Yesterday is Done: 17 from 2017

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17 for 17 Round 3
This was an exhausting year, about which, I do not have any interesting or insightful thoughts, at least that pertain to anything other than my personal life. But I did go to the movies, so there’s that. Here’s to the cinema that made it somewhat bearable.
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Start from Hello, Old Friend: In Loving Memory of Julie Klausner’s “Difficult People”

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difficult-people

Being one of the two shows I actively make an  effort to watch, the cancellation of the brilliant Difficult People is devastating for me.Biting gay men and their equally witty female counterparts, or arguably vice versa, are a shopworn cliche in comedies. But the significance of Difficult People, the Hulu Original created, written, and starring Julie Klausner and starring Billy Eichner, is the show’s ability to flesh out the world to be hyperspecific beyond bon mots. Playing a struggling writer and a struggling actor, the finely observed details of their relationship, in both cruelty and joy, are hard to find in most media. To use “Old Friends” from Stephen Sondheim’s cult flop musical in the season three finale, and the unexpected series’ end, is another example of the deft way in which Klausner could paint mean people as being capable of deep intimacy and love.

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Home Invasion: On Being an Outsider in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “[Safe]”

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large_close_encounters_third_kind_blu-ray15At the heart of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi epic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which opens in theaters for its 40th anniversary September 1st) and Todd Haynes’ (whose new film, Wonderstruck, will play at NYFF) masterpiece [Safe] is the all-consuming desire to feel comfort and belonging when the world you live in offers no such pleasure. Though different in form and approach, Spielberg, whose unapologetic sentimentality is a hallmark of his work, and Haynes, who makes heady, intellectually rigorous movies that more often than not comment on sentimentality than are necessarily culpable of it, find a common feeling that infects both of their lead characters: displacement and —  no pun intended — alienation. Read the rest of this entry »

Tilt Shift: Andy Muschietti’s “IT: Chapter One”

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e470cd420e1f51e13806fa2aa2ad4721What is it about Andy Muschietti’s It, an adaptation of Stephen King’s monstrously sized novel of childhood trauma and clowns, that makes the film feel so bland and unimportant? It certainly wants to feel lively and fun and maybe even a little important. It wants to feel alive. The various iterations of It have all tried to reconcile with otherness, being an outsider, a “loser”, if you will. But the gravity of those implications isn’t there perhaps because It is a film that is unsure of what It is, shifting and transforming in tone as quickly as the monster haunting the film’s characters. But It is unable to settle confidently in any one of its tonal or aesthetic personae.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Mirror Has Two Faces: On Fame, Politics, and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” and Beyoncé’s “Formation”

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1219533Regardless of the accuracy of the claims of stealing from Beyoncé lodged against Taylor Swift regarding her new single and video “Look What You Made Me Do”, directed by the prolific Joseph Kahn, there is nonetheless a quick jolt of schadenfreude when someone quips, in quotes, “Okay ladies now let’s gentrification.” The riff on the chorus from Beyoncé’s single “Formation” sits atop one of the first images that appeared from Swift’s video, of the singer standing before a “squad” of dancers, in black. After seeing this teaser, before the video actually dropped, folks on Twitter ran with the vague similarities between that and a shot from the Melina Matsoukas directed “Formation” video, making a litany of variantly amusing jokes. But while the resemblance between the two music videos is arguably a stretch — the shots in question barely have the same blocking, never mind a difference in costuming, color palette, set design, and general scene composition, in context of the whole video or otherwise — there is a likeness between the tracks themselves that seems to have gone without much comment. It’s two women, under intense public scrutiny, answering the public in very different ways. Read the rest of this entry »

S(Car) Tissue: David Cronenberg’s “Crash”

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crash3David Cronenberg begins his film Crash, based on the novel by JG Ballard, with perhaps the purest iteration of the meet cute. He has James Spader, as film producer James Ballard, lose control of the wheel and collide directly with another car, that vehicle throwing its male passenger through both the original window and into his car. Remaining in the opposite car is Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter), still strapped in by her seatbelt. While pulling at the seatbelt that has her harnessed in the car, she reveals an exposed treat — that her sports jacket covers only her bare body. The two lock eyes with one another through the shattered front window pane. It’s like love at first sight.  Read the rest of this entry »

Angels and Demons: On Andrew Garfield

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Header2.-Andrew-Garfield-Prior-Walter-in-AngelsInAmerica-Perestroika-photo-by-Helen-Maybanks“What sort of resources did you have in terms of resource for research, or did it all just come during rehearsals?” an audience member asked an actor during a NT Platform panel regarding a six hour long play, reports GayTimes UK.

The actor responded, per GayTimes’ reportage:

“The preparation had begun before (rehearsals began) with a lot of my friends. (The play is) As much devoted to my friends in the gay community as it is those that passed during the epidemic.”

[He] later revealed that a certain drag superstar’s show has helped him find his character: “I mean every single series of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I mean every series.

“My only time off during rehearsals – every Sunday I would have eight friends over and we would just watch Ru. This is my life outside of this play. I am a gay man right now just without the physical act – that’s all.”

The play was Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. The actor was Andrew Garfield. His role as Prior Walter leaves him with the difficult work of playing a gay man living with AIDS and a prophet, whose message to humanity is overwhelming.

This isn’t really a story, more of a quick anecdote about his acting process. But a story was picked up nonetheless, with places like Attitude and Out Magazine decrying the actor’s comments as insensitive, specifically regarding the “I am a gay man right now, just without the physical act” bit. Read the rest of this entry »