20 May 2019 - George Clooney's adaptation of WWII novel Catch-22
From George Clooney and Hulu, ‘Catch-22,’ With a Catch
Mike Hale (The New York Times, 17/05/2019)
An attack on “Catch-22” is the kind of ultrahazardous mission for which no combat bonus could suffice. Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel toys with time, hopscotches among a huge cast of vividly defined characters and oscillates like an excited particle between Marx Brothers-level comedy and airborne battle scenes worthy of Hemingway. Adapting it for the screen is not for the fainthearted.
Mike Nichols took the challenge head-on, and while his epic 1970 film version fell short of the target, it was a brave effort.
The makers of the new Hulu mini-series “Catch-22,” which began streaming on Friday, take a different approach. Like Heller’s protagonist John Yossarian when faced with the insanity of war, they respond to the crazy ambition of Heller’s novel by choosing not to engage.
'Catch-22' May Not Be By The Book, But It Understands Brutality
Linda Holmes (NPR, 18/05/2019)
If Hulu had announced an original dramatic miniseries that follows a World War II soldier awakening to the horrors of war, executive produced and partly directed (two episodes out of six) by George Clooney, and if the result had been Catch-22, it would have seemed largely successful. But the series, available in full now, is, of course, an adaptation of Joseph Heller's much-chewed-over 1961 novel, a book very unusual in both its tone and its structure. And as an adaptation, it struggles to meet the inevitable expectations.
Some of the basics are retained from the book: Christopher Abbott plays the bombardier Yossarian, who would like to stop flying missions and go home. But every time he approaches the number of missions the military demands, the merciless Colonel Cathcart (Kyle Chandler, playing the mean side of the bureaucratic/governmental operator he has been playing for some years now) raises the number. Also retained is the Catch-22 of the title: the military rule explained by Doc Daneeka (Grant Heslov, also an executive producer). Catch-22 says that a soldier can ask for release on the grounds that he's insane, but also holds that trying to get out of a war is clear evidence of sanity. So all you have to do is ask, but if you ask, you'll be denied.
The Odd Nostalgia of a New “Catch-22”
Troy Patterson (The New Yorker, 18/05/2019)
“Catch-22,” on Hulu, based on Joseph Heller’s novel, stars Christopher Abbott as John Yossarian, a U.S. Army bombardier whose serial failures to escape the Second World War exemplify the madness of combat, military bureaucracy, and everything else. The fame of the title, of course, has outlived the renown of the book. The catch, as the squadron physician explains to the protagonist, is that, although a flier can be grounded if he is crazy, to announce oneself to be crazy is to demonstrate one’s sanity. The show—which is written by Luke Davies and David Michôd, and has episodes directed by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Ellen Kuras—dramatizes this defining paradox, and many subsidiary ironies, with a warm absurdism.
The six episodes of the series streamline the plot of the novel and straighten out its achronological storyline, with the exception of an early flash-forward to Yossarian’s climactic descent into weirdness. After witnessing the death of an eighteen-year-old making his first sortie, Yossarian emerges naked from his B-25. His blood-streaked body moves down the tarmac as if he has passed through fear and pain into a staggered serenity.
Hulu's 'Catch-22' is an apt warning for an America poised on the brink of war — again
Ani Bundel (THINK, 17/05/2019)
Everyone agrees that war is a terrible thing. Ask any politician, including the more than two dozen or so currently trying to run for president in 2020, and every last one of them will pay lip service to the bravery of “our young men and women in uniform.” And yet, since 2001, our country has been in a state of perpetual, never-ending war. Children who turn 18 this year have grown up in a world where the country was never not involved in some kind of engagement in Afghanistan or Iraq, or a vague hand wave to the Middle East. In such a reality, the only surprise about Hulu’s “Catch-22” remake is that it hasn’t come sooner.