REVIEW: “The Iron Lady”

The Iron Lady feels like the best TV movie ever. In structure, length, content and technique, it feels much more like an excellent entry into the Masterpiece Theatre canon and a stand-alone feature film. If you go in expecting a sweeping, diaper-to-Depends biopic of Margaret Thatcher, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment; if you think it’ll be like The Queen, focusing on a single incident to illuminate a greater understanding of character, you don’t get that either. Rather, you’re treated to a performance by Meryl Streep so hypnotic that you are unaware you are watching a performance at all. Some roles draw attention to how complete they are; this one oddly doesn’t. It’s just Thatcher, through and through.

That’s reason enough to see the film, which is otherwise a disappointment. We first see Thatcher in her dotage, mistakable for a bag lady, as she drifts in and out of dementia: Forgetting she is no longer prime minister of Great Britain, thinking husband Denis (Jim Broadbent), long-dead, is still with her. But things — radio broadcasts, old suits, everything except a madeleine dipped in tea — trigger her recollections, in surprisingly linear fashion: Her early campaign for Parliament, her development from a shrill housewife in pearls to a deep-throated leader of the Right; her eventually ouster when her bullying reached intolerable proportions, even among her devoted followers.

But aside from broad statements about her beliefs and too many scenes of protestors attacking her limo to show her controversial nature, the film, directed by Phyllida Law (Mamma Mia), is thin on actual politics. In one scene, No. 10 Downing St. is firebombed, nearly killing Maggie and Denis. I recall nothing about this historically, but aside from showing it, the film never even tries to explain it: Was it the IRA or some other group? What exactly about Thatcher’s policies warranted this particular attack? The treatment of such matters is staggeringly superficial. (Her relationship with Reagan is barely mentioned.)

The Iron Lady does do a good job early on at portraying the then-prevailing political hierarchy of England as male-centric — a pond of fleshy-necked bullfrogs bloviating about how things need to be done. Maggie actually did things, not just talk about them, though you’ll learn more details of her politics watching Billy Elliot than this movie.

Still, the hype about Streep is deserved. She’s excellent playing Thatcher from 40s to 80s, showing her micro-managing habits that drove even her children crazy. It’s a sympathetic portrayal not because she’s so nice, but because she’s so human. Iron Lady? No, she was, at heart, still flesh and bone.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Blood Bath 3 film fest at the Texas Theatre

Not too late for some frights

We don’t Halloween is ever over for the guys at DOA Blood Bath Entertainment. As if to perpetuate the freaks and frights of last week, they feature two days worth of independent horror films in its Blood Bath 3 film festival. Local queer filmmaker Shawn Ewert even has an entry with his short Parallel Lines, but that’s no suprise. It’s Ewert and Andrew Rose of DOA who also put on Fears for Queers in the summer.

DEETS: Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. Through Sunday. $. DOABloodbath.com

—  Rich Lopez

Men Thought To Be Gay Couple Refused Entry To Creation Museum

Joe Sonka of the blog Barefoot And Progressive recounts how he and his straight male friend who were thought to be a same-sex couple were refused entry into a "Date Night" event at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. This is what Sonka was told by museum staff:

Creat They explained to us that the Creation Museum Date Night was a "Christian environment", therefore the presence of two men eating dinner together would not be allowed. The very sight of this would 'add an un-Christian element to the event" and "disrupt the evening for everyone.' The Creation Museum rep further informed us that you cannot be a Christian if you are gay, asking "can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?"

When asked for the refund on our tickets, which were purchased in advance, he informed us that there would be no refund, since it said explicitly on their Website that "no gay couples would be permitted to attend their Date Night". That is certainly an interesting admission, despite the fact that it isn't true.

Nowhere on the museum's website does it state that admission to the museum will be denied to gay couples. Tickets to the date night cost $ 71. Louisville's LEO Weekly has published an account by one of the friends who accompanied Sonka imcluding a reaction from one of the museum's security guards.

As both LEO and Sonka point out, Jeffrey D. Bornhoeft, an Ohio man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting death of his ex-wife's husband, was granted a court approved visit to Kentucky so he can visit the museum. It is his first trip outside of the state since the trial in 2000.

Last summer, Jason Lisle, a representative for the museum, said about gay couples: "I don't think we would kick them out for [holding hands in the museum]."

Watch a BBC report about the museum, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet