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Lukewarm Off Presses: Danish Girls, True Americans, Murderous Scots

Three stories we didn't get around to posting about this past week or so when they were newer. Giving them but one sentence each in a link roundup seemed somehow inadequate. 

Do we love these posters because they're good designs or merely because we love Fassy & Marion?  The internet doesn't know the difference. But those faces are mesmerizing onscreen and the opportunities to see these two play-act the violent ambitious Scotsman and his manipulative Lady (who seems to be sporting Princess Leia buns) are the draw. Is it just me or does this Michael pictured almost look like a Shannon rather than a Fassbender? Maybe it's the haircut and the camera angle. [True Confession: whenever I see a male actor with war-paint on, I shudder, fearing worldwide bloodlust adulation of Braveheart style machismo rather than any sort of interest connection to the drama or themes to come. Love of violent men seems ever insatiable.]

Speaking of machismo, Kathryn Bigelow's latest violent testosterone fueled drama will be based on the non-fiction book "True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas." Tom Hardy headlines as Mark Stroman, a man who attempts to kill three immigrant after 9/11 and the other Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a former Bangladesh Air Force officer, his only surviving victim, who wants to visit Stroman on Death Row. No word yet on who plays Bhuiyan but it's a big potentially Oscar friendly role so expect everyone to pretend whoever plays him is supporting for Oscar purposes ;) 

This movie, based on the novel by David Ebershoff which was itself inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener (who would later become Lili... predating the famous sex change procedure of Christine Jorgensen) and his relationship to his wife through the transition was once going to be headlined by not one but two huge female movie stars (Theron & Kidman). The project vanished from the "upcoming film" conversation a couple of years ago. It's baaa-aaack. Only this time it's a rising male star who is headlining, charismatic ginger Eddie Redmayne.



But here's the problem. In the intervening years there has been an inarguable rise in consciousness about transgender issues and the trans community has gotten a lot more politically brave and some might say strident. Note, if you will, all the criticisms LGBT champion RuPaul has received for his continued enjoyment of words like tranny and she-male that other LGBT citizens would like to give up. There was a lot of anger about Hollywood going with a straight male actor (Jared Leto) for a trans role last year (Dallas Buyers Club) when there are actual trans actors around. I've never liked to hem actors in this way -- actors, by their very craft and nature, are not meant to only play what they are --  so Jared Leto had a point when he said as much. The problem with his point is that it isn't the strict truth. Hollywood doesn't cast people like him for such distinct roles because they're "the right person for the job" but because they're a name and Hollywood is risk averse. It's the same reason they used to not let black actors play black characters (think Showboat) fearing loss of revenue and the same reason they keep white washing Asian roles when the time comes to cast them. But with the somewhat steady rise in actual trans celebrity (Alexis Arquette, Chaz Bono, Candis Cayne, etcetera) and the recent rise of gifted actress Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black (a trans woman playing a trans woman, and beautifully which is the important point when it comes to acting) it has started to seem a little suspect that very few trans roles go to trans actors.

Like Leto, I don't like to see actors pinned down into one kind of character, but if more people were cast true to their ethnicity, sexuality, abilities, and gender identification, I think people would probably be okay with it when an actor played something so removed from him or herself. If there was more balance "being right for it" wouldn't sound like a copout and might actually be accepted as the truth.

Redmayne is a fine actor but expect this noise to continue and get very loud WHEN the media calls him "brave" for playing it (they're such suckers for that word which is seemingly always used offensively, as if to imply the actor is slumming by playing someone "gay" or "trans" or "disabled" or whatnot) and IF he starts winning prizes for it.

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Reader Comments (23)

I can't say that there are many things that annoy me more of than the media calling "brave" any actor who plays gay. The same is not said about actresses who play gay or Europeans who play gay. It s mostly american men who play gay. Brave is not what Jared Leto did in Dallas Buyers Club or Tom Hanks did in philadelphia. It's what Charlotte Gainsbourg did in nymphomaniac, or Nicole Kidman did in The Paperboy or Cate Blanchett did in Blue Jasmine or what Michael Fassbender did in 12 years a slave. It s a actor or actress ferociously delving into the psyche of a very disturbing character and exposing themselves, risking ridicule. It has nothing to do with sexuality. So basically I agree.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

A man with a beard dressed as a glamorous film star won euorvision.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Every time I see that poster my first thought is "Anthony Hopkins."

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

It's not that I don't like your tirade, but right now all I can think of is how to meet Redmayne on the tube. I need more data. Hour? Line?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

peggy sue - he's pretty low key. i've also seen him walking around hell's kitchen alone ! (of course post Les Miz maybe he doesn't do this)

May 16, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I mean, has any of this been confirmed? Or are actors not allowed to read books that they don't plan to adapt into movies?

As for the MACBETH posters, I like then as designs. The pitch black and backdrop and choice of facial image really sell an idea as to what sort of interpretation this will be. Given the director, I didn't really doubt what sort of vision it would be, but this kind of just confirms it.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

A few years ago I was in a bookshop in London sitting down reading. Suddenly a book fell at my feet, dropped by the guy standing next to me. So I picked up the book, and handed it back to the guy, whilst looking up at him. It was Eddie Redmayne, who said 'thank you' to me. Just thought I'd share!

Paul Outlaw - Anthony Hopkins did play Macbeth on stage, with Diana Rigg as Lady Macbeth. It was at the Old Vic in London in 1972.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

@ RobMiles: Now I'm even seeing even more of a resemblance to Hopkins in that poster image.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Just completely ignoring the issue at hand for a second, am I the only one devastated that The Danish Girl isn't to feature Nicole anymore? Have been dying for this movie to happen for years. Now? Not so much. After the reception that Grace of Monaco has been getting the news that this was happening again WITH Kidman would have been just the antidote. Alas...

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTim

@Glenn The project is confirmed with Tom Hooper as director.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJija

a) I love the posters. Severe, sharp and very attuned to the play (which is not my favourite Shakespeare at all).

b) Loving Kathryn Bigelow's career. Both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty are remarkable movies and I can't wait for her to finish her 9/11 trilogy.

c) Very astute. And I think that's ultimately the point in debates about marginalized voices.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Love the posters for MacBeth. Simple and severe, perfectly conveying the feeling of the piece without a whole lot of distracting junk at the sides.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

1. Apparently this MacBeth is some kind of dumbed down version where the language has been simplified to make it more audience friendly. Because that's what we need more of, Shakespeare adaptations pitched to the lowest common denominator.

2. God bless Megan Ellision. I can't believe a movie with anything resembling that logline is getting made. Can't wait.

3. It's going to be a loooooong time before the movie business allows members of any minority to fully represent themselves on screen in any substantial way. It's an inherently conservative business. Activists are absolutely right to point out the absurdity, and unfairness, of that conservatism, and target the corporate executives making those decision, and they're right to criticize the media for how straight white men playing gay and trans parts are covered, but by and large I wish they'd leave the artists out of it.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Roark, I take you haven't seen the director's last film. Even if it is "dumbed down", I find it hard to believe it's lowest common denominator pap.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I think they're going to make Lady Macbeth French, because I just can't see Cotillard (aibd I love her) nailing a Scottish accent.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Marion will be able to do English accents as long as she truly lets go of her own preconceptions about approaching the whole accents frenzy. Will she let go of these things though?

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Glenn - I haven't seen Snowtown. I know it has a great reputation. I suppose I should give this the benefit of the doubt, but when I read about the Weinstein's backing a simplified anything it sets off alarm bells.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterroark

"b) Loving Kathryn Bigelow's career. Both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty are remarkable movies and I can't wait for her to finish her 9/11 trilogy."

Indeed, and this one story in particular seems like an very conscious choice on Bigelow's part as the third film, the one after Zero Dark Dirty. She's not one to make such conscious choices as much as to go with what her interests are, but I definitely think the ZDT fall-out did some unspeakable damage and also probably hurt her personally seeing colleagues actually believe she was endorsing torture. I don't think she wants there to be any doubts on how she feels about acts of inhumanity be it torture or the death penalty. And this is pretty darn good story to get into about America and what it means to be an American.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

They've have indeed talked about the fact that Marion is going to keep her French accent for the role; how they think it's a choice that fits in with the character's background. Here's one article.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJA

JA - I can't see the link for the article.

Although I do know that Scotland and France have an ancient alliance, which is actually known as the 'Auld Alliance!,' so Lady Macbeth being French is entirely plausible.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

I personally will be bored if she keeps her French accent for the role.

I want that woman to stretch herself as hard as possible, she's talented!

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor


Her stretching comes from the material. Not her inability to adapt new accents because the role calls for it. Filmmakers are adjusting their productions to suit her. That's how talented she is. The Meryl Streep of France she is not.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

"I personally will be bored if she keeps her French accent for the role.

I want that woman to stretch herself as hard as possible, she's talented!"

In The Immigrant, at least, she had a really great Polish accent. I think the Polish critic who occasionally writes on the Ebert site said it was better than Streep in Sophie's Choice.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

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