SCREEN REVIEW: ‘Atomic Blonde’

Posted on 26 Jul 2017 at 10:12am

There’s no point in resisting it — we have to admit that we live in a world where Oscar-winning actors with actual acting chops gladly appear in movies based on comic books (or “graphic novels” if they want to sound classier) to establish their movie-star bones. It’s not that there’s anything inherently bad about drawing-based literature; certainly Frank Miller is the literary superior to Suzanne Collins or Stephenie Meyer, and don’t even get me started on E.L. James. But just the trigger-words “comic-book movie” suggest a two-dimensionality; it’s as if the books aren’t works in and of themselves, but storyboards waiting for a movie to be filmed around them. You sense many filmmakers don’t feel the need to “add to,” but to “cleave to:” The action scenes have been drawn, might as well shoot them.

The fight stagings in Atomic Blonde, which comes out Friday with (Oscar-winner) Charlize Theron as the putatively title character (nobody ever calls here that, nor does it make actual nuclear sense), are competently if not expertly executed: a level above cheesy chop-socky, not as viscerally fluid as Paul Greengrass manages (though it bears mentioning that the director, David Leitch, has mostly worked as a stuntman, including several Bourne films). And the plot — a Cold War thriller set in Berlin just before the wall comes down, with an MI6 agent (Theron) sent to retrieve “the list,” a catalogue of undercover agents, before it falls into the hands of the Commies (a classic McGuffin if ever there was one) — has a kind of retro appeal. In fact, hands-down the best thing about the film is its setting, and the reminder of how bitchin’ the music of the late ’80s/early ’90s was.

But the details that make it a real movie, a narrative you can get behind with characters you understand, are lacking. The story hops around like a frog from lily pad to lily pad, from character to character, set piece to set piece, with no real understanding or even care for what happens next or why. Theron’s character is supposed to be undercover, but is “made” before she leaves the airport. She spends the rest of the movie walking between East and West Berlin as a tall, platinum bombshell, yet no one can find her, even though her apartment is bugged and there’s a double agent stalking her (if you can’t figure out who that is within the first 10 minutes, it’s only because it seems too obvious). Sure, it’s a summer action film — “don’t be so critical” people like to say. But hey, why not hold the filmmakers to a minimum standard of sensibility? War for the Planet of the Apes does it with monkeys; can’t we ask as much of Charlize?

One of the puzzling aspects is the casting itself. For all her kick-assery, Theron seems to best a lot of much bigger men physically completely out of proportion with her frame and the absence of a golden lasso. Until everyone shoots at her in an extended chase/face-off sequence, no one shoots at her, preferring garrotes, knives and insults. (“I’m gonna kill you, bitch!” one villain smirks, second before she runs a corkscrew threw his trachea; “Am I still a bitch?” she comes back…  uh, yeah, definitely!) Even the appreciative preview audience laughed as some of the will-not-die moments. Theron also has a nearly expressionless face between her eyes and lower lip, as if Botox was handed out for free 30 year ago. And James McAvoy is horribly miscast as a weaselly spy who has gone native; he is too Michael J. Fox, to play that kind of hardened predator.

Still, when Atomic Blonde isn’t going through the motions, it does score a few points — for the aforementioned soundtrack, but also the frank lesbian relationship between Theron and a French spy, played by Sofia Boutella (The Mummy). The film does not use the relationship as heteromale fantasy not as a gimmick nor even as a statement, but as a plausible complication of spy life. It’s the most interesting part of the film and would have made a better focus … if only the storyboards didn’t stand in the way.

Two and a half stars.

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Austin attorney looking for anyone harmed by new adoption law

Posted on 25 Jul 2017 at 4:13pm

Suzanne Bryant, right

In the regular legislative session, HB 3859 passed, allowing Texas adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people who want to be foster parents or adoptive parents because of the agency’s religious beliefs.

Suzanne Bryant is an Austin attorney who specializes in adoptions and is looking for Texans who have been harmed by the law. Here are examples of whom she’s looking for:

• someone who has already experienced discrimination when they inquired about foster/adopt with a religiously based agency.

• someone who wants to apply to be a foster/adoptive parent but is discouraged because of the new law.

• someone who lives in a part of Texas where all the foster/adoption agencies are religiously based, making it difficult for them to attend the required classes.

• someone who is already licensed as foster/adoptive parents and has experienced discrimination (or is afraid the they will).

• LGBT children/youth who are in the foster/adopt system who may have been harmed by this law.

• Another scenario that I have not even thought of but shows how the law harms our families.

If you or someone you know can tell one of these stories, please contact Bryant at 512-476-4760.

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2nd annual Dallas Cabaret Festival opens Thursday

Posted on 25 Jul 2017 at 10:36am

As we reported earlier this year, local songstress Denise Lee is devoted to making cabaret more mainstream. Toward that end, she is bringing back her Dallas Cabaret Festival for a second weekend.

It opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with Cynthia Scott, performing at the Women’s Building at Fair Park. Scott will debut her new cabaret show. Then there will be performances on Friday, July 28, including the winner of the “So You Think You Can Cabaret?” competition, Tarnecia Durham, and The Voice finalist Simone Gundy.

The fest will conclude Saturday with locals Willie Welch, Calvin Roberts, Stephanie Brehm, Kevin Halliburton and Lee herself, joined by blues guitarist Samuel James, for a blues-centric show.

As before, the entire weekend’s event are free. But make reservations here.

 

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Stonewall helps AP recover from arson

Posted on 25 Jul 2017 at 9:24am

Damage from the July 7 fire at Abounding Prosperity.

Following an arson attack on Abounding Prosperity on July 7, Stonewall Democrats sent the South Dallas AIDS agency a donation and issued the following statement:

Abounding Prosperity, the non-profit that was a target of arson, provides resources for the LGBT community in a much needed capacity. It serves people of color and South Dallas in aiding in STD prevention, education, and providing housing for LGBT homeless. After our community was attacked, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas responded. The board approved a measure to match donations up to $250 and at their following meeting asked the membership for donations.

“We need to show support for the most vulnerable members of our community, especially right now, in their time of need.” said Stonewall President Lee Daugherty.

Stonewall’s membership jumped into action to support the non-profit by giving donations exceeding the matched amount of $250, and on Thursday, July 20, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas issued a check to the organization for over $500.

Further donations are needed and can be sent to Abounding Prosperity directly at:

Abounding Prosperity, Inc.
2311 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75215

Donations may also be made through Abounding Prosperity’s GoFundMe page.

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VIDEO: Wedding Party and Expo

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 5:13pm

The Dallas Voice Wedding Party and Expo took place at the Hilton Anatole on Sunday, July 23. Brad Pritchett covered it for DVtv.

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New Rainbow Lounge releases floorplan

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 4:09pm

The Rainbow Lounge, scheduled to open in its new location, released a floor plan of its new facility.

The new bar will be located at 212 Lipscomb St., about 1/2 mile from the old bar at 651 Jennings. The bar will be located in a building that was Morrison Surplus Outlet Warehouse. Two other bars will locate in the same building — Twilite Lounge that has a location in Deep Ellum and Anvil Lounge that’s described as an Irish biker bar by the Star Telegram. Apparently the two straight bars are OK with sharing a space with a gay bar.

The original Rainbow Lounge location burned to the ground on June 1. The location, previously known as 651, had been a gay bar since 1969, the same year as Stonewall. The Rainbow Lounge became notorious for a raid by TABC and Fort Worth police that resulted in injuries to patrons a week after it opened on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

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Bathroom bill passes Senate committee

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 3:16pm

Hundreds of people stood on line on Friday, July 21, to testify before a Senate committee hearing a bathroom bill to discriminate against transgender people.

The bill requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate in public schools and government buildings. The bill would invalidate nondiscrimination ordinances in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who proposed the bill, said the legislation is intended to protect the public from sexual predators without giving evidence of sexual predators dressing as the opposite sex in order to have sex with them in bathrooms. That’s probably because it’s never happened.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, predicted that the law, if passed, will end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. He cited Title IX that protects against discrimination based on sex in public schools.

The bill has faced overwhelming opposition by the business community as a potential financial disaster for Texas. Speaker of the House Joe Straus, however, opposes the bill as morally bankrupt. He said he doesn’t want the suicide of a transgender person on his conscience.

The bill passed out of the Senate committee by a vote of 8-1 and will be voted on by the full Senate this week. That will give the House three weeks to kill it or let it die.

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Today is National Tequila Day… as if you needed a reason

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 1:11pm

As I’ve written about repeatedly, there is a national alcohol day for every liquor under the sun. For some reason, July 24 is National Tequila Day, which is slightly funny since by definition tequila is from Mexico, and we are celebrating a foreign country’s product, sort of like Donald Trump Jr. But here in Texas, tequila is a revered drink. It’s the basis for margaritas, or course, but also richly historied and complex. And there are many brands and places that specialize in them. In fact, today, a number of restaurants are offering special tequila promotions — among them Cantina Laredo ($5 Hornitos Anejo shots today), Cafe Salsera ($6 cocktails every day for happy hour, including the usual half-priced Margarita Mondays from 4–10 p.m.), Applebee’s (“DollaRitas” through the end of the month) and Mi Dia from Scratch (discounted shots and drinks on all price levels). My own choice of tequila is Casa Dragones, but there are many others out there to sample today. So to get you started, here’s one recipe for a tequila drink you can make at home… and it doesn’t have to be today.

The Mayan Mule (pictured, created by Milagro brand ambassador James Salas)

2 oz. Milagro reposado

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

3 oz. ginger beer

Angostura bitters

Mint, lime

Making it: Add lime juice, tequila two dashes of bitters to a Collins glass with ice. Add ginger beer. Garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheel.

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WATCH: ‘War Paint’ cast recording gets a making-of documentary

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 9:42am

The musical War Paint — Dallasite Doug Wright’s retelling of the rivalry between cosmetic gurus Helena Rubenstein (Patti LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole), with a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie — is a Broadway hit, with a powerhouse cast recording to boot (which I reviewed here). But now you can glimpse the making of the cast album as well, with a 7-minute, online behind-the-scenes documentary. You can watch it here.

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An inside look at ‘The Bodyguard’ with Deborah Cox

Posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 3:52pm

Deborah Cox, a longtime favorite in the LGBT community, is in Dallas right now, starring in the stage version of The Bodyguard, in the role made famous on the silver screen by Whitney Houston, and she sat down recently with Dallas Summer Musicals to give her fans an inside look at the production.

The show is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals  through July 30, 2017 at Music Hall at Fair Park. Click here for details and ticket information.

The show then moves to Fort Worth, playing Aug. 1-6 at Bass Performance Hall. Click here for details and ticket information.

Watch the video below:

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