Tuesday, February 26, 2008
This week's new DVD offerings are pretty dismal, y'all. The only absolute must-see is Criterion's 4-disc set of Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (and even that doesn't have me as weak-kneed and googly-eyed as last week's Pierrot le Fou release), and the only genuine should-see is Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, which Netflix told me would arrive today. Guess what? Netflix lied. Netflix is, as Al Franken might say, a lying liar. If I could get all Say Anything for a moment, I'd like to strum an acoustic guitar and sing the following: "Netflix lies, Netflix lies, Netflix lies, when he cries." (Thanks, everyone, and remember to tip your waitress.)
Now, where were we? If you like Robert Zemeckis, or if you want to see a digitized and naked Angelina Jolie, you might consider checking out Beowulf. If you want to see a non-digitized and naked Angelina Jolie, you should check out — oh, who am I kidding? Every last one of you already owns a copy of Gia. If you've ever wondered what became of Danielle Brisebois, you might enjoy Life After Tomorrow, a documentary about dozens of former child actresses who played the title role in productions of Annie. And if you're a fan of Tom "The 'Stache" Selleck, he stars in Sea Change, the fourth made-for-TV installment in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series.
Depressing, isn't it?
In non-navel-gazing news, now that Sarah Paulson is off TV and on Off Broadway, playing Meg in the new Roundabout Theatre Company production of "Crimes of the Heart," she's mentioning her partner, Cherry Jones, in interviews. From Sean O'Driscoll's AP article about the play, directed by Kathleen Turner:
Useless trivia side note: The role of Lenny, Meg's sister, is played by actress Jennifer Dundas, who shares with Paulson the distinction of having played Diane Keaton's lesbian daughter in a crappy movie. (The former appeared in "The First Wives Club," the latter in "The Other Sister.") Sadly, the role of the third sister in "Crimes of the Heart" is not played by Tyrone Giordano in a wig. Giordano, you might remember, played Keaton's gay son in "The Family Stone." Or maybe you don't remember, because "The Family Stone" was almost as hard to watch as "Because I Said So," even though you have a crush on Rachel McAdams and — though you're loath to admit it — a lingering admiration for "Coach" star Craig T. Nelson. Diane Keaton, why do I torture myself for you?
Without Turner's direction on character motivation, Paulson turned to her partner, Cherry Jones, the Tony-winning star of "The Heiress" and "Doubt."
"Advice from Cherry is more valuable than from anyone. I'm very sensitive to what she thinks and once I get past that initial 'Grrrrr, I'm being told what to do,' it's incredibly helpful because I really trust her," she says.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
7:32 - Jon Stewart welcomes the crowd to the Oscars, or as he calls it, post-strike makeup sex. They all seem really, really overdressed for that if you ask me, but maybe they do things differently in Hollywood.
7:34 - There are lots of psychotic killers among this year's nominees, Stewart notes, before thanking God for teen pregnancy. The knocked up teens, they keep things lighthearted. He kisses some Bardem and Christie ass before making the obligatory Atonement/Yom Kippur jokes for the Jews in the audience. (Represent!) He also makes the obligatory Diablo Cody stripper reference, which will hopefully be the last of the decade.
7:39 - Stewart: "Oscar is 80 this year, which makes him now automatically the frontrunner for the Republican nomination."
7:41 - The first presenter, Jennifer Garner, comes out with something scary on her head. Oh wait, that's her hair. She gives the award for Best Achievement in Costume Design to Alexandra Byrne for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. No surprise there. Byrne doesn't trip on her way up and doesn't make an obnoxious speech, so things are off to an adult start.
7:43 - Barbra Streisand reflects on her Best Actress tie with Katharine Hepburn and says ... pretty much nothing.
7:47 - After a commercial break, George Clooney strolls to the microphone, looking all, "Hey, I'm George Clooney, possessor of roguish charm and perfectly tailored suits." He introduces a video retrospective of eighty years of Oscar. There's a streaker behind David Niven. There's Cher in a Bob Mackie monstrosity. There's a lot of Johnny Carson, some Uma/Oprah, a little of Ellen vacuuming, and then it happens: Celine Dion's voice comes out of nowhere, like a cheesy French-Canadian ninja, singing the theme to Titanic over clips of acceptance speeches. You know what would've worked better than "My Heart Will Go On?" I'll tell you what: Kelis's "Milkshake." Am I wrong or am I wrong?
7:51 - Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrell come out, in a shameless bit of Get Smart promotion. She is wearing a very ugly, holiday-themed prom dress. So is he. Okay, he's not. He's wearing a suit. What's going on under the suit, who knows. There could be a very ugly, holiday-themed prom dress. But if there is, we don't see it. They banter in an unfunny fashion while the audience lets out the occasional sympathy laugh. Finally, they introduce the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film. The winner is another gimme, Ratatouille, and Brad Bird accepts the award, goes on for too long about his junior high guidance counselor, says he loves his wife, and says "I hate that thing" about the prompter that's telling him to hurry it up.
7:55 - To the consternation of dozens of sad, pathetic shut-ins who spend all their time hating on Katherine Heigl on the interwebs, the Knocked Up star's name is pronounced correctly as she's introduced to present the award for Best Achievement in Makeup. Heigl is visibly nervous and asks for the audience's forgiveness in a way that seems somewhat scripted. She's treating this like it's some kind of audition, but she looks really, really gorgeous and can get away with it as a result. Marion Cotillard gets verklempt in the audience when the Oscar goes to La Vie en Rose's Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald. They try to keep it brief, but are still cut off by the music.
7:58 - My TV goes on mute as Jon Stewart explains that we'll be forced to hear all the Best Original Song nominees. Amy Adams materializes to perform "The Happy Working Song" from Enchanted. She's a great actress, Amy Adams, and was fantastic in Junebug, but if Hollywood casting directors realize she's over 30 and weighs more than 105 pounds and boot her out of town, she could have a brilliant career as a kindergarten teacher because she's very animated, like Nanny G from Cheers animated, as she sings. And sings. And sings.
8:06 - Back from commercial, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson takes the stage. Yes, I really typed that. Yes, it really happened. No, he didn't call anyone a jabroni. He gives the Best Visual Effects award to a bunch of guys from The Golden Compass. They're a nerdy lot - Michael L. Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood are their names - so I immediately like them. They say hardly anything, so I immediately like them some more.
8:10 - Double-nominee Cate Blanchett looks very pretty as she hands the Best Achievement in Art Direction award to Sweeney Todd's Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, who, like Blanchett, previously won for The Aviator. They're nervous, they have heavy accents, and they're ushered off the stage like they had Soy Bomb written on their chests.
8:12 - That was nice of the Academy to devote a whole two minutes to Art Direction, wasn't it? Now Jon Stewart's back, being all Jon Stewarty about Cate's versatility as an actress. After a walk down Best Supporting Actor memory lane, Jennifer Hudson makes her way to the microphone. Then a crazed Jennifer Holliday lunges from the shadows wielding a lead pipe, obviously looking to go all Tonya Harding on the American Idol reject, but Gil Cates has security taser her just in time.
Hudson regains her composure and reads. From. The. Teleprompter. Like. This. You'd be nervous too if you were that close to being violently hobbled in front of Tilda Swinton and Daniel Day-Lewis. No Country for Old Men's Javier Bardem is the winner, of course, and kisses an old lady who was most likely played by Cate Blanchett. He's talking fast, thanks the Coen Brothers, and recites most of his speech in Spanish. My Spanish is pretty rusty since I only learned enough in school to proposition hookers, but I'm 98% certain that what Bardem said is that Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as much as he does.
8:22 - Jon Stewart brings us back from commercial with an unfunny bit involving the writers' strike and binoculars and periscopes. But wait, there's more. There's also a salute to bad dreams. It's like Conan O'Brien has taken things over.
8:24 - Keri Russell, who was funny and lovely in Waitress, introduces "Raise It Up," a song from August Rush that isn't as annoying as the song from Enchanted.
8:28 - Owen Wilson presents the award for Best Live Action Short Film to Philippe Pollet-Villard, director of Le Mozart des Pickpockets. Philippe doesn't know much English, so he wraps it up quickly. Too quickly, because it's time for some Jerry Seinfeld Bee Movie nonsense before the Best Animated Short Film award is given to Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman for Peter & the Wolf.
8:34 - Best Supporting Actress time. Previous winners include Linda Hunt, Dianne Wiest, Whoopi Goldberg, Juliette Binoche and WE ALREADY KNOW! We saw the goddamn telecasts, you self-indulgent bastards. Wait, Kevin Spacey won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar? Was that for A Time to Kill? Anyway, Alan Arkin finally shows up to introduce the nominees. The Cate Blanchett clip goes on for a long, long time - so long that I'm Not There's end credits actually start to play. Ruby Dee slaps Denzel Washington, which I've been wanting to do ever since he got to make out with Sanaa Lathan and Eva Mendes in the same movie. I start to nod off during the Atonement clip, and Amy Ryan's Gone Baby Gone clip is halfway over by the time I compose myself. Then it's Tilda Swinton time. I predict a Tilda Swinton win, my friends, and not just because it's fun to say her name.
Tilda Swinton wins the Oscar - told you so - and looks shocked. She doesn't stop to kiss her boyfriend as she heads up to accept it, which saddens everyone at The Daily Mail. "I have an American agent who is the spitting image of this," she says, appraising the statuette and noting that they have similar shaped heads and, as she says, "buttocks." Listening to Swinton say buttocks has been the high point of the evening so far, and then she teases George Clooney in a way that gets everyone giggling. It's funnier, and much less forced, when she does it than when Brad Pitt does.
8:40 - Sidney Poitier reflects on winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field. I reflect on thinking his daughter was super-hot in Death Proof. Thanks, Sidney Poitier, for all the years of excellent acting. And for having a hot daughter.
8:44 - "The always fantastic Jessica Alba" comes out - their words, not mine - fetus in tow, to recap the Scientific and Technical Awards, which she hosted. Because once you work for James Cameron, you never escape the geeks.
8:45 - Jon Stewart suggests that Jack Nicholson might impregnate some of the female attendees, then introduces Josh Brolin and James McAvoy. That Brolin looks smart in a suit, I must say. They're there for the Best Adapted Screenplay thing, and I could be wrong about this, but in the clip of Sarah Polley sitting in front of her laptop, I don't think she's actually writing Away from Her. I think she was on the IMDB message board trolling threads on Marion Cotillard's page, posting stuff like: "Suck it, frogz!! Julie Christie all the way!"
The Brothers Coen win for No Country for Old Men. Their speech isn't as entertaining as their screenplays. If their speech was a movie, M. Emmet Walsh and his hand would be in the same room, no one would be fed into a wood chipper, etc. Maybe they were making some kind of writerly comment that went over my head. I don't know. I love the Coens as much as the next movie nerd, but I got distracted by brownie crumbs on my shirt and only half-heard the last part of their thank yous.
8:49 - Blah, blah, official Academy business stuff. Accuracy, honesty - their voting process has everything that was missing in Florida and Ohio.
8:52 - Miley Cyrus, who has nothing to do with anything, comes out to introduce "That's How You Know," another song from Enchanted. She mows through her speech like a pro, and then Kristin Chenoweth comes out, looking more like Elphaba than Glinda, to sing. My TV? It's on mute again.
8:55 - Gmail Notifier dings from my system tray, letting me know that one of my friends wants to complain about something. While checking my mail, I skim the spam folder looking for anything interesting and find urgent missives with the following subject lines: "Just for once, wouldn't you like to be 9 inches long?" and "Imagine being able to satisfy women until all they want to do is have sex with you." The former subject line is a bit presumptuous, I think, because for all its sender knows I'm already packing a solid 9 inches. (At least that's what I tell the guys on BigMuscle when I'm in need of a little online amusement...) As for the latter, my imagination isn't that richly textured and I find it difficult to believe women will ever want me for anything but my collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and vintage Don Knotts movie posters.
9:00 - After some dumb pregnancy jokes, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill come out as Dame Judi Dench and non-Dame Halle Berry, then argue about who's Halle Berry. They're both dressed in suits, by the way. There's no men of South Park cross-dressing action here. They present Best Achievement in Sound Editing to a flustered Karen M. Baker and Per Hallberg for The Bourne Ultimatum. They're funnier than Rogen and Hill, actually.
9:05 - It's Rogen and Hill again, still bickering about who gets to be Halle Berry as they give another award to The Bourne Ultimatum. Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis win for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, dedicating their award to Paul Huntsman, a sound editor who died last week.
9:08 - After copious clips of previous Best Actress winners, Forest Whitaker takes the stage to give this year's Oscar to Marion Cotillard. Everyone has been saying Julie Christie is the frontrunner, but everyone is wrong. Cotillard owns this. And she looks rather fetching in the audience, in my humble opinion. So does Laura Linney. Ellen Page also cleans up quite well, though she looks nervous as hell. Marion Cotillard wins, and the gasp from the audience is such that you'd think someone just outed Jodie Foster. I told you guys. I know these things. Cotillard is somewhat incoherent as she accepts her award, which is only fitting given what a rambling mess of a movie La Vie en Rose was.
9:18 - Colin Farrell comes out, looking like he's bathed within the last few days. He introduces the song "Falling Slowly" from Once, which is performed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. This song, I'm going to predict right now, will win the Oscar. It deserves it, too, the way "Lose Yourself" and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" deserved it. And, you know, it's on my iPod. Just like Once, the DVD, is wedged onto one of my bookshelves. Scoff if you must, but I love that movie.
9:22 - Next up is Jack Nicholson, Colin Farrell's spiritual guru, to tell us all how great movies are. How they touch us the way he, at 70, continues to touch nubile, barely legal aspiring actresses, and so on. Because we can't celebrate eighty years of Oscar enough, it's time to look back on eighty years of Best Picture winners. Look, it's The Great Ziegfeld! Hey, it's Gone with the Wind. Ooh, Mrs. Miniver! Except Mrs. Miniver sucked. And so did Gentleman's Agreement. What about The Greatest Show on Earth? That's kind of crappy. Around the World in 80 Days, anyone? Oliver!, Kramer vs. Kramer, Ordinary People, Chariots of Fire - it's a mediocrity fest.
9:26 - FYI, my ass is numb.
9:27 - How can Renée Zellweger see the teleprompter when she has on a ton of eye makeup and never stops squinting? She presents the Best Achievement in Editing Oscar to Christopher Rouse for The Bourne Ultimatum. He doesn't look surprised and runs through his speech in about five seconds. That's what I love about editors, they know how to use time wisely.
9:31 - Nicole Kidman, whose face looks more recognizably human than usual, is covered in diamonds as she introduces a piece on Robert F. Boyle, a production designer and this year's recipient of the Honorary Oscar. The 98-year-old Boyle comes to the podium and thanks people like Alfred Hitchcock, Norman Jewison and Don Siegel, "who cut to the chase and gave us truth." And right-wing propaganda. Don't forget the right-wing propaganda! Philip Seymour Hoffman looks bored in the audience, while Laura Linney looks moved. Philip Seymour Hoffman wins Oscars and Laura Linney loses them. There's a lesson in here somewhere, kids, about how it pays to disrespect your elders.
9:39 - The washer's spin cycle has ended and it's time for the blue shirt I've had since middle school that's been falling apart for the last four years to be put in the dryer. However, my ass is still numb. If one of you wants to help me out, go straight down the hall and to the right. Don't look at my underwear, though, because that would be totally creepy of you.
9:42 - The Tom Cruise Beard Parade continues as Penelope Cruz comes out, looking radiant but questionably attired, to present the award for Best Foreign Language Film. Austria's The Counterfeiters wins and Stefan Ruzowitzky accepts, name-checking several great Austrian directors who had to flee the country because of the Nazis, and is off the stage in a flash.
9:45 - Another song from Enchanted. Again, my TV's on mute. I contemplate getting up to put my laundry in the dryer, but I don't want to move. I'm not sure that I can move.
9:48 - John Travolta comes out in a non-homosexual way and awards the Best Song statuette to Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for "Falling Slowly." Laura Linney looks very happy for them in the audience. Hansard gets a bit teary-eyed as he makes his acceptance speech, and Irglová is cut off before she can say anything. You stay classy, producers!
9:52 - Steven Spielberg, who also digs Once, briefly speaks about his Oscar win in a prerecorded clip.
9:53 - Have any of you seen the Netflix mailer I was going to return tomorrow? I thought I'd put it with my laptop case, but now I don't see it. If those movies don't get back to Netflix by Monday evening, they'll hold The Darjeeling Limited hostage and I'll be forced to read a book or something on Wednesday. That would be terrible!
9:54 - Oh, I forgot to add: Warm Water Under a Red Bridge and the women-in-prison classic Caged are the rentals I'm returning. Don't act like you weren't curious; you know you secretly long to know everything about me, like my astrological sign and my favorite Tina Turner song. Normally I'm a very private individual, but since you've been so well-behaved during this long ordeal, I'll give you this: Capricorn (I don't know much about astrology, but that usually makes people slap their hands to their faces like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone and go running in the opposite direction, so my sharing this is a big deal, what with me risking the rejection of people I don't know and all) and "River Deep - Mountain High."
Okay, so "River Deep" has some fucked up lyrics. That's pretty much a given with a Phil Spector production. But that scream near the end, that's what soul music, rock music, and Tina Turner are all about. You can put Tina through hell, making her sing a vocally demanding song 500,000 times (as she put it to a Rolling Stone reporter in 2004), until she's drenched in sweat and has to strip down to her bra in the recording booth, and not only is she going to triumph, she's going to sound so fierce doing it that every time the song plays on the radio and The Screech happens, a drag queen angel get its wig.
9:57 - Jon Stewart brings Markéta Irglová out to give the speech she was cruelly stopped from making moments earlier. There's another shot of Laura Linney in the audience, looking pleased. What's with all the Laura Linney shots tonight? I'm not complaining, but it's usually Jack Nicholson who gets the constant reaction shots.
9:58 - Cameron Diaz comes out and, probably baked, flubs a line. She recovers nicely and presents the Best Achievement in Cinematography Oscar to There Will Be Blood's Robert Elswit, who promptly thanks art director Jack Fisk, also known as Mr. Sissy Spacek, and director Paul Thomas Anderson.
10:01 - It's downer time as two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank brings on the In Memoriam segment. Jean-Pierre Cassel gets no applause, leading me to believe none of these people watch foreign films. The clapping for Ingmar Bergman just means they've seen Woody Allen movies.
10:08 - Earnest as ever, Amy Adams reads the nominees for Best Original Score. Dario Marianelli wins for Atonement and gives a boring speech.
10:12 - Tom Hanks introduces enlisted men and women to announce, via satellite from Baghdad, the Best Documentary, Short Subjects category. In a perversely funny twist, a servicewoman announces that Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth won for Freeheld, which happens to be about a lesbian couple's fight to be treated equally under the law. You can read an interview with filmmaker Wade by clicking here.
10:17 - Hanks presents the Best Documentary Feature award to Alex Gibney and Eva Orner for Taxi to the Dark Side, about U.S. torture practices. Michael Moore, whose Sicko was nominated in the same category, is enthusiastic about Dark Side's win.
10:23 - If ever an actor knew how to drain a screenplay of its humor and passion, it is Harrison Ford. So it's only fitting that Indiana Jones is brought out to present the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Diablo Cody, who is dressed like Betty Rubble, wins. Her speech does not sound prepared, and she's rather emotional as she holds up her Oscar and says, "This is for the writers."
10:29 - After an overview of past Best Actor winners, Helen Mirren emerges, looking appropriately regal, to get the inevitable Daniel Day-Lewis win out of the way.
10:34 - Finally, the inevitable Daniel Day-Lewis win is out of the way. "That's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood, so thank you," he says to Mirren after she hugs him. His speech isn't bloated or self-important, just simple and charming.
10:38 - I wonder how many hideous mistakes I've made so far in writing this. The person who guesses closest without going over gets a prize.
10:41 - Martin Scorsese gets almost as much applause as Diablo Cody as he strides out to present the Best Achievement in Directing award to the Coen Brothers. That's right, I'm calling it for the Coens. And it goes to the Coens. This year was not meant to be a year of surprises. "I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier," Ethan says to laughter. "Thank you." Joel is wordier, but only by a bit, and they're off the stage within a minute.
10:44 - Denzel Washington, sans hair, announces the Best Picture winner, No Country for Old Men. Scott Rudin gives the acceptance speech with Joel and Ethan Coen standing behind him. Frances McDormand is laughing into her hand the whole time. Rudin ends things by thanking his partner, and Stewart ends things by thanking the audience. And my ass is still numb.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Despite what Mike "Volcanic Goo" Walker suggests in this week's National Enquirer, I am neither dead nor in rehab. No, my mini-absence from this pathetic excuse for a blog has been due to a brief illness. A boring illness, for the record. Nothing exotic like the Avian flu, and nothing that would suggest I have a swinging personal life, like a garden variety STD or mononucleosis. But I'm on the mend now, and once I'm caught up at work I'll be back to making you roll your eyes and mutter "what a moron" in no time.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Actress Tilda Swinton, her longtime partner John Byrne and her young loverboy Sandro Kopp claim to be perfectly happy with their unconventional menage-a-trois relationship.None of which is news, since Swinton publicly acknowledged the arrangement some time ago; but as the article notes, Britain's Daily Mail has landed one of their trademark interviews with Kopp's spurned lover, Emma Williamson, and that's the kind of development gossip editors from around the world live for. Interestingly, reporters Steve D'Antal and Amanda Perthen buck Daily Mail tradition by not dragging Swinton through the mud. They even turn a critical eye to Williamson's account of the story, observing:
There is no doubt Emma means what she says, no doubt she has been profoundly hurt by Sandro's faithless behaviour.
But the image she paints of their relationship and of Sandro's character seems out of sync with her conclusion that they were destined for a "happily ever after", were it not for the arrival of bohemian Tilda.
Naturally, that doesn't stop them from attacking Kopp, even questioning his sanity, but it does highlight the fact that even tabloid hacks have some reverence for the almighty Swinton.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
AS twins and lesbians, does it annoy you when people focus on this?To which they offer a very reasonable, measured response:
Tegan: I think the media and our labels in the past have tried to turn it into something gimmicky.Here's the money shot: the article's headline is a big fat "Lesbian Twins Coming to UK." You can't convince me that was just someone behind the scenes having a laugh. The people who work at The Sun aren't smart or funny enough for that. There's also that pesky tradition they have of being homophobic morons to take into account.
But I think we've grown out of that. I think we've also proved we're genuine songwriters who are talented and have the support of many great people and a legion of lovely devoted fans and so I think that period of our life is over.
We're happy and proud to be out and known as queer artists and we are also happy that people pay much more attention to the music these days.
Sara: I think there have been times when journalists have treated it in a gimmicky way.
Perhaps from a lack of awareness or education about homophobia or sexism.
I know most people don't intend to be cruel or ignorant. I've become more patient but it is upsetting when it feels like the music is lost behind a headline.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Forget about Warner Brothers and their dopey Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan re-releases, the Criterion Collection is where it's at this Valentine's Day as they release a highly anticipated set of four early, classic musicals by the master director Ernst Lubitsch as part of their Eclipse series. The titles include The Love Parade, The Smiling Lieutenant (which stars Claudette Colbert), One Hour with You and Monte Carlo. As Dave Kehr put it in a review published today, the set is "indispensable." It also has, in my opinion, the most attractive packaging of any Eclipse offering so far. I'm so getting it.
Also in the classic movies department, Warners is dipping into the Joan Crawford vault (and why shouldn't they, when everyone else did?) with The Joan Crawford Collection: Volume 2. In terms of content — it features A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road, Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo and Torch Song — it's more interesting than the first Crawford collection, but I don't like this new Warner trend of putting the discs in a fold-out case and not making the films available individually. That one must also purchase Dragon Seed and Without Love to own Katharine Hepburn's Sylvia Scarlett is a criminal offense, and one that consumers should not tolerate.
More new releases:
Has anyone else ever watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and found themselves hoping that Sidney Poitier or Katharine Houghton would get fed up with Spencer Tracy and yell, "How can you pass judgment on our relationship when you've been with a giant lez for the last thirty years?" I ask you these questions because, well, if I asked my Hepburn and Tracy myth-loving grandma, she'd pretend she didn't hear me and comment on the weather. (It's icy and overcast here today, if you were wondering.)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner wasn't all that great when it came out in '67 and it isn't all that great now, but people have been told it's a classic and they accept without question what studio marketing schmoes and the dashing Robert Osborne tell them. Being an enormous Hepburn fan, I guess I can live with that. It's when people revere Neil Simon schlock because they think they're supposed to that I draw the line. Anyway, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was out-of-print for a short while and now Columbia has brought it back, on its own with a new 40th Anniversary Edition and as part of the new Stanley Kramer collection.
Ben Affleck's directorial debut, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone, is worth checking out for its gritty depiction of Boston and a fantastic performance by Amy Ryan, a Best Supporting Actress nominee.
Jane Austen's life was not remotely like the pap that's presented in Becoming Jane, but since when does historical accuracy count for anything in the movies? If you like Anne Hathaway, chances are you'll like this movie. Of course, if you like Anne Hathaway, you're used to mediocrity.
Romance & Cigarettes, the John Turturro musical that stars James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon, easily wins the award for the most bizarre release of the week. It's also the release you most need to rent if you're sick of the same old cinema.
HBO's Tell Me You Love Me is pretty queer behind the scenes, but what you actually see on the show is rather heterosexual. And kind of boring, though anything that provides work for Jane Alexander is all right with me.
Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, released today by Lionsgate, poses a perfectly reasonable question, though I can't see the title without wanting to respond, "You didn't."
Amy Heckerling directed I Could Never Be Your Woman, which stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd. Never heard of it? That's because the Weinstein Company sent it straight to DVD. Heckerling going direct to DVD isn't going to raise any eyebrows post-Loser, but anyone who starred in The Fabulous Baker Boys and Batman Returns deserves a little more respect.
Monday, February 11, 2008
What didn't compute for me when I first read this story is that homophobia exists in Sweden. Which is stupid, I know, because homophobia exists everywhere. (Well, everywhere except in kittens and the hearts of children. Unless the kittens and children belong to Shirley Phelps-Furley. Yes, I said Furley. Because, let's face it, Mr. Roper was a 'phobe but Mr. Furley had an IQ of 80, tops, which means his intelligence was roughly equal to Shirley's.) But c'mon: Sweden. I'm a big Ingmar Bergman fan, so I was under the impression that Swedes spent all their time in mental anguish over the absence of God, mutilating their genitals with jagged pieces of glass and playing chess, or at least backgammon, with the Grim Reaper to pass the time. And remember all those reviews of Fucking Åmål (better known in English-speaking countries under its sanitized name, Show Me Love) that mentioned it beat Titanic at the Swedish box office when it was first released? I guess the homophobic kennel owner isn't a Lukas Moodysson fan.
GayWired ran a puff piece on Itty Bitty Titty Committee (which, if you survey its credits on IMDB, kind of looks like the lesbian version of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) with this sentence that caught my eye:
Lesbian luminaries Guinevere Turner and Jenny Shimizu, along with long-time friends to the gay gals, Clea Duvall and Melanie Lynskey, join a smoking cast of relative newcomers to start the next big feminist movement.Clea Duvall is a "long-time friend to the gay gals?" I think what Tracy E. Gilchrist and L. A. Vess meant was long-time friend with benefits, no? And, uh, what about Melanie Mayron while we're at it? Why does she get to fly under the radar?
Finally, can't get enough of the lurid Seth Tobias story? New York magazine's Stephen Rodrick has written a very long article about it.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
By the fifty-minute mark, it seemed that Cotillard's greatest triumph wasn't becoming Édith Piaf — and doing so in a way that caused an excitable Stephen Holden to write that her "feral portrait of the French singer Édith Piaf as a captive wild animal hurling herself at the bars of her cage is the most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I've ever encountered in a film" — but rather having the single-minded determination to slog all the way through director Olivier Dahan and Isabelle Sobelman's excruciatingly tedious screenplay. Which isn't to say that La Vie en Rose was not without its finer points, like wonderful supporting performances by Emmanuelle Seigner, who almost walked off with the film in its first twenty minutes, and the always dependable Sylvie Testud (a brilliant, relatively unknown actress who has quietly made a career of playing sexually unconventional, and often queer, characters) as Mômone, Piaf's cross-dressing lesbian BFF. Just don't expect me to revisit it unless I need help falling asleep.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
It's tough, sometimes, being a Woody Allen fan. You're not just constantly put in the incredibly awkward position of having to explain that he's not (as best you can tell) an incest-crazed pedophile, you're also asked to defend films like Hollywood Ending and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. That's why I was happy to read this shamelessly publicisty blurb in today's Page Six:
SCARLETT Johansson has a steamy lesbian sex scene with Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen's upcoming "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." A source tells us: "It is also extremely erotic. People will be blown away and even shocked. Penelope and Scarlett go at it in a red-tinted photography dark room, and it will leave the audience gasping."Okay, so audiences would have to actually show up for a Woody Allen movie — or a Penelope Cruz movie, or a Scarlett Johansson movie, for that matter — in order to gasp. Chances are, that isn't happening. And while it's true that Match Point was a bit sexier than Michael Caine boffing his sister-in-law in Hannah and Her Sisters, it's rather doubtful the former Allen Stewart Konigsberg will achieve a David Lynchian hypnotic, audience-silencing Mulholland Drive effect here. Still, what's not to like about this?
Of course, I say that as someone who is so dedicated to supporting Penelope Cruz girl-girl action that I watched Head in the Clouds in its entirety. Even worse, I endured the interminable Don't Tempt Me just to see her butchified and leering at Victoria Abril. Curiously, she didn't seem all that different than she does on The Late Show...
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
If Google Analytics has taught me one thing over the last few weeks, it's that idle web surfers like looking up the words "Shelby Lynne" and "lesbian" together. With that in mind, I bring you this exchange from a recent Lynne interview with IGN's Todd Gilchrist. Mind you, there's nothing overtly gay about it, but I wanted to post something here today and it was either this or a picture of Ernest Borgnine in a sailor's cap.
IGN: When you're putting your albums together, do you think about putting different kinds of songs together, to sort of have something for everyone, or is it as you say a matter of what's going on in your life?And, you know, she might act like a dithering idiot when asked about her personal life, but Shelby isn't incorrect here. I'll even take it a step further and say that while I, like everyone else on the face of the earth, love Dusty's version of "Son of a Preacher Man," I've often felt it sounds a bit dishonest coming from her as well. Had it been about, say, the granddaughter of a minister (cough, Martha Reeves if you're wondering), maybe it would have sounded more authentic. She still wouldn't have convinced me there was "only one" person who could ever reach her, not with a voice like that, and I'd still have trouble believing that Springfield wasn't the one who suggested they go walkin', but it would have been a start.
Lynne: It has to be having to do with my life, because I'm not big fan of bullsh*t, so it has to have everything to do with what I'm doing. I mean, I chose these tunes because I can relate to them, and for no particular reason. I mean, I think about Dusty in all of them, but every song I cut has something to with what I've either felt or I'm feeling or I'm going to feel or I've gone through with someone else who's feeling it. So it's not really that complicated, it just needs to be honest and real. For instance, I can't imagine singing "Son of a Preacher Man," not only because it was Dusty's song and I would never do it, but because I can't imagine doing those words.
IGN: Why is that?
Lynne: Because I can't relate. You go back and hear that song and you think of me and you'll go, hmm, okay.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"To write a great Broadway musical, you have to be either Jewish or gay. And I'm both." That's according to Leonard Bernstein, from Rodney Greenberg's new Jewish Quarterly profile of the composer. For the record, I'm also both, and if I tried to write a Broadway musical the results would be more disastrous than Taboo. I feel so cheated.
Of Bernstein's sexuality, Greenberg writes:
Bernstein's complex personality created havoc at times, particularly when his homosexuality led him to leave Felicia and live for a while with a music researcher, Tom Cothran. Jamie Bernstein, his daughter, said her father needed to know he could also come back home — to his 'quiet place'. Not long afterwards, Felicia died of cancer. He was consumed by remorse, and never properly recovered. In a scene reminiscent of a Verdi opera plot, she had cursed him: 'You are going to die a bitter and lonely old man.'That's rather depressing, isn't it?
Does this mean the beloved hack screenwriter doesn't support Cristal and Nomi's right to marry? This news, while not surprising (Eszterhas contributed to McCain's campaign in 2000), is almost as disillusioning as the failure of film critics to recognize Jade as one of the towering achievements in 1995 cinema, alongside Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas and Kieslowski's Trois couleurs: Rouge. Or something.
And before someone e-mails me to point out that McCain once referred to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as "unnecessary" and "un-Republican," let me remind you that he happily supported banning gay marriage in his home state of Arizona the very next year. In short, he is more ethically challenged than your average Eszterhas character. They make a fine pair.
Monday, February 4, 2008
First, in the gay interest department, there is Neil Jordan's The Brave One, starring the world's most famous quasi-closeted actress, Jodie Foster. The Brave One is not a gay movie — it's another of those films that finds Foster out for blood when something happens to her straight family — but the heterosexual Jordan's work, from Mona Lisa to The Crying Game and Breakfast on Pluto, is often queer-inclusive, and Will & Grace producer Cynthia Mort's name on the screenplay bolsters its gay credentials. For those of you so eager to see Foster kick ass and take names that you can't bear a 10-minute drive to the video store, Warner Brothers has made the download available for pre-order through Amazon Unbox for $14.99, which makes it cheaper than the DVD.
More new releases:
Also available for download is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the brooding Andrew Dominik western with gay undertones to spare. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard, Paul Schneider and the Oscar-nominated Casey Affleck as Robert Ford, who casts many a meaningful glance in Pitt's direction.
Julie Delpy writes, directs, stars in, contributes music to and probably hand-carved the furniture that appears in 2 Days in Paris, which costars Adam Goldberg — who, despite being 37 and decidedly male, comes off as something of an ingénue here. A scruffy, nervous, foul-mouthed ingénue, but we can't all be Audrey Hepburn. It's a lovely, oddball directorial debut (though the manic last few minutes disrupt its easygoing charm), and one that establishes Delpy as a filmmaker to watch.
Julie Taymor's Beatles-inspired musical Across the Universe, starring Evan Rachel Wood — she who kissed Mischa Barton on Once & Again and Nikki Reed in Thirteen — and Jim Sturgess, gets the 2-Disc Special Edition treatment from Sony. Actress T.V. Carpio plays Prudence, a lesbian character who sings "I Want to Hold Your Hand" about a fellow cheerleader.
MGM pays another visit to Billy Wilder's The Apartment, bringing it a few supplementary features this time around.
Cate Blanchett and director Shekhar Kapur re-team for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, to middling results, though the cast, which includes Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen and Samantha Morton, is uniformly excellent.
Feast of Love, which has Selma Blair in a lesbian subplot that even director Robert Benton admits is undercooked, comes to DVD from MGM, if anyone cares. Morgan Freeman, Jane Alexander, Greg Kinnear and High Art's Radha Mitchell star.
In need of a Diane Lane fix but unwilling to spend $10 on Untraceable? You can try Griffin Dunne's Fierce People, an odd little number that gathered dust on Lionsgate's shelves for two years before receiving a limited theatrical release in 2007. It has Donald Sutherland, Anton Yelchin, Kristen Stewart, Chris Evans, drug addiction, anal rape — your grandparents are sure to love it.
Kino has collected Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Color of Pomegranates, The Legend of Suram Fortress and Ashik Kerib in The Films of Sergei Paradjanov, a new box set. The titles are also available separately.
A Gallipoli that wasn't directed by Peter Weir and doesn't star Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson is being released by Cinema Epoch. This documentary about the famous 1915 battle is narrated by Jeremy Irons and Sam Neill, who, as far as I know, don't blame any of the bloodshed on the Jews.
Imitation of Life, both the 1934 original starring the bisexual Claudette Colbert and the 1959 Douglas Sirk remake starring the rather heterosexual Lana Turner, get the Universal Legacy Series treatment in this handsome double-feature.
Four lesser-known Jean-Luc Godard films (Passion, First Name: Carmen, The Detective and Oh Woe is Me) are being released together by Lionsgate, but it's the upcoming Criterion release of Pierrot le Fou that everyone is really excited about.
David Grubin's absorbing documentary The Jewish Americans, which recently aired on PBS, gets a speedy double-disc release. Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner is one of the interview subjects; video clips and lesson plans for teachers are available online.
You can be honest, lecherous lesbians. Before her face melted off, you watched NBC's Third Watch for Tia Texada. And I won't judge you for that, because I watched it every now and then for Nia Long. Neither appeared in the first season of the show, which finally debuts on DVD, but Bobby Cannavale did. That should count for something, I guess.
If ever a movie didn't deserve a deluxe edition, it's You've Got Mail, but Warner Brothers knows you get lonely and sentimental around Valentine's Day and they're not above squeezing another $12 from your wallet with this second release of the film. If you have to buy something to get all sappy to on the 14th, you're much better off investing in The Shop Around the Corner. I tell you this as someone who cares: You can't go wrong with Ernst Lubitsch and Margaret Sullavan.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Samantha Fox's episode of Wife Swap, in which she goes to live with the widely loathed comedian Freddie Starr while Starr's put-upon wife shacks up with Fox's partner, Myra Stratton, is getting bad reviews! Who would have guessed? You can watch a rather long, uncomfortable interview with Samantha and Freddie on ITV's This Morning below, or by clicking here.
Or, if you're merely looking for a glimpse of Stratton, who has been with Fox for eight years, you can check out this shorter clip.
Itching to read more about the upcoming book detailing Patricia Cornwell's ill-fated affair with former FBI agent Margo Bennett? Times Online journalist Tony Allen-Mills is here to help. I'd post quotes for those of you who like one-stop shopping, but this story, once mildly interesting in a tawdry tabloid kind of way, seems rather moldy now, especially since Cornwell has become more forthcoming about her personal life.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Later this year, Rieff will oversee the publication of journals and notebooks his mother kept between 1947 and 1964. Previously published excerpts contain Sontag's reflections on lesbian relationships with Harriet Sohmers and Maria Irene Fornes and comments like, "My desire to write is connected with my homosexuality. I need the identity as a weapon, to match the weapon that society has against me. It doesn't justify my homosexuality. But it would give me — I feel — a license." Sontag also wrote: "Being queer makes me feel more vulnerable."
Other news and suggested reading:
Yesterday an appeals court ruled that Dr. Sneha Anne Philip died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Philip's disappearance was the subject of a 2006 New York magazine article that revealed a police probe into her personal life turned up stories of hidden alcohol abuse and bisexual affairs, which her family denied.
JFLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays, has made a plea for government action in the wake of a mob attack on gay men in Mandeville. Their statement reads in part, "We are cultivating an uncivil society which seems to be itching for a reason to resort to mob violence as a redress for real or perceived grievances. When those with whom we entrust the responsibility of leadership fail to act decisively, they betray all Jamaicans."
Where are gays in space? And Jodie Foster in Contact doesn't count. We're not talking about gays in front of bluescreens.
Newsday journalist Saul Friedman has written a nice piece about SAGE-LI, a new Long Island organization devoted to helping elderly GLBT individuals.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Turner Classic Movies kicks off their annual 31 Days of Oscar special tonight with a slate of films from the 1970s: Jaws, The Hospital, Network, and, my personal favorite of the bunch, Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces. Don't just watch it because it contains what is arguably Jack Nicholson's finest performance (he used to give good ones, you know), or because Karen Black earned a much-deserved Oscar nomination for her role as his needy girlfriend Rayette, whose hair, makeup and general dizziness paved the way for countless Jennifer Coolidge characters.
Watch it because Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe author and celebrated zany sweater-wearing Match Game panelist Fannie Flagg appears in a bowling alley scene. Watch it because of the comically angsty lesbian hitchhikers Palm and Terry (played by Helena Kallianiotes and "Mickey" singer Toni Basil), who are picked up by Nicholson and Black. Watch it because it has a wonderful supporting performance by Lois Smith. You won't find any of those things in Jaws.
And gluttons for punishment, take note: Darling Lili, another of those Blake Edwards movies with Julie Andrews that manages to seem oddly gay even when the proceedings are assuredly heterosexual, will air after Five Easy Pieces for reasons known only to God, if God exists, and the TCM programmers. Andrews has about as much chemistry with costar Rock Hudson as Lily Tomlin had with John Travolta in Moment by Moment, for those of you who revel in that sort of thing.