Armond White
(”1001 Arabian Nights” is briefly mentioned in this.)
May his daring at least get Disney’s closed minds to rerelease Song of the South.
(Review Source)
Armond White
Michael Bay and Adam McKay both miss what’s important. Neither an exoneration of Hillary Clinton nor a clear explanation of the events of September 11, 2012, which left four Americans dead at the U.S. embassy in Libya’​s capital, Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is something political pundits almost never understand: It’s a movie. Bay focuses on five former military contractors assigned to protect CIA officers at an annex to the U.S. embassy, who eventually fight off marauding Libyan rebels. In these profiles in courage, actors portray real-life figures (some of them former Navy SEALs) Tyrone “Rone” Woods (James Badge Dale), Kris “Tanto” Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave “Boon” Benton (David Denman), John “Tig” Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa), and Mark “Oz” Geist (Max Martini). Bay adds a sixth figure, the fictional Jack Silva (John Krasinski), who joins their muscular elite. He is both “brother” (as the former G.I. Joes address one another) and audience-surrogate. On these terms, 13 Hours is undeniably superficial — not an explicitly political film or a factual historical account. Action director Bay works “apolitically,” which is a more complicated circumstance than partisan pundits may be willing to comprehend. The economic motivations of Hollywood make it unlikely that a mainstream movie will dare indulge in political controversy. (Remember how Clint Eastwood played both sides of the aisle in American Sniper?) Historical tragedies usually make it to the screen through sentimental pandering, and that is the case with 13 Hours: Action-movie suspense is combined with stereotypical tough-guy heroism. Even that simplification has its political aspects, although most pundits customarily praise or condemn movies according to what fits their political bias. (Remember how discussions of Zero Dark Thirty ricocheted across both sides of the aisle?) But since many filmgoers are reluctant to consider that all cinema is ideologically loaded (“It’s just a movie!” fanboys insist), 13 Hours can be sold as an “important” action movie without actually saying anything important. Vague introductory titles assert that Libya’s strongman, Moammar Gaddafi, was “deposed.” In a TV clip, President Obama proclaims the end of a “long and painful chapter for the people of Libya” — conveniently disconnecting U.S. policy from regime change there and setting out Libya’s political chaos as a “turf war” among unspecified factions with American onlookers stuck in the middle. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); Bay is not of the Eisenstein, Pontecorvo, or Costa-Gavras politically motivated school that dramatizes ideological cause and effect. Bay and screenwriter Chuck Hogan avoid depicting the details that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. “We didn’t hear any protests,” one soldier says. “It was on the news,” another responds — conveniently glossing over the Obama administration’s convoluted propaganda war that first blamed the attack on an American-made Islamophobic video. Stevens (portrayed by actor Matt Letscher) is respectfully described as “the real deal, a true believer, here to win hearts and minds.” From that “due diligence” pretense, Bay proceeds to do his ad man’s thing. In the same way that Bay’s 2001 Pearl Harbor used history for a pseudo-patriotic blockbuster extravaganza, 13 Hours applies an advertising man’s delirium to the depiction of political turmoil. Whatever political-social comment on the Benghazi locale there is in this movie is presented through visual koans: Ambassador Stevens enjoying a large, blue swimming pool, Libyan kids playing on a rusted car hood, rebels shooting holes in an American flag (seen from on high in typical Bay-vision). Adducing these images never leads one to a political assessment. Yet, finally, when the embassy compound is under fire, Bay shifts gears and does a 360 circling of the rainbow-hued siege: An interior shot shows Stevens and staffer Sean Smith fleeing beneath a ceiling of flames. And among the waves of combatants, a video insert of the black ISIS flag can be glimpsed while ammo flashes punctuate the fighting. How else would Hollywood make a contemporary war movie when our media culture routinely dissociates itself from military purpose and commitment? Since Vietnam, Hollywood always looks at the military with either skepticism or contempt for what it stands for. Bay has inherited this cynicism, but, as an advertising aesthete whose fascination with technology has provoked snotty condescension from liberal critics loath to admit their secret regard for materialism and industry, he exults in the paradox of action-movie extravagance. Bay’s real motivation here is revealed when one soldier says the Libyan raiders are coming from “Zombieland,” and, aiming his weapon, shouts: “I feel like I’m in a fucking horror movie!” More Movies Mark Ruffalo vs. White ‘Conservative’ Women The Mummy Unwrapped: American Guilt and Masochism There’s Still Life in The Mummy Bay illustrates the excessive violence of war in imagery that recalls Vittorio Mussolini’s infamous poetry describing bombs as “budding roses.” The best scenes in 13 Hours occur when Bay imagines warfare as spectacle. Soldiers caught behind a windshield during a street standoff take point-blank gunfire in a montage that would do Eisenstein or Peckinpah proud. In a rooftop bombardment, a barrage of mortar shells raises sparks that ignite into star-like twinkles — in dazzling real time. The audience I saw the film with was stunned by this, but I swear all Madison Avenue will gasp. This is the opposite of peacenik imagery — which doesn’t mean Bay is a fascist warmonger, but it makes his appreciation for fighting men’s bravery more convincing than 13 Hours’s superficial characterizations. Bay’s imagery externalizes the men’s stress as it also visualizes wonder, and this works better than the film’s mawkish view of military heroism, which conservative viewers should not fall for too easily. Krasinski’s Silva repeats a passage from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, which he and his post-9/11 fighter buddies read as religiously as soldiers in WWII movies read the Bible: “All the gods, all the hells, all the heavens are within you.” Worse than warmongering, this nods to the nihilism of post–Iraq War films like The Hurt Locker that demonize soldiers as psychopaths. In an after-battle scene, Bay contrasts a bullet-ridden American flag in a ditch with scenes of Libyan women in black reclaiming the bodies of dead jihadis. Like other post–Iraq War Hollywood movies, 13 Hours tries to have it both ways. *      *      * Hollywood often pays “Support Our Troops” lip service to soldiers, but the industry’s real heroes are hustlers, which explains the unfathomable acclaim for The Big Short. Adam McKay’s satire about the 2008 stock-market crash completes an impulse he first showed in an angry animated sequence in The Other Guys. Now he’s gotten sanctimonious: His white-collar cast keeps overexplaining the crash (a “short” is an investment bet that depends upon a stock’s losing value), then sentimentalizes the crooks who should have known better. Steve Carell, who throws off every drama he makes, plays hedge-fund manager Mark Baum, who represents McKay’s obnoxious moral center along with Christian Bale as an autistic Wall Street whiz, Michael Burry. Clearly, McKay has no real moral compass. His quick-cut visual metaphors, celebrity cameos (Margot Robbie, Richard Thaler, Selena Gomez), inexactitude, and flippancy suggest a disastrously failed Altman panorama. McKay shows no ethics-based approach to greed, only class sarcasm, self-pity, and snide judgment. These narrative tactics combined with inanity show the influence of Michael Moore’s supercilious moralizing. The Big Short’s superficial cynicism concludes with a Haruki Murakami quote: “Everyone deep in their hearts is waiting for the world to end.” McKay is so smug in his self-righteousness (typical liberal arrogance) that he lacks a genuine sense of tragedy. The chatter, the explanations, the cartoon doodles and celebrity asides are nonstop and tedious. McKay can’t even resist interrupting Mark Baum’s grandstanding mea culpa with another narrative tangent. When not sarcastic, McKay is maudlin, with no capacity for empathy. “All the people I respected won’t talk to me anymore except through lawyers,” Baum says. That’s modern Hollywood in a nutshell. No wonder The Big Short has gotten five Oscar nominations. — Armond White, a film critic who writes about movies for National Review Online, received the American Book Awards’ Anti-Censorship Award. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies.   ]]>
(Review Source)
Armond White
Armond WhiteMoviesmilitary “I love a man in a uniform,” sang the post-punk British band Gang of Four. That highly danceable tune about political and romantic indoctrination could as well be the theme song of the new Michael Bay movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It’s the secret in the subtitle that intrigues. 13 Hours pays homage to the team of elite contractors—former Navy SEALS—who defended the U.S. Embassy and a nearby CIA annex on September 11, 2012. Four Americans died in that tragedy, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, but the film doesn’t specifically detail that (or the political controversy surrounding the circumstances of the terrorist siege). It’s really your basic action movie, turning political tragedy into escapism and using speed, energy, strength, force, and courage as romanticized definitions of masculinity. In other words, the actors portraying Tyrone “Rone” Woods (James Badge Dale), Kris “Tonto” Paranto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave “Boon” Benton (David Denman), John “Tig” Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa), Mark “Oz” Geist (Max Martini) and Jack Silva (John Krasinski) are hot. But 13 Hours isn’t just a testosterone strut down a cat walk. It enshrines a specific type of hypermasculinity as a principle of camaraderie and that makes it gay. “There’s something to be said for the life of men among men,” Marlon Brando memorably said with a southern twang as gay Army Major Pendleton in Reflections in a Golden Eye. Who ever tweeted the scurrilous lie that the lumbersexual beard was on its way out will have to delete that tweet after seeing 13 Hours. The elite soldiers’ facial hair is part of their government-issue sexiness. It’s a visible passcode that denotes their training, camaraderie and fidelity; the common bond, like the patriotic bond, that each of them will fight for and commit to sacrifice. A clean-cut, pants-creased soldier (squaddie, private or gunner) is also a man to respect but 13 Hours’ bearded tribe denotes a measure of experience. In contrast to the Harvard-grad CIA wonks they’re assigned to protect, these grunts are lions. The look of scruff has a sensual quality, alternately rough or soft. Matched to their forceful, disciplined movements and purposed virility this new militarized look provides a sense of character—personality through iconography. They’re all tough looking (even Krasinski, hulkish after from his role on The Office, has man-upped). Still, they're all boys together. The best part of their camaraderie is the jokes they exchange, the confidences they share, the harmony of tenor and bass. Aside from Michael Bay’s amazing, pyrotechnic battle scenes, the best moment in the film comes as Silva watches the short Libyan aide Amal (Peyman Moaadi) put on a helmet, carry a gun, and timidly join the fight. Silva’s look of concern proves irresistible masculine sensitivity. Long-faced, square-jawed Schreiber as Tonto has jock magnetism—the kind that distracts. His relationship to Amal is expressed in a line that is humorous yet heartfelt: “I’m gonna have to break-up with him.” The round of laughter that follows is not from macho bullies but a compassionate, cross-cultural, sexually-open brotherhood. 13 Hours could almost be recruiting poster propaganda. Hollywood’s post-Vietnam attitude toward the military is usually skeptical yet the social option it offers has been real and admirable, especially since the armed forces opened-up after DADT. The repeal of DADT in 2011 also gave access to the role of the soldier for actors to portray with fresh sensitivity. During downtime, the fighters in 13 Hours watch Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder deliver the comic routine “I know who I am. I’m just a guy playing a dude disguised as another dude”—and they all repeat the line. It’s double-edged: embracing the institution as a personal right and also embracing military drag without losing a sense of self. In 13 Hours, these living breathing G.I. Joes are more than just politically correct, they’re also anatomically correct dolls. 13 Hours is out in theaters today. Watch the trailer below: ]]>
(Review Source)
1917
Armond White
Disdain, contrivance, and irony produce fake feeling.
(Review Source)
Armond White
Good movies vs. Netflix cynicism
(Review Source)
Armond White
Armond WhiteMoviestrans Tastemakers at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival made producer Harvey Weinstein rethink how to sell About Ray, the transgender movie starring Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon and Elle Fanning.  Now the film is out in the culture, finally opening with a new, transitioned name: 3 Generations. The movie makes better sense after this reassignment. Although 3 Generations begins with Fanning’s character confiding, “All I ever wanted was to be a boy,” the film expands to consider the impact that disclosure has on an already troubled New York family: single mother Maggie (Watts), lesbian grandmother Dolly (Sarandon) and her partner Frances (Linda Emond). Fanning’s Ray (born Ramona) has to wait her turn in the queue for sexual entitlements. Related | The Trans Activist Who Successfully Fought MPAA's 3 Generations R Rating This film’s generational awareness is a welcome change from the mainstream media’s usual treatment of LGBTQ issues as different than other, traditional sexual concerns. Director Gaby Dellal shows an egalitarian interest in the age-old difficulty of achieving sexual and gender realization. Yes, straights deal with it, too. The problem is they’re never asked to be conscious of it.  Maybe it took a female writer-director like Dellal to go there. Her venture isn’t always perfect; there are some uncomfortable lines: “Periods have never been easy on young men.” “His vagina is not a part of him. It’s like a mean trick.” “What’s it like to have a penis?” “I’m not having a shitty day, Mom, I’ve having a shitty existence!” But Dellal and her cast invest these utterances with credible feeling. None are villains when the characters love each other and admit the difficulty of understanding and acceptance. Related | Susan Sarandon Debates Gender Identity & Sexuality in Exclusive 3 Generations Clip 3 Generations moves into unexpected territory when Ray searches for his birth father and uncovers an embarrassing family secret about Maggie’s past (involving two masculine archetypes—virile Tate Donovan and cute Sam Trammell). Dellal’s equally ease with gay matriarchy. Sarandon and her adorable lesbian partner Emond subtly extend and improve on both the Melissa McCarthy lesbian mom film Tammy and Lily Tomlin’s pro-lesbian Grandma. Ray movingly comes to accept his portion of the family’s combined crises. He realizes “I’d like to know these people.” Ray connects to his heritage in an important way that’s often overlooked when some gay films propagandize against the both the Patriarchal and Matriarchal family. Related | Premiere: KT Tunstall Shares 'Fit In' From the Film 3 Generations Film festival touts—that breed of fake journalists who specialize in creating hype—regularly exploit family projection as a progressive tent, especially when dealing with affluent white characters as here, whose middle-class status is considered Hollywood’s norm. Festival hacks cannot be trusted to understand art as sensitive as 3 Generations. These tastemakers are a threat to gay film culture, too. Wanting LGBTQ clichés over Dellal’s multileveled appreciation of the female sexual experience, they’re like tacky drag queens who don’t know chic from Shinola. Elle Fanning’s tomboy sensitivity is chic indeed when Ray cuts his auburn hair to a butch scruff.  But Dellal puts emphasis on Watt’s Maggie who is selfish and impetuous, impertinent and sorry—her impulsiveness is a credible family trait Ray inherits. This credibility was missing from last year’s 20th Century Women. When Sarandon’s Granny asks “Why is ‘normal’ the good? How about ‘authentic?,’” Dellal draws a distinction that’s important for gay filmmakers and filmgoers to consider. She understands that life isn’t all about Ray. The dissolution of family connection would diminish him. Holding on to your family is a radical proposition for a transgender movie in our tastemaker culture.   <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!-- kWidget.embed({ "targetId": "kaltura_player_0_gpi6uvt9", "wid": "_2197371", "uiconf_id": 37493671, "flashvars": { "doubleClick": { "plugin" : true, "adTagUrl" : "https://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=480x360|640x480&iu=/6850/here.out/video&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&url=[referrer_url]&description_url=[description_url]&correlator=[timestamp]&cust_params=cat%3Darmond_white%2Cmovies%2Ctrans%26title%3D3_generations_explores_familys_sexual_awareness%26aid%3D133826", "leadWithFlash" : false, "disableCompanionAds" : true, "debugMode" : false }, "IframeCustomPluginCss1" : '/sites/out.com/themes/out/css/kaltura/kaltura-custom-out.css?123' }, "entry_id": "0_gpi6uvt9" }); //--><!]]> ]]>
(Review Source)
45 Years
Armond White
Armond WhiteMovies What does a movie about an elderly straight couple nearing its 50th anniversary have to do with gay life? In the year of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that made gay marriage the law of the land, gay director Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years puts a panicky response on the screen. The shaky, precarious marriage of Geoff and Kate Mercer (Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling), in the Norfollk, England, presents the long-standing heterosexual ideal of matrimonial commitment. This retired couple illustrates the social institution of which gay Americans now partake—that Obergefell v. Hodges suggests defines the gay desire for social equality. RELATED | Charlotte Rampling Discusses 45 Years Later, Timelessness, Gay Fans Haigh first presents Geoff and Kate’s individuality (she’s a slim, agile matron at ease in her suburban world; he’s rather frail, sickly, and intellectually preoccupied). This isn’t a greeting-card nuptial but a coolly-viewed alliance of post-sexual revolution veterans. Since Geoff and Kate are children of the 1960s, several decades of seismic lifestyle changes are commemorated in the pop records Kate selects to be played at their anniversary party: “Happy Together,” “I Only Want to Be With You,” “Young Girl,” “Your Precious Love,” “Go Now,” and the imperishable “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” as recorded by The Platters are virtually a template of the film’s plot. Those classic tracks provide a guide to the emotional complexity of once radical, newly-learned values that are the basis of the Mercers’ relationship. Until reality sets in, complicating their previously unquestioned, romantic assumptions. Adapting the short story “In Another Country” by David Constantine, Haigh makes the scarifying proposition that Geoff and Kate are not happily married. The problems that beset their quaint, well-managed home life are presented as universal—the difficulties that gays, who are new to marriage and flushed with newlywed excitement, have not yet considered but probably, inevitably will. That’s the scary part of 45 Years. Through the emotional telescope of nearly a half-century of loving, forgiving and compromise beyond the attraction of sex, Haigh looks to the future of gay marriage. It contrasts the view of present-day gay life as seen in his previous feature, the hook-up movie Weekend (2010), and the two seasons of Looking, his HBO lifestyles series. With the notable exception of Richard Burton and Rex Harrison in the 1969 Staircase, there have been few movies that explore the emotional depths of gay relationships. Haigh’s method is dispassionate in the indie-film mode. This makes 45 Years rather bland compared to the psychodynamics of traditional melodrama. Indie directors (and audiences) are accustomed to observing calm objectivity (as during the anniversary party); but this can also seem remote from past. What’s best here is Courtney’s expressive reserve recalling his fey role in The Dresser and Rampling’s vulnerability—a new side from her usual b***h-goddess roles. (She’s always suggested Lauren Bacall but with acting chops—as in her finest performance as the “monster” in Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime). Both of these underrated actors bring needed showmanship to Haigh’s illusion of real-time naturalism. One reviewer came up with the puerile notion that the film is “a study in time and how it ruins us.” Fact is, Haigh doesn’t make good use of time; Looking’s most successful moments benefited from him being forced to follow HBO’s commercial formula. Ironically, it is through 45 Years’ heterosexual formula and allegory that Haigh comes closest of any current English language filmmaker to recalling gay culture’s former skepticism about marriage as a bourgeois institutional trap. It cannot be denied that in the face of the contemporary rush to sign-up and put a ring on marriage equality, 45 Years refuses offering a gift registry but something more daunting instead. 45 Years is currently in theaters. Watch the trailer below: ]]>
(Review Source)
52 Tuesdays
Armond White
Armond WhiteMoviestrans Sexual confusion is rampant in two new features: The Australian 52 Tuesdays about a girl, 16-year-old Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), responding to her mother Jane’s (Del Herbert-Jane) transition into Jim and the American film Marfa Girl about the sexual awakening of teenage boys in a Texas border town. Keeping pace with our era’s ongoing moral revolution, these films mix social change with sexual awareness. Director Sophie Hyde does this literally when she interweaves brief images of news events in between Billie and Jim’s year of domestic conflicts. Mother-daughter empathy is apparent when they both get butch haircuts. Jim’s hormone trials parallel Billie’s experimentation with a teen couple she idolizes, recording their make-out sessions on her cell phone. Both performances are affecting — especially Herbert-Jane whose transformed cuteness resembles the Aussie chef Curtis Stone; Jim stays calm and authoritative, despite various traumas, for Billie’s sake. Cobham-Hervey’s Billie has that 16-going-on-40 look like Aussie singer Lorde but still sulks childishly. Yet her confusion (sexual curiosity and emotional ambivalence) is less clear than the allegorical sexual urges so memorably embodied in The Fury by Amy Irving (whom Cobham-Hervey also resembles). Sometimes metaphor works best. Too much intercutting, rather than letting scenes play to conclusion, skimps on the feel of human experience and emotional growth. 52 Tuesdays is over-conceptualized (recalling the recent Anne Hathaway hetero romance One Day). Frustratingly, Hyde seems more uncertain about storytelling than Billie is about love and sexual identity. 52 Tuesdays screens on Fandor. Watch the trailer here. A different kind of confusion impairs Marfa Girl, the latest voyeuristic foray by artistic lecher Larry Clark. For Clark, sex is the measure of all things: social relations, race relations, power relations. He’s genuinely inquisitive and perceptive, often even while being pervy. Clark (infamous for the '90s film Kids) has a good photographer’s eye, which makes him the Robert Flaherty of jailbait. He takes a semi-documentary approach to specific area lifestyles, focusing on the sexuality of its youth in particular — nubile boys and girls eager to start their sexual lives as a primitive recognition of their spiritual and social purpose. Flaherty was a polite and circumspect ethnographer; Clark has no boundaries. At first, it’s fascinating to see Clark observe the ethnic tensions of Texas border culture and the power shifts among kids, parents, Latinos, whites, civilians, and cops. He emphasizes their sexual lives like a soft-core The Last Picture Show: Everyone wants to spank curly-lipped, biracial Adam (Adam Mediano), his mother is stalked by creepy white cop Tom (Jeremy St. James) whose Latino partners are scoped by the Marfa girl (Drake Burnette), an art student in-residence at a nearby school who has a fetish for brown-skin men. She excitedly alerts Adam that he’s nearly at “the age of fucking consent!” Without much plot, Clark depicts contemporary immigration tensions through sexual stress. Each character articulates some frustration; these seemingly spontaneous and moving monologues about pets, high school, death and dating are plain, descriptive and feel real. But often, they also sounds like leering come-ons. And soon, Clark gets down to the getting-down —as when local musician Rodrigo Lloreda meets the Marfa girl then plays guitar, snorts coke, and humps like a porn star. Clark seems torn between sympathizing with social frustration and ogling the males’ chest, buttocks, and more. Look how Officer Tom’s violence-stimulated, almost 3D, erection provokes a monologue explaining his abused childhood to Marfa girl. She interrupts him with an Altman-worthy digression: “That’s why I only f**k Latinos, they know what pleasure feels like. They know how to make love. They feel things. They’re not missing that sheath. In nature, all animals have sheaths. They can come over and over again. They don’t have to jackhammer a girl all night.” Even this moment between two polarized crazies seems set-up for porn. Clark won’t waste the after-image of Officer Tom’s boner and despite the female protagonist, it’s male energy and physicality that Clark highlights (he cruelly drops a female rape victim from the plot). These stroke-book after-images get in the way of sensitive perception and those amazing real-life monologues. Clark c**k-blocks his own social and sexual insight. He’s made the hottest movie about the immigration crisis that President Obama isn’t likely to approve. Marfa Girl is in select cinemas March 27. Watch the trailer below: ]]>
(Review Source)
Armond White
Tom Hanks delivers his latest paean to secular humanism.
(Review Source)
Armond White
(”A Bigger Splash” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Guadagnino’s latest art hoax showcases ‘nasty women.’
(Review Source)
Armond White
Armond WhiteMoviestilda swinton Tilda Swinton and her comrade, Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, borrow the title of their new film. A Bigger Splash, from a notable work of gay cinema, Jack Hazan’s 1973 A Bigger Splash, a documentary that revealed the inspirations of gay British artist David Hockney. It’s so like Swinton to extend the legend of Hazan’s now little-known film into a new century. She’s England’s leading avant-pop muse and candidate for the next “Friend of Dorothy” soubriquet, earned from her commitment to such gay filmmakers as John Maybury, Isaac Julien and her original mentor Derek Jarman. As an actress, Tilda is the queen of androgyny (she memorably embodied Virginia Woolf’s pansexual ideal in Sally Potter’s 1990 film Orlando) but few modern film performers are as reliably effective, or so openly sympathetic to gay folks’ interest in exploring sexual compulsions and examining gender-based manners.   That’s the point of Swinton and Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash where four friends merge in a psychological orgy on a Sicilian island. There’s female rock singer, Marianne Lane (Swinton), her filmmaker husband, Paul (Matthais Schoenarts), her record producer ex-lover, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), and his teenage daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who is possibly his incestuous lover. Swinton and Guadagnino base their drama on Hockney’s famous 1967 painting of a Hollywood swimming pool (symbolizing luxe and untold possibility) for its mystery about risk and sensual indulgence.  Marianne’s imposed silence (she’s recovering from a throat operation) symbolizes everyone’s emotionally-charged secrets. A Bigger Splash 2.0 uses its art lineage (Hockney’s painting was based on a photograph published in a coffee table book) to pay homage to the ‘60s European art film (Antonioni’s L’Avventura, Joseph Losey’s The Servant, Polanski’s Knife in the Water, although the credits specify Jacques Deray’s La Piscine). It updates upperclass sex habits and includes awareness about Europe’s latest refugee crises, but gayness is apparent in its focus on the tension of sexual behavior that hetereosexual filmmakers take for granted. Here, movie sex is seen with gay candor--as an expression of individuals’ complex psyches. (That’s what Angelina Jolie tried for in last year’s unfocussed By the Sea.) It’s clear that Swinton and Guadagnino don’t merely solicit gay viewers (as in the gay-pandering We Need to Talk About Kevin); they want gays to think. Thinking follows swooning. Thinking follows appetite. That’s why Guadagnino’s familiar tropes are images of gourmet food and sex (same as in I Am Love, his previous Swinton partnership). Marianne and Paul’s intimacy is threatened by Harry and Penelope’s amoral availability. “He’ll f**k you,” Marianne warns Paul about Harry. “I don’t believe in limits. We’re all obscene. We love each other anyway. That’s how it works,” Harry proclaims. Guadagnino predicts the inevitable using Harry Nilsson’s “Jump into the Fire.” Fiennes’ horny-goat characterization (shamelessly dancing to The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” during a showcase 360-degree pan) can’t match Schoenart’s hypermasculine ease as Paul whose shower scene (with water sheeting down his chest cleavage) creates a major erotic icon. He’s described as “a bear built for cuddling and hibernating with.” But tall, thin, always-poised Tilda is built for bold, gay emotional rescue. Harry calls Marianne “an empath” and that’s what Tilda brings to the movies. She transgresses against mainstream heterosexual conventions and provides the same intensity of gay identification as such divas as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and her cultural twin David Bowie. As Marianne she first appears on a concert stage in iridescent Bowie guise. In a later career-flashback, she rocks butch Chrissie Hynde leather. Both looks extend rock’s androgynous legacy, so it’s disappointing that she and Guadagnino don’t try for a more inventive storytelling. Instead, they go for hipster camp. A Bigger Splash and I Am Love recalls those ‘60s soap operas Portrait in Black and Midnight Lace by gay Hollywood producer Ross Hunter that were heavy on melodrama and deluxe couture.   A Bigger Splash peaks when Marianne chooses one of her mother’s vintage outfits for a soiree and there Tilda stands, in a white pantsuit and cummerbund by Dior’s designer Raf Simon—no longer an art-movie zombie, but a stunning combination of Hollywood and runaway weathervane. Our Tilda—timeless and aggressively modern. A Bigger Splash is playing in select theaters. Watch the trailer below: ]]>
(Review Source)
Armond White
Political persecution stretched to epic length
(Review Source)
Armond White
Armond WhiteMovies Before John Schlesinger’s classics Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Midnight Cowboy became known as gay films, he was celebrated for “sophistication”—a euphemism for sexual candor-plus-caution. This was at a time filmmakers were challenging industry censorship while a new generation of young, brazenly sexual English actors rode the wave of pop culture’s legendary British Invasion.  Hindsight makes Schlesinger’s discretion remarkable—especially inA Kind of Loving (1962) which plays this week as the finale of Film Forum’s retro series “The Brit New Wave: From Angry Young Men to Swinging London”). Schlesinger translates a typical story of dissatisfaction into the queerest of all British Angry Young Man films. It is a heartfelt expression of closeted gay anxiety; passion—and not a little heterosexual revulsion--verging on rage. Alan Bates, Schlesinger’s superb male muse (Julie Christie was his female counterpart) portrayed middle-class draftsman Victor, yearning for sex and success, when he’s caught in the old trap of marrying a pregnant girlfriend, Ingrid (June Ritchie). Unlike those other aggressively masculine angry young Brits, Albert Finney and Richard Harris, Bates’ smiley bearing was Cary Grant-like—so amiable it seemed he just had to be bi-sexual, at least.  Courtesy Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal Bates' perfect movie star quality conveyed a romantic longing that could be seen in Schlesinger’s best films. The director’s gay screen content was as discreet as his personal life. (Schlesinger told his nephew and biographer Ian Buruma that he modeled Peter Finch’s middle-aged gay doctor role in Sunday, Bloody Sunday on himself).  With twinkly-eyed Bates as his icon, Schlesinger put forth his principle personal theme in the very title A Kind of Loving. Few people caught-on that this debut movie was also an underdeveloped presentation of both desire and repression as felt by mid-20th gay Brits when homosexuality was still unlawful. During a make-out scene between Victor and Ingrid at a public bus stop, Schlesinger’s camera pans right to scan crude graffiti on the stall walls—a secret allusion to restroom hook-ups. It was as telling as the brief shot of a movie marquee announcing Dirk Bogarde’s landmark gay blackmail movie Victim.  A Kind of Loving portrays a particular victimization. Its ball-and-chain drama (Ritchie suggests a nagging young Judi Dench) is never a convincing love story. This distinguishes it from gay Hollywood director George Cukor’s The Marrying Kind (1952) starring hunky hetero Aldo Ray. Schlesinger combines criticism of England’s class system (a drunken pub crawl reveals Victor’s snobbery) with the frustration of a social structure that stifles erotic instinct. Victor prefers the company of men despite taking the sexual release Ingrid offers. He’s not such a nice guy (despite Bates’ appeal) because he is, essentially, repressed. Millennial gay movies don’t dare such ambivalent characterizations. Victor is not self-loathing, but circumstance-loathing. Weddings are this film’s symbol for social institutions that cramped gay men’s sense of freedom. Times have changed yet A Kind of Loving—Schlesinger’s dissatisfied record of a gay men’s rage for living—somehow feels both radical and inchoate. It isn’t all it should be and neither is Victor. A Kind of Loving is playing at Film Forum from April 7-13. For tickets and more information, click here. ]]>
(Review Source)