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« If you've ever danced around in your underwear... | Main | "Spark" »
Sunday
Mar092014

Children of a Linker God

New York Times the miniature model (so edible looking!) of The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Interview talks to Jeff Goldblum - I didn't realize how much I missed him until his scenes in the new Wes Anderson 
/Film Carrie Fisher to be in London for 6 months for the new Star Wars film... Hmmm perhaps more than a cameo, then. But regardless I'm not really looking forward to these after the debacle of the last trilogy
Towleroad on Neil Patrick Harris as a gay icon 

Gawker Rich Juzwiak on the continuation of the gay 300 saga. This line just kills me:

But no one man can satisfy Themistocles. "I have spent my life on my one true love: the Greek fleet," he proclaims. Sounds like an active life!

(I'm never going to see the new 300: Rise of an Empire given the descriptions of how gorey it is -- sounds more vomitous than the first one in this regard! --  but I sure as hell am going to read the hilarious reviews)
The Wire why gay guys love the 300 movies
Cinema Blend Pee Wee Herman's beloved bike auctions for over $36,000. Wait, I thought it wasn't for sale?
Erik Lundegaard if The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 tops the box office charts in 2014 it'll be the first time that's happened in consecutive years for a sequel since... (you'll never guess when) 
Salon how hotels like the Grand Budapest became relics of the past 

Marlee Matlin, a deaf woman, famously planed a deaf woman in Children of a Lesser God (1986) and won the OscarToday's Most Discussable
Balder & Dash has an impassioned article about why disabled actors should be the only actors cast in disabled roles. The reasoning is very convincing but it does uncomfortably remind me of all of the flak people gave Jared Leto for doing a trans role this year and Leto's very sound response to the criticisms. Just how close do we need or even want actors to be to the roles they play? If we say that a straight man shouldn't ever play a queer role, does that mean queer actors must never play straight roles? And does this mean trans actors who can totally pass as cisgendered people shouldn't be allowed to play cisgendered roles? Does this mean we should never again have a performance like Linda Hunt's great one in The Year of Living Dangerously (1983)? She is not a trans woman or a man, but she played a man convincingly and carried it off beautifully.

It's a fascinating topic and one that I think should be openly discussed even if, in the days of outrage culture, those discussions can be political minefields. My worry is that this sort of stance is just too limiting for artists and boxes them up. On the other hand, though, shouldn't minority artists have first dibs on minority roles? (I know I've been pissed when I've seen bad gay performances in the past and thought "why didn't you just hire a gay?")  Have you ever thought about this and are you also torn between two opinions on the matter?

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Reader Comments (26)

it's called acting for a reason; the end point of "only same for same" reasoning is only being allowed to play yourself (isn't that what reality television is for?)

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Today is the birthday of the best actress of our time, Juliette Binoche!

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

She turns 50 being one of the most awesome actresses and artists of all time, having worked with some of the best directors of the whole world, always going for challenging movies and giving breathtaking performances, like her take on Camille Claudel, last year. Every actress should take notes (I'm looking at you, Meryl Streep).

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I'm torn.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

BINOCHE!

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Z

I'm all about hiring the best actor for the job no matter who they are, BUT the playing field is CLEARLY not level. So people need to discuss that more than anything else.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Agree on Goldblum--and I haven't even seen GBH yet. (Opens in Seattle next week.) But I always liked his off-kilter smarts in movies. I always think of the way, in "Into the Night," when all the guns are drawn on him at the airport, the way he holds up his hands and looks around and says, "This is ridiculous." Not sure why, but that bit, that moment, has always stuck with me. It's like a dance.

And many thanks for the link!

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

For the record, I thought the back-to-back sequel was easy. I instantly called it the second you said "you'll never guess when"

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

John T -- i'd be surprised if there are many of you out there! that is really an obscure stat. especially given our modern franchise culture.

March 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

- Saw Le Week-End last night and it is delightful, with Goldblum in a fun, pivotal role. Actressexuals will be drooling over Lindsay Duncan's work this year.

- If there was a compelling for an individual actor to be transformed into a member of another ethnic group for a film role (not an ensemble effort like Cloud Atlas), I'd be open to it. But probably more open to a minority actor playing a "white role."

- Was it The Thin Man series? ;-)

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The argument isn't like for like, it's the concept of disability drag. I think that there's a trap for the privileged (including myself as male, cis, able-bodied though also queer and mixed-race) of globalising the debate to imagine that means only gays play gays or only straights play straights when the focus should be on what disability drag looks and feels like. It may be something that only flows one way, without the implications of like for like in all cases. In fact I don't see that one has to equal the other.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDanny Hall

Danny -- i get that but the article itself *asks us* to draw these not necessarily analogous correlations by equating disability with racial identity.

so i'm just drawing other comparisons and saying why i think it's a complicated topic rather than an absolute that the article indicates.

March 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

A trans man who's a friend of mine argued that a woman should have played Rayon, and a man should have played Felicity Huffman's role in Transamerica. I argued that for Rayon, though, having a woman play the role is insincere because back then, she would not have transitioned the way she would today. I get the frustration though - count the number of reviews that refer to Rayon as a gay man vs. the ones that refer to her as a trans woman. Not only that, it should be part of the discussion on how Leto played the character. (I personally thought/hoped the movie was making a point about societal lack of understanding when everyone referred to Rayon as "he," and have probably mentioned on here before that I'm very happy Leto didn't seem to take the character as a drag queen, but someone who was well aware she was in the wrong body.)

The sequels piece made me laugh - now there's a great pairing of sequels! Pull out the popcorn. Speaking of which, viva la Fisher! I guess I have to see those movies now.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

No DDL in My Left Foot?

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Oh, people in the trans community definitely find Leto's response to the question to be sound. At all. And Valle acting like no trans actors actually exist or work is one of the most disingenuous answers to the whole topic. It makes me just think he should've just had written the character, a composite who does not exist in real life, as a drag queen. It would've avoided much of the issues the trans community had of the performance. As for the pronouns issue of the film, maybe a moment where Rayon corrects somebody who misgenders her would've gone a long way. This ain't Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs where there is no way for the character to even try to openly get agency because the systems denied that for the character.

Anyway, Happy 50th to Juliette Binoche. Even if The English Patient is low on her personal best list, the fact she was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Oscars is pretty amazing.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

DDL in My Left Foot is one in terms of performance that I go back and forth on. It's method gone too far for me, personally, but I get why people were enthralled by it.

Also, you have Tom Cruise as DDL's chief competitor that year with Born on the Fourth of July. More understandable that he is chosen for Kovic because he has to be seen as able bodied, then shot, and then disabled. I appreciate that performance more, perhaps because my biases for an American story as old as time is done very well in this case and it is clinches the fact Cruise is not just a star but a talented actor. I just prefer that performance and regardless of what you think of Cruise or Oliver Stone, I think it ages better.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Since your bring up Marlee Matlin I'll just say Jessica Tandy.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

That kind of thinking only hurts the cause that it is pretending to help. Yuck. Yes to successful transgendered performers. Yes to successful disabled performers. No to handing roles to transgendered or disabled people in a charitable way. Charity marginalizes. 'Dallas Buyers Club' absolutely required star power to get made. And Leto is a star who gave a great performance. Everything about that argument feels so gross to me. It's like giving Oscars to performers because they are due. It feels pretend. I would love for a trans person to play Hamlet and for a disabled person to play Blanche. As long as it works well within the confines of the staging. Particularly, the 'blaming' of Leto for enabling marginalization is potentially the nastiest scenario that I've ever encountered.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

As a paying movie goer I want to see the best performer and performance in the role and could not give a damn whether they are gay, trans, disabled etc. in real life. That quite frankly is none of my business, if they make me believe their character than its a job well done since acting is an illusory art.

All that being said I absolutely believe that gay, trans, disabled etc. people should have the opportunity to compete for those roles but not automatically be chosen by default. If that was the case than straight performers would have every right to insist that only they be considered for roles calling for a straight character. It's a slippery slope.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I think I'm ok with disabled actors being the only ones playing disabled characters. It's not the same as straight actors playing gay characters. Disabled actors probably are never allowed to play any other type of role, their possibility to work is much more limited. If writers created roles for disabled people and there were enough... things would be different. But that's not going to happen. And also, on a more superficial note, maybe we wouldn't have Oscar winners praised for the effort of playing 10-12 hours a day, for a couple of months someone who has some kind of disability for life. I guess it's as annoying to hear that, as it is to hear someone praised for being so "brave" as to kiss another guy.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

The original "300" was homoerotic and homophobic at the same time

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

"'Dallas Buyers Club' absolutely required star power to get made. And Leto is a star who gave a great performance."

McConaughey got the film made, not the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman who always fumbled whatever film opportunity came his way before this. He wouldn't drive its box office at all.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

And now, of course, I realize my first comment made no sense. ".... people in the trans community definitely did **not** find Leto's response to the question to be sound."

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Well, I just watched Children of a Lesser God couple days ago, and one thing for sure that knowing Marlee Matlin is actually deaf help deepen the performance and the context of the film. The way she dance to the music is both raw and honest and emotional and hopeful.

The article makes sense that disability people should be the first choice to play disability part; but there are no point to say that "normal" people should not play those parts, providing they are great in the role (that's what ACTOR for).

But for those roles whose studios prefer to cast "normal" people in the disability roles because it is "safe", well, it needs to be changed

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

I thought much about this topic as well, and ultimately, I cosign what iggy wrote. This is especially true for a role like Artie on Glee. Imagine the breakthrough opportunity a disabled actor can have on such a popular show.

On the other hand, if we have a role like Jason on Friday Night Lights, I am ok with it going to a non-disabled actor, since so much focus is on the transition.

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Kin, but part of Artie's story on that show included fantasy sequences were he got up and danced. You could then say, 'well, you'll just have to cut those sequences' but they worked really well in showing the contrast between what he wanted for himself and his reality.

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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