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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Manuel Gives Thanks

Manuel here. Has it really been a year since the last time I gave thanks (not coincidentally with another pic of Ms Blanchett)? I feel as though I should be giving thanks in front of some sort of food, so imagine I’ve come with a full dozen donuts from Donut Time.

I’m thankful…

- For unabashedly queer Christmas flicks featuring fab ladies.
- For having had the chance to see over twenty-four films at the New York Film Festival (and having been in the same room as Kate Winslet!!)
- For Wiig, in all and every incarnation
- For Joy and Joy (and consequently, Amy Poehler and Brie Larson).

- For all the delicious food on Please Like Me, a show you should all be watching!
- For Mad Mens beautiful and perfect ending.
- For Twelve Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer, one of the greatest TV episodes this year.
- For Ben Whishaw, in all and every incarnation. (What a year he's had: Spectre, Suffragette, The Lobster, etcetera)
- For Sutton Foster, National Treasure, who was luminous in The Wild Party.
- For Adele’s laughter (and music).
- For Anna Kendrick, whose “Still Hurting” is still making me ache.

- For TV’s funny ladies. And really, that image doesn't do justice to the amazing talent on display this year (Gina! Constance! Tracee! Ellie! Amy! Ilana! Abbi! The entire Orange is the New Black cast!)

And lastly...

 - For all of you who comment and indulge me as I gab about gay things on HBO. Can you believe it's been a full six months since I started this cultural history? It definitely wouldn't be the same without the engaging and generous TFE community, so thank you all for following along!

Manuel Betancourt (News / HBO LGBT
An avid moviegoer, this academically minded Colombian wrote an entire dissertation on queer film fandom as, perhaps, a way of reconciling his inner critic and inner fan. Both thankfully, are given plenty of room to play here at TFE & at Manuel's own blog where he puts his queer theory training to work. His favorite film genre is "soul-crushingly depressing if beautifully lensed relationship dramas with juicy parts for actresses." Follow him on Twitter!


Remember Jesse L Martin's "I'll Cover You"

Ten years ago today the quickly forgotten film version of Rent (2005) premiered in movie theaters. At the time Rent had been a visceral sensation on stage for nearly a decade and was just a few years short of closing its nearly $300 million grossing Broadway run. Let's just say the movie didn't have a prayer of measuring up, even financially, grossing only $31 million worldwide in theaters. Rent (the movie!) was a dubiously near-perfect example of all the things that can go wrong with movie musicals and despite many other films teaching Hollywood the same exact not-all-that-complicated lessons, Hollywood is still having trouble learning.

You nearly always need these three things: visually stylish directors who also understand storytelling within the musical idiom (it's not an easy thing to move from the abstract friendly medium of the stage to the usually literal medium of the cinema); sly confident casting and gifted performers (transferring entire Broadway casts absolutely won't do. And neither will its opposite, replacing them all with "names" whether or not they can sing and dance. Why? Both strategies just reek of insecurity); and, finally, the right blend of zealous passion and merciless intelligence from the filmmaker since musicals are complicated and needy and fragile and they tend to come with a tricky but essential mix of artifice and sincerity. 

Of course Rent had it's own problems apart from failing to meet those three essentials. It is also a story wherein New York City is as much a leading character as Roger, Mark or Mimi. In the abstract friendly environments of the theater, a simple flourish like a fire escape can represent and entire teeming city with millions of stories in it with ease. If you try to fake New York City in the movies without a stylized visual approach, it just going to look cheap and weak.

But for all of its problems Rent (2005) did give us Jesse L Martin singing onscreen and for that we'll always be grateful. I mean, just listen to his superbly emotive instrument.

A couple of years ago Martin was supposed to headline a biopic about Marvin Gaye and though his casting was inspired financing fell through somewhere along the production phase so the movie seems like one of those phantom features now, caught somewhere between development hell and actual existence. Other roles for Martin just haven't satisfied his musical fans. The much missed Smash (RIP) did a lot of things wrong in its two seasons as a network musical but one of its true unforgiveable sins was actually giving Jesse L Martin a job IN A MUSICAL and then denying the audience that voice. (We keep waiting for The Flash to have a meta-human musical episode since a hefty percentage of its principle cast comes with gorgeous pipes and real musical theater cred.)

Did you ever see Rent on stage? If not do you have any strong memories of the movie?


Beauty vs Beast: Give Thanks For Christina Ricci

Gobble gobble folks, Jason from MNPP here starting off Thanksgiving week wishing you and yours a happy holiday if Turkey (or Tofurkey) Day is your jam. Whenever I think of this holiday I feel a warm feeling in my belly, and it ain't from phantom mashed potato memories - it's because this holiday makes me think of Christina Ricci, and thinking of Christina Ricci always makes me feel warm and happy inside. I'm not the only one who associates the day with her - Nathaniel himself has done a post about her twin Turkey Day speeches in The Ice Storm and Addams Family Values before. It's a tradition, and it should become an annual association as far as I'm concerned. So pass that stuffing and let's spread the Ricci love...

PREVIOUSLY We're getting over our Hunger pains this week in more ways than one - the Hunger Games franchise is finito and as far as last week's Beauty vs Beast is concerned hand Effie the Victor Crown. She sashayed right over top of President Snow with over 80% of your votes. Said denny:

"As much as I think Sutherland is aces as President Snow, Banks was a downright revelation as Effie, completely disappearing into the role in a way that was so unexpected. So she gets my vote. Plus: "THAT. is MAHOGANY."


PGA Documentary Nominations: Are They Actually Bad Luck for Oscar?

Precursor awards are like microwave popcorn. It takes a second for the bag to heat up and then things really start popping. Today the Producers Guild of America named their nominees for Theatrical Documentary Features. The Producers Guild Award winners will be presented on Saturday, January 23, 2016 in Los Angeles. 

Documentary Feature Nominees

The only one of these titles I hadn't personally heard of before today was Something Better to Come, a poverty-doc about children living on a gabarge dump in Moscow. More on what this list does and doesn't mean for Oscar after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Podcast: Room, Brooklyn, Spotlight

Nathaniel and Nick are back, after an unexpected podcast hiatus, to catch up before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

43 minutes 
00:01 Intros, Carol's opening, Hateful 8 gossip
04:30 Split feeling on Room
11:19 Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
20:06 Complicated platform releases, audience confusion, and dismissed "flops" of October including Truth
32:25 Delayed reaction to Black Mass
34:40 Spotlight's conflicts, arc, quality

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments won't you?

Brooklyn, Spotlight, Room


Review: "Creed"

Our newest team member Chris Feil saw the latest in a long dormant franchise early. Here's his review - Editor

Making good on his mainstream sensibilities post-Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler returns with Rocky reboot/sequel/spin-off Creed. Born after his legendary father Apollo's death after an affair, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) attempts to forge his own boxing path without the Creed namesake, recruiting his father's notorious opponent and comrade Rocky Balboa. Similarly, the film tries to have it both ways, attempting to be a sideways stand-alone film while borrowing heavily on the iconography of the original. It is a bit of a left turn for cinema's current trend of cut-and-paste nostalgia, giving Coogler's film a much needed edge for a tired genre, but cursing it with enormous shoes it falls short of filling.

If Fruitvale showed us anything about Ryan Coogler's potential, it was that he could both emotionally invest the audience with a charismatic subject and that he knew how to structure a film's most intense scenes for their maximum dramatic effect. These skills make him the perfect candidate for a mainstream actioner that pulls on the heartstrings, and Creed provides a solid larger platform for him to deliver those goods. Unfortunately still present is his diminished sense of confidence and clarity of vision in extended dialogue scenes, lending to an overall flabby structure. He knows what we want as audience and how to give it to us, but here he has a tricky time transitioning between story beats.


Click to read more ...


YNMS: Hello, My Name Is Doris

Manuel here. I caught Spotlight this weekend and among the endless trailers I had to suffer through before getting to watch Todd McCarthy’s dazzling film, the only one that piqued my interest was Hello, My Name is Doris. The Sally Field film premiered back at SXSW and is now scheduled to come out March next year. If the image above hasn’t already clued you in, the film gives the two-time Oscar winner the showiest role she’s had in years. The film was written and directed by Michael Showalter, who you might remember as “Coop” from Wet Hot American Summer (and Netflix’s recent prequel series).

“She’s like a good weird.”

That's how one character describes Doris and you really can't beat that for a description of Field's latest role. And so, without further ado, let’s put the trailer to our patented Yes No Maybe So test:


Click to read more ...

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