7 new Blu-rays you may wanna check out

Layout 1Grandma. Is it cool if we just let Lily Tomlin play every spunky lesbian grandma? Yeah? Thought so. The iconic comedian-actress is such a fire hose of sass and bottled-up sadness in the little godsend that it’s a travesty she hasn’t had a film role this meaty since 1988’s Big Business (your loss, ageist, sexist Hollywood). In the road-trip flick Tomlin plays Elle, a writer who’s just out of a four-month relationship with her “footnote” of a girlfriend (Judy Greer) when her teenage granddaughter (Julia Garner) shows up to drop the preggers bomb. Grandma dusts off the ol’ cruiser and the two of them wheel around on an abortion fundraiser, collecting a few bucks here and there from old flames and friends, including a tattoo artist (Laverne Cox). Directed by Paul Weitz, who also collaborated with Tomlin on 2013’s Admission, the great Grandma is a feminist vehicle that lets Tomlin run wild with an outrageous blaze of bon mots — at one point she sasses a barista about the redundancy of “drip coffee” — while also plunging deep into the character’s rough-around-the-edges complexities. Tomlin talks about the role during a behind-the-scenes feature and a film commentary.

FreeheldThe Wiz Live! was a disappointment for all the right reasons: It was actually good. If you were looking forward to another spectacularly bad Carrie Underwood-in-The Sound of Music affair, then the surprisingly great and powerful Craig Zadan and Neil Meron production was a big bummer. No tweet-hating this one, guys. In fact, the all-black stage take on The Wizard of Oz kept any and all abominations at bay. Audra McDonald didn’t even need to step in like the Goddess of Musicals that she is, at least not with Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah, Amber Riley, Shanice Williams and Stephanie Mills raising their voices up somewhere over the rainbow and into the far-off galaxies of greatness… and gayness. That’s right: In addition to Ne-Yo’s super innuendo-laden “Slide Some Oil to Me” number, Oz, in 2016, is a Latifah-run gay discotheque. Follow, follow? Glad to! Just don’t get your hopes up too high — there’s one measly extra.

DfthmxlipowanishGirlFreeheld. In Freeheld, Julianne Moore and Ellen Page unify their queerness to portray a powerful true-life story. They play lesbian lovers — a dream team that was bound for big things. But then it came out, and there were no Oscars, and few critics loved it. No wonder: It’s a glorified Lifetime movie. Freeheld earnestly tells the story of police officer Laurel Hester as she fights to transfer pension benefits to her partner, Stacie, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. It’s heavy stuff that’s heavy handed. The characters are mere shells, and Steve Carell is embarrassingly miscast as a self-proclaimed “big, loud, gay Jew.” As it trudges toward an end, and then another end, and then finally another end, piling on the bawl bait, it’s impossible to feel things if you don’t know who those feels are for. Luckily the more-captivating 40-minute Freeheld doc, released in 2007, is among the disc’s extras.

The Danish Girl. The crying in The Danish Girl is forever, it seems. Tears of joy, of sadness. Of “I want the Oscar.” Throughout, director Tom Hooper works overtime for all that Academy Award consideration: hot-button topic (trans issues) meets Eddie Redmayne (beloved Oscar winner) meets melodrama (#tears). Loosely playing the first woman to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, Danish painter Lili Elbe, Redmayne carefully navigates womanhood at its most womanly. He’s good. Sometimes even better than that. But, because of the script’s relatively one-note characterization of Lili, it’s Redmayne’s co-star, Alicia Vikander, who projects true greatness, exploring the nuances and complicated reality of a patient and loyal lover. Regarding extras: Just one, which features the crew discussing the film’s journey to the screen.

BridgeOfSpiesThe Intern. The devil wears… not Prada. As the CEO of her own booming fashion startup, Anne Hathaway, as Jules Ostin, is a rigid boss who’s so self-involved she can’t be bothered with remembering names. She’s also not the nicest. She gets it from her mom. In comes her right-hand man, and his name is Ben (Robert De Niro, who, notably, does yoga in the movie) and he’s widowed and 70 and basically a live-action version of the old man in Up. As it turns out, Ben needs Jules as much as she needs him. Like watching a millennial reluctantly help a tech-challenged elder figure out an iPad, the Hathaway-De Niro dynamic in Nancy Meyers’ odd-couple delight is a sweet thing to behold. Special features are nearly nil. Just a few short bits on set decorations and the other interns.

Bridge of Spies. Leave it to the ever-sublime pairing of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg to put a fresh spin on the well-worn espionage subgenre. Together they tell the true story of New York lawyer James B. Donovan (Hanks), who, against America’s wishes, defends a suspected Soviet spy during the Cold War. But when Russians capture a U.S. pilot, Donovan demonstrates to both his country and family that heroic deeds don’t always happen overnight. Graceful, sophisticated, atmospherical — aesthetically, its Spielberg at his most Spielberg-y. A fraught, beautifully shot spy drama that builds to a surprisingly emotional closing, Bridge of Spies delivers in all respects, with Spielberg and Hanks turning in some of the best work of their respective careers, though it’s Mark Rylance as the pawn in the game who was the upset winner at this year’s Oscars. The supplements include four featurettes.

Girls: Season 4. We briefly interrupt your Broad City binging to let you know that, yes, Girls is still on and that, yaaaaaas, it’s so good lately. Four seasons in and finally Lena Dunham’s cast of post-collegiate dawdlers are starting to figure it out. Maturity! Jobs! Rimming….?  Why of course. Becoming a healthy, successful adult isn’t just moving to Iowa for your art a la Dunham’s Hannah — it’s getting your butt licked (a la Marnie, who’s still delusional and thinks she has a future as a musician). Revelations are constant. And queer. Zachary Quinto stars as a total schmuck. Plus, Andrew Rannells is still stealing scenes and Adam Driver is still taking his shirt off. The two-disc set includes Dunham’s commentary and gag reels.

— Chris Azzopardi

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Andrew Rannells: The gay interview

AndrewRannells3As the out Tony nominee ends his fourth season on Girls, he talks co-stars, sex scenes and what it would take to get him back on Broadway.

Andrew Rannells won’t soon be living down the handjob he gave to a boy in a bathroom. Thanks to Lena Dunham and the other writers turning out sharp social commentary and anecdotal writing for this current installment of HBO’s Girls, now finishing up its fourth season, the theater-turned-TV star didn’t just speed-race his way through a handy — he’s danced, de-clothed and continued to lambast the fogey fashions of Dunham’s Hannah. And god bless him for it.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: So, Andrew, what’s up with Marnie getting all the sexy sex scenes on GirlsAndrew Rannells: I know! She gets to do all sorts of crazy shit this year and poor Elijah just gets an awkward handjob in the bathroom. We’ll see if we can’t fix that.

I like seeing the gender roles being subverted, though. Most people would expect to see the gay guy getting rimmed, not Marnie.  That is true. Lena’s pushing boundaries all over the place!

How did you end up with a bigger role on the show, especially this season?  Well, I was really excited: Last season was the first season that I got to be a full-fledged regular on Girls. They’ve always done such an amazing job of making me feel like a full part of that team, but last year was the first season that I really got to just be devoted strictly to them. In the past, during the first season, I was still doing The Book of Mormon, so with the second season, I only got to do half of it. And then we started The New Normal, and then after The New Normal ended I got to do the back end of the third season. They’ve always been so welcoming, and I’m just thrilled to be a full-time cast member over there.

I mean, literally, I don’t think it was even 20 minutes after they had made the announcement that The New Normal was canceled that I got phone calls — one from [executive producer] Jenni Konner, one from [executive producer] Judd Apatow and one from Lena Dunham — all saying, “Please come back and join us.” Even though they had started prep for their season, they worked me in very quickly. Again, I’m so grateful to them and so touched that they include me. I feel really at home with that group.

Which of the Girls characters would you most likely hang out with in real life?  Lena and I actually hang out a fair amount, and Allison [Williams] and I hang out a fair amount as well. Particularly during this past year, [Allison and I have] kept in very close contact over our hiatus, which is great. Character-wise, I feel like it might be a Marnie situation, I think. I know that she’s a little high-strung, but, particularly now with her new sexual awakening, I feel like she would be a fun girl to hang out with.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sunday TV drinking games for your viewing pleasure

Looking20152This Sunday is chock full of LGBT-favorite TV entertainment. Trying to figure out which one to watch? Our Mikey Rox has devised this drinking game that makes it all the more fun. Choose the game that looks the best for you … of DVR it all and enter rehab on Monday!

The Golden Globes (NBC, 7 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler change gowns. 2. Music is cued to hurry a lengthy acceptance speech that by that point is probably spilling over into soapbox territory anyway. 3. A winner recognizes his or her same-sex partner by name. Take a shot when: 1. A presenter and/or winner appears visibly drunk or high on stage; the likelihood of this will increase exponentially as each hour passes. Or if Sean Young is invited.  2. An acceptance speech turns into a political speech about freedom of speech. You’ll probably want to pick up a big bottle of tequila this year. 3. North Korea and Sony are mentioned in the same sentence.

Girls (HBO, 8 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. Hannah bears her breasts. 2. Adam mentions his dick. 3. Somebody rides a bike (because nobody has a driver’s license on this show). Take a shot when: 1. Marnie laments about her music career, or sheds a tear. She’s prone to do both; sometimes simultaneously. 2. One of the girls physically hits another. These chicks are violent, yo. 3. Elijah flashes his sweet cheeks.

Looking (HBO, 8:30 p.m, pictured). Take a sip of beer or wine when:  1. You hear the words “top,” “bottom” or “vers.” 2. They refer to social media and/or dating sites and apps. 3. You see butt. Take a shot when: 1. Richie takes it off. 2. Patrick and Kevin get it on. 3. Somebody can’t get it up.

Downton Abbey (PBS, 8 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. The Dowager Countess throws shade. 2. Thomas Barrow talks smack. 3. Mary acts like a bitch. Take a shot when: 1. A sexual tryst takes place that transcends the class system. 2. A new invention of the era is introduced. 3. A correspondence containing bad news arrives in the second post.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Debut trailer for upcoming HBO series about gay guys, ‘Looking’

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January is fast becoming the season of gay TV premieres. Yesterday, I shared a video for Chozen, a gay animated comedy for FX; today, HBO one-ups FX with a live-action show that’s just as gay.

Looking is the highly anticipated new series from out actor-producer Jonathan Groff (guest actor on Glee and co-executive producer on Happy Endings). Groff stars as a gay man looking for love in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, it’s set to debut immediately after the third season premiere of Girls on Jan. 19 — so, we have the girls and the boys right after.

Based on the trailer — which you can see after the jump — it’s apparently along the lines of Queer as Folk with honest portrayals of love and sex … and some nudity (don’t worry, the trailer, at least, is safe for work).

Looks like the winter is heating up!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jack Antonoff of fun. — the gay interview

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Jack Antonoff, far right, has no problem endorsing gay rights even though he’s straight.

The breakout single that sent the New York-based band’s sophomore album, Some Nights, soaring — “We Are Young” — entered the pop-culture zeitgeist almost overnight with commercial spots and a Glee rendition — and on Sunday won the group Grammys for song of the year and best new artist. Their ubiquitous earworms gave them a platform for repeatedly coming out in  support of equal rights for gays.

In this interview with Chris Azzopardi prior to the Grammys, Jack Antonoff, fun.’s 28-year-old guitarist, talks about being drawn to the gay community’s “inspiring” ways of uniting in the face of oppression, the stigma of being a straight man who doesn’t care about the fight and how he loves Lena Dunham like a lesbian.

Dallas Voice: You’re one of the gay community’s biggest supporters, and you’ve been very outspoken about it. When and why did gay issues become so important to you?  Antonoff: I wish there was a great story or a poetic answer, but I just don’t know how anyone could not be outspoken and enraged with any violation of human rights. If the government decided tomorrow to strip Jews or African-Americans of certain rights, no one would say, “How did you get involved with Jews’ human rights, blah blah blah?” It would just be this universal violation that we would all be up in arms about. But the issue of gay, bisexual and trans rights, the discrimination is so ingrained in us that it’s this slow-moving process of people realizing how shameful it is, the way we treat our citizens. Anyone who is even remotely cognizant is speaking up and fighting for equal rights.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

SOUND BITES: Reviews of Solange’s EP ‘True,’ ‘Girls Soundtrack’

This week is the Music Issue at the Voice, so to whet your appetite, we offer up some reviews by Chris Azzopardi — of the soundtrack to the hit HBO comedy Girls as well as the impressive follow-up by Beyonce’s sister Solange, True.

Girls Soundtrack, Volume 1 (various artists): Robyn’s sad-but-liberating “Dancing on My Own” already made life infinitely better, but then HBO’s groundbreaking series Girls, which just returned for its second season, did something awesome with it last year: They had the show’s star/creator — Lena Dunham’s every-girl Hannah — shake out her boy blues to the tune. Awesome how? Any Robyn fan can relate to the dorkiness of shadowing the Swede’s moves in their bedroom.

You have to hand it to the music supervisors of Girls: They have an ear for twenty-something “quarter-life crisis” music as much as they understand that girls, too, just wanna have fun. Icona Pop brings the Cyndi Lauper to the party with the unapologetic anthem “I Love It,” as does Santigold’s “Girls” theme — an addictive little joint looped with a merry-go-round of voice samples and a hard bass line.

In the woe-is-me department: Grouplove’s “Everyone’s Gonna Get High” fantastically captures growing up directionless through a surging indie-rock sound, and two tracks in particular — Michael Penn’s “On Your Way” and Harper Simon’s “Wishes and Stars” — are wistful gems. The new song from Tegan and Sara (the girls’ surprising take on The Rolling Stones’ “Fool to Cry,” a bonus track) is a faithful cover that’s characteristically harmonious and also resembles them in their pre-pop days. “Sight of the Sun” from fun. might also be the best song not on their auspicious debut. Now please let the music from Season 2 of Girls be this good. Three and a half stars

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Girls’ Night Out at Barbara’s Pavilion tonight

This one’s for the ladies

Ladies are invited to Barbara’s tonight for Girls Night Out. The bar goes live with Kathy Corbin on stage adding to the girl power of the evening. But Barb’s isn’t leaving out the men. Guys can also come to enjoy the night because as they say on their event postin,”We’re all girls at heart!!!”

DEETS: Barbara’s Pavilion, 325 Centre St. 8 p.m. Facebook.com/Bbarbaras.Pavillion

—  Rich Lopez

Girl Scout cookie boycott may backfire, if Twitter is any indication

The Huffington Post reports on an effort to boycott girl scout cookies in response to the organization’s trans affirming positions. Last fall, after a Colorado troop leader initially refused to allow Bobby Montoya to participate because she was identified as male at birth, Girl Scout leaders in that state with the support of the national organization quickly responded by re-enforcing their policy of allowing all girls to participate. “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl,” said the GSC statement, “Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

That act of common decency inspired this video:

If the initial response on Twitter is any indication, however, the burgeoning boycott may backfire, begetting a bumper year for Tag-a-longs, Thinmints and Trefoils (those yummy shortbread cookies).

—  admin

The Tiger Lillies at Wortham Center

The Tiger Lillies

The Tiger Lillies

London-based band The Tiger Lillies are one of those groups it’s impossible to describe to someone who’s never experienced them. Their unique brand of concert/performance art takes elements of Wiemar Republic caberet, Bertolt Brecht, opera, Jacques Brel and your worst childhood nightmares and mixes them a soupcon of postmodern absurdism to cook up the kind of theater that Sally Bowles and the Kit Kat girls would be making, were they still around, all with a decidedly queer twist.

The Tiger Lillies bring their uniquely anarchistic sights and sounds to Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater, (501 Texas Avenue) Friday, November 4, at 8 pm. The show is co-presented by Society for the Performing Arts and DiverseWorks. This American Leg of their “Gutter’s and Stars Tour” features fan favorites and some new material.

Founded in 1989, the Tiger Lillies worked their way up from London pubs to the Piccadilly Theatre, finally achieving cult status with their masterpiece, the musical “Shockheaded Peter,” a series of grisly fairy tales adapted from the 19th century German book “Struwwelpeter,” in which all of the children die at the end.

—  admin

Do you Peru?

Even as fans rallied to help Coco Peru get her next film off the ground, the drag goddess still likes her comedy live

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RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.

“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”

Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.

“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”

For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.

“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”

Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.

Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.

“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.

Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she  talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.

“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”

She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.

“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”

In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.

“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas