7 posts categorized "CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD"

Aug 31 2010
Obsession For Men Comments (15)

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Eat yer heart out, Madonna—Calvin Klein's boytoy Nick Gruber is younger (20!) and arguably cuter than yours, plus Calvin's cheeks are bigger!

Best Gawker comment:

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Jul 18 2010
His Kind Of Guy Comments (2)

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Matt Smith 

After writing about Christopher and His Kind, a new BBC2 film about the early years of writer Christopher Isherwood, I heard from Isherwood's partner Don Bachardy's agent the following:

"Don is excited about the BBC2 adaptation of Christopher and His Kind after having met the actor playing Isherwood [Matt Smith]. Don has established the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, which gives $4,000 grants to selected novelists—take a look at the Web site for the foundation here."

 
Jul 16 2010
The Christopher And His Kindness Of Strangers Comments (5)

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Matt Smith as Christopher Isherwood

Via AfterElton: I just read Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man for the first time (loved it even more than I loved the fantastic movie), so I'm excited to see that BBC2 has an Isherwood biopic coming up. Christopher and His Kind focuses on the period of his life when he broke away from his domineering mom and sought the life of a sexual libertine in Berlin.

 
Feb 08 2010
Singular Sensation Comments (3)

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My friend Gordon forwarded me this story from the U.K. about Don Bachardy's views of Tom Ford's A Single Man, adapted from the famous Christopher Isherwood novel. Bachardy, Isherwood's lover of many years, loves the film, while others think it too pretty. I thought the prettiness fit perfectly with the story. The piece also argues, in reference to the Ford's insistence his film is not "gay":

"Not since Steven Spielberg directed the slave epic Amistad in 1997 has a director's identity politics been such a part of a film's buzz."

Regardless, the interview with Bachardy is well worth a look—as is A Single Man.

 
Dec 09 2009
Firth In Favor Of De-De-Gaying Comments (4)

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The articulate and thoughtful Colin Firth gives a great interview to Brandon Voss at The Advocate about A Single Man. Though he continues to emphasize that George's gayness isn't an issue—he does at least clarify that he equates one's gayness mattering with struggling with one's sexuality—he pulls no punches when asked about Weinstein Co.'s alleged "de-gaying" of the film.

Voss asks if de-gaying it in the marketing does the film a "disservice," to which Firth replies:

"Yes, I do. It is deceptive. I don't think they should do that because there's nothing to sanitize. It's a beautiful story of love between two men and I see no point in hiding that. People should see it for what it is."

Aptz08  Voss also asks the question I tried to ask Firth at the film's press day this week but never got a chance to, namely, did he feel any trepidation in playing gay in the '80s as opposed to now. The answer is "it didn't cross my mind for a second," but had I asked it, I would've mentioned his gay role in Apartment Zero. I was surprised to read Voss's piece and discover that Firth has played so many gay roles. I guess it's a British thing, or maybe just that he is the non-caveman who says yes to them.

 
Dec 08 2009
Strength In Numbers Comments (7)

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Tom Ford opens up.

Yesterday, I was invited to the press day for A Single Man (official site) Tom Ford's singularly satisfying adaptation of the classic Christopher Isherwood novel about a man reacting to the sudden loss of his lover, set in L.A. in 1962. I arrived, got my notes in the hospitality suite at the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South and wound up with a front-row seat downstairs. Held in a room off the bar, passing tourists could peek in through the windows to see actors Nicholas Hoult (he of About a Boy fame), Colin Firth and Julianne Moore as well as the director fielding a strange mish-mosh of questions from the assembled media.

L TO R, TOP TO BOTTOM: Colin Firth on the gay aspect of the film, Firth on the relevance of showing a happy gay couple in a movie, Nicholas Hoult on if Kenny is gay, Hoult on the significance of gay identity in the film. 

I was sandwiched between an interesting older woman (Ford was, at one point, called a "gay man of a certain age" to his face) from HuffingtonPost who was using an antique tape recorder and a younger Polish woman with serious film questions who'd snatched so many of the free cookies that she almost had to offer me one when I happened to glance at her stash.

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Ford and Firth, sharp-dressed men (of a certain age)

Questions ranged from the banal ("Julianne, have you picked up any fun makeup tips while making movies over the years?") to the strangulated (a strange request of Firth to connect his character to Harvey Milk since the films are set in basically the same era—which they aren't), but one thing that stood out for me was how reluctant the men were to concede that this is a uniquely gay story, albeit one readily absorbable by a non-gay audience. Instead, it was repeated a few times that George is gay but the story could be about a straight man...and this just is not true.

L TO R, TOP TO BOTTOM: Tom Ford on Gore Vidal, his Oscar buzz and his film's gay role models, Ford on Rupert Everett's advice to actors to stay closeted, Ford on his seriousness about directing, Julianne Moore on the unique relationship between gay men and their female friends.

I do think much of this comes from a marketing directive. However, the fact that such a marketing consideration exists proves that "gay" really does still matter, something the decidedly liberal and enlightened principals seemed to want to disbelieve. The main disconnect is those who don't want this to be a gay film seem to define that as a film in which the character or characters are struggling with being gay. For me, a film can be gay (and also potentially universal) even if—or perhaps especially if—the characters are content with their sexualities.

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I don't overly fault them for their opinions, or even the studio for attempting to de-gay the film in its marketing because what matters most is the fact that the film itself is unflinching, a masterpiece really. But I still find it endlessly fascinating that a movie with a strong theme about the invisibility of its gay characters is making its own gayness invisible as a means of getting by in an unaccepting world—47 years after the supposedly ancient time in which it's set.

I asked Ford about the invisibility theme. He seemed to like my question (after initially politely asking someone near me to not take his picture while he was talking):

Nicholas Hoult was gorgeous and fresh and articulate beyond his years, Colin Firth was handsome and dry-witted and had such a commanding presence, Tom Ford was charmingly gregarious and bore no resemblance to the menacingly macho images we've been force-fed and Julianne Moore was ravishingly beautiful and hilarious—she really seems to not sweat the small stuff, which made a stern request that we not photograph her and a sudden softening of the lights seem silly and unnecessary.

Be sure to see A Single Man when it opens. Here is my original review. Tons more video and transcriptions of all the best quotes after the jump, including Firth on whether Ford called him fat and Ford being asked if Jon Hamm makes a voice cameo in the film...

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Jan 17 2009
About A Boy Comments (0)

 

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Portrait of the artist as an old man.

One of the most acclaimed (94% at RottenTomatoes) documentaries of 2008, Chris & Don: A Love Story Poster_large (Zeitgeist) directed by Tina Mascara and Guido Santi, streets on DVD February 24. In anticipation of that, I finally got around to watching it, and found it to be a somewhat uneven mix of compelling glimpses into a celebrated couple's romance and unexplored or unexplained drama. 

 


Christopher Isherwood, the Chris of the movie, was a respected writer of the 20th Century who was born in England but came of age in the sexually free Weimar Republic. He wrote stories in the 1930s that were paired and published as The Berlin Stories in 1945, which would eventually be adapted on the stage and on film as Cabaret. When he was nearly 50 and living in California, Isherwood began a brief affair with Ted Bachardy, but this soon transferred to what would be a life partnership with Ted's younger brother Don, apparently just 18 at the time.

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Aren't all gay men starfuckers at heart?

The Bachardy Brothers are represented as impressionable, good-time guys who partied on the beaches of their home state and who would dress up in snazzy suits and sneak into movie premieres, taking pictures of each other with everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Bette Davis, even stars Don would later meet socially via Isherwood, such as Leslie Caron and Montgomery Clift.

Isherwood introduced Bachardy to lots of things—that was the core of their relationship.

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Climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy...

Floor1 The union was famous for its durability (open doesn't begin to describe it) and also infamous for the 30-year gap between the two men—an early image of the couple looks exactly like an Ozzie & Harriet-era father/son portrait. But they were unconcerned with appearances in that sense, even if their creative lives (Isherwood as a descriptive novelist and Bachardy, eventually, as an impressionistic painter) were all about appearances, capturing, interpreting and explaining them.

Isherwood (the smiling youth above and at left) has been dead for more than 20 years, but the film conjures his presence effortlessly via Bachardy's reminiscences, his inexhaustible supply of portraits of his partner and gorgeously well preserved, colorful home movies. It's as if the inscrutable writer is as alive as any of the others in the film, a list of interviewees that includes Caron, Liza Minnelli (Isherwood thought she was all wrong as Sally Bowles!) and, only in the DVD's extras, Titanic's Gloria Stuart, nearly 100 yet still sharp and salty.

Chris-and-don-1 Despite Isherwood being more famous, Chris & Don tends to center around Bachardy, now 74 years old, juxtaposing his wizened (but still quite gym-honed!) face and body with visual reminders that he was once an alluring teenage muse for the more worldly Isherwood. To Bachardy's credit, he was not simply a hot young piece of ass, but seems to have been successfully molded by Isherwood into a thoughtful and truth-seeking artist in his own right. Still, their relationship is daddy/boy beyond belief; Bachardy's affected-sounding British accent is revealed to be an echo of Isherwood's voice, which is supposed to connote his adoration but also made me wonder if the whole Svengali thing had gone too far. (Or, as with Madonna, it could just be that an American who lives with an Englishman is doomed to exhibit traces of that accent.

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Spender-span Back in the gay: W.H. Auden, Stephen Spende & Christopher Isherwood.

I would disagree with the DVD copy that says the film is "above all a joyful celebration of a most extraordinary couple" in that the documentary never feels joyful so much as uninhibited, and while some joyful-seeming times for this dynamic duo are recounted, the fact that they are ancient history now is somewhat sobering. Case in point: Ted wound up getting electro-shock therapy and is now elderly and morose, spending time cutting out Josh Hartnett photos and chastising Don for not appreciating Charlize Theron's beauty.

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