Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reverend’s Report: Musicals & More at TCM Fest 2013

I’m privileged to be able to cover several great Los Angeles-area film festivals each year (I even help program one of them) but the TCM Classic Film Festival has emerged as my personal favorite.  Why?  Because it doesn’t involve schmoozing, bidding, soliciting or having to find and define the best new movies out there.  The TCM Fest, which just celebrated its fourth smash year this past weekend, is all about movie lovers coming together to proclaim their love of classic films, however “classic” is defined.  There are no distribution deals to make or potential Oscar contenders to peg; the films screened received distribution or were nominated for or won Oscars decades ago.

In addition to fans seeking out long-lost movies or newly-restored versions, musicals are always a top draw and this year was no exception.  Indeed, the festival opened Thursday night with both a new print of Barbra Streisand’s star-making 1968 Funny Girl (which is being released on Blu-rayfor the first time today alongside Streisand’s more recent big-screen outing, The Guilt Trip) and a screening of 1958’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific.  Whereas Babs was a no show for Funny Girl (Cher served as a crowd-pleasing substitute), South Pacific stars Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen participated in a lively pre-screening Q&A with TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz.

Gaynor, fit and feisty at the age of 81, discussed the torturous path she took to win the role of Navy nurse Nellie Forbush.  She playfully dissed rival Elizabeth Taylor, saying “Liz was too busy getting married” and “Unlike her, I could sing.”  Mankiewicz was even more flummoxed, amusingly so, by Gaynor’s description of the late Ricardo Montalban as “a bitch.”  She went on to share how badly she had wanted to co-star with Marlon Brando in Sayonara but was turned down because Brando insisted on an Asian actress, Miyoshi Umeki.  The famously Latino Montalban, on the other hand, was cast in Sayonara as an Asian!  Finally, Gaynor demanded that Mankiewicz’s wife bring their newborn baby out for the approval of the crowd gathered around the Roosevelt Hotel pool for the outdoor screening.  Mrs. Mankiewicz dutifully complied, to everyone’s delight.

Neither South Pacific nor Funny Girl holds up as well cinematically as their reputations would have one believe (I hadn’t seen Funny Girl in its entirety prior to this weekend).  Each runs over 2 ½ hours and is sluggishly-paced.  Director Joshua Logan has long been criticized for his use of different colored filters for some of South Pacific’s musical numbers, but his true offense was to make the World War II-set production dull.  Funny Girl, directed by three-time Oscar winner William Wyler, is the livelier film for its first hour or so before it too gets bogged down by the doomed love affair between Streisand’s Fanny Brice and gambler Nicky Arnstein, played by the then-controversially cast Omar Sharif.  However, the lead performances and stunning scores for both shows/films remain beyond reproach.

Another big-screen musical I had never seen and was determined to catch at TCM Fest was 1955’s Kismet.  A rare box-office flop for Vincente Minnelli, this Arabian Nights-inspired confection is energetically choreographed by the great Jack Cole and beautifully designed.  It also boasts fun performances by Howard Keel, Ann Blyth (who was on hand to discuss her work on Kismet as well as her Oscar-nominated turn as vile daughter Veda in the original Mildred Pierce with TCM’s Robert Osborne), Sebastian Cabot and the absolutely scintillating Dolores Gray, who steals the show as the favorite yet scheming wife of Cabot’s wicked Wazir.  Her performance of the show-stopping “Not Since Nineveh” drew sustained applause from the screening audience, which applauded pretty much every musical number.  The 35mm print shown wasn’t in the best condition but the film is available in a likely better-quality version on DVD.  I agree with the festival’s program guide that Kismet is ripe for re-discovery.

It isn’t a musical but I couldn’t resist the chance to catch George Stevens’ Giant on the big screen of the TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre, especially since I had never seen the Texas-set epic in its 3 ½ hour entirety.  Wow!  The 1956 film adapted from Edna Ferber’s sweeping novel boasts terrific performances by leads Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean (who died just two weeks after shooting completed) as well as great supporting turns by Mercedes McCambridge, Jane Withers (who introduced the TCM Fest screening) and then-newcomers Carroll Baker, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper and Rod(ney) Taylor.  Stevens won the Oscar for his superb direction but Giant ultimately lost Best Picture to the more entertaining but artistically inferior Around the World in 80 Days.  Some critics and viewers have carped that this still-timely exploration of commerce, greed, family and race is overlong, but I couldn’t find a single scene to cut without potentially diminishing the film’s power.  It is a true classic by any measure.

So impressed and overwhelmed was I by Giant that I had little remaining interest in or energy for the many other cinematic treasures shown over the weekend.  Thankfully, the spectacular success of the TCM Classic Movies Festival — it has grown from approximately 2,000 attendees its inaugural year to more than 25,000 today — virtually ensures that I will have another opportunity next year.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Love, Damage & Vampires

The latest in gay-interest home video releases…

Love Free or Die (Wolfe Video):
This award-winning documentary by gay director Macky Alston (Questioning Faith: Confessions of a Seminarian) is inspiring and infuriating in equal measure. Alston’s subject is Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who last year concluded his controversial tenure as head of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.  Robinson suffered public criticism, private death threats and the scorn of many of his fellow bishops in the global Anglican Communion in the wake of his election as bishop in 2003, all because he is openly gay and partnered.  Never mind that he is also a compassionate, learned, wise, dedicated and holy man of God.

Robinson’s election and subsequent travails have been recounted to some extent in previous documentaries, notably 2007’s For the Bible Tells Me So. Alston, however, focuses exclusively on the bishop and spent the better part of seven years following Robinson.  Most significant during that time was Robinson’s exclusion from the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church’s gathering of bishops held every ten years in London.  Disappointed but undeterred, Robinson went to London anyway to meet with other disenfranchised Christians, and Alston’s camera was on hand to capture key moments.  For me, the film’s most powerful, moving sequence occurs when Robinson, not invited with the gathered bishops to tea with the Queen, chooses to have tea with HIV-infected “commoners” instead.  It is exactly what Jesus would have done.

Love Free or Die also reveals how far the Episcopal Church has come regarding the full inclusion of LGBT people in the last decade, largely and ironically thanks to the backlash to Robinson’s consecration. While it has had to whether departures from more conservative/traditionalist clergy and members, some of whom left to form rival congregations and others to join the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopalians are now the undisputed leaders within mainstream American Christianity when it comes to incorporating men and women in same-sex relationships. This was cemented in 2009, when an overwhelming majority of the church’s bishops, clergy and laity voted against the larger Anglican Communion’s will to not only continue ordaining bishops in committed same-sex relationships but to bless same-sex unions among its clergy and laity as well.

Some of the film’s content can be upsetting, especially the inexcusable decision of Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican primate, to ban Robinson from the Lambeth Conference. Williams clearly placed his fear of reprisals from church conservatives over the sacramental and fraternal responsibility he had to a duly-elected and consecrated fellow bishop. Shame on him, but kudos to Robinson for hanging in there despite all obstacles, and to filmmaker Alston for documenting it all so well.
Reverend’s Rating: B+

Broadway Damage (Village Art Pictures):
Of all the fine gay independent movies deserving of a Blu-ray release, I wouldn’t put this 1997 romantic-comedy at the top of my list. Great as it looks in hi-def, the New York-centric plot hasn’t aged well. A trio of pals (played by Michael Lucas, Aaron Williams and Mara Hobel, best known as little Christina Crawford in Mommie Dearest) deal with boyfriend, roommate and rodent issues.  Hugh Panaro, who has gained considerable success since in such Broadway hits as The Phantom of the Opera, co-stars as a struggling singer and gay love interest. Much of writer-director Victor Mignatti’s script feels forced and padded, making the film feel at least 15 minutes too long. The performances are of mixed quality as well.  Broadway Damage may best be appreciated as a time capsule, complete with oversized cell phones, Friends-inspired fashions and gay 90’s hairstyles.
Reverend’s Rating: B-

Vampire Boys 2: The New Brood (Ariztical Entertainment):
The first Vampire Boys sucked (pardon the pun) and was hardly deserving of a sequel but it must have rented well. Chapter two is actually something of an improvement. Both films feature a gang of bisexual bloodsuckers on the hunt for new recruits. Here, they are running an underground fight club too. Can a Twilight-inspired trio of two hot guys and a pretty girl (the twist is that the guys are the primary couple) stop them? Vampire Boys 2 is a bit more polished than the first film and amps up both the gay content and full-frontal male nudity. Young gay Twi-hards will likely enjoy sinking their teeth into it. Everyone else should stick with Interview with a Vampire.
Reverend’s Rating: C+

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Foreign Visions


Before the summer movie season gets underway with this weekend’s release of Pain & Gain (which features the hunky dream pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the arrival of Iron Man 3 next week, check out these current foreign releases.

Australian director Cate Shortland’s previous, debut film Somersault (2004) was a critically-acclaimed exploration of a young girl’s sexual awakening.  In her new film, Shortland explores a teenager’s moral awakening.  Newcomer Saskia Rosendahl gives a riveting performance as Lore (short for Hannelore), the eldest of several siblings left to fend for themselves at the end of World War II when their Nazi parents are arrested by allied forces.  As the children make their way through the ravaged countryside and villages toward their grandmother’s house with the help of a young Jewish man (The White Ribbon’s Kai Malina), Lore develops her conscience as well as her libido.  Unflinching but thoroughly engrossing, the film provides a rarely depicted look at the Holocaust’s other innocent victims.  Adapted from the lauded novel The Dark Room, it also boasts beautiful cinematography by Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom).
Reverend’s Rating: B+

The Silence
A generally well-made yet disturbing psycho-sexual thriller from Germany.  In the summer of 1986, a young man named Timo (Wotan Wilke Moehring, giving a very good, haunted performance) watches his best friend, Peer (a creepy turn by Ulrich Thomsen) rape and murder a teenaged girl.  They hide the body and Timo soon goes his separate way, much to Peer’s disappointment.  23 years later, another girl is murdered in the same location on the same date as the first.  Is it a coincidence, the work of a copycat killer, or is Peer trying to lure Timo back?  While Timo searches for his own answers, the detectives on the case include a widowed officer who occasionally wears his dead wife’s dresses.  Though The Silence struck me as truthful regarding how parents deal with the loss of a child, other script elements — such as a pregnant policewoman being sent alone to question a suspect in his home — strain credibility. Nonetheless, neophyte writer-director Baran bo Odar is a talent to watch.
Reverend’s Rating: B

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reverend's Preview: GLAAD Tidings

After the Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys, one would think all the awards for 2012’s best achievements in movies, music and television have been given out.  Think again.  GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, will host their annual Los Angeles Media Awards event tonight.

Founded in 1985, GLAAD continues to advocate for and hold the media accountable in their presentation of LGBT characters, people and issues.  The organization has annually honored the best of these representations for the last 24 years, and its awards events are now spread out among three different cities: LA, New York and San Francisco.  Proceeds from each fund GLAAD’s important, ongoing work on behalf of our community.

“Images and stories from the LGBT community continue to push support for equality to historic levels,” according to Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s new president.  “This year’s nominees enlighten and entertain, but also reflect a new American landscape where a growing majority accept and value their LGBT family, colleagues and friends.”

The films, TV programs and other media being recognized this year include The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, ParaNorman, How to Survive a Plague, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The New Normal, Modern Family, DC Comics, Huffington Post and bisexual R&B singer Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange album.  All in all, GLAAD named 120 nominees in 25 English-language categories as well as 33 Spanish-language nominees in eight categories.  A complete list of nominees can be found online at here.

In addition, special honorees are feted in each of the three cities for their work in furthering LGBT visibility.  Anderson Cooper was presented with the organization’s prestigious Vito Russo Award (by Madonna, no less) at last month’s New York gathering, and former president Bill Clinton will be honored in LA, to be hosted by Drew Barrymore. Awards presenters at the LA event will include newly-minted Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, previous Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Mary Steenburgen, Tobey Maguire, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Elle Fanning, Betty White, Chris Evans, Ted Danson, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Also, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kelly Rowland will perform at the ceremony.

MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts has been confirmed as a Special Guest at tonight's celebration in LA, which will take place at the JW Marriott Hotel.  Roberts famously came out as a gay man in 2006 while speaking at a convention of gay and lesbian journalists.  Last year, he legally wed his longtime partner in New York City. Additional special guests include Glee's Naya Rivera and Alex NewellThe New Normal's Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha, Ellen Barkin, NeNe Leakes, Georgia King and Jayson Blair; Raising Hope's Cloris Leachman, Lucas Neff, and Shannon Woodward; Scandal's Dan Bucatinsky and Guillermo Díaz; and Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy), Brad Goreski (It's a Brad, Brad World); Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower); Trevor Donovan (90210); Maria Menounos (Extra); Scott Evans (One Life to Live); Brad Bell (Husbands), GLAAD's former Entertainment Media Director Chaz Bono and GLAAD National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz.

As GLAAD president Graddick stated, “Now more than ever, viewers not only accept gay and transgender characters and plot lines, they expect them — just as they both accept and expect LGBT people to be a valuable part of their everyday lives.”  The LA Media Awards provides a great opportunity for local members of our community to celebrate this new reality.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the GLAAD Media Awards website.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Troubled Waters

Two of the cinema’s finest young auteurs, François Ozon and Jeff Nichols, have new films out between this week and next that demand attention even if they fall a bit short of the directors’ best work to date. 

The 45-year old, openly gay Ozon has been cranking out international hits such as 8 Women, Swimming Pool and Potiche since 1998, and his new work Young & Pretty was just chosen to be in competition at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.  Ozon’s 2012 film In theHouse is making its US debut today in Los Angeles and New York before expanding.  While essentially a comedy adapted from a Spanish play, it is often disturbing in its depiction of a high school student with a troubled background, Claude (striking discovery Ernst Umhauer) who ingratiates himself into a classmate’s seemingly happy, middle-class family.  Claude documents his observations of the family in writing assignments for his literature teacher, Germain (veteran French actor Fabrice Luchini).  Increasingly drawn into Claude’s voyeuristic prose, Germain begins to share them with his wife (the ever lovely Kristin Scott Thomas) but gradually loses perspective and begins to make unethical decisions in defense of Claude and his writing.

Claude’s entrée into the Rapha household brings its own growing set of moral compromises, which primarily involve his attraction to his friend’s mother (played by Emmanuelle Seigner, aka Mrs. Roman Polanski) and toying with his friend’s budding homosexuality.  Ozon’s screenplay uses the scenario to raise valuable questions about literary license, the differences between equality and uniformity, respect for others and “the dictatorship of sex.”  I also thoroughly enjoyed his technique of having Germain pop up in unexpected ways within the action of Claude’s storytelling.

In the end, though, I found In the House less focused than most of Ozon’s previous films.  It is difficult to decide with which character we as viewers and pseudo-participants are supposed to empathize.  This could well be intentional, but when one’s options are a junior sociopath, a failed writer-turned-scheming schoolteacher and a bored housewife obsessed with home improvements, among others, none of them is appealing.  Despite excellent performances as well as a nice original music score by Philippe Rombi, In the House is more off-putting than fully satisfying in the end.

Jeff Nichols’ Mud, meanwhile, is the 34-year old writer-director’s third feature and follow up to 2011’s sensational Take Shelter.  Lionsgate will release Mud nationwide on April 26.  In this Mark Twain-inspired saga, a modern-day Tom and Huck by the names of Ellis and Neckbone (talented newcomers Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, respectively) cross paths with the mystical vagabond of the movie’s title.  Matthew McConaughey, hot off his acclaimed gay or gay-ish turns in last year’s MagicMike and The Paperboy, stars as Mud.  Clad in a worn yet protective shirt (Don’t worry, boys and girls: he takes if off frequently enough) as well as boots with crosses fashioned out of nails in their heels “to ward off evil spirits,” Mud is discovered living in a boat displaced by Mississippi river flooding to the treetops of a remote island.

Mud assures Ellis and Neckbone that “there are fierce powers at work in the world,” and soon enough the positive forces of romantic and parental love are pitted against an evil force of retribution.  Several years earlier, Mud killed the eldest son of a Texas gangster who was abusing Juniper, the love of Mud’s life played by Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon.  Juniper has come to town presumably so she and Mud can run away together to a safe place but so have the gangster’s minions, who are intent on killing Mud.  Ellis and Neckbone, idealistic and curious to their detriment, naively offer to serve as go-betweens for Mud and Juniper and inadvertently place themselves in grave danger.

Adolescent boys and their fathers will find much to appreciate and bond over in Mud but the movie’s slow-as-molasses, 130-minute running time and occasional bursts of Scorsese-esque violence prevent it from being a true family film.  Also, while the dialogue Nichols has crafted is excellent, his character development is weak when it comes to Juniper.  We learn next to nothing about what makes Mud’s lady love tick or why she makes some of the baffling decisions she does during the film’s course.  Witherspoon does fine with what she has to work with, chiefly a bird tattoo, a short skirt and a pair of sky-high sandal heels but it gets harder to care about Juniper; Becky Thatcher she ain’t.  The remainder of the cast which also includes out actress Sarah Paulson, Sam Shepard, Joe Don Baker and Nichols regular Michael Shannon, who will next be seen as General Zod in Man of Steel — are all superb in their decidedly better-written roles.

Flawed though they are, Mud and In the House are still stronger cinematic offerings than most of what is currently playing, largely due to the immense talents of their chief craftsmen.

Reverend’s Ratings:
In the House: B-
Mud: B

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reverend’s Interview: Cruz’n with GLAAD

Actor Wilson Cruz is immediately recognizable to many in the LGBT community thanks to his appearances in such TV series and films as My So-Called Life, Party of Five, Noah’s Arc, Party Monster, Coffee Date and The People I’ve Slept With.  He also starred on Broadway and won acclaim as the HIV+ drag queen Angel in Rent.

Last year, the openly gay 39-year old took on an important new role as National Spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer for GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  As such, Cruz has a hand in planning the anti-defamation watchdog’s Media Awards events now taking place from coast to coast.  He recently spoke with Reverend about his current undertaking.

Rev: Congratulations on your new gig!  How long have you been working with GLAAD now?
Cruz: Thanks!  It’s been seven months.  It’s been a roller coaster ride.  I’ve worked with GLAAD on and off for the last 20 years, since they gave me a Media Award for My So-Called Life.  God, has it really been that long? (Laughs)  I’ve served on the GLAAD Board of Directors and appeared at various events.

Rev: What are your responsibilities in your new position?
Cruz: I represent the organization in all types of media, television and print.  I do a lot of blogging and fill in for GLAAD president Herndon Graddick whenever he isn’t available.  I’m also the chief fundraiser for GLAAD.  I’ve fundraised a lot in different organizations but never on staff.  Successful fundraising is really about personal relationships and being passionate about the cause.

Rev: Have you taken a break from acting?  If not, what are you working on now?
Cruz: I have a film in festivals now called Meth Head, with Lukas Haas.  I have the freedom to act when I feel compelled by a role or project rather than I have to act to pay the bills.  It’s art again instead of a job, which is nice.  It’s in my GLAAD contract that I can take time off for acting.

Rev: You were in New York City for last month’s Media Awards event there.  How was it?
Cruz: I was.  It was pretty amazing!  I followed Madonna, who presented our Vito Russo Award to Anderson Cooper.  She wore a Boy Scout uniform and I was also wearing kind of a Boy Scout uniform.  I was surprised to learn how short she is, but she commanded the room.  It was an electric evening with a number of notable moments in the show especially, for me, the winner of the Outstanding Documentary Award, How to Survive a Plague.

Rev: Out of all of this year’s nominated films and TV series, what are some of your favorites?
Cruz: How to Survive a Plague and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I’m a Broadway baby after all, so I’m very excited about the Smash win in New York for Outstanding Drama Series.  There’s a young man named Harvey Guillen nominated for an episode of The Mentalist, and nominee (and TV journalist) Melissa Harris-Perry is a personal hero of mine.

Rev: Were you involved in the nominations process?
Cruz: Yes, I am involved since I’m a former winner, so as a past honoree I get to weigh in and vote.  (Cruz won GLAAD’s Visibilidad Award in 2008 in addition to his earlier citation for My So-Called Life.)

Rev: Why should our readers and our community support GLAAD?
Cruz: GLAAD celebrates how powerful and transformative LGBT people’s stories can be, and how they help change how people see our community.  We make the cultural change that makes the political change happen.  You can pass a law but whether or not people support that law determines whether the law is successful or not.  Legal same-sex marriage is one example of this.  The work we did on television and in film really has helped to shape that preparedness for when marriage equality is legal.

For more information about GLAAD or to make a donation, visit their website.

Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Ghosts & Demons

The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film adapted from Stephen King’s bestseller, received mixed reviews upon its release but is today regarded as a classic.  The elegant, mannered chiller starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall has inspired all sorts of interpretations as to its message and meaning.  Such speculation has apparently only increased since the director’s death in 1999.

The new documentary Room 237, named after the film’s most haunted hotel room, explores several viewers’ theories.  Some see The Shining as a damning critique of western US expansion and the subsequent extermination of Native Americans, while some regard it as a Holocaust allegory.  Others discuss it as either a re-telling of the Minotaur myth, a Freudian analysis of fairy tales or a possible “confession” of Kubrick’s alleged involvement in a faked moon landing.  The film could also serve as an exploration of sublimated sexuality including homosexuality, especially given its hostile treatment of Duvall’s character and the fact that Nicholson is revealed to be discreetly reading a Playgirl magazine at one point!

Some of these interpretations seem more of a stretch than others but all are entertainingly presented by director Rodney Ascher.  If nothing else, Room 237 serves as a testament to Kubrick’s cinematic mastery, whatever his intent may have been.

You think you and your girlfriend have issues?  Well, at least you aren’t a nun and she isn’t potentially possessed by an evil spirit.  Such is the plight faced by Voichita and Alina, the two young women at the center of the fine, intense new drama Beyond the Hills.  Directed by the award-winning Christian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), the movie was Romania’s official submission for this year’s Oscars.

Having grown up together in an orphanage and apparently fallen in love, the pair becomes separated once they turn 18 and Voichita (Cosmina Stratan, making a strong film debut) subsequently enters an Orthodox convent.  They are reunited when Alina (well-played by spirited newcomer Cristina Flutur) arrives for a visit.

Determined to get Voichita out and move together to more progressive Germany, Alina runs afoul of the other nuns and their resident priest.  As Alina becomes more desperate, she finds herself accused of demonic possession and forced to undergo an exorcism.  These scenes, while absent of head spinning and pea-soup vomit, are nonetheless upsetting.

Mungiu balances his film’s more disturbing content with peaceful shots of the idyllic, surrounding countryside and of intimacy between the two women while slowly building to an inevitable confrontation.

Reverend’s Ratings:
Room  237: B+
Beyond the Hills: B+

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monthly Wallpaper - April 2013: Bette Davis

This April 5th marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of quite possibly the best actress to ever grace the silver screen, Miss Bette Davis. Yes, she was more than just eyes.

Winner of two Oscars and nominated for eight more, Bette starred in such cinematic classics (and certified gay faves) as All About Eve, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and uttered such iconic lines as "What a dump", "I'd love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair" and "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night". To paraphrase Margo Channing, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a Bette month!"

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.