Reviews: ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ “Not Fade Away’

Jessica Chastain is only in her second year in films, and already she’s one of the most commanding actresses of her generation: From her brittle beauty in The Help to carrying her own opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in Tree of Life (two best picture nominees last year that she starred in) to her current part in Zero Dark Thirty, where she shows resolve and vulnerability within the same breath, the depth of her mastery of the film medium is staggering. From the first 30 seconds of director Kathryn Bigelow’s epic examination of the war on terror and the quest for Bin Laden, Chastain engages us with her Jodie Foster-esque inquisitiveness, and for the next two hours, she never lets us go. It’s the kind of performance Oscars were designed for.

That’s good, because with her as the anchor, Zero Dark Thirty almost makes sense. If you go by the TV ads, it’s about the on-the-ground hunt for Bin Laden, culminating in the raid by Seal Team 6 nearly two years ago, but really, it’s about the massive intelligence-gathering machine and how it’s a miracle it ever works.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar 2012 recap

This was a good year for gays at the Oscars — at least on screen. Of the 20 characters whose portrayers were nominated for acting Oscars, five — Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Rooney Mara, Kenneth Branagh (as bisexual Laurence Olivier) and Christopher Plummer — were members of the LGBT community. (I also have my suspicions about Jonah Hill’s character.) In the end, only one — Plummer — ended up in the winners’ circle, but it was a sweet victory nonetheless.

Onstage, Meryl Streep’s makeup artist seemed to be the only gay winner, though you can never tell about those sound mixers.

For those keeping track, I correctly picked seven of the top eight categories (missing only original screenplay), but the raft categories proved to be a crap-shoot: some very puzzling victories (for instance, Hugo for visual effects over the far superior achievements of Rise of the Planet of the Apes) muddled things.

Although both won five Oscars, in head-to-heads between The Artist and Hugo, The Artist came out ahead, beating Hugo for best picture, director, score and costumes. Hugo beat The Artist in direct competition for cinematography and art direction. Remarkably, neither of the frontrunners won for their screenplays, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the (happy) surprise winner for film editing.

See the list of last night’s winners after the jump:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar watching parties

And the Oscar goes to…

From area venues:

*Barbara’s is having an Oscar party!! Watch the Academy Awards on the big screen. Fill out a nominee list with the ones that you think are going to win. The person with the most correct winners wins a great prize. We have the list for you to fill out, and all entries must be in before start time. And of course, you can wear your evening dress or tux if you would like to.

DEETS: Barbara’s Pavilion, 325 Centre St. 7:30 p.m.

*Movie Awards Viewing Party brought to you by the 5013c Oak Cliff Foundation and the  Oak Cliff Film Festival! Come watch the spectacle unfold before your eyes on the big screen. Of course this is a fine opportunity to dress to the nines and party like a star! Enter the Pick the Winners poll for $3. Winner will be announced at the end of the night and will get 2 free badges to the 2012 Oak Cliff Film Festival.

DEETS: The Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. 6 p.m. TheTexasTheatre.com.

*

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: Oscar nominated doc shorts at Texas Theatre

Oscar countdown

Be proud if you’ve seen all the major nominees for this year’s Oscars, but impress your watching party by throwing down some knowledge when this category comes up. The Texas Theatre helps round out those slightly obscure awards by featuring this year’s crops of documentary shorts. And the nominees are The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, God Is the Bigger Elvis, Incident in New Baghdad,  Saving Face and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. The theater screens ‘em all save for God, but that’ll be enough to make an informed decision and give you the edge on that Oscar pool.

DEETS: The Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. 7 p.m. $9. TheTexasTheatre.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Starvoice • 09.09.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Jennifer Hudson turns 30 on Monday.
The Oscar winner has made headlines in the recent past mostly on her weight loss. She talks to Self magazine this month about losing over 80 pounds. This year, she returns to the big screen in Winnie, portraying Nelson Mandela’s wife, and in 2012’s The Three Stooges.

…………………..

THIS WEEK

Venus coming home to Libra normally helps us to be more gracious, social and polite. Opposing Uranus on the way in whips up some crazy ideas of what that might mean. Compassion and imagining yourself in the other’s position is usually the best way to start out.

…………………..

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
You find amazing deals at estate sales, perhaps even your true love. If you already have one, bring him or her along and you find some treasure that will become an emblematic keepsake.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
You’re looking especially gorgeous. The attention you get will surprise you. Of course you’re not just a pretty face; a new contact could prove very helpful as a colleague.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Hiding out from the social whirl may give you peace, but doesn’t do much for your anxieties. Hum the first tune that comes to mind. That song will offer insights to face your worries.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Party it up but don’t go overboard. Seek out new, interesting, unusual people at these events. Their perspectives can trigger new insights into your own roots.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Career opportunities are looking good, but are you prepared? Know your strengths and the difference between reaching and overreaching. Work causes you to neglect issues at home.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Think a little harder before opening your mouth. Does it really need to be said? Your words carry more weight than you realize. Treat them like currency and don’t waste them.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Opportunities abound as Venus is flashing her goodies in your house of illicit pleasures. She offers a deeper challenge to re-
examine your priorities and values.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
You’re suddenly looking marriageable no matter what local laws allow. Let someone special see your inner wounds. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable shows confidence in both of you.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
A friend in need is a pain in the ass. You have your own problems. Even so, helping out your pal can not only get you out of your own problems for a bit, but help point you to a solution.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Your idea of social outreach is a little outré. One on one is fine for scaring off people you don’t want to deal with, but if you’re working with a group, behave accordingly.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
New recipes go better than you’d hoped for. Even if things screw up, you get points for trying. At work keep your boss up on any experiments, just in case.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Advice is not necessarily appreciated, as you could find out the hard way. An earnest, soul-searching talk about sex can be more satisfying than actually doing it. Not that one rules out the other.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

……………………….

Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

………………………….

Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Ruffalo: Oscar Nods a Win for Marriage Equality

MARK RUFFALO X390 (MTV GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COMActor Mark Ruffalo has responded to news of the four Academy Award nominations for The Kids Are All Right by calling his nod “a win for Marriage Equality.”
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

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

Saturday Open Thread…miscellany plus Rachel on KO, and a grave injustice for Oscar Grant

It’s an open thread, chat away…here are some things I’ve been Facebooking and Tweeting about since yesterday:

The benign:

* I finally finished paying off my Subaru Outback! (Yes it’s a stereotypical lesbian household – both of us have Subarus)

* WTF happened to Fall in the Triangle? @durhamncalert “FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 8 AM EST SUNDAY.” http://s3z.us/cm.htm. The Good News: we broke out the flannel sheets…nice and toasty. The Bad News: the furbabies got me out of bed to feed them. Brrr.

The hardcore:

* Lesbian ‘Corrective Rape’ Victim has her day in Court.

This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.  This is the face of a warrior who despite all odds, trauma, and police victimization, found her way to Court today by public transportation, to testify against her brutal attacker, who remained free on bail  to in essence board the same bus. The Police were simply not willing to give this young woman a ride to the Court. A spokesperson for Millicent Gaika contacted us back in April and we have been shedding light on the plight of Lesbian “corrective rape” in South Africa ever since.  Today was Millicent Gaika’s day in court.

* Cop Johannes Mehserle receives 2 years w/credit for time served for shooting Oscar Grant, an unarmed, subdued man, at point blank range. (San Francisco Bay View) The judge tossed out gun enhancement charge.

Today we had a gross miscarriage of justice. Judge Robert Perry threw out the gun enhancement clause that could have added 10 years and then gave Johannes Mehserle a sentence of two years with credit for 292 days for time served. Football star Plexico Burris did more time shooting himself than Mehserle. Michael Vick did more time [for dog fighting] than Mehserle.

* Rachel Maddow on the suspension of Keith Olbermann. “On cable news and cable not-news”:


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin