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Entries in LGBT (227)

Thursday
Jun192014

Throwback Thursday FYC: Felicity Huffman in Transamerica (2005)

Imagine if this came out today.

 

A lot changes in a decade's time... and I'm not talking about IFC Films no longer ever being in the Oscar conversation (they probably wouldn't even launch a campaign  today).

You can still win Oscars playing transgender characters (see Jared Leto) but now it comes with a chorus of disapproval that a trans actor wasn't selected. And speaking of... love love love Orange is the New Black but when are they going to give Laverne Cox something else to do besides sassy oneliners as she plays with someone's hair? She had like only two scenes of any note this season.

Saturday
Jun142014

Two Quickies: "Test" and "Edge of Tomorrow"

Two movies you should see: a buzzy queer indie and a struggling would be blockbuster...

TEST
Chris Mason Johnson, a former dancer turned writer/director, really comes into his voice with his second feature. (He previously directed The New Twenty). Test is about a young dancer named Frankie (Scott Marlowe) in San Francisco in 1985 who, like most gay men at the time, fears he might have AIDS. He learns of a new test he could take to find out. The surprise of Test is that it's not really about AIDS despite the setting and time period so much as a slice of life drama about a young man struggling to face his fears and live his dream. Frankie is an understudy learning a dance he might never get to perform. And a young gay man beginning a life he might never get to live. Test is beautifully lensed for a micro-budgeted indie (I was shocked to hear that the cinematographer is a first timer) and though the pacing and subplots are hit and miss the dancer/actors are endearing and the centerpiece performance is just completely electric stuff. B+

P.S. Here's my interview with the director at Towleroad
I'll share excerpts that I didn't use for that piece soon that I think you cinephiles/musical addicts will enjoy. Test is playing in New York and available OnDemand and at iTunes.

 

EDGE OF TOMORROW
I had planned on avoiding this but the reviews, which I didn't read but gleaned were raves, caught me off guard. If you've also planned to skip, reconsider. I thought a movie that absorbed the very soul and structure of a video game (repeat until your kinetic memory gets every move right) would be highly annoying but I was wrong. It's sharply written, well acted and often exciting even if some of its moves are familiar (Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day meets Aliens?). Tom Cruise is extremely well cast as a smarmy coward who is all surface and has to actually work his way towards heroics and soul. And Emily Blunt, memorably dubbed "Full Metal Bitch" is approximately 1000% believable as an action heroine, proving yet again that she should be a much bigger star. 

I can't say that I necessarily believe this would hold up to repeat viewings and, like every current action movie, there's too much CGI, too much generic dystopian destruction, typical color palette, but it was so entertaining and cleverly structured that I feel too generous towards it to quibble. But... I am not a fan of the ending which makes no damn sense whatsoever, even given the elaborate suspension-of-disbelief conceit. B+

Friday
May232014

Posterized: Xavier Dolan

Mommy, which spurred spirited conversation at Cannes (and really wowed our woman on the ground, Diana) and could walk away with a prize this weekend (as literally all of director Xavier Dolan's previous features have but for Tom at the Farm, which went the Venice/Toronto route instead).

Xavier Dolan at the photocall for "Mommy" at Cannes, 2014

I remain perplexed that an international star with this much critical cachet and this many easily marketable elements (young, hot, queer) hasn't found a deep pocketed patron in the world of US distribution, in the way many auteurs do. Think of how Miramax used to favor certain directors or the way Sony Pictures Classics really invested in building the Pedro Almodovar brand. I keep hoping a younger edgier disribution company (my dream: A24) will fall in love with him because with the right promotion and cultivation, he'd have a devout following Stateside. For now, if only here, he'll have to make do with critics and really hard-working cinephiles who attend festivals regularly.  

The Canadian wunderkind just turned 25 and Mommy is his fifth feature in five years. If he keeps up this pace he could have a filmography that's impossible to be a completist about later on. Get in early and sample the goods. They're yummy. Distributors might not have made it easy for you wherever you live, but at least Netflix has been kind. How many of his previous features have you seen?

 

I Killed My Mother (2009)
Dolan's debut won much acclaim at Cannes including two prizes and became Canada's Oscar submission (it was not nominated). Much film festival chatter and an international release in major cities around the world, EXCEPT THE US, kept the buzz going for another year. Supposedly it hit US theaters this past March (yes, in 2013, four years after taking international cinephilia by storm) but I want proof that it actually happened because it seems like every year since 2009 we were told it was opening. [Available on Netflix Instant Watch]

Heartbeats / Imaginary Lovers (2010)
This unrequited love triangle, available on Netflix Instant Watch, won the "Regards Jeunes" at Cannes and was released in the US briefly in 2011 under its new boring title. [Nathaniel's Review at Towleroad]

Laurence Anyways
(2012)
This trans epic, Netflix to the rescue again, ran nearly 3 hours, and was the first that Dolan didn't star in himself. It took another two prizes at Cannes ("Queer Palm" and "Best Actress") and a brief US release in 2013. [Glenn's love for this movie is huge.]

Tom at the Farm
(2013) 
This thriller about a young man (Dolan) attending his lover's funeral in the country, only to discover that the lover was closeted and the family virulently homophobic, is still awaiting US release. [Nathaniel's TIFF Review]

HOW MANY HAVE YOU SEEN?

 

Friday
May162014

We Exist

Always up for movie stars headlining music videos. Here's Andrew Garfield in Arcade Fire's "We Exist"

 

Friday
May162014

Lukewarm Off Presses: Danish Girls, True Americans, Murderous Scots

Three stories we didn't get around to posting about this past week or so when they were newer. Giving them but one sentence each in a link roundup seemed somehow inadequate. 

01 MACBETH POSTERS
Do we love these posters because they're good designs or merely because we love Fassy & Marion?  The internet doesn't know the difference. But those faces are mesmerizing onscreen and the opportunities to see these two play-act the violent ambitious Scotsman and his manipulative Lady (who seems to be sporting Princess Leia buns) are the draw. Is it just me or does this Michael pictured almost look like a Shannon rather than a Fassbender? Maybe it's the haircut and the camera angle. [True Confession: whenever I see a male actor with war-paint on, I shudder, fearing worldwide bloodlust adulation of Braveheart style machismo rather than any sort of interest connection to the drama or themes to come. Love of violent men seems ever insatiable.]

02 TRUE AMERICAN 
Speaking of machismo, Kathryn Bigelow's latest violent testosterone fueled drama will be based on the non-fiction book "True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas." Tom Hardy headlines as Mark Stroman, a man who attempts to kill three immigrant after 9/11 and the other Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a former Bangladesh Air Force officer, his only surviving victim, who wants to visit Stroman on Death Row. No word yet on who plays Bhuiyan but it's a big potentially Oscar friendly role so expect everyone to pretend whoever plays him is supporting for Oscar purposes ;) 

03 THE DANISH GIRL 
This movie, based on the novel by David Ebershoff which was itself inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener (who would later become Lili... predating the famous sex change procedure of Christine Jorgensen) and his relationship to his wife through the transition was once going to be headlined by not one but two huge female movie stars (Theron & Kidman). The project vanished from the "upcoming film" conversation a couple of years ago. It's baaa-aaack. Only this time it's a rising male star who is headlining, charismatic ginger Eddie Redmayne.

 

 

But here's the problem. In the intervening years there has been an inarguable rise in consciousness about transgender issues and the trans community has gotten a lot more politically brave and some might say strident. Note, if you will, all the criticisms LGBT champion RuPaul has received for his continued enjoyment of words like tranny and she-male that other LGBT citizens would like to give up. There was a lot of anger about Hollywood going with a straight male actor (Jared Leto) for a trans role last year (Dallas Buyers Club) when there are actual trans actors around. I've never liked to hem actors in this way -- actors, by their very craft and nature, are not meant to only play what they are --  so Jared Leto had a point when he said as much. The problem with his point is that it isn't the strict truth. Hollywood doesn't cast people like him for such distinct roles because they're "the right person for the job" but because they're a name and Hollywood is risk averse. It's the same reason they used to not let black actors play black characters (think Showboat) fearing loss of revenue and the same reason they keep white washing Asian roles when the time comes to cast them. But with the somewhat steady rise in actual trans celebrity (Alexis Arquette, Chaz Bono, Candis Cayne, etcetera) and the recent rise of gifted actress Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black (a trans woman playing a trans woman, and beautifully which is the important point when it comes to acting) it has started to seem a little suspect that very few trans roles go to trans actors.

Like Leto, I don't like to see actors pinned down into one kind of character, but if more people were cast true to their ethnicity, sexuality, abilities, and gender identification, I think people would probably be okay with it when an actor played something so removed from him or herself. If there was more balance "being right for it" wouldn't sound like a copout and might actually be accepted as the truth.

Redmayne is a fine actor but expect this noise to continue and get very loud WHEN the media calls him "brave" for playing it (they're such suckers for that word which is seemingly always used offensively, as if to imply the actor is slumming by playing someone "gay" or "trans" or "disabled" or whatnot) and IF he starts winning prizes for it.

Monday
May122014

Stage Door: An Iliad and (gulp) Troy's 10th Anniversary 

If you'll allow me a personal and quite biased recommendation, I'd love to send any Floridians reading to the Orlando Fringe Festival (May 14th-25th) to check out Allen Sermonia or Jenn Remke in An Iliad. Jenn and Allen are friends of mine and I had the privilege of attending a full rehearsal last week in which Jenn performed the entire show (they're doing it in repertory so Allen gets alternating nights) and apparently she's the first female actor to ever perform it!

I've seen Jenn in a few previous plays so I knew she was talented but holding an entire stage by yourself is a true challenge and I'm happy to report she was riveting. By the time the play sunk its hooks in, I forgot I was watching my friend and was just watching "the poet" working her way through numerous character sketches and a retelling of the specifics of the Trojan War and, by troubling extension, the not-so-specific universality of war.

Even those who don't get a decent education in the classics (in this case Homer's "The Iliad") know the story thanks to the way all hugely influential classics seep into the collective subconscious. I've read the Iliad but I'm embarrassed to report that instead of the poem my brain was doing a major Troy (2004) sidebar afterwards comparing the play's potent intimacy with the movie's B grade epicness.

It's not that I wanted to think about Troy...

BrothersCousins, eh?

It's just that I am me and Eric Bana and Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger (all looking beautiful enough to launch thousands of ships to possess) are a kind of draw, no matter how bad the surrounding movie is and however embarrassing that is to admit.

In a stupid coincidence Troy is celebrating its 10th anniversary just as this performance kicks off. And I am helpless in the face of such calendar markers. I haven't had a desire to revisit the movie but aside from the beauty of its players I remember being  convinced that Orlando Bloom, despite the terrible reviews he won, was actually perfect as Paris. It's just that the character is detestable and not in the type of way that often provokes rabid anti-hero worship. Bana also did fine and hugely charismatic work (I expected him to become a much bigger star but it was sadly not to be) but Garrett Hedlund and Brad Pitt were weirdly weak links despite being well cast. Maybe they didn't have enough to play with as actors? Mostly I did not appreciate the weirdly deflating rewrite of the Achilles/Patroclus relationship: 'They're just cousins, broseph; No Homo!'

If you've only ever seen Troy and no other dramatic interpretations of this story, I must suggest this BAFTA Nominated short film Achilles (1995), narrated by Derek Jacobi, from the Oscar nominated filmmaker Barry Purves which restores the gayness in gorgeous NSFW stop-motion:

 

Back to the play
Because my attention to the theater world is intermittent at best I had missed the explosion of interest in "An Iliad" over the last couple of years. Denis O'Hare, the ubiquitous character actor of stage, film and recently television (American Horror Story/True Blood) co-wrote it and performed it in repetory with Stephen Spinella (the Tony winning original star of Angels in America) in 2012 and it has since become a fixture in regional theater partially because it's cheap and easy to produce (no set / one actor), sure, but also because it's just a damn good play: moving, provocative, and angry.

Even if you're not in Florida, see it as soon as some regional theater tackles it near you.

Saturday
May102014

"Neighbors" Starring Seth Rogen's Hairy Back and Zac Efron's Penis

This article originally appeared in slightly abbreviated form in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad (Complete with a poll - so go smoke it ... vote on it!]


Zac Efron and his dildo The new frat boy comedy NEIGHBORS wastes no time with foreplay. The movie begins in the middle of a quickie between husband Mac (Seth Rogen) and wife Kelly (Rose Byrne, because all schlubby guys in movies deserve hot girls. It's, like, the rules of showbiz) who haven't had sex in too long. But soon it's coitus interruptus. Their daughter Stella, the worlds cutest baby (seriously cute - so gifable), is staring right at them spoiling the mood. 

The movie doesn't waste time with its story either, rushing right in. Mac and Kelly are first time homeowners and they think they're getting gay neighbors (yay, property values!) only to realize that a fraternity is moving in next door. Mac's response when he first sees Teddy, the alpha dog of the fraternity on the front lawn:

"That's the sexiest guy I've ever seen. It's like something a gay guy would create in a laboratory." 

Sidebar Confession: I don't really get Zac Efron. He's a decent if ungreat actor but my fellow gays are so obsessive about him that I sometimes worry they haven't noticed that the vast majority of young actors are gorgeous and in good physical shape. We can set our sights a little higher to include enormous talent in the mix, too! I'm just saying but I'm not minding. Just a few short years ago the people were obsessing over Taylor Lautner so... UPGRADE.

Bro shenanigans after the jump!

Click to read more ...

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