REVIEW: ‘Foxcatcher’

Posted on 26 Nov 2014 at 5:09am

Carell and Tatum

Bennett Miller has only directed a handful of feature films: Capote, the stark, ominous true-crime  story behind gay author Truman Capote’s efforts to write his masterpiece, In Cold Blood; and Moneyball, about A’s manager Billy Bean’s formula for for turning a last-place ball club into pennant champs. Combine the catchwords of both those films: True-life, gay, sports, crime, murder, even one-word title … all elements that emerge, in various levels, in Miller’s newest effort, Foxcatcher. It could — should? — be the perfect confluence of topic and talent. But while there’s no denying the craftsmanship and sincerity that goes into the film, it’s also difficult to shake the sense that there isn’t enough undergirding its tone, its artistry, its seriousness.

The film is based on actual events that, while shocking at the time, haven’t lived on in popular culture like they might have. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) hasn’t lived well off the glory of a gold medal, remaining in the shadow of his more legendary older brother David (Mark Ruffalo). Then one day the eccentric billionaire John DuPont (Steve Carell) calls on him: How would Mark like to join Du Pont and his band of merry athletes at his Foxcatcher estate to train for the next Olympics? Du Pont fancies himself a world-class coach and sports benefactor — equal parts Bela Karolyi, Vince Lombardi and Tex Schramm, but it’s apparent to everyone but him he’s merely a world-class creep. Du Pont — remote, humorless, socially awkward, patently sexually repressed and lacking in any self-awareness — is a professional dilettante, a dabbler who has found the homoerotic world of pro wrestling as a weird outlet for his need for masculine physical contact. He writes laudatory speeches about himself for others to deliver. He creates a seniors wrestling league so that he might win a trophy. He commissions a documentary about himself and dictates the outcome. (It is not, in the world of the film, totally his fault. He is part of a profoundly disconnected family that has a history of making documentaries about themselves. The rich really are different from you and me.)

Tatum and Ruffalo

You know — both because pre-opening press mentions it, and the tone of the film practically projects its ominous outcome from get-go — that Du Pont is a brittle twig who will snap and commit a seemingly senseless act of violence, a crime made more tragic because of its pointlessness. You hope that the goal of the movie will be to provide context — to frame the crime and make it seem less random than inevitable. You want to, if not assign blame, figure out not just what happened by why.

And that’s where Foxcatcher fails. Indeed, it never even comes close.

There are many images and a spooky vibe that linger after the film ends, but what you never get is a sense of purpose. Miller has made a haunting story that doesn’t haunt you, a tragedy with no flawed protagonist to sympathize for. The film, like John Du Pont, is a cypher.

Miller has allowed all the artists involved so much latitude to create that he seems to have forgotten his role is to unite them together. I venture to guess that half the below-the-line budget was spent on singlets, nose putty and false teeth: Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo are all made the physically transform for their roles, getting seemingly lost in the characters, the way Philip Seymour Hoffman did in Capote. But Hoffman had a deceiver’s heart at work behind the scenes; you could tell what he was thinking. Carell is a wall of unfathomable mystery, like the patients in the criminally-insane wards of bad horror movies. You can’t understand him, just observe him. All of which keeps everything perpetually on the surface.

The actors are all quite good at their impersonations: Tatum is lurching and damaged, and you feel for him as an inarticulate man daring to find a form of expression that makes sense to him; Ruffalo’s big-brother pal-ness feels lived in, his accent authentic; and Carell is sometimes so strange that it gives you gooseflesh. But their characters, like the pacing and tone of the film, never alter. Miller’s preoccupation with silences and stillness begins to feel like a cheat, a substitute for figuring out these characters and really providing insight. (The horrible events for which the entire incident is remembered occur in the final minutes of the film, with only a few post-script paragraphs to inform us of what eventually happened. Wikipedia is more informative.)

Foxcatcher has a distinct European air to it, not unlike Capote, but without the passion that European films usually find simmering beneath. It’s OK to be cold, but to make the audience care, there has to be a spark of humanity. This film never generates that kind of heat.

Two and half stars. Now playing.

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Gay-interest, Texas films score with Independent Spirit Award nominations

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 8:38pm

‘Love Is Strange’ nominees Alfred Molina, John Lithgow and Ira Sachs.

The Film Independent Spirit Award nominations came out today, and films with gay content or interest — and one biggie from Texas — figured prominently.

Among the gay-interest films were Love Is Strange, about a late-middle-aged gay couple transformed by their marriage. The film was nominated for best feature, leading male John Lithgow, supporting male Alfred Molina and the screenplay by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias. Gay African-American filmmaker Justin Simien was nominated for best first feature and best first screenplay for his race comedy Dear White People.

Julianne Moore was nominated for leading female for Still Alice, about a woman ravaged by Alzheimer’s, in the drama by gay filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. Foxcatcher, which opens in Dallas Wednesday (and which I review here in the morning), received the Special Distinction Award.

Among the other nominees are Austin-based director Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which scored noms for best feature, director, film editing, supporting female (Patricia Arquette) and supporting male (Ethan Hawke). Strangely overlooked? The title actor, Ellar Coltrane.

The excellent Birdman, with Michael Keaton as a movie star making a serious stage comeback, had the most nominations, for best feature, director, leading male (Keaton), supporting male (Edward Norton), supporting female (Emma Stone) and cinematography. It has some lesbian content as well.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: ‘Cher’-ing some holiday cheer

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 6:30pm

Cher Upon a Midnight ClearWe gay people love our divas, and Cher is one of the diva-est. So it seems only fitting that there should be a book in which Cher saves Christmas.  “If 8-year-old Luca can’t convince his parents to give him the white ice skates he has his heart set on, Christmas is going to be ruined. Who does a child turn to when he can’t even county on Santa Claus?” Why, Cher, of course. Cher Upon A Midnight Clear is the “Christmas fable for children of all ages and the homofriendly/genderqueer holiday story your modern family has been waiting for.”

Cher Upon A Midnight Clear, by Matteo B. Bianchi. $8. Available online at FourCatsPress.com/new-releases.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Get happy, stay happy

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 9:30am

IMG_3522_1024x1024You may not always control your own destiny, but you can control your own attitude. And this trucker cap from Robert Hearn reminds you — and every one else of that fact every time you wear it. The khaki mesh back helps keep you cool while the patch on the front with a rainbow and the brand name “You Can’t Steal My Happy” reminds you to keep your cool. And your smile.

$16. Availble in blue or black at Skivvies, 4001 Cedar Springs Road, or online at YouCantStealMyHappy.com.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Sparkle and Shine

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 at 6:03pm

The holidays are full of sparkle. But you can make sure that very special man or woman in your life sparkles year-round with jewelry from J. Pacetti Precious Jewels and Joe Pacetti His World Collection. This bracelet from the “His World Couture Collection” shines as bright as your love for him with 12 carats of diamonds set in large links of 18K gold. And she will know she is the shining star in your life when you give her this Van Cleef & Arpel signed necklace J. Pacetti Precious Jewels.

Contact for prices. HisWorldCollection.com. JPacetti.com. By appointment only. 214-521-0815. pdmj@aol.com.

Highh-end

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Ring in the New Year

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 at 1:03pm

Let your favorite guy know you are ready to “ring” in the New Year with him with gifts from Joe Pacetti’s “His World” collection. “Wild At Heart” silver ring, $315. Silver filigree ring, $175. HisWorldCollection.com. 214-521-0815.

Rings

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Purple Party Planning: DJs announced for 15th annual fundraising weekend

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:51am
Alyson Calagna

Alyson Calagna

The Purple Party Foundation has announced the lineup of headlining DJs for Purple Party Weekend 2015. The event, set for May 8-11, celebrates its 15h birthday next spring, and organizers are promising that the DJs for 2015 will “light up the dance floor and stir your souls with their passion and talent.”

The lineup includes “fresh and familiar faces” of international stars and local favorites.

The weekend begins that Friday with  “Ignite,” the opening party, featuring DJ Ivan Gomez of Barcelona. On Saturday, DJ Doug Jackson of Fort Lauderdale spins for “Roar!,” the bear party, and DJ Wayne G of London spins Saturday at “Rise,” the pool party.

The main event happens Sunday when DJ Alyson Calagna of Miami and DJ Shane Stiel of Los Angeles burn it up at The Purple Party. DJ Danny Verde of Milan plays at “Revival,” the tea party, and things wind up with “Glow,” the closing party, featuring DJ Paulo of Los Angeles.

Early-bird passes are already on sale for the limited-time price of $129 — a 40 percent savings over the cost of buying tickets at the door, Warwick Melrose Hotel is again the host hotel for the event.

Purple Foundation, established in 2001, is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to raising money to help improve the lives of people in the Dallas area living with HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, Purple Party Foundation has donated more than $600,000 toward that end. Purple Party Foundation’s primary beneficiary is AIDS Services of Dallas, which provides housing for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Shane Stiel

Shane Stiel

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Cocktail Friday: The Versace Sour

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:32am

Image_20194bIn our Holiday Gift Guide this week, we include the dazzling designer bottle of Disaronno amaretto liqueur as a good item. But here’s a little follow through on it: How to turn the contents into a smashing drink, the Versace Sour. And what gay doesn’t like to be in Versace?

1 part Disaronno amaretto

2 parts biano vermouth

2 parts lime

Prosecco

Blue Curacao

Making it: In a shaker, mix the amaretto, vermouth and lime juice with crushed ice. Pour into a Versace highball glass and top with a splash of prosecco (or cava, or champagne) and a drizzle of blue curacao. For added drama, top with gold flakes.

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Welcome to the family Ty

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 4:08pm

In honor of Ty Herndon having come out, let me share this video of one of my favorites of his songs. We should all be living in the moment.

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Chorale headlines tree lighting at Main Street Garden … and lots more

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 3:25pm
Baugh.Sean

Acting director Sean Baugh

UPDATE: Because of expected rain, City Lights has moved to Sunday and the Chorale is scheduled to perform at 7:45 p.m.

Original Post:

The Turtle Creek Chorale headlines the City Lights lighting of the Main Street Garden Christmas tree on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The tree lighting is at 7 p.m. and the Chorale sings at 8 p.m. Main Street Garden is located at 1902 Main St.

The Chorale has seven other outreach concerts in addition to two performances of Jangled in McKinney on Dec. 13 and five performances on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall in the Arts District. Buy tickets here.

The Chorale has a number of other performances around town throughout December.

Nov. 29:
Support Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by heading up to the historic McKinney Town Square. Poke your head into the shops and enjoy the sweet sounds of members of TCC as they carol about the square from 2–3 p.m.

Dec. 5:
Tune into WRR Classical 101.1 FM from noon–1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 and enjoy a free one hour Chorale concert. Able to slip away from your desk? Head over to Dallas City Performance Hall and watch the broadcast live.

Dec 5:
Poinsettias and rosemary Christmas trees and Christmas cacti, oh my! Stroll through North Haven Gardens on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5–7 p.m. Local artists will be sharing their new works, artisans will be selling their wares, and the Chorale will be singing.

Dec. 6:
Everyone knows there are a few holiday classics not to be missed. Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol is a Dallas tradition. Attend the Saturday matinee on Dec. 6 and enjoy caroling from TCC’s small ensemble, Camerata, as you sip your egg nog before the show!

Theater not your thing? Head over to Klyde Warren Park on Dec. 6 and check out TCC on the mainstage from 2:30–3 p.m. Dance on the green. Grab a holiday cupcake from Trailercakes or listen from the Savor patio.

Dec. 7:
Sean Baugh is the Chorale’s acting artistic director. He’ll be the guest on Lambda Weekly on Dec. 7 from 1–2 p.m. Have something to ask — naughty or nice — leave your question here in the comments.

Dec. 8:
Nothing quite describes the Chorale like SPARKLE! OK, we were referring to glitter, but the Hilton Anatole’s Sparkle! event is fun for the whole family.  With indoor skating, face painting, light shows and more, you won’t want to be the only Dallas-ite not there! We recommend going on Monday, Dec. 8 since the Chorale will be singing from 6–6:40 p.m.

Dec. 11:
FINALLY … whew … they made it to they’re last outreach event, and it’s certainly a favorite. TCC will be performing at NorthPark Mall on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 5–5:45 p.m. Shopping and the Chorale? Yes please! Grab your favorite holiday latte and stroll over to the NorthCourt area in front of AMC Theaters for classic holiday carols.

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