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Entries in Jessica Lange (21)

Wednesday
Aug052015

HBO’s LGBT History: Normal (2003)

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

Last week we looked at Moisés Kaufman’s adaptation of his own play, The Laramie Project, based on the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder in the small town of Laramie, Wyoming. I raved about Laura Linney’s bit scene, continuing an unexpected but welcome line of actressy write-ups that this project has allowed. You see back when I envisioned this project, I worried we’d be stuck talking solely about gay men-driven stories and male actors for months, but looking back, it turns out we’ve talked about Stockard Channing, Lily Tomlin, Glenn Close, Angelina Jolie, Vanessa Redgrave and Michelle Williams! Not too shabby considering gay men have been at the center of more than half the titles we’ve looked at. This week, we continue to add another acting goddess to our list as we reach our first main trans storyline in an HBO production in Jane Anderson’s Normal.

More after the jump...

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Sunday
Mar222015

Link Slippers. They're Surprisingly Comfortable

Defamer Jessica Lange throwing shade Lady Gaga's way in an American Horror Story press event
White Noise wonders why Hollywood can't get hackers (and computers in general) right?
Salon Excellent interview with Daniel Franseze (Mean Girls) about his breakout Looking character, a complete rarity for TV, and HIV prevention 
Playbill has an updates on the musical version of Mean Girls that Tina Fey is working on
CHUD Bobby Cannavale says that there's a lot of comic improv in the Ant-Man film this summer 
Pajiba looks at "Jonathan" (aka Danny Strong) and how the Buffy super villain surprisingly became such a success story after the series. 

Comics Alliance Captain America: Civil War wants to start shooting in a couple of while while the various Avengers actors are still deep in promotion duties for Age of Ultron. (Marvel has definitely moved into "rush everything!" mode. It wouldn't seem to impossible if all the Avengers weren't in it but they seem to be.)
PressPlay has a video essay on what it means to be an auteur 
Playbill Liza Minnelli has reentered rehab after a recent back surgery
Black Maria has some recommendations on Warner Archive. I keep wondering if I should join this but I already spend so much $$$ on movies. Have any of you tried them out?
The Dissolve is horrified by forthcoming Robin Hood adaptations from Hollywood. Yes, there are five of them in development and they all sound quite dumb!
Pajiba omg you guys, did you see the Miley Cyrus wax figure? Yikes.
The Film Doctor looks back at Nightcrawler's "atrocity montage"
Women and Hollywood check on these horrifyingly sexist casting ads. Like this one... ugh:

There's something unnerving about her. Maybe she's read too many books?

Oscars are so far away but Oscar talk never is
Gold Standard Glenn Whipp on why the Academy shouldn't go back to 5 Best Picture nominees. Did I share this already? I might have shared this already.
Awards Daily One of our most high profile documentarians, Alex Gibney, has a possible contender this year in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief which hits HBO at the end of the month. (Seems like wishful thinking, Oscar-wise, to me since Hollywood has a lot of Scientologists that will undoubtedly be offended by it.

Cinderella is still spinning
i09 in our Cinderella retrospective we forgot about this oddity. Fairie Tale Theater's version with Matthew Broderick as Prince Charming!
Guardian attacks the new Cinderella for not being more like Frozen and selling feisty girlpower and for its "pinkification"... whatever that word means in this context. Sigh. This article and line of thought make me angry. Listen, I'm all for feisty girlpower but you know what's even better for men and women alike? diversity in representation. It's not good for boys to only have heroes that are physically intimidating and it's not good for girls to only have heroes that are anachronistic 'you go girl!' athletic types. There's more than one way to be an admirable film character that kids can look up to. I think this adaptation does wonders keeping the princess-to-be true to the material while also transforming her into a better role model. A protagonist that emphasizes fine-tuning your inner moral compass and positively affecting change through compassion and forgiveness is a protagonist that's still mighty heroic and worth emulating if you ask me. Not every "hero" needs to be able to kick ass.

Thursday
Feb122015

Freakshow, Anthology Escape Clauses, and Forgotten Endings

a belated goodbye

Here's how you know a show has lost you: when you forget that you didn't finish watching it. I was faithfully tuning into American Horror Story this past season, and just like every season, I lost interest without realizing I'd lost interest before the finale. It's rather like a tire slowly deflating rather than blowing flat with that horrible disorienting noise.

In the case of Freakshow my attentions were interrupted by Oscar nominations and then awards shows and then Sundance. When I got done with all of that it took me a full two weeks to remember that Freakshow was still sitting there on the DVR waiting. In many ways Freakshow was the best looking season of AHS with the most promising first chapters. But it suffers as Vulture correctly observed from a horrifically ill advised finale, particularly its entire final sequence on Elsa's post-Freakshow career. That was the worst kind of television writing, really: nonsensical, unearned, aggravatingly ignorant of what came before it and beholden to an agenda (Jessica Lange Worship) that the text can't support or in this case actively fought against for an entire season.

More...

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Monday
Jan122015

Which Golden Globe Reaction Best Describes Your Feelings About Prince? 

 

 

As stated last night at first I thought the Prince Golden Globe reveal was an elaborate joke when he walked out in longshot with afro and cane. There seemed to be a delayed reaction from the crowd too who exploded with glee after a beat. I love Prince (the 80s were my formative years what can I say) so I know which of the following reactions was mine. But which was yours? Please do share your three favorite Prince songs in the comments and vote on the poll! 

 

Thursday
Dec042014

AHS: Freakshow "Blood Bath" 

There be spoilers ahead. On the latest episode of American Horror Story: The Dandy Show television's most beautiful, most Emmy-worthy, and most bratty psycho-killer goes to see a disembodied psychiatrist (why are they hiding his face: stunt casting?), kills his mother and makes like Countess Bathory with her remains.

Some other stuff probably happened in this episode, too, but the titular bath was uh... distracting

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Sunday
Nov162014

AFI Fest's Gala Premieres: 'The Gambler' and 'The Homesman'

Margaret here, reporting from the LA festival beat with short takes on some would-be Oscar contenders.


The Gambler
Screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed), director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and star Mark Wahlberg joined forces on this remake of the 1974 James Caan movie of the same name, and the result is certainly stylish. It's well-shot, coolly assured, and smartly paced. Wahlberg leads the movie capably as Jim Bennett, a man from a rich family with a solid career who has nonetheless dug himself to rock bottom with extravagant compulsive gambling. 

The film is at its best when it engages with the question of why someone whose life is granted so much privilege so systematically pisses it all away. John Goodman, typically scene-stealing as a dangerous loan shark, makes many salient points about Jim's decisions, which are either self-destructive or indefensibly stupid.  To its detriment, the film ultimately succumbs to the impulse to romanticize its protagonist, asking the audience to cheer and respect him when he  finally makes his first sound decision.

The supporting cast is largely excellent; it will surprise no one that Jessica Lange wrings every ounce of personality, pathos, and curdled maternal affection from her few minutes of screentime. Even so, she makes little impact on the movie because, like the protagonist, it brushes her away. The Gambler can claim the dubious achievement of completing the Stock Female Character hat trick: (1) a maternal figure who exists to thanklessly prop up the male lead, (2) a pretty young thing (Brie Larson) who we're told is a stone-cold genius, but is given no development arc and has inexplicable romantic interest in the lead, and (3) a passel of nameless and faceless strippers. Slow clap. 

These are not deal-breakers for every moviegoer, but they're emblematic of the film's general reliance on familiar beats instead of showing us something new.

 

The Homesman
BREAKING NEWS: Tommy Lee Jones smiled upwards of twice when introducing his newest film at AFI Fest. He had glowing things to say about the whole cast, particularly  "the miraculous Hilary Swank", who more than earned her praise. The Homesman is a stubbornly unromantic and prickly western, but Swank anchors it with a very fine, emotionally vivid performance.

The Homesman's portrait of life in the Nebraska Territory is bleak; life is hard, and heroism a luxury. When a town meeting is called to order the transport of three mentally ill women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter) back to family in Iowa, their husbands shrink from the task. The staunchly moralistic Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank) takes on the assignment, knowing it will be a miserable and dangerous enterprise, because no one else will do it and she knows it must be done. Upon acquiring a traveling companion in a self-interested claim jumper who may be named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), she sets off with her dead-eyed charges.

There are many well-conceived notes in the movie. A knife fight over a disinterested captive, Mary Bee silently playing an embroidered set of piano keys for lack of a real instrument, a flashback to a passenger's slow break from sanity-- each hints at a poignancy that never feels realized in the film as a whole. The tone occasionally veers into incongruous places-- Tommy Lee Jones' introduction is oddly slapstick, and there's a vengeful sequence in the third act that would have been more at home in Django Unchained-- and while the story doesn't conform to any expected trajectory, neither does it end as strongly as it began. 

The movie didn't leave me sure exactly what story its makers wanted to tell, or at least, it never convinced me of why they were telling it. Even so, it's at times both moving and starkly beautiful, and will not be easy to forget. 

Saturday
Nov012014

AHS: Freakshow "Edward Mordrake Pt. 2"

I apologize for the lateness of this piece! AHS's two-part Halloween episode was structured around green smoke spewing evil spirit Edward Mordrake's search for another soul to add to his collection of dead ghouls. This search was something like a B story entirely made up of SAG Ensemble clip reel auditions with several actors getting their own "darkest hour" backstory to tell. I loved the Illustrated Seal's (Mat Fraser) clip reel about his "handsome face" and am pleased to have read that Ryan Murphy, recognizing his talent, wants to give him a non-freak role somehow in a future season, despite his deformed hands and arms.

After completely the sad story roundup, Mordrake decides to take Elsa (Jessica Lange) with him into the afterlife following her grisly tale of her Weimer Era Germany sex club stardom ends in the grisly chain-sawing of her legs. (Yuck -- and that isn't even the grossest image in her story). But, Mordrake stops when he hears distant music.

Where is it coming from?

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