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Nicole Kidman on Stage

"Any chance this transfers to broadway I wonder?" - Joseph

"As a long term Kidmaniac, this is just the type of comeback I was hoping for." - allaboutmymovies


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Entries in HBO (58)


HBO’s LGBT History: Curb Your Enthusiasm (1999-2011)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at Tanaz Eshaghian’s documentary Be Like Others, an unflinching portrayal of trans people in Iran. In many ways, it falls right in line with HBO’s commitment to sparking and hosting button-pushing conversations on contemporary issues like they’d done before with Common Threads, Rosie’s All Aboard! and Middle Sexes. But you know what else HBO is known for? Hilarious comedy, which is what we’ll be discussing today.

When I talked about the gay stereotypes that litter HBO comedies, a handful of you pointed to the “Larry vs. Michael J. Fox” (HBO Go) episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm as a helpful complement to that discussion. The plot of the eighth season (and potential series) finale follows Larry’s escalating cold war with upstairs neighbor Michael J. Fox (“Just having Parkinson’s doesn't give you carte blanche to take advantage of the non-Parkinson's!”) while the B-plot has him meeting Greg, the seven-year old son of Jennifer (Ana Gastayer), the woman he’s been seeing. As Greg is an avid fan of Project Runway and a swishy one at that, Larry decides to get him a sewing machine for his birthday which all but appalls his mother:

Jennifer: He is a happy, healthy, normal seven year old boy. What is the matter with you?
Larry: Ehh, I think he might be gay.

As if the episode’s use of Parkinson’s disease as comedy fodder wasn’t enough, the episode’s continued pushing of Greg as a gay kid (he’s “pre-gay” Larry notes) is classic Larry David: awkward, borderline inappropriate but for that all the more hysterical. It also features one of the few examples of pre-teen homosexuality in our HBO history. Jennifer’s own anxiety that Larry might be thrusting homosexuality on a kid who is barely seven years old mirrors much of our modern ideas of homosexuality. Kids can be effeminate. They can be sissies. They can be pansies. They can enjoy Project Runway. But that, we are told, in no way means they’ll grow up to be gay. Even in that sentence construction, we espouse the belief that homosexuality is something for grownups, irrevocably tied to same-sex desire and thus tied to hormones, puberty, and of course, sex.

What does Greg love about Project Runway? "The fashion!"

The radical humor of the episode lies in not shying away from calling that myth out; indeed, young girls are encouraged to think of their future husbands thus inscribing in them a heterosexuality that, at a young age, need not be tied to their sexual preferences; why should gay kids be treated any differently, with their gayness both signaling but not encompassing actual sex? True, it falls on pretty well-worn stereotypical territory, but for those of us who were called out as sissies and pansies for our aversion to sports and penchant for “feminine” cultural objects, Greg’s unabashed swishiness is particularly refreshing to see. That his mother seems to want to not even consider thinking about what that may mean for his sexuality and that Larry’s own approach to the issue begins with a question of whether raising Greg will be somewhat difficult for Jennifer (given, you know, how he is and all), would warrant more unpacking if the episode didn’t give Greg so much autonomy and confidence. Plus, with sewing skills like that - he singlehandedly crafts a throw pillow with the fabulous design Larry taught him about (the swastika) - you know he’ll be fine.

Fun Awards Fact: Michael J. Fox was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy for his portrayal of himself on the show. He was also nominated that same year for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama for his work on The Good Wife. He lost both his bids that year, though I’m sure he found solace in his five previous Emmy wins.

Next week: We’ll continue talking about HBO Comedies as we revisit the two big screen adaptations of arguably the most talked-about HBO comedy of all time: Sex and the City. So bring your Cosmos, wear your Jimmy Choos and be prepared for plenty of puns!


HBO’s LGBT History: Be Like Others (2008)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at Bernard and Doris, which gave us a chance to wax on about two underrated actors, Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes. This week, we look abroad as we pause to think about Tanaz Eshaghian’s documentary Be Like Others (also known as Transsexual in Iran). More...

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NYFF: Everything is Copy

Manuel here continuing our NYFF coverage with a documentary about the late great Nora Ephron, Everything is Copy. An HBO documentary, it played to quite the packed house last week with nary a dry eye in the house by its end.

Nora was…

 Kind. Open. Generous. Witty. Interesting. Funny.
Ambitious. Mean. Tough. Malevolent. Judgmental.

You’d expect the first half of those adjectives to make an appearance in the touching portrait of Ephron by her son, Jacob Bernstein. That Everything is Copy includes the latter half is what makes it a pricklier and much more fascinating exploration of the late writer and director. 

Quotes from Spielberg, Streep and more after the jump...

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HBO’s LGBT History: Bernard and Doris (2008)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at the provocatively titled but rather limp documentary Middle Sexes - Redefining He and She. This week, we turn our attention to Bernard and Doris, a rather enjoyable little film about billionairess Doris Duke and her gay butler Bernard Lafferty. It’s an otherwise lightweight exercise for actors and director alike but it does allow us to talk about that ubiquitous “gay guy/straight gal” pairing we’re all too familiar with.

Bernard and Doris (DVD)
Directed by: Bob Balaban
Written by: Hugh Costello
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Ralph Fiennes, James Rebhorn.

At one point in Bob Balaban’s HBO film, Doris Duke, “the richest girl in the world” as she was known ever since her father left his entire fortune to her, demands that Bernard - the increasingly flamboyant Irish butler she’s grown quite fond of - step aside from driving and let her take the wheel. She’s much too drunk to bear his slow pace and much too bossy to let herself be convinced otherwise. Inevitably, the unlikely couple are stopped by a cop and Doris is asked to step outside the car and told she’ll have to be breathalized. More...

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HBO’s LGBT History: Middle Sexes (2005)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at the surprisingly touching, inclusive and politically relevant Rosie O’Donnell documentary All Aboard! (it seems not a lot of you were as enthused as I was). This week we change gears by looking at perhaps the most boring HBO LGBT entry yet, Middle Sexes - Redefining He and She, a documentary on gender variance that is as entertaining as those educational tapes you’d be forced to watch in high school when your teacher couldn’t be bothered lecturing.

It’s disappointing given its exhaustive approach to the material and the many opportunities it offers in engaging narratives and insightful conversations about those living outside of the gender binary.

Middle Sexes - Redefining He and She (2005) (YouTube)
Directed by: Antony Thomas

If sexual diversity is natural, why is it so threatening?”

Oh that the doc could have taken up this question with the inquisitiveness of most of its talking heads. [More...

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3 in One - Pfeiffer, Blanchett , Mara

 Here's Murtada with just released pictures of 3 upcoming projects.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff
Quick turnaround from the casting announcement, they have already started filming The Wizard of Lies and released the first picture. New cast members have been added to the HBO project including Nathan Darrow (famous for House of Cards' menage a trois with Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey) who will play the Madoff’s younger son Andrew.

Pfeiffer is completely transformed as Ruth Madoff. More...

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HBO’s LGBT History: All Aboard! (2006)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at a couple of mid-2000s HBO comedies to discuss various gay stereotypes in Da Ali G Show, The Comeback and Entourage, a mere week after discussing complex characters in HBO dramas. Today we look at quite possibly the most surprising entry in this history: All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise. Yes, this is a documentary about the maiden voyage of Rosie O’Donnell’s all-inclusive (pun-alert!) LGBT family cruise. I dreaded watching this. I mean, that promotional image alone was enough to make me queasy and that was before I even pressed play.

Well, color me surprised. Not only is All Aboard! a pretty decent documentary but it is a fascinating document of LGBT life and politics in the early twenty-first century.

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