And the winner is…

… Actually, the winners are. In a few different ways.

First, there are the nominees for the Golden Globe awards, which came out this morning. Among those in contention: Glenn Close and Janet McTeer for playing trans men in Albert Nobbs (look for a feature in Dallas Voice next week on that film), Leo DiCaprio for playing the gay FBI chief in J. Edgar, Kenneth Branagh for playing the bisexual Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn, Christopher Plummer for playing a gay man who comes out late in life in Beginners, Rooney Mara for playing the bisexual investigator in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jodie Foster as a mom in Carnage and Michael Fassbender as a sex addict in Shame. That’s a lot of gay for the Oscars… A lot of them are also winners of other awards from the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics and the Screen Actors Guild.

The other winner this week: Liz Mikel. I have to say, I take a little credit for being about the only local critic actually to like the world premiere of Lysistrata Jones (back when it was called Give It Up). Mikel was the only original cast member to move to the Broadway version, and the New York Times raved about the premiere last night, singling out Mikel for praise. Good for Liz, good for the Dallas Theater Center, good for everyone.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Liz Mikel actually isn’t the only Dallas cast member to make it to New York — Patti Murin, Lindsay Nicole Chambers and Katie Boren are also in the show.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The electric Norseman

When I was a kid, all I knew about Thor was he had long blond hair and big muscles and he carried a huge hammer and he was a god. My fantasy life took over from there. To be honest, I had just as big a crush on his  nemesis, brother Loki, whose horns and lackadaisical villainy were seductive.

Those roles are almost reversed in Thor, the new live action film that kicks off the summer movie season. One look at bearded, impossibly over-muscled Aussie Chris Hemsworth as Thor and you’ll believe in at least one god.

Some mythologies are inherently more receptive to cinematic expression than others, and it was a stroke of genius to hire Kenneth Branagh to direct this. He gives the story a Shakespearean scope, with Loki playing Iago to Thor’s Othello. He also knows something of character development, humanizing Loki and making the bigger-than-life characters relatable.

There are some slow parts, and the opening is a visual muddle that doesn’t benefit from the 3-D add-on, especially when the special effects themselves are so impressive. The penultimate battle, with a hulking robot called The Destroyer, has a primal urgency that sneaks up on you. And the art direction is a glorious fantasia of otherworldly grandeur. It’s almost as pretty to look at as Thor himself. Almost.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Opens today in wide release.
Three stars

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens