Movie review: ‘Interstellar’

In Christopher Nolan’s newest sci-fi extravaganza, Interstellar, Einstein’s general theory of relativity is carefully explained: The closer you approach the speed of light, the slower you age relative to humans on earth. Well, I have a corophoto 1llary to this quantum hypothesis: The closer you come to Interstellar, the more likely it will seem that all activity slows … to … a … grinding … halt.

That’s surprising, considering how jam-packed with noisy activity this three-hour (yes!) adventure film is. There are rocket launches, beautiful trips through wormholes, breathtaking by-the-seat-of-your-pants landings and countless other mind-bending trips through Nolan’s inventive and VFX-fueled brain. Truth be told, though, Nolan has never been much of a storyteller. He’ll spend lots of time acclimating us to characters, then rush headlong through complicated technical points essential to the plot. (Does anyone but him really understand Inception?) Interstellar eases us into its story. We’re never told exactly when it takes place (though apparently later in this century), but eventually we learn that the earth is becoming a desert and mankind will die off unless other habitable worlds are colonized. Matthew McConaughey, a widower with a clingy daughter (played as an adult by Jessica Chastain), is chosen to lead the search alongside Anne Hathaway.Much of the mechanics of the mission are disregarded, though it’s altogether possible they were stated plainly but the editors deemed it far less important than Hans Zimmer’s intrusive score and pulsating sound effects that effectively drown out even the internal dialogue in your head. It’s a sonic assault.

Nolan makes a lot of peculiar choices: There are near countless shots of the outside of the spaceship, but usually seen only from the same angle along the length of the fuselage — it’s like having a window seat on an airplane and trying to figure out what your journey looks like from the outside. He also resorts to some heavy-handed imagery (a potential savior of the species named Mann? Really?).

Ultimately, though, Nolan is less interested in the science than in the humanity. The development of McConaughey’s character — across time and space — is poignant and highly emotional. But last year Alfonso Cuaron got us there in half the time (82 minutes!) with Gravity, while Kubrick explored the position of humankind in the universe a generation ago with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Interstellar isn’t as good as either of those films, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit. “Good” may be the enemy of “great,” but don’t write it off entirely.

Three stars. Now in wide release.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar recap: Winners and losers onstage and the red carpet

McConaughey rocked a white dinner jacket.Gravity apparently lacked gravitas last night, for while the special effects extravaganza won the most Oscars — seven in all, including best director for Alfonso Cuaron — best picture went to the slavery biopic 12 Years a Slave, giving Brad Pitt his first Oscar … as a producer. Director-coproducer Steve McQueen also made history as the first black man to win a best picture Oscar. It was a close one — 12 Years and Gravity were my No. 1 and No. 2 film, respectively, of 2013.

This was a weird repeat of last year, when best picture winner Argo took three awards, but not the most awards, with Life of Pi taking, interesting, four of the same Gravity won (director, special effects, score and cinematography). So far, no Oscar for best picture has ever gone to a film released in 3-D or IMAX format.

The other big winner of the night was Dallas Buyers Club, which won three of its six nominations, including best actor to native Texan Matthew McConaughey and best supporting actor to Jared Leto. Cate Blanchett, as predicted, won best actress for the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine. Overall, it was a fairly predictable lineup of winners. (Strangely, five of the best picture nominees, including three nominated for best director, walked away entirely empty-handed.)

But it wasn’t just on the stage but on the red carpet that we saw the winners and losers. Our fashion guy J. Denton Bricker weighs in below with his best- and worst-dressed awards:

Denton’s best dressed:

CATE BLANCHETT

Blanchett, who won the entire awards season on the red carpet

Cate Blanchett — The best actress winner won again for her fashion choices, as she did throughout award season. Her fabulous nude dress adorned with ice/diamonds/crystals looked like something out of Frozen via Giorgio Armani. It was heavy but it looked so light and the chandelier earrings were a perfect balance. The girl worked those snowballs hard.

Lupita Nyong’o — The supporting actress winner wore an amazing yet simple duck-egg-blue dress, with a silver headband to make it looks all the more like a fierce Roman lady. Her acceptance speech was adorable and inspiring.

Charlize Theron — The prior Oscar winner looked divine and polished in a black gown by Dior that accentuates her curves in all the right way. The light straps give the illusion of strapless which give it a needed lightness on top.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE

Jennifer Lawrence, the lady in red.

Jennifer Lawrence — Last year’s best actress is becoming a fall expert as she fell over an orange cone getting out of the car; what a way to make an entrance and of course Ellen teased her about it. She looked gorgeous in bold, strapless red Christian Dior with blown back hair and simple accessories. She also wore a necklace that drapes in the back — she is working that trend.

Kate Hudson — She has laid the foundation for a comeback with this startling beautiful and fabulous, shimmering silver frock. K-Hud is open for business.

Amy Adams — She donned a striking, deep blue ’50s-inspired Gucci Couture gown with tangerine earrings that popped.

Honorable mentions:

Kerry Washington — She glowed in a lavender gown by Jason Woo but her dark lipstick was a bit severe.

Angelina Jolie — She looked voluptuous in a metallic sheer combination form fitting dress that showed the perfect amount of skin.

Anne Hathaway — She dazzled in a sleek in black Gucci with a glittering jeweled top.

Meryl Streep — The Oscar legend wore a forgettable white/black ensemble with a glittering belt but let’s be real, she can wear whatever the hell she wants. She could wear a burlap sack and no one would blink. Meryl is winning.

PENELOPE CRUZ

Cruz-in’ for a bruisin’ in the fashion blogs.

Denton’s worst dressed:

Naomi Watts — She looked crisp and clean in a white dress by Calvin Klein though somehow I can’t help but picture white lint balls all over it.

Julia Roberts — The pretty woman wore an edgy black lace gown that was pretty but just wasn’t memorable.

Sally Hawkins — A nominee this year, she  looked like Diane Keaton from Father of the Bride, which was fine in 1990 but in 2014 looks ridiculous and way too big.

Penelope Cruz — She wore a wrinkled pale pink sheet cinched at the waist by a black bow and she struggled with it on the red carpet.

Lady Gaga — Three words: Gay Chrysler Building.

Jennifer Garner — This just didn’t work. I want to like it because I like her but I just don’t know if four different rows of silver fringe really belong at the Oscars. 

Leto, dressed as a man, was defiantly dapper.The Men:

Jared Leto — He kept it fresh with a white jacket with a wine colored bow tie. I love the ombre of his hair.

Matthew McConaughey — He handsomely coordinated with Leto, also wearing a white jacket but was “dirty but in a good way,” as Ellen quipped.

Joseph Gordon Levitt — He was really dapper in a black form fitting tux complete with bow tie.

Chris Hemsworth — Last but not least, Thor rocked a hot maroon jacket.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

SAG Awards: Wins for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ … and for fashion

MattMThe winners for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday played out pretty much like it was expected to: Best actress to Cate Blanchett, best supporting actress to Lupita Nyong’o, best ensemble to the cast of American Hustle. But the actors who are looking like the sure things for every major award, including the Oscars, were Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey and Jaret Leto. Not only did both take home awards for best actor and supporting actor, respectively, but both gave dignified, loving speeches about people with HIV. Indeed, the speeches were as much auditions for why they would make good Oscar recipients as they seemed heartfelt.

But they weren’t the only “winners” that evening. Our fashion correspondent J. Denton Bricker compiled this list of the style successes — and misfires — of the red carpet. Look for more fashion critiques from him on his blog, OutTalking.blogspot.com.

Denton’s best dressed winners

CateBJennifer Lawrence — America’s sweetheart has reprieved herself after the random white dress from the Golden Globes with this stunning, multi-jewel-toned, strapless Dior.

Cate Blanchett — She has not only been dominating the award season with wins, but also with her extraordinary fashion. Saturday night was no exception with a gorgeous pale pink Givenchy.

Julia Roberts — The pretty woman opted to wear a phenomenally clever pink Valentino jumpsuit that looked like a gown from the front and side … until walking in it revealing pants instead of a gown.

Lupita Nyong’o — This winning newcomer has enchanted all with her fashion forward choices. She seemed to glow in a turquoise Gucci gown that just radiated elegance.

Matthew McConaughey’s Dolce & Gabbana jacket was my favorite menswear piece of the night.

Denton’s worst dressed nominees

KerryWKerry Washington — Olivia Pope’s misstep was choosing a two piece gown that cut her pregnant belly in awkward and strange ways. I just don’t think expecting women should be squeezed that way — and none of us need to see it. The back of the top was the only redeeming factor as the black skirt and ribbon in her hair just read “little girl.” She should have stuck to something like she wore at the Golden Globes where she was a vision in white.

Jennifer Garner — Her strapless, navy Max Mara dress has clean lines but was just a little boring for my tastes. Yawn.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

For gay music lovers — or lovers of gay musicians — there couldn’t be a better weekend for you. On Saturday, Melissa Etheridge arrives at the Majestic, performing songs off her new highly-acclaimed album 4th Street Feeling. The same night two miles away, Diamond Rings opens for Stars at the Granada. A Sophie’s choice, perhaps, but two very different styles. (If it helps make up your mind, you can enter to win free tickets to see Diamond Rings.) A third style requires less decisionmaking: Rufus Wainwright will perform Live at the Meyerson on Sunday night with his inimitable sound.

This is also a busy weekend for movies, with already-heralded horror movie Sinister likely to be the weekend’s big hit. It will be competing again The Paperboy (with a great gay twist and strong performances) and the studio prestige picture Argo, both of which could be Oscar contenders come January. Atlas Shrugged (not screened for critics — that says a lot) and the action-comedy from Oscar winner Martin McDonaugh, Seven Psychopaths, are also out there.

For theater lovers, there are no major openings this weekend, but Uptown Players continues its run of Hello Again, a dark but unexpectedly funny idyll on sex. Also unexpectedly funny: The Addams Family, featuring a charismatic performance by Douglas Sills as Gomez. Best of all: Freud’s Last Session, a whip-smart and fascinating, quick (75 minute) imagined meeting between atheist Freud and Christian novelist C.S. Lewis, with great performances by Jac Alder and Cameron Cobb.

Finally, in the lead-up to the World Gay Rodeo championship next weekend, Friday and Sunday mark the public events for the titles of Mr., Mrs. Ms. and MsTer TGRA 2013, with the competition Friday at the Rose Room and the sashes passing from last year’s royalty to this year’s winners on Sunday at the Round-Up.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay interview: Gina Gershon

With Magic Mike still in theaters, there’s been a fair amount of talk lately about Gina Gershon, who starred in the female version, Showgirls, nearly two decades ago. She sat down with our Chris Azzopardi to discuss her crotch close-up in the new Killer Joe (it opens tomorrow at the Angelika Dallas) and how it’s cool to play gay now.

The showgirl must go on

Vagina. That’s the first thing to come up during my recent interview with Gina Gershon, who goes full-frontal as Sharla in the awesomely twisted Killer Joe.

The actress plays a trashy two-timer who gets caught in the middle of a family’s murder plot when they hire a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) to take out their mother to collect the life insurance money. Just minutes into the movie, and there she is — all of her.

We got Gershon on the phone to chat about her crotch coat, the agent that almost stopped her from playing a lesbian in one of her most lady-loved films and why she really wishes she were gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Magic Mike” men Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello (mostly) take it all off

Our intrepid — and damn lucky — contributor Chris Azzopardi got down and dirty with two of the hot men in Magic Mike, the mega-gay-appealing male stripper movie coming out this Friday: Channing Tatum and Joe Mangianello. Here’s the interview:

STRIPPED DOWN

“Wearing a thong is a pain in the ass,” says Joe Manganiello with complete disregard to the glaring innuendo. Beat. “Oh, god. I can’t believe I just said that.”

Who can blame him? Avoiding double entendres about Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s unexpected (but completely acceptable) foray into the male-stripper world is hard (see?).

Magic Mike stars Manganiello of True Blood, homo heartthrob Matt Bomer, Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum, the latter the movie’s muse, after it was revealed that the gay-loved dreamboat wasn’t just busting a move in 2006’s breakout role Step Up — before acting, he was pocketing dollar bills for his dance moves, too. One of Hollywood’s hottest actors, known for melting hearts in Dear John and The Vow, was suddenly faced with a pole-dancing past. His stripper alias? Chan Crawford.

“That’s so lame,” Tatum says in our recent interview. “I didn’t choose it. But Crawford? What am I: Cindy Crawford’s brother?”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GIVEAWAY: Win tickets to see “Magic Mike”

OK, let’s face it: It looks silly, it looks cheesy …. and you so want to see Magic Mike — the movie with Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello and their thong-encased junk. It doesn’t open until June 29, but you can see it more than a week early, and for free. Just  go to this website and enter the pass code: DALVOIVGS9 to RSVP for the screening next Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m., and the AMC NorthPark. There are a limited number of passes, so act soon!

And after the screening, you can stop by JR.’s Bar & Grill for the post screening party with $3.50 u-call-it drinks.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uh, no … this doesn’t really interest me …

This is the intro to a press release I just received. What amazes me is how unamazing this disclosure is… doesn’t everybody?

What do celebrities Kim Kardashian, Matthew McConaughey, Nicolas Cage and Raquel Welch all have in common? They all have either recently purchased or are selling their homes — and each of their homes have wood flooring. If this is something that is of interest to you, the full press release is below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones