Film/Arts/Satire*
(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Brendan Fraser

Crush object: Brendan Fraser, actor.

- His tendency to ping-pong back and forth between light-hearted comedy and serious dramatic roles began early in his career with his first two breakout roles in Encino Man and School Ties.

- Continuing that trend, he has given impressive performances in With Honors, The Twilight of the Golds, Gods and Monsters, The Quiet American and Crash, while also starring in such goofy fare as Airheads, Blast from the Past and Bedazzled.

- Speaking of goofy, he has played two cartoon characters come to life in George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right, and played straight man to a host of others in Monkeybone and Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

- Branching out into action roles, he headlined the hit update of The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns.

- He'll be seen in theaters with two special effects-laden fantasy adventures this summer, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (opening July 11 and August 1, respectively). Next up: suiting up as Gung Ho in GI Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Fresh Bondage

Those hoping for a continuation of the down and dirty James Bond of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale should be satisfied with this first look trailer of his next big screen adventure, Quantum of Solace.

"Continuation" is the key word here for, unlike most of his previous cinematic exploits, this one will pick up where the last one left off, with an enraged 007 seeking revenge for the death of his true love, Vesper Lynd, in the climax of the last film.

A motor boat chase, free falling stunts, a sharp-as-a-tack Judi Dench and, yes, Craig with his shirt off ... things are looking good for Quantum of Solace, in theaters November 7.

Toon Talk: Love as a Mostly Robotic Thing

Save for a few romantic subplots here and there, love stories have not exactly been at the forefront in the Pixar feature film canon. The “boys’ club” at the Lamp have been more naturally drawn to the “buddy film” concept more often then not, from Buzz and Woody all the way up to Remy and Linguini. Perhaps being absorbed into the Disney family -- known for their fairy tale “happily ever afters” after all -- has rubbed off on them, for if Pixar’s latest computer animated crowd pleaser WALL-E is anything, it’s a love story.

Told with a gentle hand and a big ol’ heart on its sleeve, WALL-E is yet another homerun for the animation powerhouse, proving yet again that no one (not even their parent company) comes close to creating films in their chosen art form quite like they do these days.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of WALL-E at LaughingPlace.com.

UPDATE: WALL-E is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Monthly Wallpaper - July 2008: Patriotic Movies

July is upon us, which in America means a chance to do a little fire crackin', ball tossin' and flag wavin'. And there's a lot of flag wavin' going on in the movies featured in this month's calendar wallpaper, a salute to patriotic movies.

From Patton to Superman to that Yankee Doodle Dandy himself, these movies represent patriotism on film at its very best, whether its duking it on the ring, flying high or, you know, blasting yourself into outer space. So join in with Mr. Smith, Sergeant York, Davy Crockett and the Gipper as they give three cheers to the ol' red, white and blue.

Just click on the picture above to enlarge it to its 1024 x 768 size, then right click your mouse and select "Set as Background", and you're all set. If you want, you can also save it to your computer and set it up from there, or modify the size in your own photo-editing program if needed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Film Art: She's Not Bad ... or Drawn

Ladies and gentlemen: the de-tooned Jessica Rabbit, as envisioned by the digital artist at Pixeloo.com.

Be sure to check out their other "humanized" animated characters, such as Stewie Griffin, Homer Simpson and Super Mario.

Reel Thoughts: Stuck You

If you’re looking for a creepy, affecting suspense movie and The Happening’s just not happening for you (with good reason), check out the tabloid-riffic film Stuck. Based on a real event that occurred in Fort Worth, Texas, Stuck tells the terrible tale of what happens when a basically good but weak-willed woman (Mena Suvari, in scary cornrows) hits a downtrodden homeless man (Stephen Rea of The Crying Game).

Over-the-top horror director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) follows the trend of David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises) and Wes Craven (Red Eye) in directing more mature projects, while still maintaining his wicked sense of humor.

Suvari plays Brandi, an ambitious working class nursing home attendant. Her nasty supervisor (played by Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, the director’s wife) dangles a promotion in front of her, but when Brandi drunkenly plows into a homeless man named Tom (Rea), she makes a horrible decision. Tom is stuck in her windshield, but rather than call an ambulance, Brandi leaves him in her garage to die, hoping to dispose of his body. Tom comes to, only to realize that he needs to free himself or be killed off.

Stuck’s lurid premise is elevated by its intelligent examination of the various conditions and events that shape each person. Brandi is not evil, but her self-preservation instinct is definitely out of whack. Tom, on the other hand, is the product of our sinking economy, a scary reminder that anyone can become homeless (but hopefully not wedged in some crazy girl’s windshield). Stuck is a well-paced suspense film with depth, disguised as an exploitation flick.

UPDATE: Stuck is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Memo from Movie Dearest: Come On Over to My Space

Image created by MySpace friend "Captain Celluloid 3000"

Sigh ... good help is sooo hard to find. After a certain pictorial fiasco, Scotty the Movie Dearest Intern has been working his tight little tushie off to make amends to Mommie. Head on over to the "Official Movie Dearest MySpace Page" to see his handiwork; it really is impressive that he was able to spiff it up so nicely, what with all the wire hanger wounds and all ...

Seriously though, be sure to check out my page for all the latest Movie Dearest goodies. For example, you can watch all the latest Videodrone clips, vote in the current MD Poll and listen to the MySpace exclusive Movie Dearest Greatest Hits, a playlist of my favorite movie songs.

And, of course, don't forget to join in on the fun by becoming a friend. By doing so, you'll receive updates on all my comings and goings, including a new weekly recap of the latest posts right here at Movie Dearest!

Reel Thoughts: It's M. Night Shyamalan's Happening and I'm Not Freaking Out

The best thing I can say about The Happening is that I never saw director M. Night Shyamalan in one of his increasingly obnoxious "performances" in his latest film. It’s a cautionary tale about an attack on the Northeast US of unknown origin. Is it a neurotoxin like Sarin gas launched by terrorists? Is it an isolated event in New York City? Or is it something more primal? Whatever the case, it seems to make people kill themselves. It’s an interesting premise, but like most of Shyamalan’s later work, it’s marred by bursts of pretentiousness, bad acting and irrational plotting.

The opening feels like a direct rip-off of the chilling first chapter of Stephen King’s novel Cell -- a peaceful morning in Central Park turns deadly. Mark Wahlberg is miscast as a sensitive high school science teacher who flees Philadelphia with his wife (Zooey Deschanel), friend (John Leguizamo), and his friend’s young daughter. As the attacks increase, the film plays like a low-wattage War of the Worlds, from which it borrows liberally.

To be fair, Shyamalan crafts some shocking and satisfyingly creepy scenes, including a gruesome discovery in Princeton, NJ (which feels lifted from The Sixth Sense), and the viewing of a cell phone video taken at the Philadelphia Zoo (which echoes a similar scene from Signs). The biggest reason The Happening fails is because, in this paranoid post-9/11, Inconvenient Truth-informed era, the response to this threat from people and the authorities is completely unrealistic. People would react as if a "dirty bomb" had been dropped, barricading themselves in large shelters and fleeing in panic, like in the films Cloverfield, I Am Legend, The Mist and the flawed-but-intense Right at Your Door, which were all much better at showing an unstoppable menace.

You have to wonder if Shyamalan even knows human beings -- his dialogue and the performances he draws from Wahlberg and Deschanel feel like something a vaguely humanoid alien would create with limited interaction with the race. The truly spooky sequences make me sad that the film’s not better. The Happening is better than Lady in the Water, but only in the same way that the Hindenburg disaster was better than the Titanic.

UPDATE: The Happening is now avaiable on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

When the Boys You Used to Hate You Date ...

Sure, The Facts of Life went to Paris, but did they ever go to Oz?

If so, perhaps Mrs. G and her gals ran in to the Golden Girls and the Sweat Hogs ...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Missed It By That Much

Like a lot of films "based on TV shows", Get Smart can stand on its own as a spy spoof, but not so well as a remake of the original. While I loved Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, they weren’t Agents 86 and 99, unless they reused the numbers at CONTROL.

Set in the present day, but acknowledging the original show by way of a display at the Smithsonian of Cold War-era artifacts, Get Smart is almost more like a Mission: Impossible parody with passing references to the Don Adams comedy. Carell’s Maxwell Smart is, well, smart, but also a crack analyst for CONTROL. Hathaway’s 99 is a butt-kicking super-agent who has no time for a klutz like Max. Of course, they end up paired together on a desperate mission to save the U.S. from nuclear attack.

James Caan shows up as a Southern doofus of a President not unlike Dubya, while other characters from the original show are re-imagined (Bill Murray, Bernie Koppel, Patrick Warburton, etc.). Duane “The Rock” Johnson is sexy and fun as superstud Agent 23, displaying some good comic timing. Alan Arkin is great as the Chief, but it’s really Carell’s show, and he’s pretty hilarious throughout.

The film drags a bit, but at least Terrance Stamp is on hand as an evil KAOS mastermind. His deadpan delivery is priceless. Get Smart is not the smartest comedy of the summer, but it’s a worthwhile distraction from the burning heat.

UPDATE: Get Smart is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Out in Film: Jane Lynch

Idol worship: Jane Lynch, actress.

- She began her career onstage, touring with the famed Second City comedy troupe and playing Carol Brady in The Real Live Brady Bunch.

- Her breakthrough role was in the Christopher Guest mockumentary Best in Show. She has since co-starred in Guest's A Mighty Wind (wherein she did all her own singing and guitar playing) and For Your Consideration.

- Other films include The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Bam Bam and Celeste, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

- She has made many many television appearances, everything from Judging Amy and 7th Heaven to Felicity and The L Word.

- Upcoming movies include the gay-themed Tru Loved, the animated comedy Space Chimps and Julie & Julia, in which she'll play the sister of Meryl Streep's Julia Child.

For the Birds

It isn't often that the realms of Barbie and Hitchcock collide, but when they do, the result is something as brilliant as this: the Alfred Hitchcock The Birds Barbie Doll.

Can't wait for the Psycho and Vertigo models.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Most Wanted

In this corner, gun-toting killers, alcoholics, whores and Communists. And in the other: a cute robot. Attention studios: unlike last week's offerings, this is how you counter-program.
  • Wanted: A sexy Angelina Jolie recruits a nerdy James McAvoy to be an elite assassin for a super-secret organization led by Morgan Freeman in this actioner from Russian director Timur Bekmambetov.
  • WALL·E: Early reviews (including our own Chris Carpenter's) are raving about this latest Disney/Pixar crowd-pleaser about a lonely robot who finds love and adventure in outer space.
  • Finding Amanda: Matthew Broderick's alcoholic TV producer must track down and help his prostitute niece (Brittany Snow, a long way from Hairspray) in Las Vegas.
  • Trumbo: An all-star cast reads the words of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday, Spartacus) in this documentary about his glory days in Hollywood and the dark days of McCarthyism.
Visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

The Latest on TV: GLAAD Media Awards 2008

Although we've known the actual winners for months now, Bravo will air the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards (honoring the "fair, accurate and inclusive" representations of the GLBT community in film, television, theater, print and other media) tomorrow night at 7:00 PM EST. The program will be a condensed version of the group's events in New York, South Florida, Los Angeles and San Francisco held earlier this year.

So why bother tuning in if we already know who won? To star watch, of course. Celebrity presenters, winners and guests who may appear on the telecast include Calpernia Addams, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Bryan Batt, Jennifer Beals, Candis Cayne, Kate Clinton, Wilson Cruz, Alan Cumming, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Loretta Devine, Sally Field, Tom Ford, Balthazar Getty, Christopher Gorham, Kathy Griffin, Rachel Griffiths, Tim Gunn, Van Hansis, Mariska Hargitay, Cheyenne Jackson, Janet Jackson, Leslie Jordan, T.R. Knight, Sharon Lawrence, Alec Mapa, Garry Marshall, Becki Newton, Graham Norton, Anthony Rapp, Matthew Rhys, Ron Rifkin, Anika Noni Rose, Zoe Saldana, Kyra Sedgwick, Jake Silbermann, Sharon Stone, Michael Urie and Rufus Wainwright.

Reverend's Reviews: Hello, WALL-E!

Like all fans of the Disney-Pixar canon, I had high expectations for their new robot tale, WALL-E (in theaters tomorrow). One thing I didn't expect, though, was the film's reverence for the 1969 movie musical disaster Hello, Dolly!

From the opening strains of "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" heard over the opening titles to, later, Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrew crooning "It Only Takes a Moment", Gene Kelly's hugely expensive adaptation of the classic stage musical starring a then-red hot but too young Barbra Streisand in the title role is referenced to the point of overuse in WALL-E. However, Twentieth-Century Fox could yet recoup some of their Dolly losses if the young viewers of WALL-E rush out and give it a renewed life on DVD.

As expected, WALL-E is an intelligent, ingeniously designed, touching -- even, at times, poetic -- animated feature directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo). The title creation is a small trash-compacting machine, the last of his kind still functioning who were left to clean up Earth after people abandoned it 700 years prior due to toxic levels of trash and pollution. With an über-resilient cockroach as his sole companion, WALL-E collects treasures he finds among the waste and, inspired by an old VHS tape of Hello, Dolly!, pines for someone to love.

Hope arrives in the form of a sleek probe droid named Eve, whom WALL-E is immediately smitten by; in his effort to win Eve's heart (assuming robots have hearts), WALL-E follows her into space and to the mother ship where the oddly evolved descendants of those humans who left Earth await a sign to return.

There is considerable humor, intrigue and romance throughout this smartly written fantasy. What's more, it sends a strong but not heavy-handed "Save the Earth" message that could end up being more effective at inspiring viewers to change their mass-consumption ways than An Inconvenient Truth.

Be sure to arrive early before screenings of WALL-E to catch a hilarious Pixar short, Presto, and stay through the end credits for some brilliant animation and a terrific song, "Down to Earth", sung by Peter Gabriel and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

UPDATE: WALL-E is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Women We Love: Rosalind Russell

Object of our affection: Rosalind Russell, actress.

- This woman we love has played many Women We Love on both stage and screen: Sylvia Fowler, Hildy Johnson, Ruth Sherwood, Mame Dennis, Momma Rose and a certain Mother Superior.

- She never won an Oscar (out of nominations for My Sister Eileen, Sister Kenny, Mourning Becomes Electra and Auntie Mame), but she did receive the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy and five out of five Golden Globes (for the latter three movies, plus A Majority of One and Gypsy).

- Other classics in her filmography include The Women, His Girl Friday, Picnic, The Trouble With Angels and its sequel Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.
- On Broadway, she won a Tony for Wonderful Town, the musical version of My Sister Eileen. She was also nominated for her Auntie Mame, which she would later recreate on film.

- Turner Classic Movies celebrates her career with a month long tribute starting July 1. Films scheduled, which will air every Tuesday next month, include the TCM premieres of The Guilt of Janet Ames, Craig's Wife, A Majority of One and A Woman of Distinction.

Awards Watch: Saturns 2008

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films were thoroughly Enchanted when it came time to hand out their Saturn Awards last night. The live action fairy tale won three Saturns, including Best Fantasy Film and Best Actress for Amy Adams. The remaining top film prizes went to Cloverfield (Sci-Fi), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Horror), 300 (Action/Adventure/Thriller), Eastern Promises (International) and Ratatouille (Animated).

No Country for Old Men's Javier Bardem added another trophy to his crowded mantel as Best Supporting Actor. Other acting honors went to I Am Legend's Will Smith, The Mist's Marcia Gay Harden and August Rush's Freddie Highmore, while 300's Zack Snyder and Ratatouille's Brad Bird took home the directing and writing awards, respectively.

On the television side, Lost found four Saturns, for Best Network Series and acting wins for Matthew Fox, Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell. See the comments section below for a quick look at all the winners.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poster Post: Put Up Yer Dukes

A very early teaser poster, featuring Channing Tatum as Duke, for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Yep, that seems to be the title now, which means two things: number one -- franchise wannabe. And number two -- just how many cobras are rising at the thought of the Chan dressed all in skin-tight black combat gear?

The Latest on DVD: Muse-ical Magic!

Who knew that 28 years after its notorious box office belly flop that Xanadu would find itself resurrected not only as the quintessential "bad movie we love", but also as an award winning Broadway hit?

The magical, muse-filled musical starring Olivia Newton John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly (in his last film role) is even getting a deluxe DVD treatment, new this week: the Xanadu: Magical Musical Edition.In addition to a digitally remastered picture, new 5.1 surround sound audio track and all-new bonus features, the set also includes the complete CD soundtrack (granted, most of us already have that, but still ... )

By the by, if you too have fond memories of "growing up Xanadu", be sure to read Dan McCallum's hilarious essay on doing just that over at AfterElton.com.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

Next Stop, Wonderland

Another reason for theater geeks (especially gay theater geeks) to rue not living in New York: the annual burlesque-for-a-cause Broadway Bares was presented this past Sunday night, with the best bods on Broadway (male and female) on display to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This year's sold-old event was a resounding success, taking in $874,372 for the charity and beating last year's record by over a hundred grand.

Themed after Lewis Carroll's classic Through the Looking Glass stories, Wonderland featured such hot talent as Mary Birdsong (as Alice), Tituss Burgess (as the White Rabbit), Nathan Lane, Andrea Martin, Matthew Morrison (as Humpty Dumpty), Christopher Sieber and Jerry Mitchell, who created the show 18 years ago.

For photographic coverage of all the naughty fun that took place, visit AfterElton.com, Broadway.com, BroadwayWorld.com and Playbill.com (may be NSFW).

UPDATE: CBS News on LOGO's Jason Bellini takes a look backstage at this year's proceedings, as does Broadway.com.

That's Miss Bell to You ...

Let us hope that when the time comes for a certain fantastical faerie to get her name immortalized upon its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year, that they spell it correctly.

For the record (and according to the author who created her), the Peter Pan pixie (who surely will receive this honor conveniently timed around the release of her new Disney movie'srelease on DVD) is named Tinker Bell, not Tinkerbell.

Her friends call her Tink, but you can call her Miss Bell if you're nasty.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tony Tube 2008

Here's a video round up of the best of Broadway, as seen on the Tony Awards last week:

- Of course, what everyone was talking about the next day: Xanadu's Cheyenne Jackson brings the house down with a fierce rendition of "Don't Walk Away".
- The Cry-Baby boys are "A Little Upset" (especially since their show closed a week later).
- Another show that announced their closing in the past week: A Catered Affair.
- For the wholesome family crowd, Disney was on hand with both The Lion King and The Little Mermaid ...
- ... with Megan Mullally in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein there to scare them off later.
- Grease was the word ...
- ... but not the final word. That honor goes to Rent, reuniting the original cast for one last chorus of "Seasons of Love".

And for a little more Cheyenne, here's "All Over the World", as seen on Live with Regis and Kelly, plus a Tony red carpet interview from Broadway TV.

Cinematic Crush: Taye Diggs

Crush object: Taye Diggs, actor.

- He found instant fame as a member of the legendary original cast of the landmark rock musical Rent, wherein he played Benny. His life was changed with the show in another way, as he met his future wife, Idina Menzel; the two would later co-star in The Wild Party and Wicked. His other stage roles include Carousel, Chicago and A Soldier's Play.

- After a stint on the soap The Guiding Light, he made his film debut as the answer to How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

- More movies followed with Go, The Wood, The Best Man, House on Haunted Hill, Brown Sugar and the film versions of Chicago and Rent.

- Guest stints on Ally McBeal and The West Wing led to his own series, Kevin Hill, which won him an NAACP Image Award, but only lasted one season. He appeared as a love interest for Will in the final season of Will and Grace and starred in another short-lived series, Day Break.

- He currently stars on the Grey's Anatomy spin-off, Private Practice, which returns for a second year this fall.

Dody Goodman: 1915-2008

Dody Goodman, the beloved character actress known for her daffy performances on stage, screen and television, passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

Goodman began her career on Broadway, finding fame for her dancing in the original productions of Call Me Madam and Wonderful Town. Jack Paar called, and she became a regular fixture on his Tonight Show, which led to an Emmy nomination and a string of television appearances on game shows and other talk shows.

She is best remembered for playing the mother of the title character in the TV soap satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and the bubble-headed Blanche, secretary to Eve Arden's high school principal, in the movie Grease and its sequel. In the 90's Broadway revival of Grease, she played Miss Lynch for a time, and was also a long-standing member of the Little Sisters of Hoboken of Nunsense fame.

George Carlin: 1937-2008

George Carlin, the Grammy Award-winning comedian who taught the world the "Seven Things You Can't Say on Television", died yesterday at the age of 71.

In addition to his prolific stand up career, Carlin gave memorable performances in such films as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (and its sequel), The Prince of Tides (as Nick Nolte's gay neighbor), Dogma and Jersey Girl. He also voiced characters in Tarzan II, Cars and Happily N'Ever After.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

EW Picks the "New Classics"

"Can you believe they made another mother-f***in' list?"

To commemorate their 1,000th issue, Entertainment Weekly is celebrating by doing something they like to do a lot of: make lists. Enough to total 1,000 listings (get it?), naming their picks for the best in movies, television, music, books, theater and whatever other pop culture tidbits they can come up with; needless, to say, it's a double issue (on newsstands this weekend), with most of the lists spilling over online at EW.com.

But there's a twist. Dubbing these the "new classics", the choices only hail from the past 25 years (how convenient for them, considering that most of their lists are heavy on the current anyway). Although setting that (arbitrary) cut-off date as that of their first issue (February 16, 1990 -- with k.d. lang as their first cover subject) surely would have made more sense, at least this gives the EW staffers the chance to laud their over-hyped/over-rated favorites one more time (Seinfeld? Check. Arrested Development? Check.) They even got to put Harry Potter on the cover again.

Topping off their choices in movies is Pulp Fiction, with The Silence of the Lambs (movie posters), The Simpsons (TV), The A-Team (TV theme songs), Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack (music), Cormac McCarthy's The Road (books), Madonna at the MTV Music Awards (fashion), Tony Kushner's Angels in America (stage), Tetris (video games) and the DVD player (technology) heading up their respective categories. For a quick look at the full list of 100 movies, see the comments section below.

Costume Dramas: The Red Jacket

Has there ever been more of an iconic image for cinematic restless youth then the signature red jacket worn by James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause?

From The Wild One to Grease to Happy Days, leather jackets may be the more common costume of choice as a symbol of 50's cool, but none are as striking ... or as memorable ... as this scarlet symbol of teen angst.

The Weinsteins of Broadway

Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob are upping their game in the legitimate theater. The movie producing duo (late of Miramax, now of their own Weinstein Company) is looking to turn some of their more popular films into musicals for the Great White Way.

The first to hit the boards will likely be the already announced Finding Neverland, followed by a sure to be trippy version of Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Other possibilities include the Academy Award winning Shakespeare in Love (with original screenwriter Tom Stoppard's involvement), Chocolate (maybe starring its original leading lady Juliette Binoche), the Italian classic Cinema Paradiso (another Oscar winner) and Shall We Dance (more likely the Americanized remake as opposed to the Japanese original, Shall We Dansu?). They may even convince Gwyneth Paltrow into a stint on Broadway, although it is not clear if she would recreate her Oscar-winning performance in a musical Shakespeare.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Out in Film: Jerry Mitchell

Idol worship: Jerry Mitchell, actor/dancer/ director/choreographer.

- He began his career as a dancer in such Broadway productions as Brigadoon, On Your Toes and The Will Rogers Follies.

- After assisting dance legend Jerome Robbins, he became a choreographer in his own right with You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He received Tony and/or Drama Desk nominations for The Full Monty, The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray, Never Gonna Dance and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, finally winning both prizes for the 2004 revival of La Cage aux Folles.

- Directing was next on his agenda, and he got his chance with the hit Legally Blonde - The Musical. In connection with that show, he can currently be seen on the MTV reality series that is conducting The Search for Elle Woods, and was recently part of another TV talent show, Step It Up and Dance.

- Film work as a choreographer has included the classic tango scene from Scent of a Woman, as well as such other movies as In & Out, The Object of My Affection, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Camp (yes, it's "Turkey Lurkey Time").

- During his chorus boy days, he created the now legendary Broadway Bares annual burlesque shows to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Now celebrating its 18th year, this year's edition, titled Wonderland, will be presented this Sunday. Also new: his book, Backstage Pass: Broadway Bares,all about the show's creation and evolution over the years.

The Latest in Theaters: Viva Viva!

A last minute addition to this week's Latest in Theaters is Viva, the queer camp delight opening today in Los Angeles (see the film's MySpace page for more information and future engagements).

I couldn't describe it any better then the press release: "She was a housewife seeking kicks in a world of sex, sin, and swingers … Viva, a candy-colored tribute to classic sexploitation films of the 60's and 70's is Anna Biller’s take on the sexual revolution, a lurid, retro romp set in the 1970's, featuring amazing period sets, costumes and musical numbers that will delight vintage vixens and time-traveling tramps alike.

Barbi (Biller) is living the perfect suburban life as a pampered housewife, when she finds herself abandoned by her perfect Ken-doll husband Rick (Chad England). Soon, Barbi and her girlfriend Sheila (Bridget Brno), a buxom blonde with a taste for adventure, decide to get out there and see what they’re missing, and find themselves drawn into the baroque fantasyland that was the sexual revolution, including nudist camps, the hippie scene, wild orgies, bisexuality, sadism, drugs and bohemia.

Shot in 35mm and saturated to the hilt with vibrant color, and exquisitely detailed in its depiction of the period, Viva looks like a lost film from the late 60's, right down to the campy and self-assured performances, the big lighting, the plethora of négligées, and the delirious assortment of Salvation Army ashtrays, lamps, fabrics, and bric-a-brac. Whether you're looking for nude dancing, alcoholic swingers, stylish sex scenes, a sea of polyester, Hammond organ jams, glitzy show numbers, white horses, blondes in the bathtub, gay hairdressers or psychedelic animation, Viva has it all!"

It sure seems so ... check out the groovy trailer (could be NSFW).

MD Poll: AFI's Best of the Best

Wrapping up our coverage of the American Film Institute salute to their 10 Top 10 (which recently named the ten best films in ten classic genres), this week's MD Poll asks you to pick the best of the best.

Snow White, Dorothy Gale, Vito Corleone, HAL 9000, Ethan Edwards, Jake La Motta, Madeleine Elster (or is it Judy Barton?), the Tramp, Atticus Finch and T.E. Lawrence all want to know: of the AFI's ten #1 movies, which one is your favorite?

Cast your vote in the poll located in the sidebar to your right, and check back here in two weeks for the results.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed. Click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

MD Poll: Philadelphia Freedom

Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia, the Academy Award winning drama (starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington) that was the first studio release to deal with the subject of AIDS, has been selected by Movie Dearest readers as the GLBT-themed film most worthy of induction into the National Film Preservation Board's National Film Registry (see the comments section below for the complete statistics of the poll).

So, here is where you have to do a little work to make this all worthwhile. Below you will find a short sample letter requesting that Philadelphia be considered for inclusion in the NFR. Simply copy it and go to the NFR's nomination page to email it to them. Feel free to add your own personal thoughts about the film as well (and share them in the comments section below if you wish).

Dear National Film Registry:

Please consider the 1993 motion picture "Philadelphia" for induction into the National Film Registry this year. As a supporter of film history and preservation, I feel that this film fulfills the criteria for inclusion due to its historical significance as the first major studio release to address the subject of AIDS.

As a member of/ally to the GLBT community, I also feel that its inclusion will increase the diversity represented within the National Film Registry.


As it states on the NFR website, nominations by the general public are very important in the board's selection process, so be sure to submit your vote to help increase the presence of GLBT-themed films in the NFR (for more information on the NFR, see my original post). I will also be submitting an email elaborating on this whole project and how the film was selected, but please take a few minutes to send your own email as well.

The announcement of the 25 films selected for this year's induction will take place the last week of December.

Click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

Jesus Rocks Me

My pick for this year's Best Song Oscar: "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" from Hamlet 2 (in theaters August 27).

The End of the Affair

Following the imminent closing of Cry-Baby, the fall-out from the Tony Awards continues: A Catered Affair, the stage musical version of the classic Bette Davis kitchen sink drama The Catered Affair, will play its final performance July 27.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Love and Let Spy

Two high profile comedies are facing off this weekend in theaters, pitting two cinematic spies -- the new Maxwell Smart and the former Austin Powers -- against each other for box office supremacy:

- Steve Carell dons the shoe phone of the late Don Adams for another big screen take (remember The Nude Bomb?) of the 60's TV comedy classic Get Smart. Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin and Dwayne Johnson join him in the fight against KAOS, led by Terence Stamp.
- After a long absence onscreen, Mike Myers trots out a new character with The Love Guru. Jessica Alba, Verne Troyer and a Speedo-ed Justin Timberlake also star in what is already being "hailed" as the worst movie of the year.
- And hoping to catch some of the family audience between Kung Fu Panda and next week's WALL-E is Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Little Abigail Breslin stars as the title moppet, based on the popular line of dolls; Julia Ormond and Chris O'Donnell play her parents, and the cast (under the direction of Patricia Rozema) also includes Jane Krakowski, Joan Cusack and Stanley Tucci.

Visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Best of the Fests: Frameline 2008

Celebrating its 32nd year, Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival, began today. Notable films on the schedule include the period mystery Affinity (based on the novel by Sarah Waters of Tipping the Velvet fame); the romantic drama Ciao; Ready? OK!, a comedy about a boy who just wants to cheer (co-starring Lost's Michael Emerson); the documentary Call Me Troy, about renowned out minister Troy Perry; and (closing the festival on June 29) Breakfast with Scot, the comedy that mixes gay parenting with Canadian hockey.

The fest will also feature special screenings of such classics of queer cinema as Gus Van Sant's Mala Noche, Pedro Almodóvar's Law of Desire and the Wachowski Brothers' Bound.

For more on this year's Frameline, see the coverage at AfterElton.com and PlanetOut.com.

Awards Watch: Oscar House Rules

Two of the always-controversial Oscar categories are affected by some new rule changes at the Academy, announced today.

First up, the award for Original Song has streamlined their "sing off" procedure, but the biggest change in the category is that, from now on, only two songs per film will be able to reach the final nominations ballot. Presumably, this is in response to the last two years, when Dreamgirls and Enchanted dominated the nominees with three tunes each.

And for the annual rules change in the Foreign Language Film category, judging of the nine finalists will now be altered so that three of those will be selected by a special committee. One can easily assume that this will eliminate such embarrassments as last year's snubs of expected shoo-ins 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Persepolis. Those two films in particular were acclaimed as the best foreign films of 2007 by every other awards group ... except the Oscars.

No other changes, such as in the confusing "native language" clause or the archaic "one film per country" rule, were made at this time. Nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards will be announced January 22, 2009, followed by the presentation of the Oscars on February 22.

Bye Bye Baby

Despite a surprise Best Musical nomination from the Tony Awards, Cry-Baby on Broadway will soon be no more. The musical, based on the John Waters cult film favorite, will close after this Sunday's matinee performance.

The good news is the show is promised to tour. The bad news is that a cast album, at least by the original Broadway performers, is now unlikely. And that is enough to make the show's fans a little upset.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Do You Solemnly Swear ...

Brian de Palma's Scarface, recently named one of the top ten gangster movies of all time by the American Film Institute, will get the audience participation treatment in a unique way with a special presentation at the Los Angels Film Festival this week.

Taking a cue from the concept of such far more wholesome offerings as the "Sing-a-Long" Sound of Music, would-be Tony Montanas will get to drop all of the many-many F-bombs along with their idol with the "Swear-a-Long" Scarface, screening Friday night.

All together now: "Say hello to my little friend!"

Women We Love: Anne Hathaway

Object of our affection: Anne Hathaway, actress.

- After a short-lived television series (Get Real), she gave a star-making performance as Princess Mia Thermopolis in the Disney romantic comedy The Princess Diaries.

- More ingénue roles followed with Nicholas Nickleby, Ella Enchanted and the Princess Diaries sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. She also voiced characters in the animated features The Cat Returns and Hoodwinked!

- She broke through to adult roles with her topless scene in the landmark Brokeback Mountain, playing the wife of Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist.

- Another hit, The Devil Wears Prada (where she held her own opposite Meryl Streep's title character), cemented her stardom.

- Recently, she portrayed author Jane Austen in the biopic Becoming Jane, and co-stars as the sexy Agent 99 in this week's big screen version of the classic TV comedy Get Smart.

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