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Wednesday
May042016

HBO’s LGBT History: True Detective (2014-)

It's the penultimate episode as Manuel has worked his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions

Last week we looked at Nightingale starring David Oyelowo, a film you should definitely seek out if you want further proof that Oyelowo is one of the best actors working right now. This week, the latest LGBT character to be introduced into the HBO canon: Officer Paul Woodrugh from True Detective’s second season, played by Taylor Kitsch who everyone I know knows from Friday Night Lights and thus keeps trying to convince me is a promising newcomer. I've only ever encountered him in John Carter and The Normal Heart (discussed previously) and neither have really convinced me that this very attractive young man is really all that. Needless to say, I was ready to see what he'd been given to do here.

(Spoilers ahead)

“I was just tryin' to be a good man.”

“Well you don't try right.”

True Detective truly embraces its Raymond Chandler/gumshoe genre by having characters often speaking in impossibly blunt if overtly florid language. Take the above dialogue: Kitsch’s Paul is driving his fiancée to safety (his cover may or may not have been blown, don’t ask) and talk turns to why he even pursued her to which he responds that he was just “trying to be a good man.” Her retort is perhaps a bit on the nose, especially as viewers know that Paul has certain sexual proclivities that make his attempt to do a woman “right” seem a bit self-serving. (He enjoys the company of men and, staying true to the implied rules of masculinity that rule this oppressively male-driven genre, he’s ashamed of this choice and the choice to keep quiet about it).

More...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May042016

Judy by the Numbers: "Caro Nome/When I Look At You"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

With Judy Garland now such an established hit, MGM worked overtime to make the most of its musical star. This meant that while Arthur Freed and the Freed Unit "made" her by crafting her star image (and arguably used her to her best advantage), Judy couldn't work with them exclusively. She was too valuable a commodity for that. So, MGM also put her under the watchful tutelage of another producer well-known for his musical mojo: Joe Pasternak. 

The Movie: Presenting Lily Mars (1942)
The Songwriters: Walter Jurmann (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Van Heflin, Fay Bainter, Spring Byington, directed by Norman Taurog

The Story: Had Judy's fateful short with Deanna Durbin turned out differently only six years previous, she might have met Joe Pasternak earlier. For most of the 1930s, Pasternak was a top producer at Universal Studios, with major Marlene Dietrich titles such as Destry Rides Again to his credit. However, where Pasternak really made his name was in his big "get" for Universal; he was the man responsible for bringing Durbin to the studio after MGM rejected her. Under his production and guidance, Deanna Durbin became one of the biggest singing stars of the 1930s.

However, the fact remained that Universal was small potatoes next to MGM, so when Pasternak became a major musical producer it was only logical that MGM should hire him. Presenting Lily Mars was his second film for the studio. It was originally bought as a dramatic script for Lana Turner, but Pasternak convinced the studio to recycle some songs and turn it into a Judy Garland musical. Unsurprisingly, it was another hit, grossing over $3.5 million at the box office. What is surprising is that Pasternak and Garland only worked together one more time. After the near-miss six years before, it would take another six years for Judy to work with the high-spirited Hungarian again. And much would change for Judy in that six year period.

Tuesday
May032016

Visual Index: Death Becomes Her's Best Shot(s)

This is as good a time as any to tell you that May is "Girls Gone Wild" month at The Film Experience. You know we love a good theme week/month at the site! And with Thelma & Louise and Madonna's Truth or Dare both celebrating 25th anniversaries this very month, it was the only conceivable plus awesome theme to build the blogging around. So we'll be celebrating reckless divas, fierce warriors, psychotic beauties, and blonde venuses all month long. Well that and Cannes hoopla of course.

And we'll start Girls Gone Wild right now with actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) and her frenemy author Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) who drink a seductive potion to appease their vanity with spectacular Oscar-winning results. My choice for Best Shot will be up tomorrow as I'm running behind -- when I love a movie too much it takes me so much longer! -- so I'll keep updating this gallery if you're also running late. 

DEATH BECOMES HER
Director: Robert Zemeckis; Cinematographer: Dean Cundey
Click on any of the 14 shots to read its accompanying article

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May032016

Linky Nyong'o

The Playlist Guillermo del Toro working on a movie where Richard Jenkins is a merman and Sally Hawkins is in love with him? What? And also: why not! 
Sense 8 returns soon. Here's a fun photo album blog on the making of Season 2
Decider It's the 20th anniversary of everyone's favorite crazy teen bitches and also witches movie The Craft (1996)
Variety because sooner or later every male star is required to play a serial killer, Michael Fassbender will do his duty for Entering Hades based on the John Leake's true crime novel
Vulture Jennifer Hudson gets unexpectedly honest about her lack of a Tony nomination

 

Interview talks with romance-novel-cover ready fantasy man, the Outlander star Sam Heughan
Playbill George C Wolfe and Oprah Winfrey are working on a cool sounding project called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks about a woman whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her permission in the 50s and cloned again and again.
Pajiba this is not the angle of Pajiba's story but as with seemingly all biopic subjects Harriet Tubmann suddenly has two competing biopics in the work: Viola Davis's for HBO and one for theatrical release about which we had previously heard nothing. (Too bad that they can't be fused into one with the best elements of both because good luck finding an actress as famous and as talented and as theoretically bankable  as Viola for the actual theatrical version)
Playbill Patti Lupone on Penny Dreadful (uff, she's so great on that show) and her next musical War Paint
Lenny Letter Tony nominee and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o reveals why she chose a small play as Oscar follow up in a great piece. Here's a brief excerpt:

As an actress, feeling connected to a fully realized, complex character is what I look for first. The size of the role, and the budget, and the perceived "buzz" around the project are much less important to me. As an African woman, I am wary of the trap of telling a single story. I decided early on that if I don't feel connected to, excited by, and challenged by the character, the part probably isn't for me. If I'm ever in doubt, I envision the career choices of artists I admire, like Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, and Viola Davis. They are all fearless actresses who approach every role without ego or vanity. They have a fierce commitment to the moment and the role, whether it's the lead or a character we see for just one scene. They give it their all, and it shows. The thought of having a career that in any small way might resemble theirs excites me.

She has good taste in actress heroes!

To Get It Off My Chest
Collider says the Captain America & Avengers filmmakers, the Russo Bros, are game for an LGBT character in the Marvel-verse and the article praises them accordingly for saying so (sigh). I'm not pinpointing Collider but this is a classic example of something the internet loves: 'filmmakers/actors/authors are for insert progressive thing!' news (this is also happening a lot with Star Wars of late). But here is the thing: it is NOT news but hypothetical speculation and, as such, we should not be praising anyone. Until Marvel (and other studios) and filmmakers actually show diversity we MUST stop giving them credit for suggesting that they will one day show diversity. This is also true of their issues with race. Let's stop congratulating people for hypotheticals and start concentrating on praising filmmakers who already have diversity in their films. It's like everyone praising JK Rowlings for retconning Harry Potter's Dumbledore when she wasn't brave enough to actually have him gay within the books. UNLESS PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY DOING IT, STOP PRAISING THEM FOR SUGGESTING THAT THEY'RE COOL ENOUGH TO DO IT AND THEY MIGHT AT ANY MOMENT. JUST NOT RIGHT NOW 

Tuesday
May032016

Doc Corner: Documentaries at the Box Office in 2016

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we look at the medium's flatlining box office is a sign of 2016's roster of documentaries.

Looking at Nathaniel’s listing of the highest grossing documentaries list of the year so far and I was – to put it mildly – a bit bummed out. Not surprised, of course.

Certainly, the comfort of one’s home is a perfectly fine place to view many of these films, and a necessary advancement given the general downturn in boutique and arthouse cinema-going. But as a lover of movies, going to the movies, and writing about movies, it is frustrating and a worry that no documentaries other than Michael Moore’s disappointing Where to Invade Next and the Christian-themed Patterns of Evidence have made any sort of impact at the box office (and even then, Moore’s film is a dramatic slide from even his most recent film Capitalism: A Love Story at $14m) in four months of the new year.

The reason the doc box office figures particularly worried me was because the first quarter of the year is peak opportunity to take advantage of a quiet marketplace...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May032016

Tony Nominations: Hamilton, The Color Purple, Etcetera

In what we're choosing to interpret as a "changing of the guard" moment, two Book of Mormon stars (Andrew Rannells and Nikki M. James) announced the Hamilton Awards this morning. Or, rather, the Tony Award Nominations though the bulk of them went to the hot show of the now, Hamilton. In fact it busted the previous record of most nominations which was 15 (held jointly by The Producers and Billy Elliott) by 1 nomination.  Shouldn't Rory O'Malley have been present, too, in this announcement since he's the only Tony-nominated Book of Mormon alum in Hamilton (having just replaced Jonathan Groff)?

The Tony Awards will be held on June 12th and broadcast on CBS at 8 pm EST.

Most Nominations Musicals:
Hamilton - 16
Shuffle Along - 10
She Loves Me - 8 

Can Jessica Lange add a Tony to her trophy shelf for "Long Day's Journey Into Night"? She already has 1 SAG, 2 Oscars, 3 Emmys, and 5 Golden Globes

Most Nominations Plays:
Long Day's Journey Into Night - 7  
The Humans - 6

All the nominees (including several Oscar players) and some errant thoughts come after the jump...

Click to read more ...