267 posts from December 2012
This is the first time one of those face-morphing things really works—it's all the Batmans (West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney and Bale) combined into one Superbatman. Hot!
Superhot, superbuilt nerd of the day. (And many more!)
LAME: White House seems to fold on fiscal cliff.
Madonna to duet with Anne Hathaway?
PICTURED: The gayest work of art EVER!
The gayest songs of 2012.
"Mary Richards" slept here: Iconic home 4 sale.
Jeremy Hooper's book sold like hotcakes in '12.
Skanky singer Fantasia Barrino is anti-gay & anti-weed.
Hulk Hogan opening a "breastaurant?"
Silver Linings Playbook
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: **** out of ****
After the early promise of Spanking the Monkey (1994) and Flirting with Disaster (1996), writer/director David O. Russell stumbled disastrously with the unwatchable I Heart Huckabees (2004). Since then, he seems to have found his groove as an innovative storyteller within a loosely mainstream framework, knocking it out of the park with the compelling The Fighter (2010) and one of this year's absolute best, Silver Linings Playbook.
Bradley Cooper is Oscar-worthy as "Pat," a wayward son recently released from an asylum after becoming obsessed and violent over his cheating wife (a scarce Brea Bee). Sprung from the loony bin, he's not a hit around his hometown, not even with his parents (equally OCD dad Robert DeNiro and daffy mom Jacki Weaver), with whom he has to live. He just can't seem to let his marriage go, nor does he seem fully cognizant of the bizarre mood swings and at inappropriate behavior he continues to exhibit, whether it be compulsive runs, blunt social interactions or worse.
When his pal "Ronnie" (a hilariously understated John Ortiz) and his handful of a wife "Veronica" (Julia Stiles, who could easily have been the female lead a few years ago) introduce Pat to Veronica's equally mentally unstable sister "Tiffany" (Jennifer Lawrence), it's a match made in dysfunctional heaven—they discuss meds from the get-go and begin a bizarre, touching, hilariously awkward courtship that culminates with Pat's blackmailed participation in a local dance competition.
As wonderfully shaded as Cooper is—this is the best he's ever been in a movie, in a role that seems perfectly crafted for him—Lawrence is at least as impressive, if only because yet again she disappears into a part. This time, she plays Tiffany as flashing between vulnerable and violently resentful, and she's hardly recognizable doing so.
It takes an auteur like Russell to go so far out on a limb that even Shirely MacLaine would urge caution, and to remind us that not every movie needs to be neat and tidy and a slight reworking of every movie we've seen before it. One of the year's best.
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: ***1/2 out of ****
As much as I liked Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985), it always did have that slightly Disney feel to it. I feared the same from Lincoln, not only for its casting of the very modern-looking (and too old!) Sally Field as "Mary Todd Lincoln", but for the gimmicky, Disneyland's Hall of Presidents-esque clips I'd seen of Daniel Day-Lewis as our sixteenth president.
When I first started watching the film, I thought my fears had been justified—it opens with a really ridiculously mythological-feeling scene showing "Lincoln" (Day-Lewis) sitting with some Union soldiers, two white and two black, and proceeds to hammer us over the head with the idea that Lincoln was a uniter of the races.
But aside from that misstep, the rest of the film was an impressive and engrossing piece of work. It's more of an artfully done historical document than a history-infused piece of art in that it focuses so heavily on the machinations (some unsavory) Honest Abe had to resort to in order to get slavery abolished on the federal level while simultaneously winning the Civil War, but no matter—a good movie is a good movie.
And speaking of good, Sally Field turns out to be the best thing about Lincoln, giving a starkly empathetic performance as the first lady who's lost one son and is on the verge of insanity over the thought of losing another (Joseph Gordon Leavitt). Her performance is beautifully modulated, her face expressive and her true age never visually an issue (at the time of filming, she was more than 20 years older than Mary Todd Lincoln was in the period during which the film is set; Day-Lewis is almost exactly the age Lincoln was). If she were to best Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress, it couldn't be said she didn't deserve it.
The reason Field stands out is that she's one of the few actors given enough room to emote and to craft a character for more than highly dramatic (Gloria Reuben's stoic slave) or highly comical purposes. Day-Lewis is superb as Lincoln, but he's still so mired in his excellent costume and makeup and in camera trickery/lighting used to create and maintain his uncanny likeness to the man that his performance still felt more superficial than it might have been had those considerations been cast aside.
In a memorable supporting role, Tommy Lee Jones is outstanding as "Thaddeus Stevens," Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committe and a radical forced to betray the purity of his beliefs in order to receive the biggest, broadest realization of his dream of racial equality. The fireworks between him Field in one scene are a hoot, and immediately call to mind former First Lady Hillary Clinton's battles with Republicans dead set against her husband.
In fact, the film plays as the thinly veiled story of Barack Obama—a great orator and war-time president re-elected to office in spite of hyperbolic opposition by the other party, the art of political maneuvering vs. the heart of being true to one's principles. One major difference is which side is which; the modern Republican party is quick to claim Lincoln as its own, but would Lincoln return the favor were he alive today? Hardly.
There are almost too many familiar faces for Lincoln to ever feel like less than a Hollywood epic (Hal Holbrook, David Strathairn, John Hawkes, Jackie Early Haley, S. Epatha Merkerson, Lukas Haas, a magnetic Lee Pace and a grotesquely funny James Spader), but it's still an engrossing and exhaustively detailed, serious biopic of one of the United States's most important figures. Lincoln may last a hair longer than the actual Civil War did, but it's a pleasure of a history lesson.
The New York Times states that Matt Grubbs, owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, is discontinuing wedding services aboard his trollies rather than work with the expected gay couples now that Maryland is legalizing same-sex marriage on the 1st of January.
The paper—and Grubbs—characterizes this as an act of "Christian conviction." I call bullshit. It's not Christian to refuse to so much as do business with a gay person, a gay married person or even with someone who is, in a Christian's opinion, sinning. This man has served couples he knows full well had sex prior to being married, he serves people he assumes lie and cheat and maybe even steal (or doesn't ask)...why is the "sin" of being gay and married put on a higher plane than any other?
I agree with the straight groom who made this a story by publicizing it as "repressive bigotry"—that's what it is, bigotry. It's his right to be a bigot, but it's mine to point it out. The fool is dropping $50K a year with this decision, so it's not not morally misguided, it's just plain dumb.
I'm not suggesting none of you will know that any of these 10 people are or were queer (gay or bi)—far from it. But I think a good number of them are people the public doesn't generally think of as gay in the way we do Ellen DeGeneres, Rock Hudson, Liberace, RuPaul or...the list goes on.
Enjoy, and let me know of some other historical/public figures who are or were queer but who don't seem to ping the gaydar as much as others...
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: **** out of ****
I see a lot of Broadway musicals, yet I'm not up to the level of considering myself a theater queen. Maybe my appreciation, but malleable reverence, for the form is why Tom Hooper's very different take on Les Miz blew me away; I had no reservations about the film's much-ballyhooed live-take (and therefore rougher) singing, its emphasis on hitting emotional rather than musical notes.
In the timeless story of a group of characters struggling for happiness or merely for survival on the mean streets of 19th Century France, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give two of the most open-hearted performances I can recall seeing in a movie. Jackman's "Jean Valjean"—imprisoned 20 years for stealing bread to help his starving nephew and for attempting to escape—transforms from defiant to embittered to seraphic on his journey to redeem himself, to pay a debt he feels he owes after jumping bail and reinventing himself as a successful mayor. The performance is deeply felt and his singing is beautiful, even if—as with the others—Jackman is usually singing more for the narrative than for ear candy.
As "Fantine," a hapless young mother bullied into a breathtaking slide from a desirable (and therefore resented) working girl to disgraced prostitute, Hathaway shines. Her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" is as electrifying as Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in Dreamgirls—and it should earn her an Oscar, as well.
Russell Crowe as "Javert," Valjean's obsessive nemesis, is a bit wooden and his singing less expressive when compared to those around him, but it's not enough to detract from Hooper's densely emotional epic, nor is the somewhat lazy casting of Helena Bonham Carter as "Mme. Thénardier," a role that's distractingly reminiscent of her turn in Sweeney Todd. Eddie Redmayne as "Marius" and Samantha Barks as "Eponine" live up to Jackman and Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen is spot-on as "M. Thénardier," Amanda Seyfried's "Cosette" is sweet and Broadway vet Aaron Tveit is charismatic as the rebel "Enjolras." The children—particularly Daniel Huttlestone as the heart-tugging little shit "Gavroche"—are excellent.
Overall, there is a palpable feeling that all involved took the story and the characters seriously and that each actor understood every word sung. It's a spectacle, but never for spectacle's sake, a darkly lavish opera. I can't recommend it highly enough. This director and his committed ensemble have truly come together to create a film classic.
Mean but funny and the impersonations are a scream!
Beasts of the Southern Wild
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: **** out of ****
Newcomer Benh Zeitlin, using non-actors (or rather, natural-born actors), has directed a mystical, moving poem of a film about a little girl named "Hushpuppy" (Quvenzhané Wallis) barely existing in a remote Louisiana bayou alongside, more than with, her anti-social, free-living, passionately angry father (Dwight Henry). Animalistic in their day-to-day existence—which consists of eating, blowing off steam and in Hushpuppy's case exploring the abandoned bits of civilization that happen to be under their control—the two are at times allies and at other times combatants, but are drawn together when a massive hurricane destroys their ramshackle community.
Haunted by her childish vision of the world as a place of balance where the presumed melting of massive icecaps has caused the storm which in turn has unleashed wandering beasts the likes of which would scare Maurice Sendak, Hushpuppy almost has to be her own grown-up. She will need to draw on her father's many harsh lessons, which are a combination of tough love and abuse. Her mettle is mesmerizing, as is her journey from her ruined home to the world beyond the levee—and back?
I definitely did not get the impression that these people were to be praised for their stubborn refusal to blend in with society. I would like nothing more than for Hushpuppy to be plucked from her squalor and put into school. But that's not something I felt the movie required me to believe. It felt to me more like an examination of how the mind of a child would work under these conditions, and how the human spirit presents itself in less than ideal circumstances.
This movie is an example of how a cerebral, experimental work of art can also be gritty and touching and real. If Wallis is not given an Oscar nomination, the Academy has no credibility. None.