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...
Entries in LGBT (408)
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 is a wonder, isn't she?...
REMINDER: tomorrow night we're doing the first episode of "The Get Down" (now streaming on Netflix) for Hit Me With Your Best Shot
The Best Picture Project advice for taking your toddler to the movie theater
Los Angeles Times report on a South Korean thriller called Train to Busan that's striking a deep chord with moviegoers there
In Contention Kris Tapley has a new podcast called "Playback" - interviews and the Oscar race
Comics Alliance Flash Season 3 News. I cooled a bit on The Flash with the interminable and convoluted plot of Season 2 but season 3 is sounding like great fun: a musical episode (which we were hoping for since so many of the cast members have musical theater backgrounds) and more Gorilla Grodd for starters
MTV Teo Bugbee celebrates the 10th anniversary of Step Up, the sexiest family-friendly dance movie of the decade
Tracking Board we get the movies we deserve (on the success of Suicide Squad despite everyone agreeing that it's not good)
Coming Soon Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water has assembled quite a stellar cast (including Oscar nominees Richard Jenkins & Sally Hawkins) and production has begun. It's "an other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963."
Theater Mania Remember Lesley Headland's Bachelorette? It started as a play before it was a movie and now it's coming back to the stage in September (sadly it's the exact dates I'm in TIFF so I won't get to see this production).
/Film Some of the titular characters from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Variety Birth of a Nation star Nate Parker responds to new reporting about a rape trial 17 years ago.
Variety Cirque du Soleil is making several changes to its Broadway show "Paramour" after opening night and reviews, which is quite rare.
This is Not Porn Harrison Ford working out for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Coming Soon Patty Jenkins respondes to rumors that Wonder Woman, like other DC superhero productions before it is a mess in post. Calls them "entirely false" with a "transparent agenda"
Theater Mania Fyvush Finkel of Picket Fences and Fiddler on the Roof fame has died at 93 years of age
Tracking Board more discussion of "genderless" acting awards. I maintain that this would be a disaster for actresses because sexist society (and Holllywood) values men so much more and that would only exarcebate the problem of women not getting their deserved kudos in film and television. This particular article seems to think the male acting categories have more range in roles which I think is flat-out crazy. The male acting categories are so much duller and generally only have a few types of genres honored. You get a wider spread with the actresses from all the same genres as men (bios, dramas, dramedies, epics) plus romances, comedies, musicals, etcetera.
E!Online best reaction faces from the Olympics
Slate on Kohei Uchimura, "the greatest gymnast of all time"
Slate on why Puerto Rico gets its own Olympic team
Towleroad The IOC has deemed the Daily Beast's awful homophobic article about gay Olympians using apps to hookup "unacceptable" (the article has since been removed from the Daily Beast's website but honestly people should be fired not just 'oh we're sorry') and the straight journalist behind it Nico Hines has been recalled from Rio. Still one has to wonder what damage he's already done given that he basically outed athletes from notoriously anti-gay countries whose lives could not be at stake
Towleroad The Daily Mail has also been on the homophobic attack, labelling hugging between Olympic divers 'unmanly'
This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
Feeling fatigued by summer movie season's emphasis on loud and flashy but ultimately empty spectacles? You're in luck. Little Men, now playing in limited release, is the perfect antidote: quiet but insightful, memorable and substantive. It's not a spectacle by any means but you should still see it inside the movie theater because it's the kind of careful storytelling that benefits from being fully inside of it. Getting lost in a story is much easier to accomplish in the pages of a great novel or the dark of a movie theater than if you wait around to Netflix and chill. The movie comes to us from one of our best LGBT directors, Ira Sachs. The New York based writer/director made his feature debut 20 years ago with The Delta (1996) but recently he's been on quite a roll.
Little Men is not an adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott sequel to Little Women, but it does feel like a rich unexpected sequel to a more contemporary future classic. Ira Sach's last film was the moving gay seniors drama Love is Strange starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina whose marriage at the beginning of the film sets off a surprising chain of events which leaves them homeless and at the mercy of friends and relatives. That beautiful movie ended, rather intuitively, with a wordless and narratively inconsequential scene in which we followed their young nephew on his skateboard down the streets of the city at magic hour. The image was rapturous and watery... or rather just rapturous; I was watching it through cascading tears was all. [More...]
As a companion piece to yesterday's Smackdown, a two-part podcast. In the first installment Mark Harris, Guy Lodge, Nick Davis, Sara Black McCulloch, and Nathaniel R discuss 1977's Oscar race, Jane Fonda & Vanessa Redgrave's friendship, Neil Simon's quippy writing, and more...
Part One. Index (41 minutes)
00:01 Intros, 1977 Memories, Annie Hall vs Star Wars
05:55 "getting" movies and Oscar-watching before the internet
09:09 Julia and Jane Fonda's curious "supporting" lead
16:23 Gender in Julia, Vanessa Redgrave's politics, and queer subtext
29:45 Child acting and difficult language in The Goodbye Girl
35:45 The influx of divorce/single parenting movies in the 70s
39:14 Nick's family memory of The Goodbye Girl
You can listen to the podcast here or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you?
Best Shot 1977 Party. Chapter 3
Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Cinematography by: William A Fraker
Finally with chapter 3 in our look back at the Cinematography nominees of 1977 -- a little prep work for the Supporting Actress Smackdown (last day to get your ballots in) -- a real threat to Close Encounter of the Third Kind for the Best Cinematography crown. Close Encounters won the Oscar, its sole competitive Oscar, but William A Fraker was more than worthy as a nominee for his evocative experimental work on Looking for Mr Goodbar. The cinematography (along with its swinging partner, the editing) are ready and able to capture the whirlwind moods, liberated momentum, self-deprecating humor, and multiple flashes of fear within this time capsule of the sexual revolution.
My only regret in showcasing the cinematography for this series is that good images are hard to come by. More (a little bit NSFW) after the jump...
Things we forgot to talk about but it's never too late.
Do You Love She Loves Me?
Did any of you manage to catch the Broadway livestream of She Loves Me June 30th? It was the first ever of its kind though I've heard no details on how well it performed (i.e. if we'll see more of them). They've extended the availability to rent it until July 10th on Broadway HD.
The Hours 2: The Return of Virginia Woof
Okay not really. Basically everybody committed suicide or got old in The Hours. But recently we got word that Virginia Woolf is coming back to the big screen in the adaptation of the play Vita & Virginia which is about Woolf's friendship and affair with another female writer. The most delightful part of this news may be that the play and its screenplay adaptation were both written by the actress Dame Eileen Atkins who was in The Hours (she worked in the flower shop in the Streep section). No word on casting but allow me to have a brief fantasy about Nicole Kidman reprising her Oscar-winning role before we hear who got the plum gig.
Winona is Back
Time Magazine recently published a solid interview with Winona Ryder on the eve of yet another comeback. This time via Stranger Things on Netflix. Of interest is a lengthy response when she's asked about the recent allegations against Johnny Depp. It's definitely the most levelheaded response we've read on any celebrity weighing in on the matter. But then we tend to like levelheaded responses and people who realize that they don't know what happened whatever their assumptions. That kind of response is almost impossible to find online from normal folks and it's also increasingly rare with celebrities.
But the best part of the interview was a question about the current nostalgia rage.
I get asked a lot, ‘What does it feel like to be a ’90s icon?’ And I’m like, ‘You think I sit around and think of myself like that?’ You can’t think about yourself in those ways, because who does that?
...I think because I started so young, I secretly wanted to be older all the time.
The interview is good but even better is that Stranger Things is getting really strong advanced buzz... especially for Winona herself who hasn't had anything work out that well for her showbiz-wise in aeons with the exception of that brief dark flash of Noni fever via her bit part in Oscar favorite Black Swan (2010).
Finally in confusing rumor alerts...
I don't normally share rumors (the internet is way too hung up on speculation when dialogue about things that actually exist is way more healthy/substantial) but I can't let this go without a mention. Remember the news that Jennifer Lawrence's Darren Aronofsky picture (working title Day 6) would co-star Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, and Michelle Pfeiffer? The story's logline is:
A couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Most of the speculation on the internet was that Michelle Pfeiffer was playing Jennifer Lawrence's mother which seemed like a leap in logic -- why would they be related given that logline? A new rumor recently sprung up that the film would be titled Mother. Pass the fainting salts could this mean Pfeiffer was the actual lead -- but no, then that rumor was debunked by Paramount. It's all very confusing and typical internet (shut up everyone!) but any news of a Pfeiffer movie actually making it into production without her bolting is thrilling. And we are apparently getting three of them in relatively short succession, which all sound way more promising than that misfire The Family (2013) which was her last time before cameras. Two are already filmed - HBO's Wizard of Lies, and the indie drama Beat-Up Little Seagull (both due later this year though specific dates aren't announced) and Day 6 the following year unless she bolts from the set mid-production.