Wednesday, December 23, 2009


By now you've probably seen the trailer for "Sex and the City 2". I'm a huge fan of the series. But this sequel is just unnecessary. What more can they tell? This story is over and done with. I have to say though, I'll be there opening week watching. Just because I've loved these characters for years. And that's why they are making this movie. To get 12 bucks from me and others like me!!!!

At least EW has a funny few lines about the trailer.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Movies So far

Is 2009 a good year for movies? Well it sure ain't 1999. But with 2 weeks to go there are several movies that I liked. Here goes:

The Hurt Locker. What an amazing jolting experience. Probably the best war movie ever.
(500 Days of Summer). Everyone who's ever had their heart broken will get and love this movie.
District 9. It was different and exciting.
An Education. A slight story but very well told and those performances. Everyone was right on from Mulligan's star turn to Thompson's bit part.
Julie and Julia. So very charming. Meryl as usual was astounding and had great chemistry with Tucci. And unlike most everybody I didn't mind the Amy Adams parts.
Precious. Powerful and haunting.
Up in the Air. Very topical. Clooney and Farmiga are the year's screen couple.

Still looking forward to Avatar, Nine, The Lovely Bones and It's Complicated. Have not yet caught Invictus, The Road, The Messenger or The Fantastic Mr Fox.

The movies that disappointed were Bright Star, Where the Wild Things are and A Single Man.

One last thought. While a lot of these movies were bleak, there was also a lot of charm and good times. Even the harrowing story of Precious had a hopeful streak throughout.

In Praise of the Front Runners

A few critics organizations announced their year end awards the last couple of days. New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston and others. And some consensus has emerged in many of the main categories.

I was happy to see that Mo'Nique won Best Supporting Actress from almost all these organizations. She was powerful and captivating in that role and deserves all the accolades. Other work in that category pales besides this performance.

Sometimes a supporting performance dominates a film so much leading to awards galore for the actor. It happened with Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls" and Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men". It will happen this year for Mo'Nique. And it could happen to Christoph Waltz from "Inglorious Basterds". He had the most memorable character in a movie full f memorable characters. And he took full advantage of that and turned in a dazzling performance that stays with you long after the movie has ended.

I was also happy to see "The Hurt Locker" win so many Best Film and Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow citations. It is in my opinion the best movie of the year. And up there as one of the best war movies if not the best ever. It is why I love movies. Tells a story that resonates and tells it very well.

Here's to these front runners. Congratulations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A beautiful dull single man

I was really excited to see "A Single Man". The trailer was great, probably the best trailer of the year. So excited, because of the trailer, I blogged about this movie three times. Also I felt an obligation as a gay man. It was made by a contemporary gay icon, based on a book by a literary gay icon and full of beautiful men. I had to be there opening night. So I rallied the troops, gathered friends together and off to the Chelsea Clearview we went.

I settled in to be amazed. I was ready for it. 10 minutes in, still waiting. 20 minutes in, still waiting. 30 minutes in, one of my friends says" this is just terrible, isn't it?". I was not ready to give up yet. So I defended the movie and said "it looks gorgeous", which it did. It ended and I still was not ready to give up. The four of us went to dinner. 2 clearly hated it, one liked it very much but mainly because he thinks Colin Firth is "the ideal man". I was on the fence. This was supposed to be great. The new great gay movie. Off we discussed through dinner. I was defending at the beginning. But I could not go on, the points made against it were right. The best I could muster was "look we are still talking about it, 2 hours later". Yeah right.

Then I had to face the facts. This movie was just not good. It was boring, unlikeable, could not build empathy with its lead character. It was a magazine photo spread come to dull life. But everything and everyone look so beautiful. A little too beautiful. Every end table, every painting, every dress, every necktie....gorgeous but no life. Really Tom Ford, hustlers who lurk about outside liquor stores look like fashion models?

Clearly Ford was influenced by Wong Kar Wei and Alomodovar. Two of my favourite directors. You could see that in many frames of the movie. But this script he wrote and these characters, were just bad. And no abundance of beautiful images could save this movie.

Firth was OK. He had one great scene. His Oscar clip obviously. When he receives news on the phone that his lover dies and his face completely crumbles before our eyes. But I did not find myself empathizing with him or with his his loss. He just seemed smug and the relationship with the dead lover, told in flashback, was very Mills and Boone. All pseudo intellectual banter by the fireplace and no real passion.

And why is Julianne Moore getting all this awards buzz? She was hardly in the movie. Okay she does a credible English accent. But the character is despicable. Even misogynist. A has been party girl still pinning for her gay friend. Pinning so much he insults him and his relationship? Just didn't get her.

Sorry Tom Ford. I was ready and willing to love your movie and then shout it from the rooftops. But no you had to go and make this beautiful boring piece of crap, despite your talent. Maybe next time? To paraphrase another Isherwood character, Sally Bowles. "It's gotta happen, happen sometime". Try again.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Desire" in Brooklyn

A Streetcar Named Desire is a boring play, isn't it? I can see why actors love it. All those long speeches and fiery dramatic gestures. No wonder Blanche is to actresses what Hamlet is to actors, the holy grail of roles.

So why did I go see it? One reason and one reason only. Cate Blanchett. Only the best actress living today. No best actress ever. Hyperbole? No, just my own personal opinion.

So how was it? The play was pretty boring and long. But the acting was fantastic. Cate as Blanche took my breath away. She built up the character. At the beginning I was like: is this it? It was too subtle for Blanche. But as the play went on so did the performance building up into a crescendo of emotion. Amazing. Her scenes at the end with Stanley were so rieviting. I could not take my eyes off of Cate. Nor did I want to. I was afraid I'd miss anything.

And she had excellent support. Joe Edergton as Stanley was carnal and explosive while Robin McLeavy brought a much needed earthiness to Stella. It contrasted well with Blanche's flightiness. And Edergton and McLeavy were dynamite together; you got why they could not take their hands off of each other. The weak link was Tim Richards as Mitch, his accent didn't work and he was outmatched in his scenes with Blanchett.

Liv Ullman's direction was subtle. But she made this Blanche's story. Maybe because Blanchett so dominates.

On a personal note. We had the worst seats in the house and my companion actually left during intermission because of the uncomfortable "bar stools" that masqueraded as seats at the Harvey Theatre. But I was enthralled because of Blanchett. Not the play, just Blanchett. Please do another play in NYC soon. Something modern and funny next time.

5 Random Thoughts about "Up in the Air".

"Up in the Air' is a major player in the year end Awards game. And deservedly so. A movie that is completely of this year and this time. But is also a complex character study of three fascinating fictional people. And it is full of smaller characters that make it just a little bit better.

1. Everyone is saying that George Clooney is the quintessential movie star here. Affable, charming, sexy and irresistible. They are right. But more than that he makes this despicable character very very likable. Even the scenes that would be awkward with another actor are easy on the audience with George.

2. Why isn't Vera Farmiga a major movie star yet? She should be and I think after this she will be. Here she is warm, witty and oh so very sexy. But more than that, she holds the screen, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She made every scene she was in more alive. She played off Clooney fantastically well, they should work together again. Very soon.

3. Anna Kendrick is deservedly getting accolades for her performance. She was no Vera to me, but held her own. She got to deliver a lot of very emotional scenes and was great. Wound a little too much though.

4. The scene between Vera and Anna where they play two sides of the same person: the young mid 20s who's full of dreams and the mature mid 30s who has seen it all and is ready to compromise. What a fantastically well written and acted scene. Worth the price of admission on its own.

5. The ending. Not a fan. Also the montages with real people, kinda hit and miss. I didn't like the underlying message I got: if you don't have a nuclear family you're basically fucked.

All in all a great movie. Definitely check it out.