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Entries in LGBT (390)

Monday
Sep122016

TIFF Quickies: A Monster Calls, Colossal, Santa & Andrés

Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto Film Festival 


A Monster Calls (JA Bayona, USA/Spain)
This fable about grief and growing up will surely be someone's favorite movie. Alas, it isn't mine. A Monster Calls is a simple fantasy about a boy named Connor (Lewis MacDougall) whose mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer. His grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and father (Toby Kebell) attempt to console him but the only solace Connor can find is in visitations from a giant tree monster (voiced by Aslan... excuse me, Liam Neeson) who promises to tell the boy three stories in exchange for the boy's own. The film is somewhat moving and fantastically visual in its three animated stories within the movie; they're sensory overload mashups of computer generated imagery, watercolor fluidity, and bold color choices. In both its earthbound and magical moments, though, A Monster Calls is relentlessly gilding the lily. It's so concerned with putting its parables over that its' constantly explaining them and telling us how to feel about grief and loss. Still, Bayona's movie is always coming from a place of compassion and humanity which can be a godsend in the soulless landscape of CGI heavy movies. While the tech elements are strong, particularly sound and visual effects (though why does the creature look so much like Groot?),  it all comes down to the boy and his mother if you want the tears. MacDougall & Jones are beautifully cast as they both look and feel like mother & son. MacDougall, who made his debut as a Lost Boy in Pan last year, impressively carries the movie with something like ease while filling up all the unspoken spaces with heartbreak and fury about his impending loss. Felicity Jones half-gone feeling in her final scenes provides generous Oscar clipping. If only the movie had given the emotions more room to breathe and to speak for themselves. If trees can walk and talk, and demand that we listen, feelings deserve the same respect. Less CGI and scripted preaching, more intuitvie tears, please. [Animated Stories Within the Movie: B+ /Movie: C+ ]

Colossal (Dir. Nacho Vigalondo, Canada)
Finally a movie that Hathaway fans (*raises hand high and shamelessly*) and the "Hathahaters" can enjoy together. This oddball movie from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo places Anne Hathaway at the center of a kaiju movie. Nope, she's not a scientist or a hero - believe it or not she's the kaiju. Yes, she's Colossal's rampaging beast destroying Seoul ... not figuratively but actually! She's also "Gloria" a drunk who gets thrown out of her boyfriend's apartment (Dan Stevens) and ends up returning to her hometown where she takes a job with a former friend (Jason Sudeikis) who still harbors a crush. When Gloria realizes she's unknowingly wreaking havoc all the way around the world she's even more freaked out by her self destruction and drunken blackouts. If that all sounds like it might work better as a midnight madness short, you could be right. Colossal starts brilliantly with a priceless perfectly-pitched prologue in South Korea with a little girl and her dolly. Though it's numerous twists have a kind of welcome insanity, the length of the thing, and particularly its deadly over-investment in the Jason Sudeikis character (to the detriment of Gloria's own emotional arc) undoes it. Lop off an entire half hour of this film's running time and it might just work as a delightfully weird and funny cult oddity but as it is Colossal is something of its own kaiju, an lumberingly awkward, self-destructive beast which keeps crushing the precious little movie its building. [Anne Hathaway's Willingness to Do This Project: A / Movie: C+]

Santa & Andrés (Dir. Carlos Lechuga, Cuba/Colombia)
Havana born director Carlos Lechuga takes aim at the disconnection of idealogies amongst Cubans in this 80s set drama about a homosexual writer deemed a dissident and the woman assigned to monitor him to keep him from contacting international press and delegates at a local political event. Initially this drama's slow burn doesn't seem to be paying off with a dull first half hour and lots of shots of Santa & Andrés warily staring at each other and barely speaking. But their eventual emotional, if not political, understanding is wonderfully portrayed by the actors and smartly delineated in the screenplay. What the patient filmmaking lacks in verve it makes up for in insight, with each painfully tentative kindness between them feeling like a precious miracle in a climate of hopelessness. B

Sunday
Sep112016

Alexis Arquette (1969-2016)

Alexis Arquette, the youngest sister of the Arquette acting family, passed away today at the age of 47 after a lengthy illness. She was the fourth of the five Arquette kids, all of whom became actors, with Rosanna Arquette leading the way to fame in the early 80s. Alexis was surrounded by all her siblings when she died as they listened to her favorite songs. She passed during David Bowie's "Starman." (So many sad goodbyes in 2016.)

Born Robert, she took the name Alexis early on, long before coming out officially as transgendered. Onscreen her first appearance was uncredited in the Bette Midler comedy Down & Out in Beverly Hills  (1986).

as "Georgette" in Last Exit to Brooklyn

Her official debut though was as the trans prostitute "Georgette" in one of Jennifer Jason Leigh's most critically acclaimed showcases Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989)... 

 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep092016

A Brief Note on Moonlight's Oscar Buzz

Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto Film Festival

I'll need more time to process Moonlight, a stunning triptych about a black gay man named Chiron at three stages in his life (played by Alex R Hibbet as a child, Ashton Sanders as a teenager, and Trevante Rhodes as an adult). A full review then is yet to come. Barry Jenkins' film inspired by the play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" is beautifully calibrated to explore its central theme of finding your identity. It provides no easy answers as to how to do that and no simple catharsis which could make it a difficult sell. If anyone is up to the task it's the distributor A24 who will platform release the film beginning on October 21st. 

As to the reductive topic of all the Oscar buzz, I am uncertain. Yes, it's going to be a huge critical success and some people's favorite of the year. Barry Jenkins has most definitely announced himself as a exciting formidable writer/director. Yes the cast is performing the material gorgeously particularly Mahershala Ali as a complex father figure to Chiron in the first act, and Trevante Rhodes who pulls all the Chiron's together with heartbreaking interiority in the last act. (Of note: Naomie Harris as Chiron's drug-addicted mother is the only actor to appear in all three chapters but she's impactful each time). But, how to put this... it's definitely an art film that's going to work best for audience members for whom identity politics resonate (*raises hand*). It's also a double minority story about being black and gay.

Juan (Mahershala Ali) teaches Chiron (Alex R Hibbet) to swim in Moonlight's first chapter "Little"

Oscar is, rather infamously, a majority instution if you get me. They normally need some "in" for LGBT or black stories, in the form of an already renowned director for the former or a famous historical event or famous actor in celebrity bio or some such for the latter. We'll see.

I repeat: If anyone is up to the task it's the distributor A24! 

Saturday
Sep032016

The Link Of...

THR got the first look at Fences. Photos of Denzel, Viola and Stephen McKinley Henderson
Awards Daily surveys the rave reviews for Nocturnal Animals 
Playbill there's another musical about the life of Tennessee Williams on the way. The developmental concert is when I'm away at TIFF argh.


• /Film Riz Ahmed sees his Rogue One action figure for the first time (he's so skinny & British -- it's freaking me out a little post The Night Of...!)
Coming Soon Tom Holland visits a children's hospital dressed as Spider-Man
AV Club interviews Rob Reiner about his well loved filmography
MNPP if you live in NYC please note that there's a Paul Verhoeven retrospective coming in November to celebrate the release of Elle. Naturally Showgirls and the other Hollywood films will be accounted for but so will his Dutch offerings. Can't wait to see Turkish Delight finally with Rutger Hauer!
EW Tyler Hoechlin talks about becoming Superman for the CW's Supergirl
Fusion crunched the numbers on the ballots for the BBC 100 greatest of the 21st century list to come up with an all female directors ranking. I'm a little stunned, given that ultra specific scenario that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is so low on the list (only #59) and Bright Star can't even manage the top 20 (tied for #21)
•... the original list icymi 

Controversy
Los Angeles Times powerful op ed from Gabrielle Union about sexual consent, rape culture, Nate Parker, and Birth of a Nation. She plays a rape victim in his film
Variety Mark Ruffalo responds to the criticism of the casting of Matt Bomer as a trans woman in his new project. "Please have a little compassion. We are all learning" oh Jesus. Is Hollywood in so much of a bubble that they're still years behind everyone else? I find this hard to believe especially for the politically actives types like Ruffalo so it's hard to have compassion for people purposefully benefitting from the status quo.

Just For Fun
Vice analyzes the exact amount of banter in the photo of those Eton schoolboys about to meet Putin. I LOL'ed and LOL'ed. Bloody well done 

Video o' the Day
Check out this neat montage celebrating Stop-Motion in film - it's very short and due to that it gets to our lifetimes way too quickly but it still brought back so many fun movie memories. 

THE EVOLUTION OF STOP-MOTION from Vugar Efendi on Vimeo.

Friday
Aug192016

Review: Spa Night

by Sean Donovan

In Andrew Ahn’s feature length debut Spa Night, our main character David is introduced hunched over in a dimly lit sauna, a towel draped over his head. The sound mix emphases his heavy, sighing breath, which is audible but blocked by the weight of the towel. In this 2016 Sundance competition film, towels become a provocative motif, suffocating expression and concealing desire.. At the intersection of his existence as a second generation Korean American and a fledgling queer man exploring his sexual desires, pressure hits at David from multiple angles. The admiring but unenthusiastic praise which has greeted Spa Night’s release is a recognition of Ahn’s exciting early command of framing and craft, but fails to truly meet this remarkable film on its own level, that of a profoundly emotional, and refreshingly serious point of view. Jump on in! The water’s fine...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug152016

Q&A: "Who is that?" Actors, Streep Classics, and Gendered Oscars

Last week there were too many questions we wanted to answer to fit it all into one post so here's a second round up of eight reader questions and brief answers. Ahem. (One answer is most definitely not brief.)

MATT ST CLAIR:  When I saw Laura Linney in the trailer for Sully, my heart sank because it saddened me to see another great actress stuck in those stock "wife worrying over the phone" roles. When do you think Hollywood will ever get tired of seeing older women portrayed as supportive wifes or mothers and let more of them be in charge of their own stories?

How I wish I had a good answer to this. The answer might be a more diverse body of people telling stories because then chances are slightly better that it won't always be straight white 30-50something men as protagonists. Now, it's worth noting that it's been largely straight white men directing movies for about 100 years now and there were periods, long before our modern one, when men in charge of storytelling were interested in women and knew how to showcase them. I don't know what happened to make the alpha directors so disinterested in women's stories but whatever it was, I hate it. I guess it changed around the time Scorsese, Coppola, and Spielberg all exploded into fame together (not that we're blaming them) and none of them happened to have much interest in the ladies beyond a key atypical project each. As time wore on into the 80s and 90s less and less female projects were made. Give us more descendants of William Wyler, Douglas Sirk, and Alfred Hitchcock, Hollywood! We've got enough Spielberg & Scorsese acolytes to last another 50 years.

JAMES FROM AMES:  What character actor's performance was so good it made you go from "hey, it's that guy" to "who is THAT?" and start following their work? For me: Mary Kay Place just floored me in Being John Malkovich. I was so pleased when she popped up in Lady Dynamite this year.

Mary Kay Place on the 7½ floor in "Being John Malkovich"

Mary Kay Place is a wonder, isn't she?...

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