New 007 film promises to be gayest yet … but ‘The Hobbit’ is still gayer

Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw

Skyfall, the last installment in the James Bond series, was about as gay as a spy thriller can be, with a clearly gay villain (Javier Bardem) hitting on a bondaged 007 (who didn’t seem offended at all, and even flirted back). But the upcoming one — which we just learned will be called Spectre — has even more gayness, though much of it behind the scenes.

In addition to the return of out actor Ben Whishaw, pictured, as Q, Lea Seydoux (who had steamy lesbian sex in last year’s Blue is the Warmest Color) and out actor Andrew Scott have joined the cast, which once again will be co-written by out scribe John Logan. And Daniel Craig is in it again, and we’ve long had our suspicions (fantasies?) about him.

Of course, gay blockbusters aren’t all that rare anymore. Consider: The main cast of the upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, includes Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Lee Pace and Stephen Fry. And that got me thinkin’ — isn’t it funny how gay Middle-earth is? Indeed, most of the residents correspond to gay “types:” Hobbits are pocket gays; elves are twinks; dwarves are bears; wizards are grey wolves; and orcs … I dunno … butch lesbians?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: First trailer for ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Yes, the title sounds like a Moody Blues album, and yes, Hugh Jackman just got done playing Wolverine again this summer, but for the first time since X2, gay director Bryan Singer is actually behind the camera for X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’ve liked Singer ever since The Usual Suspects, so we’re willing to give this umpeenth sequel a chance (check out the lingering abs-shot of Jackman!). This one combines the original cast (Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry) with the new cast (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence) in a time-trippy romp through Mutant history.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The ‘Hole’ story

Gay director John Cameron Mitchell goes mainstream with ‘Rabbit Hole’

LAWRENCE FERBER  | lawrencewferber@hotmail.com

Rabbit HoleIn Rabbit Hole, a little boy’s death tears his parents’ lives apart. Actor-turned-filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) connected deeply with the material — adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play — and won over star/producer Nicole Kidman, snagging his first high-profile, Hollywood feature-directing gig.

As close to a sure bet for an Oscar nomination as one can get, Kidman delivers a natural performance opposite an equally strong Aaron Eckhart. While somber in tone, Rabbit Hole’s wit-bitten dialogue, smart editing, alternating flashes of humor and explosive emotion, and excellent supporting actors — including Sandra Oh, Dianne Wiest, and newcomer Miles Teller as the teenager who accidentally caused the child’s death — combine to make a memorable, compelling and entertaining new classic.

Mitchell recently directed a stunning online short for Dior starring Marion Cotillard and Ian McKellen as a burlesque siren and a wheelchair-bound fan, respectively (he says that more spots will follow), is also producing graphic novelist Dash Shaw’s debut animated feature, which he describes as “a mix between Philip K. Dick and The Simpsons.” Mitchell sat down for a revealing one-on-one.

Dallas Voice: When you were a teenager, your four-year-old brother died, and you witnessed firsthand how that can break up a family. That must have served as a significant personal connection to Rabbit Hole. Have you ever experienced a loss or tragedy that tested an adult relationship of yours?
Mitchell: Well, my most serious relationship was with someone who had a drug problem. Over many years it was an off-and-on element because he was in rehab at times. It was too much for us. It wasn’t just the drugs, it was other issues, but it was a very loving relationship and he passed away soon after we broke up. That was six years ago. I lost a brother when I was 14 — a very different experience from losing a lover — but [there were] the same symptoms.
There’s this horrible period right after and guilt, rational or not, usually not, and then this kind of exhilaration of that period is over — and then it comes back. So the last six years have been a bit of roller coaster where the dips get longer and shallower as you go. I haven’t really talked about that much. But this was necessary to think about and release some stuff about both of them.

You went from working with unknown indie actors and bohemian gender-benders to Nicole Kidman. Strange?
Well, Nicole’s about to play a tranny in a film [The Danish Girl],  and of all the A-list female stars, I think of her as the most adventurous. It was surprising that I found myself on this job, but she really heard how passionate I was when I spoke about it with her. And it was this instinctive thing. She’s like, “I have a feeling — I want to work with Lars Von Trier.” Kate Winslet doesn’t do that. Even Meryl Streep. These are brilliant actors but when was the last time they threw themselves a little bit in the gutter the way Tilda Swinton or Nicole does? “I’m going to work with Apichatpong Weerasethaku from Thailand [who just won the Palme D’Or at Cannes] because I like his work.” Not as a career move, what do I do next. I was surprised but it felt comfortable.

What difference was there between directing Rabbit Hole, which was a work for hire, and your previous films, which were auteur projects you curated and controlled from beginning to end?
It was the first time I didn’t have final say, but it was great because it was three people [myself and two producers] making the decisions. If there are only two people, there’s no tie-breaker and sometimes it’s trouble. And we all had different taste. Somewhere in between we knew this was an audience-friendly film. We’re not necessarily going for … the same treatment of the material, death of a child, the same set-up, could be [Lars Von Trier’s] Antichrist. And it’s not In the Bedroom where there’s more schematic of going to get revenge.

Miles Teller as the teenager who accidentally ran over the child is so sullen and restrained, yet I read that he plays the goofy, outgoing Chris Penn character in the upcoming remake of Footloose.
He’s actually quite different from that [Rabbit Hole] character. He’s quite happy-go-lucky. At the wrap party he was dancing like Michael Jackson. He’s like a really brilliant dancer.

Are those scars on his face real? I was wondering if they were there to suggest he had been hurt in the accident that killed the child.
Yeah, those scars are from a real accident that he almost died in. I let the question [remain]… we all have these scars.

After tons of false starts a la Milk, a film of Larry Kramer’s seminal play about the AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, is finally getting made with Ryan Murphy (Glee) at the helm. In the early 1990s, you appeared in Kramer’s stage sequel, The Destiny of Me. Would you seek any involvement with The Normal Heart?
I am semi-retired [from acting], and periodically a part makes me want to step out, but it has to be something I have to do emotionally and there are very few of those. Oddly, one of them was playing Laura Bush in a reading of Tony Kushner’s play about her in 2004, a brilliant one-act. Tony makes me want to act. I’m gonna act again. It’s just timing.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Scissor Sisters unveil ‘Invisible Light’

Dear Scissor Sisters,

Your new video for “Invisible Light” leaves so many questions. But the one question that leads all the others is, “What the fuck?” A kaleidoscopic mix of stigmata, hair hanging, animal decapitation and this poor lady getting either poop or mud flung at her. Throw in a butt turtle, carcass crucifix and coffin play and I just don’t know what to say.

If you wanted to shock viewers, you probably succeeded. You got some crazy shit in there. But what are you saying? Are you going beyond the edge because your album is more on the side of safe pop? Do we need to be reminded of how alternative you are? I liked the album. A lot actually, but I can’t say it conjured up these kinds of visions. Of course, you did have that cat skinning song.

And why no Ian McKellen? He did the monologue in the song, but makes no appearance here. Just a guy who ultimately shoots lasers out of his eyes. Hey wait, is that you, Jake Shears? We miss you looking like this, although I guess the facial hair doesn’t matter. You know, if that is you behind that disguise.

All I can really say is — I loved it! I want more and more of this gorgeous scrapbook of sick images. Not because they shock or strike a nerve, but because they cohesively play out like some elegant, gothic poem set to a dance beat. But what took so long? This was your first single off the album back in July. Thankfully, it was worth the wait. Otherwise, I don’t get it and I don’t care. It’s delicious and will get on my knees to beg for more.

Yours truly,

Rich

—  Rich Lopez

Sonic bookends: Scissor Sisters and White Widow

Scissors Sisters and Texas-based White Widow span a spectrum of styles

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Night Work • Scissor Sisters
Downtown Music

It’s hard to believe Night Work is only the third album from Scissor Sisters. They made an impression with their ’70s throwback sounds on their eponymous 2004 debut, followed by 2006’s Ta-Dah. Here, they make a stronger impression.

Sisters have worked with producer Stuart Price, and his synth-pop signature is all over the place. He’s given them a crisp overhaul — the band shines under his light.

They keep their retro sound, but Price flushes it out with an ’80s/early ’90s dance vibe that is also simple. None of the songs are overly complex, but like the title opener, there is a vibrant energy.

CUTTING CREW | Scissor Sisters go to the basics of dance music with success in ‘Night Work.’

Lead vocalist Jake Shears works his Barry Gibb falsetto masterfully in “Any Which Way,” but will recall the robotic vocals of Gary Numan and Devo in “Running Out” and “The Harder You Get.” Over the continual dance beats, the band makes a successful attempt at rekindling the new wave genre.

The Killers catch flak for their radio readiness, but when the Sisters mimic their sound in “Fire With Fire” and “Skin Tight,” they achieve a nice freshness. (The sound shouldn’t surprise — Price has worked with The Killers, too.)

The album’s only weak moment is Ana Matronic’s lead on “Skin this Cat.” The song slows the pace a bit and overall is forgettable. Shears glows so much that I want to get back to his energetic singing against an up-tempo beat quick.

Night Work’s lead single, “Invisible Light,” is worthy of “song of the year” lists. The captivating six-minute saga boasts hypnotic verses and an explosion of an inspired chorus. Throw in an Ian McKellen monologue and it achieves greatness.

Night Work makes you wish for the ideal dance floor: A DJ playing only these 12 tracks.

3 out of 5 Stars

Black Heart • White Widow
IODA

Austin-based White Widow’s album Black Heart is relaxed rock that grooves more than jams. The hollowness of it is so sexy it makes you want to take up smoking.

White Widow is Carla Patullo, who plays all the instruments, sings and produces. The out artist plays with confidence and there are pluses here. She asserts her singing with sublime smoothness in her cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Lady From the Mountain.” “In Your Life” is jarring because its acoustic touch differs from the tone and manages not to disappear into the overall fabric of the album.

But Black Heart also suffers by Patullo’s unwillingness to amp it up. Her songs bubble with harder rock flavor but never combust. Even what should sound edgier isn’t. The blues-tinted “Warriors” trails off into sleepy vocal runs missing the point of her own strong lyrics — we are/we are warriors.

White Widow did make a good album to get high to. Its ethereal attitude does call for some major down time. Ultimately though, Black Heart is one-note even with its bewitching quality.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas