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

Movie Monday: “New Year’s Eve” in wide release

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day.

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

For the entire review, click here.

DEETS: Rated PG-13. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Auld lang sigh

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

screen-01
There’s a long history of uniting big stars in a jam-packed ensemble cast. Sure, typically C-list celebrities met their fates in capsized ships and burning buildings, but there’s something about the combined star power of multiple marquee names that are irresistible draws.

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day. (By the time he gets to Cinco de Mayo, there’s gonna be nobody left but Charo, Justin Bieber and Cheech Marin.)

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

There’s nothing blatantly gay about the film, but plenty of gay-by-association appeal thanks to LGBT faves Swank, Parker, Michele, Efron and too-hot-for-TV Josh Duhamel. Sofia Vergara, the buxom star of Modern Family, is a great foil to the increasingly unlikable Katherine Heigl, whose character never really clicks with the audience.

What’s great about New Year’s Eve is Marshall’s way of leveling the playing field among his regular stars and mega-stars. Everybody gets equal billing, equal screen time, and for the most part, equally fun roles. That any holiday film delivers cloyingly sweet dramedy should be anticipated from the moment you plop a twenty down at the ticket window, but it sure would be nice to be caught off-guard with just a single moment that is completely organic and unexpected.

Alas, most of the stories’ conclusions could be predicted by a 10-year-old, but there’s such an earnestness and joy in the actors’ performances paired with their gosh-darn eye twinkles and larger-than-life charisma that make this movie worth at least a Prosecco toast, if not a half-glass of real champagne.

— Steven Lindsey

Three and a half stars.
Now playing in wide release.

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

—  Kevin Thomas