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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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Entries in LGBT (317)


Review: Stonewall (2015)

First screened at TIFF. This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

This one's for Judy!"

… so went a legendary scream (along with brick throwing) as the Stonewall riots began. We can’t know exactly what happened that night, but as the famous saying goes, “when legend becomes fact… print the legend.” Judy Garland, The World’s Greatest Entertainer, had died a week earlier on June 22nd, 1969. Her remains were brought to New York City on June 26th where tens of thousands of people lined up to pay respects, and her funeral, which barred the public, took place on June 27th. The theory goes that the gay community, which had always idolized her (as any sentient human with taste should, then or now) was even more on-edge than usual when the police came to raid Stonewall on the night of June 28th, 1969.

Fact: All hell broke loose. The rest is (much argued about) ‘history’...

Judy grief as combustive fuel is one of the legends at any rate. And one that I heard a lot as a baby-gay whenever people brought up Stonewall. Stonewall was not the true beginning of gay liberation (political groups had been forming since the 1940s to pursue our future rights), but it remains a super handy symbolic one. 

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Interview: 'Stonewall' Star Jeremy Irvine on LGBT Youth, Method Acting and That Infamous Trailer

Jose here. When I show up at the Stonewall Inn to speak to Jeremy Irvine I see him hanging from the scaffolding outside the historical locale with his co-star Jonny Beauchamp, they’re all smiles and jokes, their camaraderie is evident and I’m slightly surprised they’re not acting more solemnly given they’re carrying the weight of representing one of the most-talked about movies of the year. I expected to find them seated Congressmen-style, preparing grandiose statements about social issues. Expectations are indeed the operative concept at hand when discussing a film that has generated so much controversy even before opening, so I’m glad Irvine is able to find some levity. When I meet him again inside, he’s devouring a scone, “it’s a muffin actually”, he explains, as we sit in one of the booths of the legendary tavern. “That’s what you do in New York isn’t it? You drink coffee and eat muffins” he says with a smile.

Irvine became an overnight star with his leading role in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and went on to appear in adaptations of famed novels Great Expectations and The Railway Man, I was surprised to see him land the lead in Roland Emmerich’s period piece, but it’s evident that he has an extremely likable quality, that leads filmmakers to think of him as a perfect audience surrogate, who they use to traverse through oft dense plots. Despite his succession of leading roles, Irvine has kept a very low profile and has confessed to prefer spending time in a pub with his mates, than attending big Hollywood premieres. Perhaps that’s why he seems so at ease at the Stonewall, where he proves to be quite candid and open about touchy subjects like the film’s infamous trailer and how he approaches people’s expectations.

JOSE: War Horse, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death and now Stonewall. What’s your fascination with period pieces?

JEREMY IRVINE: I don’t know! Apparently I like costumes (laughs). I don’t go after specific genres really, if I read a script and I’m still thinking about it a few weeks later, then that’s a pretty good sign. When there’s something that connects with you, you just know. Actually when I got the script for Stonewall, I’d just done three movies back to back. I had just finished shooting a movie in Budapest and I said to my agent “I need a break”, and then a couple of days later they sent me the script and said “you have to read this”.


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TIFF: An LGBT Winner "Closet Monster" 

Portions of this piece were originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

The Toronto International Film Festival closes shop on its 40th year tonight (imagine the stops they'll pull out for the 2025 festival!) and I'm probably on a plane as you're reading this. Given the breakneck pace of seeing so many movies there are more reviews to come from both Amir and Nathaniel (c'est moi). In other words TIFF will have something of a half life here at the blog and the Oscar charts must be updated Monday/Tuesday and so on. With the end of the big three fall fests tonight (Telluride, Venice, TIFF) it's officially on for Awards Season. Cue: marks, gunshot, running campaigning. The first prizes won't roll around until late November / early December of course.

And for many 2015 festival films winning distribution is the only thing worth campaigning for at this moment. If you're into LGBT cinema you should also check out the reviews of Desde Allá and Girls Lost. My favorite LGBT picture of the festival was Canada's own Closet Monster. More after the jump...

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TIFF: Berlin and Venice Winners, "Taxi" and "Desde Allá"

Amir continues our coverage of TIFF '15 with reviews of this year's Golden Bear and Golden Lion winners.

The studio Celluloid Dreams recorded a remarkable success this year by winning the top prize at all of Europe’s big three festivals. The journey started in Berlin with the Golden Bear for Taxi, continued into Cannes with the Palme d'or for Dheepan (review) and ended just last week with Venice's Golden Lion for Venezuela’s Desde Allá. Jafar Panahi’s Taxi is the film that piqued my interest most, both as an Iranian, and as a fan of the auteur’s complex career, which I have followed in real time since his first film—a children’s movie—back in 1995.

Taxi is filmed digitally with incredibly modest means, borne of the director’s complicated situation with government authorities...

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Interview: Gillian Armstrong on Her Orry-Kelly Documentary and Why the Film Industry Needs Affirmative Action 

Jose interviews the director of a new costume design documentary at TIFF 

Orry-Kelly with Kay Francis. Photo courtesy of Scotty Bowers

In Women He’s Undressed, the extraordinary Gillian Armstrong paints a delightful portrait of Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly whose bold designs changed Hollywood forever (he was the first costume designer to draw the actors' faces on his designs!). The brilliant man behind Ingrid Bergman’s tasteful suits in Casablanca, Rosalind Russell’s larger than life gowns in Auntie Mame, and Marilyn Monroe’s nude dress from Some Like It Hot (he did Jack and Tony’s dresses too) had an exciting life that had him leave his small hometown to find a career in a budding industry across the world. From gangsters and plays with an unknown Katharine Hepburn, to affairs with Cary Grant and uprisings with Bette Davis, Orry-Kelly’s life was so rich that one wonders why no one had done a film about him before.

In typical Armstrong fashion, the documentary is told with whimsical flourishes (Darren Gilshenan plays Orry who reads from letters and adds commentary) and features interviews with Colleen Armstrong, Michael Wilkinson, Jane Fonda, Catherine Martin, Angela Lansbury and the legendary Ann Roth, all of whom express their admiration for Orry, and share anecdotes about working with him. The film played at the Toronto Film Festival, and I had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Armstrong about discovering Orry’s work, working with Ann Roth (“someone should do a documentary on her next, she’s extraordinary”) and her thoughts on the way the industry treats women.

Orry-Kelly, Australian Oscar winners, and artists as film subjects after the jump...

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TIFF: Bullied Girls and Violent Boys in Sweden

TIFF is such a large beast of a film festival — hundreds of films, dozens of big screens — that everyone can make their own festival within it. Thus it is that I, Nathaniel, of Danish descent (way back) and rudimentary Norwegian language skills (from also way back but at least in my lifetime), invariably program my own Scandinavian mini-fest each year while I'm here. This year I'm seeing five Nordic films so here are quick takes on the three Swedish entries, which all happen to be about teenagers. And since we were just discussing great High School Films, the perfect topic for September, let's continue that thread...

The Hater and the Hated (well, he *did* kill someone)

Report Card: In this super tense drama, John (Ulrick Munther), a convicted murderer, returns home and goes right back to high school with his former classmates -- who are also the former classmates of his victim. The students and even his own family are not super jazzed about his return. This directorial feature debut from writer/director Magnus Von Horn is sensitively shot and tough-minded but its best assett is its slow burn patience (without testing the audience's). It builds and builds towards its inevitable bummer conclusion while trying to get inside the impenetrable head of its young protagonist. It doesn't really stick the landing because... well, what is actually the point of all this depressing shit? Still, the 32 year-old director's work is confident enough that I'd line right up to see a second feature. B

Extra Credit: That double meaning title is smart since all of what's "here" for the town and its characters is entirely predicated on the death that came before. 

Would you want to go to school here? On the bright side it's very liberal -- even former murderers are welcome because  "everyone is entitled to an education". There's no dress code and the lockers are in cute island format. On the other hand it's hickville central, the boys are violent, the girls are bored, and they let former murderers go here. The well meaning but nervous principal/teachers are absolutely flummoxed about how to handle this PTSD pressure cooker that was once a normal school. Can you blame them? 

Report Card: In this drama with supernatural touches, three much bullied teenage besties form a coven of sorts (without calling it that) and end up raising a strange and unusual plant (think Audrey II without the songs or sentience --actually never mind) that transforms their lives. When they drink from the plant's beans these outcast girls are suddenly transformed into boys. The first transformation is the movie's clear highlight but alas, this tale gets bogged in unsteady characterizations and the difficulty of balancing four different topics/causes: trans awareness character arc, closeted gay love, gender inequities, school bullying. Strong on concept but very unsteady in the execution. B-/C+

Extra Credit: You will absolutely marvel at the casting. Somehow they found teenage boys that look exactly like the female leads if they happened to suddenly be transformed into boys. And all six of them are likeable actors. It's the best "same person. different sex" casting of all time after Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton in Orlando

Would you want to go to school here? Well their well funded high school has great grounds and is big enough that even if you're unpopular you can have your little tight knit circle to hang with. But the bullying shit is out of control, and and the gym teacher actively sucks, basically telling the girls to grow a pair when they're distressed at the escalating torments.

Report Card: This strange film is a bifurcated affair. One half is an hypnotic stop-motion family history (or tall tales) of twin sister refugees who took much different paths in the world, one becoming a caregiver shut out, the other a wild bohemian prostitute. The other half is the modern story of their shared young granddaughter raised in total reclusiveness by her religious father who is also a shut in. The strawberry blonde is so catatonic and pale she makes Sissy Spacek's oddball young 70s waifs seem positively extroverted and suntanned. She barely seems to exist outside of her head (i.e. the animated portion). The problem here is the balance since one half is entrancing and the other is painfully repetitive and obsessed with its own hopelessness. Animated half: B+ The Other half: C-

Extra Credit: I have a great friend who always audibly groans when the title of a movie gets worked in to the dialogue (I personally love it, though, in part from the reaction it provokes in him). Anxiously awaited the moment, did I. But the awesome title only shows up in visual form during the end credits. Worth the wait.

Would you want to go to school here: Insert that Mean Girls joke about home-schooled religious nutjobs. So, emphatically NO. Plus the teacher is your father and his idea of detention and lunch plan are shudder-worthy cruel.



Official Foreign Film Submission Oscar Charts. Plus Trailers

Twenty-one Official Submissions for the 2015 Foreign Language Film Oscar race have been announced! That's just under a third of the list given the usual amount of submissions but things are already weird and wild with a colorful LGBT drama (Xenia from Greece), a disaster movie (The Wave from Norway), more documentaries than usual already including animated and 3D offerings (Palestine, Switzerland, and Panama), alongside your more usual type of competitor like World War II focused entries (Germany and Hungary, which I'm currently predicting for nominations) and historical epics (South Korea)

The foreign film charts are a major project each year behind the scenes and we're so proud to have raised the profile of this awards category over the past 15 years. The Film Experience was literally the first website to cover it in detail (all the way back to our humble beginnings) and slowly but surely the fever spread. As did all things Oscar. Now, everyone does it! It's no longer "ours" so to speak -- not that one can own an Oscar topic -- but we're still justified in feeling the pride of original adoption. And if we don't pat ourselves on the back who will since we get no damn respect from the larger online film culture. Ahem.

Greece's XENIA and South Korea's THE THRONE


Current Predictions and All Time Stats & Trivia on This Category


Afghanistan through Estonia
Will Brazil send The Second Mother? Will Argentina send festival-premiering crime drama The Clan? Info on Official entries from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and Croatia.
Ethiopia through The Netherlands
Mexico has a 14 film shortlonglist. Info on official entries from Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Luxembourg
New Zealand through Vietnam
Speculation on The Philippines. Info on official entries from Norway, Palestine, Panama, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela


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