Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monthly Wallpaper - December 2008: Super Heroes

2008 was the unofficial "year of the superhero", so it is only fitting that the final Movie Dearest calendar wallpaper of the year is a salute to our favorite celluloid supers.

From the classic Christopher Reeve Superman and Michael Keaton Batman to more recent editions to the ranks such as Iron Man and the upcoming Watchmen, this legion of superheroes will keep your desktop nice and safe from marauding super villains, at least for the next few weeks.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Film Art: Got Milk Edition

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Milk, as illustrated by Robert Risko for The New Yorker.

William Gibson: 1914-2008

William Gibson, who won a Tony Award for his play The Miracle Worker and an Academy Award nomination for adapting it to the screen, died Tuesday at the age of 94.

Gibson was also Tony nominated for his play Two for the Seesaw and the musical Golden Boy. His Golda's Balcony, which starred Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir, set a record in 2005 as the longest-running one-woman play in Broadway history.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Out in Film: Gus Van Sant

Idol worship: Gus Van Sant, director/writer/producer.

- He would begin exploring the major thematic subject of all his works, the lives of those living on the fringes of society, with his first film, the gay indie classic Mala Noche.

- Continuing that theme, he would find great success with Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho, both of which won him Independent Spirit Awards and many other prizes.

- Following his flop adaptation of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, he bounced back with the acclaimed black comedy To Die For and his biggest box office hit, Good Will Hunting. He received his first Academy Award nomination as Best Director for the latter.

- After his infamous "shot-for-shot" Psycho remake and the Will Hunting-esque Finding Forrester, he would return to his indie roots with a string of often controversial art house fare, including Gerry, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Elephant, Last Days (these three comprised his unofficial "Death Trilogy") and Paranoid Park.

- His most recent film Milk, the critically acclaimed biopic of gay icon Harvey Milk, marks his return to big budget filmmaking, but still bares his distinctly independent eye for telling the stories of those outside the mainstream.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Wonder from Down Under

Okay, I admit that Baz Luhrmann’s sweeping epic Australia would have scored high marks from me for Hugh Jackman’s oft-shown physique alone. Fortunately, it has a lot more going for it and a lot more restraint than another Luhrmann film I loathe. Australia is a rousing but overlong classic that evokes films like Titanic, The African Queen and any of a number of old westerns I could probably name if I could stand the genre.

Of course, Australia doesn’t take place in the Old West – It takes place in pre-WWII Australia in sumptuously filmed vistas. Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley, an at-first fussy British noblewoman who comes Down Under to take care of and sell her husband’s cattle ranch. She is immediately offended by a man known only as the Drover (Jackman), the kind of gruff but stunning man’s man whom no one in their right mind could resist.

However, upon finding that her husband has been murdered and his ranch sabotaged, she needs the Drover’s help. She also becomes fiercely protective of a young Aboriginal boy named Nullah (the remarkable 12 year-old Brandon Walters), who, because of his mixed heritage, is threatened with becoming a virtual slave if caught. Many children like him were taken from their Aboriginal families forcibly and put into service for white families, gaining their own name, “the Stolen Generations”.

Of course, as WWII loomed, the city of Darwin (near to the cattle ranches of Lady Ashley and King Carney, the reining cattle baron played by Bryan Brown) became a vital base and target for the Japanese. We’re told at the outset that it was bombed just like Pearl Harbor, so the mystery is who ends up there and what becomes of them.

Luhrmann starts the film off with a typically heightened and humorous tone, pitting Kidman against the elements. Once the story is established, however, Australia becomes a serious-minded romantic drama that holds no surprises whatsoever. How you enjoy the film depends on how disappointed you are in that revelation.

I enjoyed Australia thoroughly, and marveled at thrilling set pieces such as a cattle stampede set on a vast precipice and the bombing of Darwin. Kidman and Jackman are both so exquisite looking and charismatic, I was not disappointed, and rather enjoyed the comfort of the film’s familiarity. I’ve always dreamed of going to Australia. After seeing Luhrmann’s version, I’m even more determined than ever — as long as I can find a similar “Drover” to give me the lay of the land!

UPDATE: Australia is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

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

Time to Carve the Turkey ...

Tina, bring me the axe!

Happy Thanksgiving from Movie Dearest!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: From Oz to San Francisco

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we bring you a special Wednesday edition of the Latest in Theaters:
  • Milk: According to Chris' review of Gus Van Sant's long-awaited biopic of gay icon Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), it is certainly well worth that wait.
  • Australia: Check back tomorrow for Neil's review of Baz Luhrmann's romantic epic starring our favorite Aussies, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
  • Transporter 3: Jason Statham puts on those driving gloves one more (final?) time as Frank Martin, here charged with transporting a kidnapped woman through Europe.
  • Four Christmases: The unlikely coupling of Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn find their holiday plans changed when they are forced to visit their relatives -- all four households of them.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Women We Love: Nicole Kidman

Object of our affection: Nicole Kidman, actress.

- This Australian actress first gained international notice in the high seas thriller Dead Calm, followed quickly by a string of Hollywood flicks, such as Days of Thunder, Billy Bathgate, Malice and Far and Away.

- She proved she wasn't just another pretty face with her chilling performance in To Die For, which won her the first of three Golden Globes. The next few years found her alternating between big budget action films (Batman Forever, The Peacemaker) and art house fare (The Portrait of a Lady, Eyes Wide Shut).

- 2001 was her year with two big hits, the atmospheric thriller The Others and the glitzy musical Moulin Rouge! She received two Golden Globe nominations, winning for the latter, which also garnered her first Academy Award nomination. She didn't win the Oscar for her sultry Satine, but for her suicidal Virginia Woolf in the following year's The Hours, which also gave her that third Globe, as well as several other prizes.

- Since her date with Oscar, she has also starred in Dogville, The Human Stain, Cold Mountain, The Stepford Wives, Birth, The Interpreter, Bewitched, Happy Feet, Margot at the Wedding and The Golden Compass.

- She returns to her homeland in this week's epic romance Australia. Next year will find her in another movie musical, Nine, as well as the recently announced The Danish Girl, wherein she'll play Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Castle Frankenstein to Close Up Shop

Mel Brooks' musical version of his Young Frankenstein will take its last "roll in the hay" January 4.

The high-ticket production, which failed to receive the plaudits and Tony Awards (not to mention the goodwill of Broadway) of its predecessor, The Producers, is planning to launch a national tour sometime next year.

The Latest on DVD: Sounder Come Home

Sounder, the classic inspirational drama about a poor family and their faithful dog, finally makes its debut on DVDtoday.

The Martin Ritt-directed film received four Academy Award nominations back in 1972, including Best Picture and lead acting nods for stars Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson.

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

Dancing is the One That You Want

Last night was the finals for this season of Dancing With the Stars, which means one thing: the always-popular free-style dance. There are no rules in this round, so the stars and their professional partners get to go crazy and do whatever the want to; the results are often lift-filled crowd-pleasers like Brooke Burke and Derek Hough's spirited take on the Grease classic "You're the One That I Want".

The duo (who got a perfect score for that one) are favored to win, not surprisingly considering they have been the front-runners all season. However, I'm still rooting for our guy Lance Bass, who I think was hampered a bit by his showboating partner Lacey Schwimmer. Footballer Warren Sapp and his perky pro Kym Johnson round out the final three.

The results of the final vote will be revealed (as host Tom Bergeron says) "liiive" on tonight's two-hour grand finale, which will also feature the return of all of this year's competitors, including that wacky Cloris Leachman.

Reverend’s Reviews: Pour Yourself Some Milk

Allow me to cut to the chase: Milk (from Focus Features, opening in Los Angeles and New York City on November 26) is excellent, and timely. Viewing this long-in-development big screen biography the night before the recent election on California’s Proposition 8 made it seem all the more prescient. The final eight, politically charged years in the life of our nation’s first openly gay elected official come to vibrant life through Sean Penn’s extraordinary performance in the title role and Gus Van Sant’s passionate direction.

Harvey Milk was many things in his lifetime: business owner, boyfriend and lover, gay rights activist, opera aficionado and, ultimately, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Since his assassination in 1978 by a disturbed fellow Supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin, who follows his award-worthy portrayal of President Bush in W. with another fine characterization), Milk has been regarded by many in the GLBT community as a pioneering hero and even a martyred saint.

Illustration by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

The late politico would likely consider his canonized status amusing, but he would also probably relish it. As Milk shows, he didn’t hesitate to take center stage whenever it would benefit his political rise and/or empower the GLBT community of San Francisco. Milk’s courage during what were still the fledgling years of the gay rights movement remains impressive, and inspiring.

Milk, with a great screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (writer-producer of HBO’s Big Love), is framed by and interspersed with scenes of Penn-as-Milk recording his real-life political journal, which he specified should be played only upon his assassination. The narrative proper begins in New York City, with Milk meeting the man who would become his long-term lover, Scott Smith (played by Spider-Man’s James Franco), on the night of Milk’s 40th birthday. Milk complains to Smith that he hasn’t accomplished anything significant in his life to date, and they drink a prophetic toast to change.

A year or so later, the two re-locate to San Francisco, where Milk opens a camera shop in the city’s Castro District. They initially experience discrimination as an openly gay couple, but soon the Castro has become the city’s gay center thanks to Milk’s community-organizing efforts. Still, the residents remain subject to gay bashings and regular harassment by the police.

Milk’s drive to stop this mistreatment propels him into political life. After three unsuccessful attempts at running for office, he is elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1977 (along with White). Milk quickly finds himself in what would become the biggest fight for GLBT rights in his life, as Anita Bryant, conservative Senator John Briggs and other anti-gay crusaders target California. Briggs introduces Proposition 6, which sought to identify GLBT teachers in public schools and remove them from their posts.

It is in detailing the GLBT community’s fight against Proposition 6 that Milk most mirrors history as recent as one month ago. Although the battle to defeat Proposition 8’s attempt to amend California’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage wasn’t as successful (at press time) as the effort against Proposition 6, the movie nonetheless serves as a reminder to us and our supporters that we must not quit. As Milk himself would say, “You’ve gotta give them hope.”

Milk is a must-see, not only for its dramatization of critical GLBT history but also for the superb achievement of its cast and creative team. It is lovingly produced by Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen and Michael London, who between them have had a hand in such GLBT fave films as To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; The Family Stone; Down with Love and American Beauty.

Out director Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting) was a perfect choice to helm this production. In addition to his expert handling of the actors, he occasionally uses archival footage of locations and events to both heighten and blur the distinctions between Milk’s time and today. Van Sant and cinematographer Harris Savides capture daytime and nighttime moments with equal skill. Among other standout scenes, there’s a singular, brilliant shot of a gay bashing’s aftermath and Milk’s conversation with the investigating police officer, all reflected on the side of the victim’s bloodied but still-shiny alert whistle.

The movie’s only misstep is its somewhat heavy-handed approach to Milk’s death. First, it perpetuates the myth that Milk was killed the day after attending a performance of the opera Tosca, which in reality he did several days before. Then, as Milk is dying in the wake of being shot multiple times by White, he gazes out the window at the adjacent opera house. Milk was a lifelong opera fan and is even the subject of an opera, appropriately titled Harvey Milk. However, it is an unnecessary stretch to juxtapose his murder with the suicide of Tosca’s heroine, as the filmmakers are seemingly doing.

But back to Milk’s strengths and the film’s chief attribute: Sean Penn. The Academy Award-winning actor isn’t so much impersonating Harvey Milk as channeling his spirit. Penn hasn’t been this loose and purely enjoyable on screen since he played stoner Jeff Spicoli in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He effortlessly nails Milk’s gestures and charismatic ability to leaven seriousness with humor. Penn also isn’t afraid to get hot and heavy with both Franco and Diego Luna (Before Night Falls, Y tu Mamá También), the latter of whom plays Milk’s unstable lover Jack Lira. I have no doubt that Penn will be Oscar-nominated for his performance as Milk, and he might even win a “partner” for his Mystic River trophy.

Since Milk is such a gay-centric movie, I am anxious to see how it is received by non-GLBT audiences. It could be of great benefit and service to take a straight family member or friend who is relatively unaware of our community’s history with us to see Milk. We need all the allies we can get in our continuing struggle for equality. This film is a powerful and inspirational history lesson.

UPDATE: Milk is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Toon Talk: Dog Star

Bolt, Disney’s latest attempt at replicating the CG success of Pixar, opens with an extended action sequence as thrilling as any from their sister studio. Here’s the set-up: “A brilliant scientist is captured by a nefarious villain and it is up to his daughter, a spy kid named Penny, to rescue him. But how can a little girl accomplish this seemingly impossible task, you say? Well, it helps that Penny’s loyal pet Bolt is actually a genetically altered super-canine with such amazing powers as super-speed, laser vision and even a “super-bark”. The evil villain’s henchmen bring out the big guns to stop them, but they are no match for the powerful pooch.”

And cut. It is here we discover that what we just saw (exploding helicopters, menacing motorcycles, child endangerment) was all part of the elaborately choreographed filming of a television action show. See, Penny (voiced, surprisingly un-annoyingly, by Miley Cyrus) is just an actress (and, apparently, a highly trained stunt person) and Bolt (voiced by a miscast, too old for the part John Travolta … wasn’t Zac Efron available?) is just a regular dog.

The twist, as revealed in an exposition-heavy monologue by the show’s manic method director (voiced, with a sly wink to his day job as host of Inside the Actors Studio, by James Lipton), is that Bolt doesn’t know he’s in a TV show. The reason being is that, if the dog believes the danger is real, his performance on screen will be more believable (in other words, a canine version of The Truman Show). However, ironically, this has the opposite effect on the film itself, as all believability is thrown out the window at this point.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of Bolt at

UPDATE: Bolt is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Cinematic Crush: David Boreanaz

Crush object: David Boreanaz, actor.

- He first got our blood pumping as the broody, awesomely-haired "vampire with a soul" Angel on the cult classic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His onscreen romance with Sarah Michelle Gellar's title character remains one of the most popular love matches on television.

- After the third season of Buffy, his Angel moved from Sunnydale to Los Angels for his own self-titled series, which ran for five seasons and garnered him three Saturn Awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

- He currently stars in another popular show, Bones, which features another popular romance, between his FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth and Emily Deschanel's Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan.

- Other television roles include a guest spot on Married ... with Children as Kelly's biker boyfriend and voicing Green Lantern in the animated Justice League: The New Frontier.

- Film roles include the slasher flick Valentine; the fourth Crow movie, The Crow: Wicked Prayer; and the upcoming sports drama Our Lady of Victory.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Neil's Favorite Movies, From A to Z

And here is Neil's "Alphabet Meme" list:

I am sure I'll regret some choices and forgotten some others, but here it is!

A is for All About Eve (1950): “Fasten your seatbelts … ”
B is for The Birds (1963): “Don’t they ever stop migrating?”
C is for Carrie (1976): “There all gonna laugh at you!”
D is for Death on the Nile (1978): Glorious bitchy dialogue and a cast to die for.
E is for Ed Wood (1994): Angora sweaters for everyone!
F is for Fargo (1996): “That would be your associate in the wood chipper.”
G is for Gone With the Wind (1939): "Well, fiddle dee dee!"
H is for Hairspray (1988): “She has roaches in her hair! I saw them!”
I is for The Incredibles (2004): The only Pixar film that would fit.
K is for King of Hearts (1996): Alan Bates and Geneviève Bujold — Ooo, la la!
L is for L.A. Story (1991): It’s SanDeE*!
M is for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): Sorry, Mommie Dearest!
N is for A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): One-two, Freddy's coming for you ...
O is for The Opposite Sex (1956): Glorious Technicolor Women
P is for Psycho (1960): “Not cabin one please!”
Q is for The Queen (2006): Not since Scott Thompson has anyone captured the Queen so well!
R is for Rear Window (1954): Another Hitchcock winner.
S is for Serial Mom (1994): Kathleen Turner rules.
T is for Tootsie (1982): One of my favorite “actor” movies ever.
U is for The Uninvited (1944): Ray Milland went from this to Frogs?!
V is for Vertigo (1958): Yet another Hitchcock classic!
W is for The Wizard of Oz (1939): “There’s no place like home!”
X is for Xanadu (1980): Did anyone really think it wouldn’t be?
Y is for Young Frankenstein (1974): “Nice knockers!”
Z is for Zelig (1983): I’m not putting Zoolander!

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

Reverend’s Reviews: Chris' Favorite Movies, From A to Z

As promised, here is Chris' take on the "Alphabet Meme":

This was hard — so many movies to go through! Keep in mind I used "favorite" and not "best" as criteria.

A is for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
B is for The Blob (1958)
C is for Citizen Kane (1941)
D is for Doctor Dolittle (1967)
E is for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
F is for Fantasia (1940)
G is for Ghostbusters (1984) (Gone With the Wind is right next to it.)
H is for Heathers (1989)
I is for It Happened One Night (1934)
J is for Jerry Maguire (1996)
K is for King Kong (1933)
L is for The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
M is for The Mission (1986)
N is for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) (I omitted Tim Burton's, obviously.)
O is for Out of Africa (1985)
P is for The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Q is for The Quiet Earth (1985) (There aren't many "Q" titles to choose from, but I do like this New Zealand movie.)
R is for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
S is for Superman: The Movie (1978)
T is for Terms of Endearment (1983)
U is for The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
V is for Victor/Victoria (1982)
W is for The Wizard of Oz (1939)
X is for X2: X-Men United (2003) (Of the few "X" titles listed in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, this is my favorite. Will Neil pick Xanadu???)
Y is for Yentl (1983)
Z is for Zero Patience (1993) (A fabulous Canadian AIDS musical!)

By the by, Chris is on record that Doctor Dolittle is his favorite movie of all time; I think it's because of the "Giant Pink Sea Snail".

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

Legends of the FAIL, Take 6

Maybe the shopkeeper knows a fish ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

MD Poll: Bat-Baddies

With the sure to be best-selling DVDs and Blu-rays of The Dark Knight on the horizon, the latest MD Poll takes a look at what no good Batman movie could do without: the villain.

The Caped Crusader has had a crazy and colorful Rogues' Gallery of, well, rogues for years in the comics, and they (naturally) have proven quite popular on the big screen as well. Well, now's our chance to see which is the best of the bad, from who is the fiercest femme fatale (Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman or Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy?) to who is the creepiest cad (Danny DeVito's Penguin or Jim Carrey's Riddler?). And, of course, who is the top Joker (Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger?).

Cast your bat-votes in the bat-poll located in the bat-sidebar, and tune in two weeks from now (same bat-time, same bat-channel) for the results.

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

MD Poll: Goldfingered

Largely regarded as the best Bond movie of them all, Goldfinger also features the best Bond song, at least as far as Movie Dearest readers are concerned. The Shirley Bassey title tune easily topped the most recent MD Poll with an even 25% of the votes.

The real battle was for second place, with Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" and Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die" duking it out in a near tie, with the Casino Royale tune eventually triumphing by only 2%. Most interesting is the fact that two songs — "Thunderball" and "The Living Daylights" — received no votes at all; maybe I should have included "Moonraker" after all ...

For the full run down of the stats for this poll, see the comments section below. And stay tuned for the next MD Poll, to be posted shortly.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Queer Cinema Favorites: From A to Z

Our pal Dan over at the Film Babble Blog has tagged us for the "Alphabet Meme" started by Blog Cabin's Fletch (a.k.a. the guru of all things LAMB). You can read all about the rules and such here, but the basics are these: name your favorite movies by title from A to Z, one for each letter of the alphabet.

However, since this is Movie Dearest, I'm going to "bend" those rules a bit by only naming my favorite GLBT-themed movies. As you can see by the list below, I did have to dip into the "celluloid closet" on a few, but when that adds Joan Crawford, James Dean and Miss Olivia Newton-John to the mix, who's going to complain?

And here we go:
  • A is for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994): Drag queens. In a bus. In the Australian Outback. 'Nuff said.
  • B is for Brokeback Mountain (2005): Just can't quit this one.
  • C is for The Celluloid Closet (1995): Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's seminal documentary on the history of gay Hollywood.
  • D is for Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Al Pacino's best performance is as bisexual bank robber Sonny Wortzik.
  • E is for Edge of Seventeen (1998): The coming out story for gay children of the 80's.
  • F is for Far from Heaven (2002): Todd Haynes' stylized ode to Douglas Sirk melodramas.
  • G is for Gods and Monsters (1998): Ian McKellen's best performance is as gay film director James Whale.
  • H is for Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): John Cameron Mitchell is blonde and bigger than life in this rockin' musical.
  • I is for I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987): Patricia Rozema's funny/tragic look at love and art.
  • J is for Johnny Guitar (1954): Our gal Joan is a pistol-packin' "woman with a past" in this wacky western from director Nicholas Ray.
  • K is for Kiss of the Spider-Woman (1985): William Hurt won the first Oscar for a gay role in this adaptation of the Manuel Puig novel.
  • L is for Longtime Companion (1990): Norman René and Craig Lucas' moving look at the impact of AIDS on a circle of friends.
  • M is for Maurice (1987): Classy classic from the Merchant Ivory factory, based on the E.M. Forster novel.
  • N is for Notes on a Scandal (2006): Judi Dench does good crazy as a lesbian stalker.
  • O is for The Opposite of Sex (1998): Don Roos' bitingly wicked comedy, with a star-making performance from Christina Ricci.
  • P is for Parting Glances (1986): The indie classic from the late Bill Sherwood, featuring a stunning early turn by Steve Buscemi.
  • Q is for Querelle (1982): Rainer Werner Fassbinder's sexy fever dream starring a too-hot-for-words Brad Davis in the title role.
  • R is for Rebel Without a Cause (1955): Not too hard to spot Sal Mineo's onscreen (and off?) crush of Dean's iconic Jim Stark.
  • S is for Some Like It Hot (1959): As this comedy's immortal last line says, "Nobody's perfect" ... but this movie sure is.
  • T is for The Times of Harvey Milk (1984): Another Epstein doc, this Oscar winner is a must-see companion to Gus Van Sant's upcoming Milk biopic.
  • U is for Unzipped (1995): Isaac Mizrahi is the star of this "behind-the-seams look at the world of high fashion".
  • V is for Victor/Victoria (1982): Robert Preston's Toddy, the self-appointed "queen of Paris", steals the show.
  • W is for The Wedding Banquet (1993): Ang Lee's first foray into gay themes is this Academy Award nominated winner.
  • X is for Xanadu (1980): No overt gay content, but still the gayest movie on this list.
  • Y is for Yossi & Jagger (2002): Eytan Fox's surprisingly tender (and sexy) tale of two soldiers in love.
  • Z is for Zero Patience (1993): A movie musical about the AIDS crisis? It shouldn't work, but it does.
Our resident Men on Film, Chris and Neil, will be chiming in over the next few days with their choices as well. In the meantime, how many of these movies have you seen? And what would be your favorite movies, from A to Z? Join in on the fun in the comments section below.

UPDATE: Oopsie ... forgot to "tag" five more bloggers ... so "Tag, you're it" to the mysterious Broadway Mouth, the talented Dave of Daveland Art, the frickin' hilarious Noelle at Just Putting It Out There, the fabulous Shane at Queer Two Cents and last (but certainly not least) my very own brother Kerry at War Painter Studios. You got served. (And no, I didn't forget the sassy Marc at Deep Dish; he already posted his groovalicious list here.)

... and here is Chris' take ...

... as well as Neil's.

Out in Film: John Glover

Idol worship: John Glover, actor.

- This prolific character actor has appeared in many memorable movie roles, including Annie Hall, Julia, White Nights, 52 Pick-Up, The Chocolate War, Scrooged, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Robocop 2, Batman & Robin and Payback.

- On television, he has been nominated for five Emmy Awards, most notably for his heart-breaking portrayal of an AIDS patient in the groundbreaking TV movie An Early Frost. He also co-starred in the television remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

- However, he is perhaps best known as the Machiavellian Lionel Luthor on Smallville. Other TV appearances include L.A. Law, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Frasier, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Batman: The Animated Series, wherein he voiced The Riddler.

- He won a Tony Award for his dual role of brothers John and James Jeckyll in Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!, which he reprised in the film version. He recently won a Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for his performance in Secrets of the Trade.

- He will next be seen as the upcoming new love interest of Ron Rifkin's Uncle Saul on Brothers & Sisters.

UPDATE: In addition to his stint on Brothers & Sisters, Glover will also be paying a visit to Heroes, wherein he'll play the father of resident baddie Sylar (Zachary Quinto).

Pie Hole Shut

Not even the reviving touch of its hero could stop Pushing Daisies from its untimely end: ABC has cancelled the whimsical fantasy series.

The network has also axed Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money (and yet the craptacular Private Practice not only lives on, but gets a cushy, post-Grey's Anatomy berth on Thursdays come January). None of the three cancelled series, all in their second seasons, fully recovered in the ratings following the writers strike earlier this year.

However, Bryan Fuller, Daisies' creator, says that this may not be the last we see of the Pie Hole gang after all: "We are talking to DC Comics about doing comic books that will wrap up our storylines, and I already have a pitch for a movie ready to go." So there may just be a happy ending for Chuck and Ned after all.

Best of the Fests: Sundance Scandal Brewing

Here's some compelling news out of Park City, Utah, home of the venerable Sundance Film Festival. On the heels of reports of a potential boycott of the fest as a result of the Utah-based Mormon church's support of California's controversial Proposition 8 (which, as I'm sure you are well aware, bans gay marriage in the Golden State), Sundance officials have announced the movie that gets the choice spot of opening the festival. And what do you know, it's from an openly gay director.

Mary and Max, the clay animated story of a pen-pal friendship between a lonely 8-year-old girl (voiced by Toni Collette) living in suburban Melbourne and a morbidly obese New Yorker (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is the feature film directorial debut of Australian animator Adam Elliot. Elliot is best known for winning the Academy Award in 2004 for his quirky short film (also produced in clay animation) Harvie Krumpet. While accepting his Oscar, he notably thanked his "beautiful boyfriend Dan"; you don't get more openly gay than that. Furthermore, as previously reported here at Movie Dearest, the film also stars Eric Bana as Damien, "the gay love interest of a Kiwi sheep farmer named Desmond".

And in more film-related fall-out from Prop 8, a website called "No Milk for Cinemark" is urging moviegoers to not go see the upcoming Gus Van Sant biopic of gay icon Harvey Milk ... at a Cinemark theater, that is. For more on that issue, see my previous post here, and for more on the Sundance scandal, visit

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Twilight Dawns

This week's new releases bring both gay and lesbian love stories, a canine crime fighter and, oh yeah, some movie about vampires.
  • Twilight: Stephenie Meyer's bestseller about teen/vamp love hits the big screen, hype and all. Is it just me, or didn't Buffy the Vampire Slayer already do this before -- and better?
  • Bolt: Disney's latest attempt at a Pixar-size computer animated hit features a dog voiced by ... John Travolta. Watch this extended clip to see what may be the flick's best asset, a bloodthirsty hamster.
  • Special: Michael Rappaport is a meter maid (meter man?) whose anti-depressant turns him into a superhero ... or at least he thinks so.
  • Bigga Than Ben: Former Prince Caspian Ben Barnes plays a Russian conman out to get all he can from the English welfare system.
  • I Can't Think Straight: The World Unseen's Shamim Sarif tells another tale of forbidden love, this time between a rebellious daughter of a traditionalist Palestinian family and an aspiring English writer.
  • Were the World Mine: For more on this queer musical fantasia, read Chris' review and/or watch the trailer here.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Reverend’s Reviews: Quantum Physics

As you can see by my postings here and elsewhere, I’m a lifelong and rather obsessive fan of the James Bond movies. I can quote most of them and sing their theme songs at the simplest request. But I was nervous about the just-opened Quantum of Solace, and not just because of its head-scratching title. I was chiefly concerned about early reviews saying the 22nd Bond film was non-stop violence and showed our hero disturbingly hell-bent on revenge.

I was greatly relieved, therefore, to discover that such criticisms are far from accurate. True, Bond, played for the second time by the intense and riveting Daniel Craig, is initially seeking the faceless agency and/or individual responsible for the death of his beloved Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. However, the super-spy learns the true meaning and value of justice along the way, and even receives an unexpected lesson from a fallen friend on the importance of forgiveness.

Bond gradually uncovers a global conspiracy to corner and control our warming world’s water supply. The plot is masterminded by the duplicitous Dominic Greene, well played by French actor Mathieu Almaric. While Almaric is hardly an imposing figure physically, his dark eyes and villainy-with-a-smile approach reminded me of Klaus Maria Brandauer’s turn as Largo in 1983’s “unofficial” Bond entry (and Thunderball remake) Never Say Never Again.

There isn’t any obvious GLBT content in Quantum of Solace, but we shouldn’t discount Greene’s personal assistant, Elvis (Anatole Taubman). Though we’re told that Elvis is Greene’s cousin and therefore apparently not boyfriend material, Elvis’ fashion sense and slavish dedication to his boss seem only slightly removed from Ugly Betty’s flamboyant Marc.

Quantum of Solace’s plot isn’t as complex as many of the prior Bond films, for which some viewers may be grateful. It is really little more than a string of action sequences connected by minimal exposition, changes of location and Dame Judy Dench, who gets her most screen time as M, Bond’s boss, since 1999’s The World is Not Enough. As directed by Marc Forster, the film moves along quickly and is effectively entertaining. What’s more, the final shot — as Bond seemingly leaves his desire for retribution behind him — is haunting.

I would be remiss if I ended this review without critiquing the movie’s theme song, “Another Way to Die”, especially in the wake of Movie Dearest's recent Bond song poll. Not surprisingly, “Quantum of Solace” proved too baffling to lyricize, although composer Jack White does manage to work the word solace in. His song is more in the rock style of “Live and Let Die” than the more typical Shirley Bassey model. It is welcome in that regard, and is accompanied by suitably psychedelic opening titles.

Co-singer Alicia Keys’ sultry voice meshes well with White’s, although one wonders why the song is performed as a duet. Either Keys or White could have carried it as a solo, and White is arguably more of a household name (if marketability was the concern) than Chris Cornell, who sang “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale. Whatever the artistic and marketing considerations, “Another Way to Die” is unlikely to have a life apart from the movie.

UPDATE: Quantum of Solace is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

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

From the Island of Lost Toys

Forget about hide and seek, let's play Lost.

Medicom Toys has released their first wave of Kubrick figuresbased on characters from the cult TV fave, including Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Locke, Hurley and Charlie. Each one even comes with their own little accessory, like handcuffs for Kate (kinky), a knife for Locke (naturally) and a book for Sawyer (you know I want me one of those).

As you can see, it looks like Ben and Desmond will be in the next batch, and according to The Blot blog, there will also be a special edition Jack (in a suit) and even Dharma teddy bears. Uh, shouldn't those be polar bears?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Toon Talk: WALL-E Phone Home

This past summer at the movies wasn’t all superheroes and, well, more superheroes. While those all-star blockbusters soared to the top of the box office, a not-so-little movie about a little robot with a lot of heart captured the imaginations of audiences of all ages. And now, like his cinematic predecessor E.T., WALL-E gets to go home.

Your home, that is, with the release of a 3-disc special edition Disney DVDthat almost makes up for the bare bone single disc-ers that Cars and Ratatouille were. However, don’t get too excited, as the third disc is merely a downloadable digital copy of the movie.

Nevertheless, the two main discs are packed with hours of bonus materials (including the DVD debut of the feature-length documentary The Pixar Story and the brand new short BURN-E) that refreshingly breaks away from the typical “behind the scenes at Pixar” stuff that was quickly becoming redundant (before they were abandoned, that is). Instead, what you’ll find are features that are still informative and entertaining, yet as dynamic and unique as the movie itself.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of this new DVD releaseat

Broadway Casting About

Lots of casting news from Broadway and beyond:

- Marissa Jaret Winokur will recreate her Tony Award winning role as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray starting December 9. She joins her "mamma" Harvey Fierstein as the show winds down to its final performance on January 4.

-Richard Chamberlain will don the crown of King Arthur when he joins the national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot next year.

- Reba McEntire, who made quite an impression a few years back in Annie Get Your Gun, may return to the Great White Way in Cole Porter's Anything Goes.

- Brent Spiner, a.k.a. Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data, will star in the title role of the Reprise Theatre Company's upcoming production of Man of La Mancha.

- Kathleen Turner will join Charles Busch in his play The Third Story, which is scheduled to begin previews at the Lucille Lortel Theatre January 14.

- Casting is now complete for the new West End musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, based on the classic gay favorite.

- And last but not least: Cheyenne Jackson will appear in a workshop of something called Mormon Musical, from those nasty South Park guys.