32 posts categorized "DUSTIN LANCE BLACK"
I have yet to write about Madonna's W.E. because I've only seen it via test screenings, nothing official. But it's not the only biopic coming at year's end. In fact, there are so many similar pictures that W.E. is getting an awards-consideration release December 9 then not reappearing until February 3 so as to dodge the glut.
I had wildly different reactions to two of the other biographical films out there.
J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Dustin Lance Black and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts and Dame Judi Dench, is a film I was curious about in spite of its odious subject, longtime, iron-fisted FBI god-king J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio). The film covers Hoover's era-spanning career as the country's loved/hated A-list G-man, from the birth of the FBI through Hoover's death during the Nixon presidency. For a film attempting to cover so much, it winds up with surprisingly little to offer by way of honest insight.
DiCaprio's old-age makeup was quite distracting at first but was overall passable, particularly when compared to that used on Armie Hammer as Hoover's longtime companion Clyde Tolson. Somehow, Tolson starts out younger and cuter than Hoover and winds up looking like something out of a Saturday Night Live sketch; just unbearably bad work on the makeup. Watts looks too old to be a young secretary in the beginning of the movie, but way too young to be a senior citizen by film's end.
Superficialities aside, DiCaprio is admirably committed as Hoover, but I found him very actorly and at times hammy. He comes off, more often than not, as a boy pushing hard to seem like a man. Gorgeous Hammer exudes a knowing quality that Eastwood unfortunately does not reign in properly, leading to laugh-out-loud lines that shouldn't be. For example, it's pretty humorous when Hammer's Tolson fusses about the sartorial blunders of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and a side-splitter when he sniffs that Dorothy Lamour (pictured with Hoover in the '40s) is a bit "camp" for him. If he gets an Oscar nomination for this after not getting one for The Social Network, that would be a travesty.
Watts has nothing to do and does nothing for the film—she's sleepwalking.
In stark contrast, the usually flawless Dench is way over the top as Mama Hoover, a cardboard cut-out of a taciturn mother who's so pushy even Norman Bates wouldn't have traded for her.
I think the biggest problem with this film is the script. After deservedly winning an Oscar for Milk, Dustin Lance Black turns in a Razzie-worthy blueprint this time, structured around Hoover dictating his self-aggrandizing memoirs to a series of young secretaries (all dudes, nudge-nudge). This set-up allows for too much telling and not enough showing, and makes the film's focus drift disagreeably between Hoover's most famous case (the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby), his weirdly asexual yet romantic relationship with Tolson (there is an aborted kiss, but otherwise we're supposed to believe they were inseparable but never fucked) and the origins of his rabid anti-Communism.
I'm as liberal as it gets, and I like that there is goss out there that Hoover was gay and/or cross-dressed, but I strongly felt like the gay stuff in the film (a convenient story about a childhood acquaintance of Hoover's nicknamed "Daffy" for "daffodil" who was bullied and committed suicide feels very It Gets Better) was questionable, and the cross-dressing was one of the most embarrassing things I've seen in a high-profile drama in years.
I wish I liked this movie, but then again, screenplay be damned, maybe it would've helped if the main character were not so thoroughly contemptible from start to finish.
J. Edgar (Warner Bros.) is out now.
A far more likable VIP gets the biopic treatment in My Week With Marilyn, directed by Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges from the famous memoir by Colin Clark, who had the good fortune to be third director on The Prince and the Showgirl in the late '50s.
I've always loved the Lane Twins—Gary and Larry—and now they have a Dolly Parton-themed documentary coming out called Hollywood to Dollywood that I'll be seeing on the 17th in NYC. As part of their promotions, they landed a spot of The Rosie Show on OWN. Non-Dolly clip of them after the jump...
As of midnight last night, it was exactly six years since my first post. It's been a tough thing to keep up with a dayjob and outside activities, and just when I think I might walk away, a valuable connection or interesting opportunity or a kind word comes my way. Thank you all for reading me.
Of whom are you more jealous?
Here are my favorite 100+ posts out of nearly 11,000. Please take some time to read (or re-read!) a couple and tweet or Facebook any you like.
FROM BOY TO MAN: BC B.C. (2007): The entire history of my novell and novel Boy Culture as well as the movie version; might be my ultimate post.
BOY ON FILM (2006): An account of the NYC launch party for Boy Culture as it played the TriBeCa Film Fest.
FRIENDS AND "FAMILY" (2006): The movie version of Boy Culture hits Chicago.
RAPT PUPIL (2006): The final night of Outfest with Boy Culture; I was fat but on the other hand got to meet Bryan Singer.
"Your pictures suck" (2008): An art critic attacks me, but not without sustaining some hits in return.
DRAWN TOGETHER (2008): How my desire to draw related to my secret desire. One of my absolute favorite posts.
LOST ANGELES (2009): My favorite photographic travelogue of L.A.
ART IMITATES LIFE (2006): My 9/11 and my distaste for grief tourism.
BURNING MAN (2007): Tribute to my late high school friend and first romance.
LOST BOY FOUND (2011): There is a book in here somewhere.
CIAO HOUNDS: OUR TRIP TO ITALY (2011): Finally got José to Europe.
ILLINOIS DEATH TRIP (2007): Ruminations on death while revisiting a past home, and the past.
PASSING BY (2008): Mourning the loss of a person I only met once.
A slew of new J. Edgar stills came to light today, chiefly of interest to me thanks to the presence of serial enflamer of gay hearts Armie Hammer. (But they also show director Clint Eastwood, writer Dustin Lance Black and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Dame Judi Dench.) Tons more after the jump...
J. Edgar Hoover would be busting a nut in his grave if he knew luscious Armie Hammer was playing his real-life lover (let's face it) Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar. In Details (October 2011), Hammer says of the Clint Eastwood-directed/Dustin Lance Black-penned flick:
"It wasnt the gay aspect I had a hard time with. When I first read the script, it didn't make sense why Clyde would stay around—because 99 percent of the time he's just taking abuse. But then it was explained to me. When you get that little glimmer of hope—like Tolson did—that simple kiss on the forehead, it all seems worth it and you stay."
Kind of like how I'll continue holding out hope Hammer is gay and loves men twice his age even though he's married to a woman and waxes nostalgic in the magazine about his 10-day-long bachelor party.
Great, hi-res pix to follow...
Dustin Lance Black tells Next that he doesn't believe his J. Edgar Hoover biopic J. Edgar was degayed by Clint Eastwood:
"Clint and the studio never cut or changed a word, they never had a note about it. Clint said some things that were so incredibly moving that he understood the struggle young gays go through today. If anything, Clint made it even more human and universal."
Even more interesting is his response when asked who he'd like to attend the upcoming staged reading of his Proposition 8 play 8:
"Who would I love to have in the audience?" he muses. "If anyone could be there and really listen, I would give my left arm to have President Obama sitting front and center. To see what it is we’re fighting for, and why it’s important something be done about itnow. And Marcus Bachmann. It’s time he see that it’s okay to be gay. I mean that for the kids he’s supposedly helping and for himself. President Obama and Bachmann in the front row. What more do I need?"
One more shot of the increasingly muscly Black after the jump...
Matt Bomer has joined the starry cast of Dustin Lance Black's 8, which will get a Broadway reading soon. More at Musto.
If Kate Bornstein's piece for Out on Israel Luna's (pictured) controversial film Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives is not the final word on the subject, I will cut a bitch. Her essay is just brilliant, beautifully written (despite the use of the phrase "marshal arts" a few times) and thoughtful to an extent that could be called brain porn.