States, so he’s knows he’s a Mexican-American. In fact, he had an American passport before the Mexican one.

In a way, this was an attempt to tell a story that he would be able to use to find out where he comes from and what needed to happen for him to be where he is at the moment. That’s how everything started.

Q: Do you hope this film will change society’s perception of Latinos and the issues that concerns this community?

DL: There’s something that’s happened here before which is that all us Latinos, we have to learn from these guys that if we organize, if we’re united, we have the strength to change the world. That’s definitely a reality, because I don’t think we’ve been so well organized since then. Yes, there’s a lot of complaints that we have to this country, as a community, but I would start looking at ourselves in the mirror and [ask] why we haven’t done [anything]? 

We have a chance to send that message on the opening week, March 28th, which is, “We want these films to be out. We want our stories to be represented. We want our heroes to celebrated in film.” 

There’s two things that matter here. As Cesar said and showed us, one is that our strength is in our numbers, and they’re growing. So I don’t know why we, as a community, haven’t experienced that feeling of power [that] we actually have in hand. The other is that the film confronts you, not just us Latinos, but everyone in this country, with a reality that’s very uncomfortable, that today in the fields, the conditions still aren’t great. 

The struggle continues and consumers have also not been aware of what they’re part of when they buy a product since then. The amazing thing they did as a community, is that they connected with consumers, the rest of America, a community they didn’t think they had a connection with. They found a way to say, “Our story matters to you.” 

When you buy a grape, you’re supporting child labor. Moms listened to that, when a mother was in a store in Chicago, she found a farm worker saying, “When you’re buying that product, you have to remember that behind that product is the work of my six year-old. ” 

Mothers stopped buying grapes. So it’s about connecting, finding out what connects us, not what separates us. I think that’s a beautiful message about the film, and that applies not just for America, but for the world. It’s a nonviolent movement that said it’s about the responsibility of knowing we’re not here alone. The work of many has to happen so we can experience the life we have. It’s just being aware of that — that’s what matters. 

Q: Was it tough for actor Michael Peña to have this on his shoulders?

DL: I was walking coming with Rosario from having lunch, and she told me, ”It’s unbelievable how much Michael changed for this role. He’s just nothing close to what he portrayed here.” 

I always told him, “Michael, we have to be aware. We cannot do the Hollywood way, you know? We cannot say suddenly that Cesar was a great speaker, and the Martin Luther King kind of leader.” 

But he wasn’t. He was very humble and timid. As a result of the amount of urge he had for change to happen, he had to become the leader. If he would’ve had a chance to stand back and stay behind, he would have done it. He was a great listener. 

That’s why he could organize these people, because he came and took the time to listen to everyone’s story. This is a community that has been ignored for so long, that suddenly someone arrived that cared about their story and said, “Your story matters.” 

In fact, Mark Grossman, who traveled a lot through rallies and was Cesar’s PR person — he wrote the speeches for him — was very close to him and we worked a lot with him. He told me [that] the rallies were painful because he would stay until nine, 10 pm, and people left, and he was still talking to a woman in the back. He had time, he nothing else to do but this, and everyone realized he was giving his life. We have to remember, this is a man that got out of living in the city. He changed his life, he was wearing a suit, he had a job. But he said, “No, we have to go back to the fields, we have to change things from the inside. It’s not going to come from the outside.” 

He went back and sacrificed not just his reality but the reality of his family. I love when Fernando asks, “Who plays in Delano? You’re not taking me to a place that doesn’t have a major league baseball team, right?” And [Cesar] goes, “Yeah, we’re all going to sacrifice here, and we’re all going to go back to where we come from.” 

Q: You showed how he sacrificed his relationship with his older son. You spent more than four years working on this movie. How much did it affect your relationship with your own children?

DL: It does, it does. I’ve never had to go so far as he did. I was in Chicago on Friday, took the red eye, spent Saturday and Sunday with my kids, and I’m here on Monday. I would never give away the weekend, and stay for another interview. I think that’s what makes him heroic. I don’t know if I would be able to go that far. 

Q: How old are your kids now?

DL: Five and three. I don’t know if I would be able to go that far. These guys left for months. Besides everything we’ve talked about, the film is about a father and a son. To me, the reflection I’m making here is [that] there’s a sacrifice we fathers do. I did not understand until I had a baby. It changed the way I looked to my father. When I had a baby, I went back and said, “Damn, dad. You’ve done all of this?” 

My mother died when I was two, so my father had to play both roles and work and it’s that very unfair part of life where you know you have to do it. I do film because of my kids, I think about them every moment of my life. Every decision I make, they’re involved. Probably, they won’t know this until they have their own. 

That’s the gap that sometimes... Hopefully in life you have the time to bring it back together, but not many times it happens. For these characters, it took a long a long time. They had eight kids. Dolores Huerta had 11 kids. Imagine that and they managed to do all this as well. 

Q: Was it a conscious choice that you avoided his childhood? 

DL: The first script I got, [went] from the day he was born until the day he died. You can do that in a fictional film, it doesn’t matter, but with the life of someone I think that’s very unfair. It’s impossible in an hour and 45 minutes to tell of someone’s 64-year journey. I thought, “I’m going to concentrate in one achievement.” 

That’s the boycott was to me. I said, “If I can explain how the boycott happened, and why the boycott happened, and what [it brought] to the community, I’ll be sending the right message.” 

I didn’t want to do a film just about this community. I wanted to do a film about how this community managed to connect with the rest of the country. Because to me, the powerful message here is that if change ever comes, it’s because we get involved and we people connect with others. 

We find those who are out there and what connects us with them. So to me, that was the thing I wanted to focus on -- the personal struggle of a father. It’s the first film done about Cesar and the movement, so it’s unfair to ask one film to fill the gap of so many years where there was no film talking about it. Because if I was here, and there were another three films, I could focus in on a specific thing that none of the other films [did], but you cannot ask a film to tell everything that hasn’t been told. Hopefully this will [stimulate] curiosity and awareness so that people will go and investigate a little more about who they are and what’s behind them. 

Q: Why was the movie shot in Mexico instead of where the events happened? Did that have to do with where you found the money? Being a movie about a syndicated movement, with the actors’ unions very strong here, don’t know how it is in Mexico, but how much of the actors and the crew were unionized?

DL: We shot in Mexico because of two reasons. One, the film was financed in Mexico, so a lot of the financing came as support. We first went to California, but even if we would have shot in the States, we would not have shot in California, because the actual places have changed dramatically since the ’60s. So you cannot shoot there, you’d have to recreate the [conditions]. 

We found in Sonora that the fields there have that immensity. Sonora is the state that produces 80% of the table grape of Mexico. Mexico is a huge country, so the feeling when you’re there, it’s the same feeling you have in the valley in California. You really are a dot in the middle of nowhere. There’s this immensity, the feeling that those fields are feeding a world, 

In terms of the union, there’s no way to do a film this big non-union in Mexico. Every actor was paid through SAG; we also have a union in Mexico of actors and technicians. It would be very stupid to do a film about a union without the support of unions [laughs]. But you know what happened…? There was a whole debate on the extras. 

The extras are farm workers. That doesn’t mean they didn’t get paid. The point is, I wanted to work with real farm workers. You know those faces? There’s no way to put makeup on a face and make it look like they’ve been under the sun for so many years, under that condition of dust and wind. Those faces tell you the story. Just by looking at the face, you get many things that can’t be said in dialogue. 

Q: Were these farm workers from the area where you shot?

DL: Many farm workers joined. By the third day they realized that film isn’t glamorous and that the experience was as miserable as working in the fields [laughs]. Because we were in the fields, we put every penny we had in front of the camera, so the conditions we were shooting under were rough compared to the cliché of how Hollywood filmmaking is. 

Q: Did the workers themselves teach you anything, something that you never knew?

DL: The only thing is that they reminded me every day of why the film needed to be done. It just still makes no sense to me that those who are feeding this country can barely feed their families. And by listening to their stories, I got the necessary energy to keep going. No matter what our issues were, they don’t matter. I am lucky to be able to choose where I work, who I’m around, what I do, what stories I tell, I can’t complain. It was a great reminder on why this needs to be out. 

Q: The film deals with social issues. Is that also part of the marketing?

DL: Definitely, and we’re focusing a lot in kids. Before the proper promotion started, we did two weeks of going to high schools and universities. We went to Harvard, Berkeley, Irvine, UCLA, then we did a screening in the RFK High School. It was like a system. We did a screening where they taped it and then that’s going to be shown to kids around California. 

We’re pushing to do tons of little videos in social media and everything to raise awareness about Cesar Chavez and what the movement [stood] for. That’s where Participant comes in. They have an amazing reach in terms of a call-to-action. 

As part of our film, we are also making a petition to President Obama about making a Cesar Chavez National Day of Service. As the campaign goes, if you guys participate, it’d be great. There’s a page called and you can sign. If you sign the petition, we need a hundred thousand signatures to go to Obama. 

Film should be the beginning of something bigger. This film should trigger, hopefully, the curiosity of people to find out exactly what this movement was about. It’s difficult to inform in an hour and 45 minutes about everything they did and still entertain but it is pertinent to talk about this because the issues today in the field are even more complicated [than ever]. 

We thought also about a day of celebration... A few states today celebrate Cesar Chavez day, but we thought that a national day of service would be the way he would like to be remembered, a day where you work and give something back to your community, which is what they did from beginning to end. 

There [are] so many things happening at the same time, and there are so many things happening in Latin America. Because if few people know here the story of Cesar Chavez, you’ll go to Latin America and everyone thinks he’s a boxer. No one knows, and it’s something that hopefully the film, and everything happening around the film, might be able to change. Also, the foundation is working really close. 

Dolores Huerta has been promoting the film with us, and every time she grabs the microphone, she talks about it and the 10 other things that matter to her. If film can work for that to happen, if film can bring attention to the work of those that are still in the struggle, still out there, I’ll be very proud. But it’s definitely about kids.

You know an amazing thing that has been happening is that today there’s many Latinos in key positions and many have the chance to actually choose what they want to do in life. They have businesses and so many of these people are buying out theaters and giving them away to schools. 

For the first weekend, someone said, “I would like to share this film with every high school kid of the community I come from” which is an amazing thing. The distribution company Pantelion is getting these calls and managing to actually make it happen, where you basically buy out a theater and fill it with kids that normally wouldn’t go watch it, or will probably watch it two years later on their phone while doing another 20 things, which is how kids now watch films... so that’s also happening. People like Henry Moreno — he was the first one. 

Q: Is he one of the producers?

DL: No, no, no! He’s just a guy that cares about this. I was at an event in Washington, and Moreno talked about this, he was doing a show and he told me, “I’m buying out theaters to share with the kids, and this is happening, people are starting to react.” 

That’s fantastic. I did this film because I think I have some distance to the story. Generationally, I wasn’t around when this happened, so also that gives me some objectivity, I guess. But the angle which I’m telling this, it’s the perfect angle for people who don’t know the story, to listen [to] it for the first time.

Q: What did it teach you about yourself as a father, as a director, as an actor? 

DL: You know, I found a connection. It was through telling personal stories that they managed to bring the attention to something bigger. It was about a mother going out, as I said, a mother going out of a grocery store and telling another mother, “Behind that grape, there’s the work of my kid. Are you sure you want to be part of that?” 

Then that mother got hit so badly and so profoundly, that she’s gonna turn into an advocate for the movement. But it’s by telling personal stories that you can trigger that, and I think film has that power. Today, if I was sitting in a board meeting of this movement, I would say, “Let’s do short documentaries about each other’s experiences and get them out, because that’s the way to get people’s attention.” 

We do the same thing, in a way. At least film is capable of doing what these guys did. That was a connection that I found on the way. When I was out and everyone was like, “Oh, you’re doing the film about Cesar Chavez! I gotta tell you something. My grandfather, one day, he grew up and blah blah blah…” 

If I do a documentary where I tell you, “More than a 100,000 have been killed in the last eight years in my country because of the war on drugs that our president started, our former president started…” You’re going to go, “Oh, that’s a big number.” 

But if I tell you the story of a kid who lost his father and now has to work and had to get out of school to support his mother, and how the life these four people changed dramatically, not just his but his brother and his sister... The next day you’re going to care about the war we’re living there. So by telling personal stories you can trigger that attention and that’s something they were doing that was way ahead of us. 


"The Girls in the Band" Honors Music's Unsung Heroines

How many female jazz musicians can you name? Judy Chaikin's new documentary The Girls in the Band can help. By the time the credits roll, you will have met three generations of distaff players, composers, arrangers and GreatDayinHarlemconductors reaching back to the 1920s. Names like saxophonists Roz Cron and Peggy Gilbert, trumpeters Clora Bryant and Billie Rogers and drummer Viola Smith will roll off the tongue as readily as those of Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie.

Read more: "The Girls in the Band" Honors...

September '23 Digital Week II

4K/UHD Releases of the Week 
The Exorcist 
(Warner Bros)
Still as shocking as it was 50 years ago, William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s crassly entertaining novel is a punch to the gut that works brilliantly, even after many viewings, because of its artful misdirection. You expect nasty shocks, but the slow build-up lulls you into believing you’re watching a docudrama about a young girl whose odd behavior eventually has no other explanation but the supernatural. When the horror arrives, it’s been grounded in such vivid reality that more is at stake than a simple “good vs. evil” battle: it’s personal.
This terrific 4K release contains the original—and still superior—version and the director’s cut, both looking splendid in UHD: Friedkin and cameraman Owen Roizman’s documentary-like touches accentuate the eeriness. And Friedkin’s expertly chosen music (Penderecki, Henze, Webern, “Tubular Bells”) sounds superb. Extras are commentaries by both Friedkin and Blatty as well as Friedkin’s introduction.
The Trial 
(Criterion Collection)
One of Orson Welles’ most dazzling visual achievements is his 1962 adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel about everyman Josef K., who’s the unwitting target of the totalitarian regime that arrests and condemns him for an unnamed crime. Although the narrative at times gets sticky, the director is in his expressionist element, cinematographer Edmond Richard’s haunting B&W images complementing Welles’ off-kilter and off-putting camera angles, editing and music choices.
The main quibble is a rather stolid Anthony Perkins in the lead. Criterion’s release contains a superb UHD transfer, Welles expert Joseph McBride’s commentary, an archival interview with Richard and two with Welles: one with Jeanne Moreau (who’s in the film) and one at UCLA in 1981.
In-Theater/Streaming Releases of the Week 
American—An Odyssey to 1947 
(Gravitas Ventures)
Danny Wu’s documentary begins by taking a well-trodden path showing Orson Welles’ early life as a child prodigy through his first theater success and infamous War of the Worlds broadcast until it all falls apart following Citizen Kane and his Hollywood career dwindled to nothing after the abortive Magnificent Ambersons debacle. Wu then turns to two little known men: Japanese-American Howard Kakita (who survived the bombing of Hiroshima as a child) and Black serviceman Isaac Woodard (who was beaten so badly upon his return to the South after WWII that he was left permanently blinded).
Wu’s attempt to tie the stories of these disparate men together is often clumsy, for Welles’ artistic genius keeps getting in the way. (Even Welles’ discussion of Woodard is eloquent.) But Wu’s interviews with several talking heads—including Kakita himself—illuminate a necessarily expansive definition of the term “American.”
Hello Dankness
From the mischievous Australian sibling duo known as Soda Jerk, this lacerating critique of America during the Trump years is cleverly reedited from various repurposed scenes from dozens of unrelated films—including American Beauty, Wayne’s World, Robocop (which features the most pointed satire of today’s society), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Peggy Sue Got Married, etc.—which are tweaked to show how trump supporters and Hilary supporters acted during that fraught and, in hindsight, ridiculous and dangerous time.
The problem with the film is that it’s one-note: for all its humor and even insight, after about a half-hour, it starts to become redundant; we all know what happened—the reality was worse than any reedited bunch of film scenes and overdubs could make it—so why subject ourselves to it again?
Invisible Beauty 
The fascinating life of Bethann Hardison, who was one of the first Black supermodels and became an agent and, later, activist who paved the way for the stellar careers of such models as Iman, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, is chronicled in this breezy but substantive documentary by directors Frédéric Tcheng and Hardison herself.
Hardison, of course, is refreshingly candid in nearly every sound bite and video clip over the decades; her son, actor Kadeem Hardison, Iman, Campbell, and Ralph Lauren, among others, speak touchingly and honestly about a trailblazer who became a lasting influence on the modeling profession for so many, whether they realize it or not.
Radical Wolfe 
(Kino Lorber)
Iconoclastic author Tom Wolfe—who coined such popular phrases as “the me decade,” “social X rays,” and “radical chic”—is remembered in Richard Dewey’s succinct but too brief (only 76 minutes!) documentary based on a Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis, one of several admiring colleagues, associates, and family and friends who are interviewed about the author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities. 
Wolfe died at 88 in 2018, with his best work and cultural relevance behind him, but Dewey’s interviewees are sure his writing will endure; historian Niall Ferguson says it will be reevaluated and rediscovered by readers interested in what America was like in the last half the 20th century.
Blu-ray Releases of the Week 
Don Pasquale 
(Opus Arte)
One of Gaetano Donizetti’s delightful comic operas has been given a rollicking production by director Damiano Michieletto at London’s Royal Opera House in 2019; the humor is intact and the relationships are pointedly presented.
The great baritone Bryn Terfel makes a perfect Pasquale, and he is surrounded by a wonderfully capable cast that’s led by the winning Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko as love interest Norina. It’s all conducted with panache and verve by Evelino Pido, who leads the Royal Opera orchestra and chorus. There’s first-rate hi-def video and audio.
Roméo et Juliette 
(C Major)
French composer Charles Gounod’s tragic opera follows Shakespeare’s classic play fairly closely after beginning with the coffins of the star-crossed lovers onstage—and Gounod’s enchanting melodies magnificently mirror Shakespeare’s poetry, especially in the lyrical scenes between the pair.
Russian soprano Aida Garifullina is a meltingly lovely Juliette and Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu is a charming Roméo, with conductor Josep Pons leading a reliable reading of the music by the orchestra and chorus. Director Stephen Lawless’ 2018 Barcelona staging catches the sense of young romance and impending tragedy. The hi-def video and audio are enticing.
DVD Release of the Week 
Succession—The Complete Series 
(HBO/Warner Bros)
This compelling and hilarious series about ultrarich corporatists chugged along for four always watchable seasons, including the shocking but inevitable plot twist early in the final season that finally provided a real conclusion to what the title hinted at. The tension between a successful media corporation’s founder, Logan Roy, and his adult children, all of whom are in one way or another unworthy to succeed him—sons Kendall, Roman and Connor as well as daughter Shiv—reaches heights of tragicomedy worthy of Shakespeare.
The superb writing is complemented by the magisterial acting, from Brian Cox, who plays the Lear-like Logan, to Jeremy Strong (Kendall), Kieran Culkin (Roman), Sarah Snook (Shiv) and the scene-stealing J. Smith-Cameron as the family’s shrewd associate Gerri. All 39 episodes are included, along with several featurettes and interviews, but it's too bad that this addictive series (which was shot on film) has not been released on Blu-ray, let alone 4K.

Broadway Play Review—“The Shark Is Broken”

The Shark Is Broken
Written by Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon; directed by Guy Masterson
Performances through November 19, 2023
Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street, New York, NY
Colin Donnell, Ian Shaw and Alex Brightman in
The Shark Is Broken (photo: Matthew Murphy)
Basically about three actors sitting around on a boat while their movie, Jaws, is taking longer than ever to make because the mechanical shark rarely works, The Shark Is Broken—written by Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon—is a decent enough diversion.
Ian is the son of Robert Shaw, who famously played the monomaniacal shark hunter Quint in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster 1975 movie, which was such an enormous hit that summer that Hollywood would never be the same after its astonishing success. So it’s no surprise that Ian plays his dad Robert in this curio about the frustrations of three actors—Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss, Shaw’s costars in the movie, are the others—as they sit around waiting for the green light to continue filming.
It's the barest of bare skeletons, which Shaw fils and cowriter Nixon are obviously aware of. In lieu of any real plot, the trio wiles away the boredom of waiting for the shark to be fixed by playing games, drinking, telling stories, drinking, singing songs, drinking, irritating each other—the bulk of the show is filler, but what the writers are after is the camaraderie, at first tentative but eventually hard-earned, of the actors, as diverse as can be. Robert Shaw was an infamously hard-drinking Irish-Brit; Roy Scheider was the city-dwelling everyman; and Richard Dreyfuss was, at least in this telling, a young actor with the biggest streak of insecurity in history.
A little of their back-and-forth goes a long way, so Shaw, Nixon and director Guy Masterson keep things moving by alternating longer, conversational scenes with shorter, atmospheric—and mainly dialogue-less—moments, which makes The Shark Is Broken marginally longer—it runs about 90 intermissionless minutes—but doesn’t provide much depth.
Amid all the wink-wink nudge-nudge jokes about how Jaws will be a flop (or at best a piece of junk that will make money but no one will remember in 50 years) or how Dreyfuss says he’s spoken to their director about his next movie, which will be about UFOs (incredulous, Shaw bellows, “What next, dinosaurs?”) or how President (not cowriter) Nixon—who, in real life, resigned while Jaws was being filmed—is the most immoral in history, the creators understand that The Shark Is Broken is about acting, and they have created juicy bits for each character, even if Masterson seems to encourage all three actors to go further into caricature than is needed.
Colin Donnell plays Roy Scheider with a pinched voice and exaggerated New Yawk accent, but he perfectly plays the moderating influence that the mostly calm Scheider must have been on the diametrically opposed personalities that were Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. 
Alex Brightman, always a physically adept comedian, plays Dreyfuss as a fidgety bundle of nerves—but since he’s a dead ringer for oceanographer Matt Hooper, the performance, funny and entertaining as it is, comes off as more of an impression of the character Hooper than the actor Dreyfuss.
From the moment he walks onto the stage, Ian Shaw is an uncanny doppelgänger of his father, and there are moments during The Shark Is Broken where it seems that a hologram of Shaw pere is interacting with the others. Ian also has the best lines as Robert reduces Richard to a pile of blubber with constant insults or when Robert extols the many virtues of being a drunkard—even while on the set, shooting. 
But the coup de theatre comes at the climax when Ian recreates, word for word and gesture for gesture, Robert’s unforgettable Jaws monologue about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis after delivering the atomic bomb to Japan. Although it seems out of place, slapped on to the end of the play, Ian catches some of the nuances in his dad’s original tour de force and it’s a satisfying way to wrap up, as appreciative Jaws fans in the audience can attest.
Masterson directs snappily on Duncan Henderson’s precise recreation of Quint’s beat-up fishing boat, the Orca; Jon Clark’s lighting, Ninz Dunn’s projections and Adam Cork’s music and sound design coalesce to ground the enjoyably slight The Shark Is Broken in our collective movie memories.

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