Monday, February 28, 2011


I'm not to usually one to talk about about fashion and red carpet appearances (ask me sometime about the JTMF 5 Year Gala and my rented tux), though this year's Oscars featured some amazingly good and stunningly bad couture.

On the good side: Hailee Steinfeld in a beautiful and age-appropriate dress that made her look like a princess; Jennifer Hudson in a tangerine confection that showed off her new svelte body in amazing detail; Sandra Bullock in a stunning red gown which evoked Old Hollywood Glamor; Mila Kunis in romantic lavender lace; Helena Bonham Carter in a Gothic tribute to costume design; Hilary Swank in a flowing gossamer gown; Oprah Winfrey in a corseted dress that amazingly matched the set and co-host Anne Hathaway in 8 different looks (my favorite being her last gown - a stunning cobalt blue dress that proved her the heir to Katherine Hepburn's Oscar style).

On the bad side: The usually fabulous Nicole Kidman, who looked like she stepped out of the 1980 version of Flash Gordon; gorgeous Scarlett Johansson in a frumpy plum lace mess made worse by her terrible hairstyle; Jennifer Lawrence in an elongated red t-shirt and almost most heinous of all - Melissa Leo in a dress that looked like a broken mirror ball glued onto a distressed pant suit.

None of them however, compared to the Sci-Fi monstrosity worn by the usually gorgeous Cate Blanchett (seen in the picture above). A lavender beaded gown with leather Star Wars shoulders and puke-yellow beaded accents, the usually gorgeous Cate looked like Darth Vader's date to the Imperial Ball. 

Sadly, that's all I really have to say about this year's Academy Awards. Except maybe that I thought Hathaway would have done better on her own, without the obviously stoned Franco. She sure seemed to be having as good a time as Uncle P would have tried to have. Kudos to Colin Firth and Natalie Portman, who both deserved to win, even if no one was surprised to see them do so.

I'll leave you with this, apropos of nothing, really:

More, anon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Once again, I've given up on the Oscars just before the big three... frankly, because I doubt there will be any surprises - and yes, IMDb has just informed me that Natalie Portman won for Black Swan. Not that she didn't deserve it - because she was astounding in that movie. But it's all become so predictable. Where are the surprising upsets? Ann Hathaway and James Franco were sure pretty hosts, but they weren't very exciting. Oh look - James came out dressed as Marilyn. Soooo funny!

The awards I really care about were given out last night, anyway. The Golden Raspberry Awards, or The Razzies, were awarded last night in a ceremony attended by bad movie lovers and no celebs, unlike last year when Sandra Bullock showed up to accept her award or the year Halle Berry graciously accepted for Catwoman. I imagine this year's winners were either too embarrassed by (and rightfully so) or completely oblivious to, their nominations. If it's the latter, that's a shame, because they probably think their work was pretty good (or at least, acceptable). Of course, I loves me some bad movies, but I have to admit that the Razzie winners this year were all pretty unwatchable.

And those winners were:

Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Sex and the City 2

Worst Screenplay: M. Knight Shyamalan for The Last Airbender

Worst Screen Couple/Screen Ensemble: The entire cast of Sex and the City 2

Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3D (new this year): The Last Airbender

Worst Supporting Actress: Jessica Alba for The Killer Inside Me; Little Fockers; Machete and  
                                             Valentine's Day.

Worst Supporting Actor: Jackson Rathbone (grandson of the immortal Basil) for The Last Airbender &  
                                         The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Worst Actress: A 4-Way Tie! Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon for
                         Sex and the City 2.

Worst Actor: Ashton Kutcher for Killers and Valentine's Day.

Worst Director: M. Knight Shyamalon for The Last Airbender.

Worst Picture:

So there you have it, the worst of the worst in American films for 2010. I do hope you clicked all the links. They're all different and some of them (I think) are rather amusing. And while I've just learned that The King's Speech has won for Best Picture, I'm much happier knowing that The Last Airbender won for Worst.

More, anon.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Okay, so I never got around to the Ariel Awards. I got... distracted. But the 83rd Academy Awards are coming up and I'm here to give my picks, as usual. 

I'll only be capping the 9 big awards with my usual what/who should/will win, but adding my 'what/who I want to win' to the list.

So, let's get started, shall we?

Best Supporting Actress:

The Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech
Melissa Leo for The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
Jackie Weaver for Animal Kingdom

Who Should Win: Hailee Steinfeld, even though she's nominated in the wrong category.
Who Will Win: Melissa Leo, though mostly for her body of work.
Who I Want to Win: Hailee Steinfeld - she owned that movie!

Best Supporting Actor:

The Nominees:
Christian Bale for The Fighter 
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone 
Jeremy Renner for The Town 
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are Alright
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech 

Who Should Win: Christian Bale, because he's just friggin' amazing.
Who Will Win: Geoffrey Rush
Who I Want to Win: Mark Ruffalo, because he's so damned sexy.

Best Screenplay (Original):

The Nominees:
Another Year
The Fighter
The Kids Are Alright
The King's Speech

What Should Win: Inception, because it's so damned smart.
What Will Win: Inception, see above
What I Want to Win: Inception, because I just loved that script.

Best Screenplay (Adapted):

The Nominees:
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

What Should Win: True Grit, because it's a much truer adaptation that the 1968 version.
What Will Win: True Grit, see above
What I Want to Win: True Grit, because it made me love a Western.

Best Actor:

The Nominees:
Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Jeff Bridges for True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
Colin Firth for The King's Speech
James Franco for 127 Hours

Who Should Win: Colin Firth, because he should have won last year for A Single Man.
Who Will Win: Colin Firth, see above.
Who I Want to Win: James Franco, because he's hot and sexually ambiguous.

Best Actress:

The Nominees:
Annette Bening for The Kids Are Alright
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine

Who Should Win: Natalie Portman, because she was astoundingly good.
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman, see above
Who I Want to Win: Natalie Portman, see above.

Best Director:

The Nominees:
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
David O. Russell for The Fighter
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
David Fincher for The Social Network
Joel & Ethan Coen for True Grit

Who Should Win: Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan was an amazing genre cross-over that left me thinking                                                            about it long after I'd seen it.
Who Will Win: David Fincher, because he should have won for Se7en.
Who I Want to Win: The Coens, because they made love a Western.

Best Animated Feature:

The Nominees:

Toy Story 3
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist

What Should Win: Toy Story 3, because it made grown men (myself included) cry.
What Will Win: Toy Story 3, because Pixar is an unstoppable juggernaut.
What I Want to Win: Toy Story 3, because it made me cry and managed to be a three-quel as good as the                                    original.

Best Picture:

The Nominees:
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are Alright
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

What Should Win: The Social Network, because it made a potentially boring subject into a fascinating film.
What Will Win: The King's Speech, because everyone loves pretentious stories about overcoming
What I Want to Win: Inception, because it was the single most entertaining movie in an otherwise terrible                                  year.

So, there you have it. As always, please make no wagers based on my opinions or predictions (though I did pretty good last year). I hope James Franco and Anne Hathaway are good hosts. They're attractive, at the very least and they have both been pretty good on SNL. They're promising no long montages (though I imagine there will have to an In Memoriam piece) and the return of the Best Song Nominee performances. In any event, i know I'm not going to make to the end - I haven't for quite a while now. Getting old sucks, kids.

More, anon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

March (Movie) Madness

Personally, I don't give a rat's ass about college basketball. For me, March is all about the new movie season, and there are plenty of movies I really want to see this spring. Whether or not I actually get to see them all remains a question, but I determined to see more films this year than last, and there are several movies in the coming month on my list.

First up on March 4th, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terrance Stamp and John Slattery are all in The Adjustment Bureau, about a man (Damon) who accidentally stumbles upon the secret society that runs everything:

I am increasingly a fan of Damon; Slattery is a college friend of K's and director George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) is working from a script based on a Philip K. Dick story. Deliciousness all around.

March 11th brings two movies I really want to to see: Battle: Los Angeles - the alien invasion movie that many are saying last year's Skyline should have been. Aaron Eckhardt, Bridget Moynahan and Michelle Rodriguez star:

 And Black Death, starring Sean Bean as a medieval knight sent out to investigate why a particular village has not been affected by the bubonic plague:

I'm guessing this is the movie Season of the Witch aspired to be.

March 16th also features two intriguing films. First is hottie Bradley Cooper and venerate Robert DeNiro in Limitless, about a drug which unlocks one's true potential, but with deadly side effects:

And then there's Paul, Greg Mottola's comedy starring Simon Pegg; Nick Frost; Jason Bateman; Sigourney Weaver; Krsiten Wiig and Bill Hader about a couple of slackers who encounter an alien (voiced by Seth Rogan) on their way  to ComicCon:

Of course, March 25th is the scheduled release for the movie I've been looking forward to seeing since last fall, Zack Snyder's Sucker-Punch, starring Abbie Cornish; Vanessa Hudegns; Carla Gugino; John Hamm and Scott Glen in a tale about young women who must find a way out of their confinement to an insane asylum, using their imaginations:

So, what movies are you looking forward to this spring?

More, anon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shine On You Crazy Baptists

So this happened:

Supposedly, the hacker group Anonymous, which has targeted The Church of Scientology in the past and most recently took on the sites of companies which distanced themselves from Julian Assange's Wikileaks, sent this notice to the infamously homophobic and anti-American Westboro Baptist Church. For the record, Westboro runs the site (I refuse to link to these morons - seek them out on your own, if you must) and is infamous for protesting at funerals of U.S. soldiers, whom they say are dying because of America's tolerance of gay people. Ironically run by former civil rights attorney Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, Westboro Baptist's message of hate and intolerance continues to make headlines wherever they go. They have been banned from entering Canada and the U.K., but their well-publicized protest schedule keeps them on the move throughout the U.S.

In response to the supposed threat, Westboro sent out their own press release, advising Anonymous to "Bring It." Since then, Anonymous has put out a real press release (via), denying the original letter and claiming that Westboro created the threat in order to lure hackers to attack their their site so that they might sue those hackers for impinging on their rights to Free Speech and creating press for a group of hate-mongers who have fallen out favor with even the most right-thinking religious and political advocates.

The whole thing reeks of nonsense to me. I have to ask, is anyone at Westboro really smart enough to come up with such an insidious plan? I'd have to say no, even though Fred and his daughter Shirley are both disbarred lawyers. Their hateful rhetoric is just that, and the more they protest, the more people respond by simply ignoring them. Yes, it's a genius plan - but no one at Westboro is an actual genius, even by the broadest of definitions. As for Anonymous, this is simply not how they operate. If they were going to take down Westboro, they would have done so and then taken credit for it. Announcing their intentions so publicly is simply not their style.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Someone who hates Westboro posted the announcement posing as Anonymous, and Westboro simply took the bait.

Still, I'm interested to see how the whole thing plays out. And no one would be happier to see Westboro taken down than me. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, JTMF tried to entice Westboro into protesting our 2009 production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told by sending them fake emails decrying the God-less show in order to garner publicity for ourselves (shameless, I know). Sadly, their protest schedule was already full. Maybe if we start now, we can get them to protest our upcoming production of Die Mommie Die!

Today, radio host David Pakman interviewed Shirley Phelps-Roper about this very subject and she shone the light on her family's insanity as brightly as one could hope she would (via):

While I would never truly wish harm on anyone, I do hope the adult members of Westboro drink the Kool-Aid soon. The world will be a much a better place without them... Of course, if they believe that July 2012 is in fact the end of days, I hope they let their kids decide for themselves, as Squirelly - I mean, Shirley - insists they do...

A caveat - this post in no way is meant to disparage the Baptist sect of Christianity, but rather expose the evil-doings of a particularly insular group of people who claim to members of that sect. If you are a true Christian, then you know exactly what I mean. If you are an Atheist or a member of a sane religious organization, you also know what I mean.

More, anon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Presidents

When I was kid, we celebrated Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays separately. Now, they have been combined into a single National Holiday that's intended to honor all 44 of our great nation's leaders, Presidents' Day.

Personally, there are two POTUSes which I have no desire to honor, both of whom served during my lifetime. I honestly hope that I never have the misfortune to add another to that list.

President of the United States is a really hard job. Certainly, it's not one I ever aspired to. Just look at how it ages those who've had it (well, those who were stressed out by it and actually worked hard while doing it). I barely tolerate being responsible for my parakeet, so the thought of being responsible for the greatest nation on Earth just scrambles my brain...

Our current President has a lot on his plate. Along with cleaning up the mess left to him by his predecessor, he has the added pressure of making good on promises he made to the LGBT community (promises that are finally coming to fruition, by the way). Add to that the current instability in North Africa and the Middle East; the lunatics in the Tea Party; general opposition from the Republicans (or as I like to call them, the Repugnantcans) and 800,000 other things that go along with the job, and I'd say the man is pretty stressed. Still, I think he's doing a pretty decent job. Of course as far I'm concerned, a deaf, blind, scoliatic gibbon could do a better job as POTUS than the ill-spoken moron who held the office before Mr. Obama.

For me, Presidents' Day was just a day off where I got to spend time catching up on household chores and taking advantage of sales on mattresses and electronics... and that somehow seems wrong. Presidents' Day should mean more than that, shouldn't it? We like to think of ourselves as the 'Greatest Nation on Earth.' Shouldn't we act more like it, too? I'm just saying, is all...

Still, I think I may actually vote for Sarah Palin in 2012. The world's supposed to end then anyway, right?

More, anon.

Women in Horror Pt III: The Bad Girls

That's a rare photograph of the lovely Gale Sondergaard in test makeup as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Ultimately, she was deemed too pretty and the role went to Margaret Hamilton, as we all know. But that didn't stop Sondergaard from playing villainesses in movies like 1940's The Blue Bird, 1944's The Spider Woman or 1946's The Spider Woman Strikes Back. Beautiful and seductive, Sondergaard's exotic looks often meant she was cast as bad girl.

And bad girls, despite director Mervyn Leroy's insistence that a witch had to ugly, are usually quite the opposite in film. Especially when it comes to Horror movies.

Take young Patty McCormick in the 1956 classic The Bad Seed. McCormick, reprising her role from the Broadway production,  plays Rhoda Penmark, a lovely young lady with impeccable manners who always appears immaculately groomed and knows exactly what to say to get the adults in her life to do what she wants them to. The problem? Well, it seems young Rhoda is a sociopathic murderess who will stop at nothing to get her way.

In the 1960's and  '70's, movie villainesses were regulated to crazy old broads like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? her rival, Joan Crawford in Strait-Jacket and Berserk and Shelley Winters in What's the Matter with Helen? and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (and what's the deal with all the titles as questions?).

The tides soon turned as Paula Sheppard became the prime suspect in Alice, Sweet Alice (aka Communion), a 1976 slasher tale about the murder of a young girl who gets all the attention in her family. The movie is actually the film debut of Booke Shields, who plays the young murder victim.

Gee - nothing like stealing the theme from Psycho, eh?

Since then, villainesses have slipped back and forth between children and adults. There's Kathy Bates' Oscar-winning performance as Annie Wilkes in Rob Reiner's amazing and chilling adaptation of Stephen King's Misery:

Let's not forget South African actress Alice Krige, who has been the very bad girl in everything from Ghost Story and Star Trek: First Contact to Silent Hill.

Of course, there have been two rather remarkable "child" villainesses in recent Horror history... First is Daviegh Chase as Samara in the American version of The Ring:

And then there's young Isabelle Fuhrman in the very disturbing Orphan:

But for my money, the most effective Horror movie villainess in recent memory is Lorna Raver as Sylvia Ganush is Sam Raimi's brilliantly effective Drag Me to Hell, a movie I love on so many levels:


So, is there anything scarier than a wicked woman? Maybe. But these gals sure got to me. Maybe its an Oedipal thing? Or maybe it's the mistrust men seem to naturally have of women. Or maybe it's just good movie making. In any case, it often seems the best and most frightening Horror villain is a woman... I'll leave it up to you to decide why that is..
More, anon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Women in Horror Pt II: The Final Girls

By the late 70's, a new type of female character began to emerge in Horror; the so-called Final Girl. Mostly a product of the Slasher sub-genre, the Final Girl manages to survive the evil intentions of the killer/monster/demon/cannibal because she's pure and virtuous, while the slutty gals in her peer group fall victim to whatever kind of villainous antagonist is pursuing them.

The Final Girl doesn't have sex, drink or do drugs, unlike her friends are who are all about misbehaving in just about every way they can. The Final Girl, while usually meek and mild, somehow finds reserves of strength and self-preservation instincts when confronting the killer/monster/demon/cannibal at the end of the movie. She survives, though often worse for the wear.

While there are a scant few before her, the first real Final Girl is probably Sue Snell as portrayed by Amy Irving in Brian DePalma's 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie. While the rest of Carrie's classmates make fun of her and plot to humiliate her at the prom, good girl Sue tries to befriend her and even convinces her boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) to take Carrie to the prom. It is Sue's basic goodness that saves her. When all the 'bad' girls and boys (and teachers) are killed in the fire that Carrie causes at the prom, Sue survives because she unselfishly gave up her night with Tommy. Of course, she pays for it with shocking nightmares for the rest of her life.

Next came Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in John Carpenter's 1978 low-budget masterpiece Halloween. While Laurie's friends Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (P.J. Soles) are sleeping with (or making plans to sleep with) their boyfriends on Halloween, Laurie is babysitting two other innocents, thus insuring her survival at the hands of the unstoppable killer.

In Ridley Scott's 1979 Sci-Fi Horror movie Alien, it is Sigourney Weaver's Ripley who manages to outsmart the acid-blooded Xenomorph and live to fight again, albeit 70 years later in James Cameron's sequel, Aliens, in which she is again the Final Girl.

1980's Friday the 13th gave us Adrienne King as Alice, the Final Girl who summons up the strength to decapitate the murderous Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), who has been taking revenge on the camp counselors she blames for the drowning of her Special Needs son, Jason.

Unfortunately for her, Ms King did not survive the sequel, though Amy Steel's Ginny did.

Throughout the 80's, there were plenty of Final Girls in a ton of lame Slasher films, but Heather Langancamp as Nancy in Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street proved they weren't all lame.

Of course, Craven would go on to parody the Slasher genre with 1996's Scream, in which Neve Campbell plays Final Girl Sidney through three sequels, including the upcoming Scream 4

So, where does that leave the Final Girl in future horrors? Hopefully, nowhere. Personally, I'm a fan of the unhappy ending kind of Horror film, where no one survives and evil wins. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not. Just a realist. Or maybe a pessimist...  In either case, while I usually prefer the kind of movie that has a happy ending. I'm never opposed to the ones that don't. And since I'm on the subject, where's the Final Boy? Hmmm... maybe I that should be my next screenplay...

More, anon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Women in Horror Pt I: The Victims

As long as there have been motion pictures, there have been Horror movies. Indeed, one of the Edison Company's first movies was a version of Frankenstein. 

And for almost as long as there have been Horror movies, there have been women as the victims of the monsters in those horror movies.  Whether it's Mary Philbin as Christine in the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera (pictured to your left); Mae Clark in James Whale's 1931 Frankenstein or Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 Psycho, women have often been the target of some monstrous force or being. 

Of course, this is a stereotype derived from the idea that women are "the weaker sex." In the 1931 version of Dracula, Helen Chandler is Mina, helpless against the evil charms of the Hungarian vampire:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been adapted on film many times. Nita Naldi (1920); Miriam Hopkins (1931): Ingrid Bergman (1941) and Julia Roberts (1996) have all played the female victim of Robert Louis Stevenson's notorious Mr. Hyde in various incarnations of the story about man's dual nature. None of them survived to tell about it.

In the 1950's, Horror movies were concerned with genetic mutations and actresses such as Julia Adams; Yvette Vickers; Joan Weldon and Peggie Castle were at the mercy of Gill-Men, aliens and giant insects.

In the tumultuous 1960's, Horror movies continued to victimize women, as evidenced by Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette in The Birds; Candace Hilligoss in Carnival of Souls; Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby and  Judith O'Dea in Night of the Living Dead.

The 70's came along and though women were finally starting to be heard as powerful members of society, Horror movies continued to paint them as victims (though many films of the era turned them into the monsters - but more on them in an upcoming post). In what many consider the scariest movie ever, Linda Blair; Ellen Burstyn and Kitty Wynn are all victims of the demon Pazzuzu. 

By the late 70's, a new type of female Horror character would emerge, and I'll be all over that in my next post about The Final Girl. Until then...

More, anon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I've Been Super(hero) Thor and Remiss

February may well be Black History Month, but it is also Women in Horror Month and while I've spent the month talking about movies and gay things, I've neglected the ladies who over the years have given Uncle P so much pleasure... (no, not that kind of pleasure, you pervs!).

And I'm still going to neglect them (at least until tomorrow night when I will have time to give them their proper props).

Tonight, it's still about gay things. Or at least, things gay boys like looking at. Like Chris Hemsworth in Kenneth Branagh's entry into the Marvel superhero canon.

The latest trailer (featuring Marvel's patented 'hospital meltdown scene') for Thor is now on line, and I am pleased to share it with you, below. As they move toward their 2012 Avengers movie, headed by Joss Whedon  and featuring Iron Man; Captain America; The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury; Black Widow and Quasar (among others), Marvel is going all out this coming season with Thor and Captain America scheduled to enthrall fan-boys everywhere with their on-screen daring-do.

Hemsworth sure is purty... and Black Swan star Natalie Portman is on hand to lend some legitimate movie cred to this admittedly silly entry in the Marvel Universe. My only real objection here is the gratuitous use of GD 3D.. do we really need to see Thor's hammer flying off the screen? Still, Branagh's previous directorial efforts have been (with the possible exception of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the remake of Sleuth) quite good. I have my concerns about the once-great Anthony Hopkins as Odin, but it appears he has a cameo, more than anything. So watch and tell me what you think:

I'll be back with my take on Women in Horror (a rather lengthy post, no doubt) tomorrow. Until then...

More, anon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dancing Queen

I came out to my family rather late in life. I was out to most of my friends for a long time. Especially my theatre friends. One of them was my dear friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth is an amazing dancer as well as a  massage, Raiki and MFR therapist. For a very long time, Elizabeth was the only friend who was willing to accompany me to see LGBT films, usually at a small art house cinema near her home. We saw Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet together and loved it.

And she and I saw The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the 1994 Australian film about two drag queens and transgendered woman making their way across the Outback to perform in the small resort town of Alice Springs. Along the way, we find that these friends have just as much in common with all of us, as they do each other. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix); Guy Pierce (Memento) and Terence Stamp (Superman II) star in a delightfully funny and heartwarming movie about friendship, pride, love and determination. When it won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, co-winner Lizzy Gardner accepted her award wearing an amazing gown made out of American Express Gold cards, causing a sensation.

The movie was turned into a stage musical a few years ago, taking Australia and then England by storm. And it is finally about to hit Broadway. Starting previews on February 28th, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert features a score of 70's disco tunes and some of the most astonishing costumes since the original production of La Cage aux Folles. While writing about the disastrous reviews for Broadway's latest big-budget debacle (which shall remain unnamed, but is obviously about a certain Marvel Superhero), I uploaded a grainy YouTube preview of Priscilla. But now, (via) comes the "official" preview.

I've already asked Elizabeth to see the show with me. It's sort of our thing. I saw the last performance of the original cast of Kiss of the Spiderwoman  on Broadway with her, as well as Julie Andrews final Broadway appearance in Victor/Victoria. And while I don't get to see her nearly as much as I would like to these days, we've shared a love of many things, both silly ("MST3K") and sublime (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). And while I certainly wouldn't object to seeing this show with any of my dear friends, I know they will all understand that there is no one else I want to see it with more than Elizabeth. Of course, it doesn't help that K absolutely hates the city; Q and Dale usually prefer straight (as in non-musical) plays and D is more of a movie guy. They are all more than welcome to come with us, but I have a feeling this is show meant for me and Elizabeth... You guys understand, right?

More, anon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Tuesday Quickie: Movie Cliches

A Facebook friend and fellow movie addict sent me a link to this site, because he knew I'd eat it up. And so I had to share with you nice folks, because I know you love movies as much as I do.

Some movies (sometimes very good ones) can't help but include a cliche or two. Many movies (not always good ones) include lots of cliches. A whole lot of movies (never any good ones) are simply one big cliche -- most of these are Horror films, Action films and most egregiously, Romantic Comedies.

Here (via) are two examples of the most over-used phrases in all of filmdom:

Honestly, it's no wonder screenwriters resort to these overused phrases. They  either know they can probably get a laugh out of them, or they're just too lazy to come up with original phrases of their own.

Supposedly, there are only 7 plots in all of fiction. While that may or may not be true, I hope that some writers are smart enough to avoid using these phrases when creating the movies we'll be paying to see some day. Of course, an ironically wrought cliche can be a wonderful thing, if handled correctly. Sadly, most modern screenwriters wouldn't recognize irony if it bit them on the ass. I'm just saying, is all...

More, anon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Gayest Things You'll See This Week

It's Valentine's Day, so I thought I'd post about love...

Both of tonight's new clips are from Towleroad, for my money the best LGBT blog on the web. Andy Towle and his staff consistently provide the best stories relevant to the community, whether or not they concern LGBT issues.

First up is the trailer for Private Romeo, the story of eight cadets in an isolated military academy, studying Romeo and Juliet. Combining Shakespeare's original text with modern media, Private Romeo may well be the first gay film for the new millennium:

Written and directed by Alan Brown (Book of Love; Superheroes), Private Romeo is hardly the first time Shakespeare has been adapted for a GLBT film. Most recently, A Midsummer Night's Dream inspired a musical I still have yet (but very much want) to see, Were the World Mine:

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a bit of that potion...

Next up, Randy Rainbow once again allows us a peak into his romantic life, as he and Mel prepare to spend their first Valentine's Day as a couple. The fabulous Miss Coco Peru is on hand as Randy's and Mel's couples counselor and a surprise guest stops by. No wonder Randy is so conflicted. Warning - Mel's language is very NSFW:

So there you have it, the state of gay love in 2011. And we wonder why they won't let us get married... well, at least why they won't let Randy get married. 

I hope you had a fabulous V-Day! And remember, if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with...

More, anon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: "The Eagle"

"Do you like gladiator movies, Joey?" If you do, then The Eagle is probably not the movie for you. 

Set during the Roman occupation of Britain, The Eagle is based on a 1954 novel by Rosemary Sutcliff,  The Eagle of the Ninth ( first adapted by the BBC as a six-part miniseries in 1977), which posits that Hadrian's Wall was built after the Ninth Legion disappeared in Highlands, along with its revered standard, a golden eagle. 20 years later, the Ninth Legion's leader's son (say that three times fast) Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) arrives for his first assignment as the leader of a small legion at a fort in southern Britain, determined to restore glory to the family name (on a side note, "Aquila" is Latin for... you guessed it, "Eagle."). Almost immediately upon his arrival the fort is set upon by a group of savage Britons, led by a mad druid. It is only through Marcus' bravery that the fort is saved, though the injuries he sustains earn him both awards and an honorable discharge, something which doesn't sit well with him as he recovers at his uncle's (Donald Sutherland) villa. While there, they attend games at a small arena, where Marcus saves the life of a Briton slave named Esca (Jamie Bell), whom his uncle later buys as a 'body slave' for his nephew. Acknowledging that Marcus saved his life, Esca vows his loyalty to his master. During a visit from a local politician and his haughty son, Marcus learns that the Eagle has been seen in dangerous north lands and he and Esca set out to find it and return it to Rome, thus restoring honor to the Aquila name.

Those of you looking for the exciting action adventure promised in the trailers will be sorely disappointed. Oh, there are some semi-exciting battles, though they are few and far between (as in one at the beginning, a smaller sequence in the middle, and one at the end). The Eagle is anything but an action movie. It is in fact, a buddy road picture disguised as an historical drama. There is loads of manly posturing and lots of talk of honor. Mostly there is travel footage through the mountains of northern Britain (filmed mostly in Scotland and Hungary, with mainly Hungarian extras and crew). 

The performances are fine, I suppose, though Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; Step Up) is often distractingly pretty (and fully-clothed for far too much of the movie for Uncle P's taste). Bell (Billy Elliot; King Kong) does fine, though I couldn't help but wonder what his English dialog would have actually sounded like in Latin with his accent, especially since the Romans speak English while the Britons speak Erse. Southerland plays the concerned uncle with just the right amount of old-man-wisdom and the ubiquitous Mark Strong is wasted as a deserter from the Ninth who stands tall when it comes to reclaiming his Roman
heritage. And lovely Tahar Rahim still looks pretty even with a weird Mohawk and under tons of blue paint as the Seal Prince. 

Director Kevin McDonald (The Last King of Scotland) does what he can with the script by Jeremy Brock (Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown), but could have cut a good 20 minutes out of the movie without hurting its narrative and providing for a more compact film experience. The cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (127 Hours) is gorgeous, putting the Scottish Highlands on display as though he were creating a travelogue for the region. Icelandic composer Atli Ovarsson (Season of the Witch) provides a mostly Celtic score which is actually better than the movie for which it was written.

The Eagle isn't really a bad movie - it's just too long and not the movie one expects to see from the trailers. D said he didn't think it was good, but that he still liked it - much like his reaction to Season of the Witch. I didn't hate The Eagle, but I can't say that I really liked, either. Ultimately, the movie deserves a "Meh," at best. ** (Two Stars). The Eagle is rated PG-13 for Battle Sequences and Some Disturbing Images.

More, anon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Alexandria

Finally, after 16 days of protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that he was stepping down as President (read: dictator) of Egypt. In power since the assassination of Anwar Sadat, Mubarak has been a rather unhealthy U.S. ally. The largest and most Westernized of the Arab nations, Egypt is a strategic military and political locale and the recent events there have left the U.S., Israel, Palestine and several other Middle Eastern nations wondering about their own futures in the region.

Egypt is also an important anthropological region and a major tourist destination for Europeans and Americans since Napoleon's troops first raided it's tombs in the 18th Century. Indeed, Uncle P has a very strong personal attraction to ancient Egypt and its culture.

So what does all this mean to you and I? In the end, not much. If you are like me (and I have to suppose that you are more like me than you are like a World Leader), it means that a third world dictator has been overthrown by the will of the people, and that political alliances are about to again change drastically in a part of the world where such alliances seem to change at the drop of a hat. Will Egypt now become a true democratic nation? I think it unlikely. Arab nations tend to lean toward theocratic governments, which (in MHO) never really seem to be good for anyone but the fervently religious. The peace accord brokered by Carter, Sadat and Begin may well be at risk of annulment and Islamic extremists may have another foot in the door (much like fundie Christians in the U.S. of late). 

Of course, in Uncle P's twisted little part of the world, I can't wait for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I can almost hear the lame anthems now: "Don't Cry for Me, Alexandria;" "Light at the End of the Revolution;" "All I Ask of Sulieman;" "Poor, Poor Mubarak" and of course, "Music of the Nile."*

Cynical? Maybe. But you just know that creepy British hack is wondering how he can make a buck out this.

More, anon.

*If you, unlike Uncle P, are not a musical theatre geek, I apologize for the jokes you didn't get in that paragraph.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two Movies

Two trailers hit the web today, for two very different movies, about which I have very strong feelings.

The first is for X-Men: First Class, an origins movie directed by Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn has made two films I really love: Stardust and Kick-Ass, so he has experience with both Fantasy and Superhero films. Stardust is one of the most underrated films of the last 10 years and Kick-Ass is one of the funniest and most original Superhero movies of the past 5. So it is no surprise to me that the first teaser for X-Men: First Class looks like a winner. Starring James McAvoy; Michael Fassbender; Rose Byrne (LOVE her); Kevin Bacon; January Jones and Ray Wise, the movie is set against the Cuban Missile Crisis and tells how friends Charles Xavier/Dr. X (McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Fassbender) become mortal mutant enemies. Being more of a DC Comics guy, I really didn't become a fan of the X-Men until Bryan Singer's first two terrific movies, so I'm very interested to see where Vaughn will take this "prequel" to the popular franchise. Bearing in mind, of course, that Wolverine was utter crap.

The second is for the remake of Arthur, directed by Jason Winer who is known primarily for directing several episodes of ABC's hilarious sit-com "Modern Family." My biggest problem with this film is that it is probably the single most unnecessary remake, ever. The original Arthur, starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and Sir John Gielgud is one of the funniest and most quotable movies ever made ("...usually, one has to go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature."). Moore is a hoot as the drunken heir to a multi-million dollar fortune and Geilgud's deadpan delivery of lines like "Perhaps you would like me to come in there and wash your dick for you too, you little shit!"" is pants-wettingly funny.

The new version stars the not-all-that-funny Russell Brand (channeling his best Dudley Moore); Greta Gerwig in the Minnelli role; Jennifer Garner in what appears to be an expanded version of Jill Eikenberry's character, Susan and Dame Helen Mirren substituting for Gielgud as Hobson, this time Arthur's nanny, rather than his butler. There is nothing in this trailer that's even half as funny as in the 1981 original (although Mirren talking through the Vader mask did made me giggle a bit), but I'l let you judge for yourselves:

I know which of these two I'll be shelling out to see.

More, anon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Official

I've just met with our producer... the rights are paid for and the scripts have been ordered; Charles Busch's hilarious send-up of 1960's potboilers Die! Mommie! Die! is the official 2011 JTMF fundraiser show.

We had one of our best successes with another Busch show in 2006 with Psycho Beach Party and hope that DMD will have the same kind of impact. Most of the cast is already in place (4 JTMF regulars - including my Dear D, plus a newbie who was so amazingly brilliant in my production of Top Girls last fall) and we're about to start gathering our production crew. And even though the show is 4 and a half months away, I'm already starting to get excited. A JTMF show is the tonic I need each Spring to remind  me of why I love theatre, and why it's so important to do things that benefit others. It renews my faith in performing arts and humanity, especially when I see how supportive our audiences are.

For those unfamiliar, Die! Mommie! Die! tells the story of Angela Arden, a once-famous singer and movie star who left the spotlight to raise her children from a loveless marriage to mobster Sol Sussman. When Sol cuts off her credit cards, Angela poisons him with an arsenic-laced suppository. In an effort to elicit a confession from her, her children Lance and Edith slip LSD into her evening coffee, only to be shocked to learn that Angela is really her twin sister Barbara, who killed Angela and took her place many years ago. An homage to and spoof of films like Dead Ringer; Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Portrait in Black, Die! Mommie! Die! continues the JTMF tradition of presenting edgy, LGBT-themed comedies that appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences. 

Here's the trailer for the hilarious 2003 film version, starring Busch; Jason Priestly; Natasha Lyonne and the always brilliant Frances Conroy as the maid, Bootsie:

JTMF is also about to release our own video for the It Gets Better Project and has recently added The Trevor Project (a suicide prevention hotline for GLBT and questioning youth) to our beneficiaries. Keep watching for updates about Die! Mommie! Die! and our upcoming 10th Anniversary Gala project in 2012.

We hope to see you there.

More, anon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Reviews Are In

And they ain't pretty. 

On what was supposed to have been the opening day of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, now postponed until March 15th and still in previews since November, national theatre critics could no longer hold their tongues and let the vitriol spill toward this ill-conceived (if not downright stupid) musical.

Most vicious was Ben Brantly at the New York Times (full review here) who said the show is " grievously broken in every aspect that it is beyond repair." And "...only when things go wrong in this production does it remotely feel right - if, by right, one means entertaining." Yikes!

Less nasty, but equally disdainful, Charles McNulty of the L.A. Times said "Incoherence isn't much fun to sit through." He also says the show's failure "...rests squarely on Taymor's run-amok direction." McNulty's full review is here. Meanwhile, Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune writes that show's woes boil down to " incoherent story." Jones seems to genuinely want to like the show in his review, but just can't. Peter Marks in The Washington Post laments "...the creature that most often spreads its wings at the Foxwoods (Theatre) is a Turkey" and that "...its more appropriate home might be off a highway in Orlando." (Ouch!)

Personally, I've said from the first moment I heard about the show that it was destined for failure. And while I may delight in a sense of schadenfreude (a word I've been using a lot, lately), I can't help but feel bad for the hardworking cast and crew of Spider-Man. I know from personal experience how tough it can be to put a show a together. But I also know that without a story to hold the audience's interest and without characters to whom they can relate, no amount of spectacle can save a bad show. I'll admit, Taymor's visuals are unparalleled and when they work (as in The Lion King and Titus) they do so beautifully.Of course, the crtics are also faulting the mostly forgettable score by U2's Bono and The Edge, citing only a few numbers as worthy of a Broadway musical, while being exceptionally kind to the cast who seem to be struggling against almost insurmountable technical, musical and scriptural issues. Honestly, I feel really badly for the poor schlubs who are contractually obligated to appear in this disaster night after night. It can't be much fun, knowing you're in the worst Broadway musical since Carrie. Sadly, all fault with the show seems to lie with Taymor and her insane vision, a lesson future backers will certainly have in mind when she proposes her next Broadway debacle.

Hopefully, this will be my final rant about this particular show. I'm also hoping that the upcoming production of the Australian import Priscilla: Queen of the Desert will outshine and eventually overshadow Spider-Man by its sheer fabulousness alone (and can guarantee it will be the show I'm willing to shill $100+ to see over Taymor's monstrosity). 

Still, I will somehow sleep easier knowing that I was right all along, and that superheroes have no serious place on the Broadway stage... Just ask the producers of It's a Bird... It's a Plane...

More, anon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Zombie Double Rainbow

So, regular readers already know that Uncle P is a "Gleek." And while this past Sunday's post-Superbowl episode may not have been the best ever, it sure ranked among this season's best so far.

The taunting and Slushie-dumping has gone too far, so Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Coach Beiste (Dot Jones) join forces, making the dissenting members of the football team join Glee Club for at least a week to participate in the Championship game's half-time show. Of course the football players, led by the closeted Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) rebel at first, thinking Glee Club is "gay." Meanwhile, Cheerios' coach and series villain Sue Sylvester (the always brilliant and hilarious Jane Lynch) hatches a plan to shoot poor, dimwitted Brittany (Heather Morris) out of circus canon during the Cheerleading Championship.

In the end (Spoiler Alert) the jocks relent, proving the joy of performing far outweighs the price of winning. Brittany, Santana and Quinn abandon Sue for Glee; Rachel, Mercedes and Tina take one for the team and Sue is left fuming over events completely (for once) out of her control. It was nice to see the good guys win for a change, though to be honest, in the real world Sue Sylvester would have been fired ages ago. And there was the extra-special schadenfreude of Sue getting a back tattoo of herself with her name misspelled. "It's Slyvester, right?"

Meanwhile, over at the private boys' school, Kurt and his adorable crush Blaine (Darren Criss) chime in with a completely unrelated cover of "Bills, Bills, Bills," which only went to show that Ryan Murphy and company still have a few surprises up their sleeves.

Of course, "Glee" is hardly representative of the "real world." In my high school, the football team participated in the musical (they were the Seabees in South Pacific my senior year) and I can remember the Captain of the football team (my understudy as Emile) telling me he was terrified at the prospect of going on in my place. 

The 70's were a weird time and while I can't imagine a conversation like that taking place today, I certainly hope that modern high school jocks and performers have the same kind of respect for one another. And I look forward to the day when Murphy allows Karofsky to acknowledge his sexuality in a healthy and supportive way. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy "Glee" for what it is: the first ever successful musical TV series.

More, anon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

TV Review: Face Off

I hardly qualify as a "reality" TV fan. In fact, I know I've ranted about it here, more than once. I think shows like "The Bachelor/The Bachelorette;" "Survivor" and (certainly the worst offender of all time) "The Jersey Shore" are reprehensible and signs that Western Civilization as we know it is on its last legs. All that having been said, I do actually watch a few of the competition shows, mostly on The Food Network. I love the challenges given in the form of bizarre ingredients to the chefs on "Chopped" and find myself fascinated by the people on "Worst Cooks in America," mostly because I have been cooking since a rather young age and thanks to my mother and paternal grandmother, consider myself quite handy in the kitchen and am actually appalled by the lack of basic skills displayed by the contestants.

Now, Syfy (I still can't get used to that name) has entered the fray with "Face Off," a competition show for special effects makeup artists. Many years ago, Uncle P considered entering the field of SFX Makeup. My fascination with movie makeup started as child with the Universal Monster Classics. I grew up in awe of folks like Bud Westmore, Charles Pierce, Rick Baker and the legendary Tom Savini. All through college, I was the go-to guy for special makeups in shows like The Apple Tree; RUR and Ladies in Retirement. I did an independent study in Prosthetic Makeup (which required an excruciatingly difficult Anatomy class) and actually thought I might have a career in the field. Sadly, my sculptural skills were lacking and while I could draw a fairly decent representation of the effect I was going for and had (and still do have) some mad skills with a makeup brush, my hands just couldn't recreate in clay what they were able to draw in charcoal. Still, if I'm in or directing a a show which requires painted makeup effects, I'm the guy who ends up doing them. And that's OK.

So, I must admit admit to being quite jealous of the contestants on "Face Off." All of them have been working as professional FX artists on independent and/or major films and have some mad skills of their own, though a few are obviously more skilled and talented than the others. I've seen the first two episodes so far and have already decided on my favorites. Each episode features an Immunity Challenge and a Spotlight Challenge. The winner of the first challenge gets an automatic pass in the Spotlight Challenge, no matter how good or bad his or her work is. In the first episode, I immediately found myself disliking the lazy and undeservedly cocky Frank, who seems to want to do as little as possible and almost actually forfeited the challenge in Episode 2. Of course, I found the impossibly handsome Connor at the top of my list of favorites, along with the talented Anthony. Most of the contestants have multiple credits on IMDb; some on major films, though most on indie, straight-to-DVD schlock movies. 

The first episode's Spotlight Challenge involved turning a model into Human/Animal hybrid, while the second concerned full body painting on a nude model. Jerk Frank refused to paint his male model's front, placing a lampshade on his head to add insult to injury. Still, he survived the cut, though I don't imagine (or hope) he'll last to the end.

The Grand Prize winner will supposedly go on to a massive career in the SFX industry, though since the advent of CGI, special makeup effects aren't the booming industry they were in the 80's (yet another reason to be glad I didn't pursue that particular career path). And while it's quite easy to sit back in the comfort of my living room and judge the contestants' skills, I know it can't be easy for them to produce quality work week after week, especially given the time constraints imposed upon them. But I am very much enjoying watching them try. 

The show is ably hosted by Bud Westmore's granddaughter McKenzie and judged by three Oscar-winning Make Up Artists: Ve Neil; Glen Hetrick and Patirick Tatopuolis, and features a fourth specialty judge for each challenge. For a Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi geek with at least some insight into the industry, "Face Off" is a fun (if somewhat cheesy) peek inside the industry.

I hope the show continues to be the fascinating look into the creative process that it's been so far and I can't wait to see what happens when the contestants get into sculpting and molding  prosthetics. Or when the challenges (hopefully) become more subtle. Six episodes remain, though I think I have a good idea of who will win, already. "Face Off" airs Wednesdays at 10 PM Eastern on Syfy.

More, anon.