Movies: Tilda’s Paycheck, Christian’s Oscar, Helen’s Tempest, Ryan’s Meme

Tilda_paycheck
Tilda Swinton reaches for another Narnia paycheck

NATHANIEL ROGERS

Guestblogger

…lives for the the tail end of each year. That's when Oscar buzz wags the film dog. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

NOW PLAYING
If the last Narnia film is any indication, The White Witch's appearance in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER will be the sum total of her screentime in the movie. We see Tilda Swinton floating in the sky like the goddess she is, hand lifted and opened. Waiting for her paycheck perhaps?  Someone has to foot the bill for her film festival globe trotting, avant garde fashions, wondrous cinephile activism and her preference for brilliant but uncommercial cinema last year's Julia and this year's I Am Love (now on DVD – don't miss it). For this reason, and this reason alone, we salute the utterly bland Narnia films. Keep Tilda in the black.

Also Opening: Crackhead Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) trains half brother Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) in THE FIGHTER. Wahlberg's Micky may be the champ within the movie but Bale's Dicky is the one going home with a certain naked gold man next February.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Fighterbros

Barring a Bale-focused scandal (possible, right?), it's hard to imagine the Academy's acting branch passing up this opportunity to award the sometimes prickly thespian for his rich body of work and insane commitment to craft; let this be the last time he risks his health to cut a skeletal figure onscreen. Who knew that an addict loser would become his most likeable character since maybe his flyboy in Spielberg's Empire of the Sun. He even sings a bar or two which should make Newsies fans happy. Bale doesn't normally make the type of films the Academy generally goes for but he finally has. What's more, The Fighter, is hugely enjoyable – your mileage may vary but I'm generally allergic to both inspirational sports movies and biopics and I loved it anyway. Apart from Wahlberg whose character is a bit of a cypher, the movie has great performances and a funky sense of humor. (I can't wait to hear people quoting Melissa Leo's takedown of Amy Adams "I heard you're an MTV girl!".)

Mirren_tempest Elsewhere in movie theaters Julie Taymor (Across the Universe) brings her visionary genius (or visual tourettes depending on your point of view) to Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST with Helen Mirren in the Prospero role, now renamed Prospera. Taymor's Tempest is such an inconsistent tonal mess that you may have more fun reading the continual media coverage of her seeemingly doomed Broadway venture SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, which is still in preview performances.

Finally, Angelina Jolie leads Johnny Depp into danger in THE TOURIST. Haven't people learned by now that Angelina is trouble? If she's coming on to you in a movie, you're already a human target.

BONUS SCENES

Picture 19 Road With Peter Jackson prepping the two part film based on The Hobbit, he's bringing the Rings characters back… even if they didn't appear in the original book. Cate Blanchett will reprise Galadriel and now there's talk that Orlando Bloom will return as blonde, pointy-eared Legolas. Do you have any desire to return to Middle Earth?

Road Have you seen The New York Times 1 minute silent movie series with today's stars playing cinematic types? It's quite amusing and mercifully brief. You've already seen James Franco making out with himself but doesn't Tilda Swinton do a great Falconetti? Strange mystery of this project: Best Actress hopeful Annette Bening has a great photo in the accompanying slide slow, but she does not appear in the 1 minute films. Curious.

Road Ryan Gosling addresses the "F*** Yeah, Ryan Gosling" internet meme for MTV. So adorable. So meta.

Road In other Gosling news, he's both cross-dressing and stripping to his skivvies [NSFW] in the bizarre sort-of-true mystery All Good Things, now in select theaters. Kirsten Dunst is excellent as his abused wife but the film is not up to her level. Meanwhile, the popular actor is working the campaign trail for an Oscar nomination of his own for Blue Valentine, which opens soon. Hey girl, he deserves it. The latter film, a superb marital drama co-starring Michelle Williams, recently won its appeal with the MPAA which lifted the box office poison NC-17 rating for a simple R.

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Movies: Phillip Morris, Black Swan, and Gay Oscar Hopeful Undertow

Ilypm_bubbles
Jim Carrey blows Ewan McGregor bubbles.

NATHANIEL ROGERS

Guestblogger

…lives for the the tail end of each year. That's when Oscar buzz wags the film dog. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

NOW PLAYING
Jim Carrey adds a little swish to his familiar physical dexterity as con-man Steven Russell in I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS. His rubber face sad-comic mask falls hard for mild-mannered Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), while both are in prison. Their affair prompts much elaborate scheming from Steven about how to bust them out. (If you haven't seen the Towleroad interview, check that out.)

Picture 12 The film's strange and gleefully offensive comic tone comes courtesy of the Bad Santa screenwriters but this time they serve it up with a fey twist. The politically incorrect gay humor is incongruously combined with genuine sincerity and even sweetness. You don't cast the dependably adorable McGregor if you're not willing to spike your booze with a little punch.

These strange twin tones result in a movie that's quite uneven (particularly in the beginning, have patience). The best mix is arguably found in the prison sequences, including one hilarious standout bit where a large inmate provides background music for Steven and Phillip's romantic evening. On occassion the movie's raunchier bits feel like something John Waters might have dreamt up had he ever had mainstream sensibilities, bigger budgets and been less honestly wed to kitsch.

Though the film is based on a true story — it tells us that early in self-amused titles "This really happened. It really did." — it plays like schizophrenic fantasy. Early in the film we see a group of kids laying in the grass in flashback (including the young Steven) eyeing a group of clouds. Most kids see animals but Steven spots a penis. The cloud game might be a perfect metaphor for reactions to the film. The success of any comedy, more than any other film genre, is in the eye of the beholder.

Meanwhile, on other screens, dangerously uptight ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) fights for the lead role in a new production of "Swan Lake" in Darren Aronofsky's tricked up, flipped out BLACK SWAN. What does Nina get for all those years of toe shoes, starvation, and pliés? A psychotic (swan) break , that's what.

More, AFTER THE JUMP

Swanbreak

Black Swan drops the fearless director & his actress into the rigid high art of ballet and Lincoln Center. Once settled in, Aronofsky is closer to a mad DJ than a ballet company leader. He tosses out the classical records, preferring to spin and sample from classic films instead. (The Red Shoes, Vertigo, Rosemary's Baby and Carrie all come to mind.) The end result is closer to a rave than a staged ballet, as the DJ encourages his dancers toward abandon. It's all ridiculously over the top, maybe a little thin, mostly insane, nearly camp…and the very definition of a "must see." With a fine quartet of actresses (Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder) serving as each others dark mirrors and tragic echoes, Black Swan is deliciously sapphic but it's not all girlie; Darren Aronofsky has major balls. 

ALSO OPENING: Martial arts drama THE WARRIOR'S WAY, the supernatural thriller DEAD AWAKE, the 80s set murder mystery ALL GOOD THINGS starring Kirsten Dunst and Ryan Gosling, and the 70s Black Panther related drama NIGHT CATCHES US starring Kerry Washington & Anthony Mackie (both of whom ought to be much bigger stars by now). Finally, if you're in L.A. and you love movies about the theater, the terrific Danish film APPLAUSE is having a special one week run. The film stars Paprika Steen as an alcoholic actress (she's playing "Martha" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) who is trying to regain custody of her children.  

BONUS SCENE

Undertow_couple

Finally, if you haven't had a chance to see the gay Peruvian film UNDERTOW (Contracorriente) seek it out. The supernaturally tinged romance is about a married fisherman with a pregnant wife who is having an affair with a male artist. It won the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance and opened last weekend in select cities. It's also one of the 65 films screening for Academy voters, hoping to become a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee on January 25th. I had an opportunity to speak with its first-time director Javier Fuentes-León [complete interview].

We talked a lot about Latin American concepts of masculinity and sexual labels.

Picture 13 The reason why I set [Undertow] in a rural town and not in an urban city is because I think we are obsessed with labels where's there's a strong gay community. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. In rural areas those labels are not as important… Miguel is not having a personal crisis like 'am I gay? am I bisexual?' His crisis is 'How do I dignify this love without losing my marriage and the love of my people? And how do I reconcile this with my religion?'

I wanted to liberate the film from those issues. That's why in the sex scenes in one, one is on top of the other and the other is the other way around and they roll. It was my way of saying…I'm not going to be answering to people saying 'Of course the painter is a bottom!'

Despite not wanting to stereotype or label Undertow's lovers, Javier humorously revealed that the script, which he started writing in 1996, was once about a man who loved two women.

It was later in 2001 when I myself came out I thought 'well, f— it. Let's make it real here.' You know?


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Movies: Welcome to “Burlesque”


Burlesque_wink

NATHANIEL ROGERS

Guestblogger

…lives for the the tail end of each year. That's when Oscar buzz wags the film dog. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.


YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Towleroad Readers. Care for some turkey? Cher, XTina and gay filmmaker Steve Antin shall provide a succulent bird. If you’ve been looking forward to the new musical BURLESQUE, relax. I come not to disparage the movie, but to (mostly) praise it. Consider this a corrective protest. It will prove too easy a target for critics and haters, who often seem to despise girlie or flashy movies before they’ve even seen them, but it’s not truly a turkey. It’s more like a (hot) pink flamingo; the plumage is so colorful, you forget that it looks like it should fall over.

The basic plot of Burlesque is so typical as to be personality free: small town dreamer arrives in big city to make it big. Does. The End. But let’s backtrack. Christina Aguilera, referred to as “Ali” since she’s acting or “Iowa” since she’s just off the bus, chances upon the club “Burlesque” run by Cher. For some reason everyone in the movie keeps calling Cher “Tess" but even Cher knows she’s just playing Cher. Tess even gets an 11th hour power ballad "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me Yet" to remind you that she's Cher. But no matter. Cher plays herself so superbly she reconfirms her status as the best actress pop music ever produced.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Cher_burlesque
"Are you Tess?" "No, I'm Cher, dummie"

Cher finds Christina/Ali annoying (I know the feeling) but reluctantly hires her. Metrosexual bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet) finds Ali sexy and invites her to sleep on his couch. Queen bee Nikki (Kristen Bell) finds Ali threatening and things turn sour between them immediately though you might find it absolutely jarring to hear Christina Aguilera of all people diss another woman for looking like a drag queen. Just sayin'. Cher’s right hand man Sean (Stanley Tucci) finds Ali interesting and opts to pretend that Christina Aguilera is Anne Hathaway, playfully recreating his entire Devil Wears Prada performance. (What? You loved it the first time.) Alan Cumming playfully recreates his Cabaret emcee performance (also, still great) but the movie barely notices. The club has a new star and things are looking up. Or are they? Unfortunately, a vulture (Eric Dane) is circling both “Burlesque” the club, still having financial problems, and Ali who is having ‘fresh meat’ problems as the new girl with the giant breasts/voice.

Christina_burlesque At times Burlesque plays almost exactly like a well choreographed flashy long form Christina Aguilera music video but for those who aren’t particularly drawn to her, Cher is a genius counterprogramming buffer. Aguilera’s voice has always favored the charm offensive, as if every note of each song is the climax or a new opportunity to demand fan submission but Cher merely warbles within her limited range knowing full well that she already has your full attention. Cher’s opening number “Welcome to Burlesque” provides brilliant meta-commentary.

“Show a little more” (That’s Christina.)

“Show a little leh—eess” (That’s Cher)
“Welcome to Burlesque” (Hey, they’re in a movie together!)

Writer/director Antin unfortunately misses a huge dramatic opportunity in the reveal of Ali’s giant sized voice, which comes about half an hour into the movie. The moment is meant to be an astonishment to everyone from Burlesque patrons to the club managers while providing a smart wink to the moviegoing audience (who are ahead of the game, being familiar with Christina's pipes). But Antin spoils it by having Christina sing twice before the reveal, once to herself as the movie begins and once in a stupid fantasy sequence that’s a direct lift from Roxy’s “All That Jazz” interruption in Chicago (2002). There's already too little of Kristen Bell in the movie, and then they have to take her big number away from her and give it to Christina? Dirrty.

Burlesque_cam The movie is riddled with derivative problems like this, but in our current post-everything mash-up culture, this weakness can work as an interactive strength. Before Ali becomes a showgirl, for example, she’s a cocktail server prone to performing the dance steps while serving and all of these little cutaways scream Nomi Malone discovering “Goddess” for the first time in Las Vegas. If you can’t smile when reminded of Showgirls (1995), I weep for you. Perhaps Burlesque shouldn’t work but from the big budget presentation of its frequent musical numbers to the banter between the characters, it finds ways to be entertain. It helps to have actors as fun and confident as Cher and Tucci and Bell in any movie’s corner. But, shockingly, even Cam Gigandet, whose body has always dwarfed his acting ability, finds a way to make Jack endearing during an improbably cute snacky seduction scene in his kitchen. That he’s most endearing while completely naked is perhaps no coincidence. If the sales of Famous Amos cookies skyrocket post Burlesque, Cam is to blame.

The movie's biggest misstep, if you excuse all the shameless borrowing from superior films, is how soggy it gets, weirdly diluting its own bitchiest moments. The ladies from Showgirls and Chicago, this movie's twin revered towers, never worried about their likeability and we liked them more for it. They’d eat Ali and Nikki alive. Embrace the bitchy, Antin! It’s a show queen movie, for Nomi’s sake.

Burlesque_cher_tucci After the all-media screening I mostly heard “disaster” comments and one critic, shocked that anyone (like myself) enjoyed it, lost it. ‘Crossroads is a masterpiece in comparison,' he say. 'This was pure torture.' Clearly time heals all wounds or this critic has never been waterboarded. Christina Aguilera is never going to win an Oscar but by virtue of her total mediocrity as an actress she is instantly eliminated from the Most Wooden Pop Diva wars. (That title has to go to Mariah in Glitter or Kelly Clarkson in From Justin to Kelly, right?). It may sadden the perverse reader that Burlesque is too competent for the Bad Movie We Love sweepstakes and perhaps it’s a must-avoid if neither of the two divas do it for you. But if you love Cher and/or Christina, it’s a must-see and an obvious future member of the Movie You Always End Up Watching When Channel Surfing Club.

Picture 44 ALSO OPENING
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway get naked and battle Parkinsons in LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS. The haunting gay romance UNDERTOW (Peru’s Oscar submission, also known as CONTRACORRIENTE) is opening in select cities this weekend. It’s well worth a look. I spoke to its debut director, out filmmaker Javier Fuentes-Leon this week, and I’ll share some of that conversation next week. See it! It has some stiff competition for the foreign film Oscar nomination but it’s a moving gay romance so cross your fingers. The Oscars could stand to be a little gayer (he said ironically). And, finally, the ad campaign for TANGLED, Disney’s latest animated musical, promised a snarky Shrek/Hoodwinked style twisted fairytale. It lied (thank God). This musical version of Rapunzel is an admirable sweet return to classic Disney fairytale form. You can add Mother Gothel (voiced by Broadway’s ever brilliant Donna Murphy) to the list of Disney’s best screen villains. But skip the 3D. You'll save money and you won't miss a thing.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Movies: Harry Potter, Joan Rivers, Made in Dagenham, Green Lantern


Harryharryharry
 Multitudes of Harry.

NATHANIEL ROGERS

Guestblogger

…lives for the the tail end of each year. That's when Oscar buzz wags the film dog. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.


NOW PLAYING
If you're one of the few human beings who doesn't care a whit about the Harry Potter movies, the image above is probably a nightmare vision; Potter's everywhere you look. Come to think of it, that's as good a portrait as any of this movie weekend. Yes, it can get awfully lonely out there for those of us who don't have any special affinity for Hogwarts School of Magic. It's like being a committed agnostic in a world wherein everyone else has embraced hardcore religion. And then they went and split the last movie in half to prolong the faith. Apparently nine years was not long enough to hold the nation's multiplexes captive so they're going for ten (Part 2 opens in 2011, ten long years after the Sorceror's Stone arrived.) Why they needed five hours to adapt the final book HARRY POTTER AND DEATHLY HALLOWS, which plops Hermione, Harry and Ron down in a tent to bicker and mope for what had to have been a third of the book, is a mysterious magical riddle that only Warner Bros sorcerer accountants can decipher.

Look, it's the six British actresses who do not appear in Harry Potter films. They're all in Made in Dagenham.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Madeindagenham

I don't mean to be such a curmudgeon. Some of my best friends love Potter. But the stamina the faithful have for this religion amazes the agnostic. Potter disciples never waiver. And, think about it: People don't even watch TV series for this long… and isn't that an apt comparison? The Potter films are really movies in name only since they're much closer to a TV series in form, what with the recurring guest stars, repetitive structure and longform narrative. 

Also Opening: Russell Crowe tries to rescue his allegedly murderous wife (Elizabeth Banks) in THE NEXT THREE DAYS; Oscar hopeful MADE IN DAGENHAM, starring Happy-Go-Lucky's lively Sally Hawkins, tells the true (but surprisingly entertaining) story of a women's strike at a Ford plant in late 60s England; FAIR GAME with Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame and the survival-drama 127 HOURS with James Franco (previously reviewed) both expand into more cities today.

BONUS SCENES:

Lincoln_ddl Road You've just heard that Daniel Day-Lewis has been cast as Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Is it crazy to hope that Gwyneth Paltrow plays Mary Todd Lincoln since she was so hilarious doing that gag on Glee earlier this week? Oh right. This isn't a musical. That didn't go so well for DDL last time. Is it crazy to hope that Spielberg doesn't ignore the gay rumors? DDL hasn't swung that way since My Beautiful Laundrette.

Road They claim this is "every shirtless pic of Jake Gyllenhaal" to hit the net. But there's only 84. This post cries wolf! Or woof.

Road More Harry? For Potter Fans: Here's an informed list of differences between the new movie and the book it's based on. For the two of you out there who are waffling about whether or not to see it (most people made up their minds about this series long ago) here's a negative review and a positive one.

Picture 17 Road The Academy recently released the finalist list for Best Documentary Feature. They shunned Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Coincidentally, I ended up screening the film again just hours after the announcement and those sad flashes of insecurity that the semi-legend keeps showing when confronted with bad reviews or inside showbiz snubs stung a bit harder than they did the first time through. If you haven't seen the movie yet, make sure to rent it when it arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray in mid December.

Road Have you seen the trailer to The Green Lantern? A question that haunts: Why would anyone feel the need to animate a super heroic body over Ryan Reynold's real superheroic body? If you've got the real million why waste time on the counterfeit? Body paint is cheaper than CGI.

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Movies: Conviction, Jackass 3D, Cleopatra, Oscar’s Foreign Film List and More


Jackass
Johnny Knoxville and the boys are up to their old tricks again.

 

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


NOW PLAYING
Are you seeing JACKASS 3D? I still remember hurting from laughing at the first one. If 3D must exist, let it be attached to gimmicky pictures like this, that might have some appropriate use for it and that are only worth watching in theaters with big crowds. The MPAA, the puritanical movie ratings board, has been in the news a lot lately. First they made the huge stupid blunder of giving BLUE VALENTINE, a wrenching marital drama, an NC-17 for no defendable reason. Now they've helpfully started labelling movies with a "male nudity" descriptor and Jackass 3D is one of the first to be so shamed. Never mind that the MPAA has never in their history placed "female nudity" on a rating. Apparently "nudity", the regular acceptable kind, is entirely the province of the female sex.

Conviction CONVICTION, the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) who became a lawyer to free her brother (Sam Rockwell) from a life sentence without parole is also opening. It's a bit generic given that it's a) a courtroom drama and b) you always know where it's going –helpful hint: they tend to make movies of the true stories with happy endings — but it's quite watchable and the actors do a lot to elevate the material. My favorites were Juliette Lewis, who the world needs more of, in a showy cameo and Sam Rockwell, who could even fetch an Oscar nomination as the unpredictable convict. And yes, he drops his pants briefly…again. Rockwell loves to moon us. Where's the MPAA? "Male Nudity!"

BONUS SCENES

 road Who are these fierce bitches and what do they have to do with this year's Oscar race?

Find out AFTER THE JUMP

Dragqueensportugal

That's Cindy Scrash and Jenny Larrue, two queens from Portugal. They're starring as rival transsexual cabaret stars in the Portuguese Oscar submission TO DIE LIKE A MAN. While Oscar has handed statues to some trans-related films like All About My Mother and Boys Don't Cry in the past, it's not usually their kind of thing. Here are Cindy and Jenny doing the classic duet "I Know Him So Well". (This is not a clip from the movie.)

To Die Like a Man is directed by João Pedro Rodrigues who previously brought you the explicitly gay and rather disturbing O Fantasma (2000). To Die… didn't get much attention earlier this year at Cannes but at least one critic thought it was one of the very best of the venerated fest.

 road If you want to see the whole Foreign Film Oscar Submission List, click here for extensive information charts designed by yours truly. Each year sees around 65 films competing for the 5 coveted "Nominee" slots.

Undertow I've been covering this race in depth for ten years and generally among the sixty-plus films there will be one to three that are gay-themed or…uh… gay adjacent. This year, besides Portugal's transsexual drama, there's a Slovenian film about a cop who becomes obsessed with the life of a bisexual man who committed suicide and I assume there are gay characters sprinkled in a few others though info is still coming in. Gay festival favorite, UNDERTOW (previously reviewed here at Towleroad), from Peru was also submitted. Peru won their first nomination ever in this category just last year, so maybe they'll experience leftover goodwill from the voters?

The two most famous faces in this year's competition are Gael García Bernal who stars in Spain's EVEN THE RAIN and Javier Bardem in Mexico's BIUTIFUL which comes out in December this year… but even if you don't recognize the other names, there's a ton of beautiful actors in the submission list if you'd just like to gawk (Alexander Skarsgård's little brother is among them.)

Picture 4  road James Cameron (Avatar) is considering a Cleopatra biopic to star Angelina Jolie. It doesn't really sound like a Cameron project given his taste for boundary pushing f/x and genre films in general. But then… one can always dream. Here's mine for challenge-junkie Cameron: Dump Angelina. Convince Elizabeth Taylor to come out of retirement to recreate her signature role and develop a new technology that will make La Liz look exactly as she did back in the early 60s when she and that Cleopatra were bankrupting the studio.

 road Paul Verhoeven, infamous Dutch director of Showgirls and Basic Instinct, who recently had a critical hit with Black Book (well worth a rental), is coming back to Hollywood for Eternal, a sexy ghost story.

 roadDo you think Tom Cruise will really do this Top Gun 2 thing?

 road Amy Adams is joining the new Muppets movie. Please let her have a duet with Miss Piggy. Or Gonzo.

 road Let's end with a new image from BURLESQUE. Is Xtina is trying to bring the hand bra back?

Burlesqueimage

Will Cher be pleased or is that too much of a Barbra thing?


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Movies: The Social Network, August Osage County, What’s Up Baz? and More

Thisisourtime
"It's our time" - Justin Timberlake speaks the truth.

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
"Dating you is like dating a stairmaster," Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) says, exasperated, in the opening sequence of THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Her personal stairmaster is Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and you're witness to a car wreck of a break-up in progress. It's emotionally gorey but there will be rubbernecking; you can't look away. If the hilarious stairmaster line doesn't hook you, something else in the screwball sharp rat-a-tat-tat of Aaron Sorkin's screenplay will. Not many movies open with five unbroken minutes of conversation but not many movies are as confidently verbal and as exhilarating made as this one. The instantly classic opening scene works like a gunshot and the movie is off.

Remarkably, The Social Network never loses the propulsive energy of these jolting first moments. David Fincher, long one of the movie's great visual stylists in films like Fight Club, Benjamin Button  and Se7en, turns expert dramatist here, staging the rest of the movie's events like a series of inevitable chain reactions, pop-pop-pop. 

Facebookgoboom

More AFTER THE JUMP

You'd think a movie that charts the creation, growth, lawsuits and behind-the-scenes power struggles of Facebook would be less than, well, thrilling but you'd be wrong. It seems only fitting that early word from press screenings spread like wildfire across the internet through a variety of social networks. I was barely out of the theater before a fellow critic tweeted…

"I don't care about Facebook" is to SOCIAL NETWORK what "Self-absorbed theater people bore me" is to ALL ABOUT EVE

In other words, fasten your seatbelts. You'd be absolutely crazy to miss this one.

 

Also opening: Renée Zellweger investigates CASE 39 and even if it's nothing one would call a 'resume piece', she has Bradley Cooper to show for it; the brilliant Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In gets a US makeover as LET ME IN – it wasn't exactly necessary but advance word is good;

BONUS SCENES

Picture 32  road If you're 'theatuh people' or a Disney Gay Days regular are you excited to hear Donna Murphy as "Mother Gothel" in the Rapunzel musical Tangled? The trailers have been kind of obnoxious but let's hope that the Alan Menken score has worthy gems for Murphy's magic pipes. At least piece of early buzz claims she's the film's standout.

 road Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are in talks for August: Osage County (the movie). As the two biggest stars in the age ranges for those huge awesome roles, the casting is expected. But it feels a little lazy. Streep is the queen but she's such a warm full bodied performer and that role is so cold shrunken…

 road a sex toy for straight boys who liked Avatar way too much. Pop culture never tires of the sexy cat woman trope does it? Alien cat men don't get as much play outside of maybe Patrick Fillion circles [NSFW].

Baz_forever  road Silver fox Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) still hasn't decided on a follow up to Australia (2008)? He's been trying to decide between another original musical and an adaptation of The Great Gatsby for what seems like centuries now. Love you Baz but you have serious commitment issues. See a therapist. The world needs your eye candy (movies).

THE CLASSICS

 road 25 Things You Didn't Know About Liza Minnelli. Or maybe a few of you did. It's fun that she likes Nurse Jackie. Oh Jackie… such a mess. When she goes, she's going like Elsie ♪

 road Tony Curtis (RIP) knew Madonna? Boy Culture uncovers an Evita era moment.

 road We end with Barbara Stanwyck… the original Scissor Sister. Hee [hat tip]

Stanwyck_scissor_sister 

You really can't go wrong concluding with Ms. Stanwyck.

"Put me in the last fifteen minutes of a picture and I don't care what happened before. I don't even care if I was IN the rest of the damned thing. I'll take it in those fifteen minutes."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Movies That Changed the World: For the Bible Tells Me So

Dan Karslake’s award-winning For the Bible Tells Me So, released in 2007, received widespread acclaim for its examination of the chasm often found between gays and lesbians and Christianity, and its look at Scriptural misinterpretations that have allowed the Bible to be used as a tool of discrimination. Now, Entertainment Weekly is hailing the documentary as one of “5 Movies That Changed The World.”

Karslake’s film gave new hope for conflicted members of the LGBT community and advocates by offering a compelling look at the journeys of five normal, Christian families – including former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt – as they sought to reconcile their faith with the reality of having a gay or lesbian family member. To accompany the film, HRC developed a comprehensive guide for driving powerful conversations about the LGBT community and the church.

HRC’s study guide and advocacy training curriculum served to facilitate open dialogues across the country and called on LGBT advocates to use the Bible as an instrument of healing rather than a weapon. A central underpinning of the guide is that “advocates for LGBT rights have the same right to claim religious and traditional values [as the Radical Right does] as motivating factors in their advocacy.” The curriculum also contains handouts on issues ranging from gender identity and the Bible, to Scriptures on which to base the welcome and rights of the LGBT community.

In 2008, Karslake connected HRC’s efforts to strengthen the dialogue to the film’s success: “HRC heavily promoted its theatrical run and organized an extensive series of discussion groups to accompany the film showing around the country. The success of these events was truly stunning and helped to generate excitement in harder-to-reach markets.” In advance of the curriculum’s release, Karslake expressed excitement about the potential of the guide to “spark conversations in congregations that most need the film’s powerful message.”

John Young’s “5 Movies That Changed The World” is available in the October 1 issue of Entertainment Weekly, currently on newsstands. Hear more from Karslake and HRC’s Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox about the movie’s impact. Check out the study guide and curriculum, which remain timely and important resources. To learn more about For the Bible Tells Me So, visit www.forthebibletellsmeso.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Movies: Romantic Anna, Phallic Joaquin, Witch-Hunting Jeremy

Romantic_anna
All the Boys Love Anna Paquin
  

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature presentation. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


Now Playing
You probably never suspected it while watching tiny 11 year old Anna Paquin hyperventilate with Oscar in hand in March of 1994 that she would one day become such an emblem of romantic envy on screens. Firs there was her touch deprived Rogue in the X-Men series, dreaming of the kind of soapy relationships all the other mutants were enjoying. These days she has unbelievably hot naked vampires fighting over her on magazine covers. And in THE ROMANTICS, Katie Holmes wants to trade places with her because she's nabbed Josh Duhamel. Not bad for a gap toothed girl with a grating voice (I kid. I'll always have a soft spot for the star, The Piano being only one of the greatest movies ever made.) I can't recommend The Romantics, though, which I caught at Sundance. Paquin aside, the movie about post collegiate friends coupling off, is hampered by bizarre casting: Josh Duhamel and Katie Holmes as poetry and philosophy loving intellectuals? Er…

Also Opening: Sexy Romain Duris and Mrs. Johnny Depp Vanessa Paradis star in the French romantic comedy HEARTBREAKER; Milla Jovovich is still fighting zombies in RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. Maybe she's not very good at it since she's been trying to defeat them for eight years now.; Casey Affleck's celebrity studded documentary (mockumentary?) I'M STILL HERE follows Joaquin Phoenix's surreal career immolation as it happens.

Bonus Scenes
 road But what's this we're hearing about Joaquin Phoenix's penis fixation?

More AFTER THE JUMP

Joaquin 

 road According to Movie | Line, Phoenix is obsessed with convincing his entourage to whip their man bits out (he himself does not go full frontal) and that's but one of the 9 most unsettling things about the movie. On a more serious note, Two Lovers (2009), which unfortunately arrived during this tailspin is quite a good movie and Phoenix is excellent in it. Rent it.

Picture 30  road You may have already heard but I thought I should note the death of out gay character actor Glenn Shadix, a Tim Burton regular. Most people remember him as bitchy interior decorator "Otho" in Beetlejuice. He passed away after a fall in his home. He was 58. He rode in the gay pride parade in his home state of Alabama a couple years back while on a break from his movie career, which was shifting to mostly voice work though he had a recurring role on HBO's Carnivàle in 2005.

 road Lindsay Lohan may be getting her Oprah moment. No one is really confirming or denying but don't expect a hard hitting interview.

Picture 35  road Since we love Jeremy Renner, we must share this tidbit from the Odd Rumor department. He might be playing Hansel next. As in Hansel & Gretel… but all grown up in the kind of awesome / kind of horrible sounding Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. That whole "reintrepret classic stories through modern lens and weird angles" is big right now what with Pride & Prejudice and Zombies also coming to the big screen. Makes you wonder when they're ever going to get around to the movie version of Wicked which seems forever trapped in the pre-production "discussions" phase.

 road By Ken Levine… a great TV insider blog is playing a bitchy but highly enjoyable movie star game: "When will they do a TV series?"

 

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Tired Old Queen At The Movies #45

Bette Davis in 1941′s The Little Foxes!

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Movies: Fall Film Preview

FALLFILMPREVIEW
Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley look ahead to awards season

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature presentation. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


With summer winding down and nothing thrilling opening in theaters (despite marquees suggesting otherwise), it's the perfect time to look both backwards and forwards. Now's the time to catch up with some of 2010's best in case you missed any. Some of them like I Am Love, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and Toy Story 3 are still in theaters. Other acclaimed first quarter releases like Fish Tank and South Korea's Mother have hit DVD. So get caught up before the Fall films hit.

As with the summer preview, we're dividing the intriguing offerings up into categories using handy film titles because You Gotta Have A Gimmick. For each month we'll look at THE CHAMP (a possible blockbuster), DIVA (fierce women),  THE PRESTIGE (Oscar hopefuls), WHERE THE BOYS ARE (for the hotness) and TRUE STORIES (documentaries or fact-based fiction). Obviously what follows is but a small sampling of what's to come. All in good time…

Have you seen Betty White and Sigourney Weaver's catfight with Kristen Bell? The ladies of You Again get their claws out AFTER THE JUMP

Betty_youagain


"If you say Avatar.."

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER

Easya_stone Road DIVA: In addition to You Again's enviable roster of actresses, September brings us Emma Stone doing a modern riff on Hester Prynne in Easy A. The trailer was warmly received and the cast (including Patty Clarkson!) looks strong. Clueless spun a literary classic into high school comedy gold. Can this movie prove a witty and worthy ancestor?

Road THE CHAMP: Fall releases are generally not perceived as blockbusters-to-be since it's a slower moviegoing frame but something could break out. Will Drew Barrymore have another hit with Going the Distance? And how many movies is that now wherein Barrymore costars with her current off again/on again boyfriend. The girl can't help it, the girl can't help it. RED ("Retired. Extremely. Dangerous"), an action flick with senior citizen killers, could have many dollars in its future, too. The seasoned cast includes badasses like Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and weirdo icon "Malkovich! Malkovich! Malkovich!".

Road THE PRESTIGE: The dystopian sci-fi premise of Never Let Me Go, based on the acclaimed novel and starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, should provide critics and audiences with plenty to chew on.

Justin_social

But the big drama that's already winning deafening buzz is David Fincher's The Social Network. It's about the creation of Facebook and the legal and emotional fallout of that billion dollar idea. The film stars the ubiquitous Jesse Eisenberg, future "Peter Parker" Andrew Garfield, future "Lisbeth Salander" Rooney Mara and Justin Timberlake as the founder of Napster.

Road WHERE THE BOYS ARE: Fall's leading men are a miserable lot. Ryan Reynold spends an entire movie Buried (literally). To his credit, he carries the one man show quite well. The handsome leading men of The Town (Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner) don't look much happier to be above ground in another crime thriller set in Boston.

Nev_catfish Road TRUE STORIES: Conviction used to be titled Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) and its a true story about a woman who pursued a law degree to free her brother from prison. The movie is probably seeking Oscars as many biographical dramas do. But if you like a little "truth" in your movies, but you recognize that Truth is a highly flexible construct, the must see of the fall is the documentary Catfish (pictured left). It's better not to know too much about it going in other than that it's about an online relationship that starts spilling over into real life in surprising ways. It's fascinating and guaranteed to provide after-movie conversations with friends. But if you're taking a date, make sure it's not a first date. That'd be… awkward.

NOVEMBER

Road DIVA: The anachronistic brattiness of Rapunzel in the trailers for Disney's Tangled suggests that the top tier Disney Princesses (Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, etc…) don't have to watch their backs. But no matter. November brings the return of a true diva.

Burlesque

Cher returns for her first big movie role since 1999. Even if Burlesque, from out gay writer/director and former actor Steven Antin, is a mess (who knows) it'll still be a musical that stars Cher and Christina Aguilera (a more effortful diva but a diva nonetheless) and Stanley Tucci and Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming (whew).Ticket already purchased.

Harry_voldemort Road THE CHAMP: Warner Bros has their hands deep in your pockets to steal thrice the normal ticket price for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since it's a) split into two parts with Pt 2 coming in 2011 and b) in 3D. I can't imagine how that book splits into two parts well since the middle third consisted solely of Harry, Hermione and Ron arguing in a tent for thousands of pages. But this franchise is in desperate need of cash flow. That .5 billion from the first six movies can only stretch so far.

Road THE PRESTIGE: Colin Firth is a royal with a speech impediment. Dependably hammy awards magnet Geoffrey Rush will help him fix it in The King's Speech. Sounds like something Oscar might love.

Road WHERE THE BOYS ARE: The buzz from early industry and test screenings says that Jake Gyllenhaal gives Anne Hathaway plenty of good (naked) lovin' in Love and Other Drugs and that their chemistry, which wasn't exactly the point of their pairing in Brokeback Mountain, is sensational. He plays a Viagra salesman and she the free-spirited woman who transforms him.

Jake_annie

The buzz isn't just that it's fleshy, it's that the movie is actually terrific.

Road TRUE STORIES: James Franco plays Aron Ralston in 127 Hours. He has to resort to desperate measures to survive a rocky accident in gorgeous southern Utah. Since true stories hit the screen already plot-spoiled herein lies the suspense: Can Franco nab his first Oscar nom? One imagines he came close for Milk (2008).

Which films are you most looking forward to and which do you need to catch up with?

 

 

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright