MOVIE REVIEWS
 

Seattle Gay News
Mobile Edition
rss: SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml



SGN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT SECTION

SGN Mobile Front Page



MOVIE REVIEWS
CALENDAR
NORTHWEST NEWS CALENDAR
CLASSIFIED

click here to go to the main SGN website



RuPaul's Drag Race
------------------------------
Gay rights celebrated at 21st annual GLAAD Media Awards
------------------------------
SGN Exclusive Interview: Jackie Beat
------------------------------
The 75th Oregon Shakespeare Festival
------------------------------
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Rapace armors up for Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth
------------------------------
DISH! variety show benefits Lifelong AIDS Alliance
------------------------------
Smart Sunlight exposes 9/11 controversies
------------------------------
Herculina/Hercule's Transgender adventures
------------------------------

------------------------------
VIDEO - Teen Sues District for Discrimination
------------------------------
Noisy Jammer a unique presentation
------------------------------
Runaways gives young actors a chance to stretch
------------------------------
Outbound: Ten things to know before going to Tokyo
------------------------------
Paramount screens 'Silents from the South Seas'
------------------------------
Remember Me unforgettable for all the wrong reasons
------------------------------
Where It's At: March Shorts - Staples, Handler and Mayer on deck for March
------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------
Silversun Pickups next week, Tom Gabel, Animal Collective
------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------
A Dyke About Town: Spyro Gyro and Rainbow City Band
------------------------------
Overwrought Big Pink outdone by opening band
------------------------------
Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
------------------------------
Filmmaker David DeCoteau perfects the Gay thriller
------------------------------
Book Marks
------------------------------
Broadway Divas dazzle at Neighbours
------------------------------
Forgettable Wimpy Kid an insufferable waste
------------------------------
Forgettable Wimpy Kid an insufferable waste
------------------------------
Hear Me Out: New albums by Goldfrapp, Woodpigeon
------------------------------
Deep Inside Hollywood
------------------------------
Old school meets new school at New Found Glory show
------------------------------
Recent Tragic Events fitfully amusing
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Runaways gives young actors a chance to stretch
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Runaways
Opening March 19


Hot teenage sex kittens who can make you swoon, kick your ass, and rock the house. It sold in 1975, and it still sells today - or will it?

The Runaways were the first all-girl rock band. They embodied everything that rock stood for in the late '70s. More importantly, they put young women center stage, powerful young women who rocked and partied like the boys. They showed a generation that women could be sexy and powerful at the same time.

While they strutted the stage, stealing moves from their male rock forebears and giving those moves a feminine twist, they were also undeniably exploited. Their manager Kim Fowley (played by Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon) knew he was on to something huge and played up the fantasy of out-of-control teenage girls on the run.

The members of the band came through the experience with varying degrees of success. Joan Jett (Kristine Stewart) went on to a long career in the music biz. Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) carved out a niche for herself in the '80s music scene, and Micki Steele went on to record with The Bangles. Though none of the band members emerged from the experience unscathed, Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) seems to have had the roughest time. Still, after nearly killing herself living like a rock star, she is now a renowned chainsaw artist with her own art gallery. Who can argue with that kind of success?

The lead actors do excellent work. I haven't been a huge fan of Stewart, due largely to her whining about how troublesome fame can be. There is a way to be less famous: Quit making movies, especially franchise movies that pack houses all over the world. But Stewart seems to have matured, and she almost seems to be enjoying doing press for The Runaways.

Though I have in the past found her personally irritating, Stewart is a real actor. She stole scenes from Emile Hirsch in a small but pivotal role in Into the Wild - no easy task. At 19, Stewart has been at it for 10 years. She becomes Jett without slipping into parody. Her future looks bright so long as she can establish herself outside the Twilight behemoth.

Fanning is still a youngster, even if she's a veteran of the silver screen. She's so good ?she makes you forget she's only 15 (she just turned 16 on February 23). She pulls off a character that could have easily become pitiful or unlikable. Her take on Currie does neither. She walks, actually swaggers, a fine line that left me feeling that Currie owned her narrative even when it was slipping out of control. Fanning proves she can easily move on to adult roles.

Shannon does a delicious take on legendary record producer Kim Fowley. Fowley is larger than life, and playing folks like that can be tough. Shannon finds a groove, catching all of Fowley's amoral bombast without turning into a cartoon.

First-time writer/director Floria Sigismondi does a great job of keeping the story under control. Biopics are difficult, with a tendency to squeeze too much into a feature-length film (see Walk the Line). Sigismondi wisely focused on the three years of the band's rise and fall. She also focuses on the relationship between Jett and Currie. This keeps the narrative manageable and cohesive. Sigismondi springs from a successful career directing music videos, so her rock credentials are in order.

The big question is: Who's going to see this movie? The tweens who are wetting themselves over whether they're on Team Jacob or Team Edward aren't getting in; the R rating assures that. The Runaways aren't part of the frame of reference for most people under 30, and most folks over 30 have assimilated their teenage drama into their adult life and moved on.

That leaves underage gatecrashers, armchair rock historians, and horny straight guys who cruise Alki Beach in their Corvettes looking for underage action.

However, I hope I'm wrong. This is a nicely turned-out biopic about two members of a band that broke ground and opened doors. The narrative is managed well and the acting is solid. And, though I don't need to say it, the soundtrack is awesome.


Paramount screens 'Silents from the South Seas'
by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Silent Movie Mondays:
Silents From the South Seas
March 22 and 29
Paramount Theatre


All this month, Trader Joe's and Seattle Theatre Group are presenting Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount Theatre. If you saw South Pacific during its run at the 5th Avenue Theatre, you'll love March's theme, "Silents from the South Seas."

Enjoy free Trader Joe's food as you take in the splendor of the historic Paramount Theatre and watch these wonderful pieces of forgotten cinema. Each silent film is accompanied by the "Wizard of the Wurlitzer," critically acclaimed organist Jim Riggs on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, one of the last three organs of its kind to reside in its original environment.

The 35mm film of the evening for March 15, Sadie Thompson, directed by Raoul Walsh and released in 1928, was a two-hour dramatic journey of tropical splendor. A young and gorgeous Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard) stars as Sadie Thompson in this early silent and sultry predecessor to Joan Crawford's 1932 Rain.

While staying at the only island hotel on a small Marine outpost in the South Seas, the young, boozing, smoking, jazz-listening, and oh-so over-the-top sinning prostitute Sadie meets Sergeant O'Hara (Walsh) and begins to fall for him.

Unfortunately for her, though, she also meets Mr. Davidson, a "moralist" preacher who tries to get Sadie to change her ways. Davidson has pull with the island's governor and threatens to have her deported if she doesn't repent.

The Wurlitzer, however mighty it may be, doesn't seem to overpower the film, or Swanson's over-the-top character. It only compliments the wild young woman and the rest of the cast.

Only two Silent Movie Mondays remain this month with the "Silents from the South Seas" theme. Next week's screening on March 22 is Tabu: A Story of the South Seas. Tabu is commonly held as one of the greatest masterpieces of silent film - don't miss it.

Silent Movie Mondays begin at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre (911 Pine Street). Coffee and a few food items are available, and prices are more reasonable than most theaters. A small bar is available for those with ID.

For more information visit www.stgpresents.org.


Remember Me unforgettable for all the wrong reasons
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Remember Me
Opening March 12


There is a moment in the new melodrama Remember Me starring Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson where the oxygen drains completely out of the theater in a way I can say I have never seen before. It is the penultimate scene of the film; the scene where everything comes to a head and one that is I guess designed to reduce its audience into a frantic flurry of cascading tears.

Except this doesn't happen. Instead, everyone looks to their left and to their right, muttering to their friends and asking one another if what they think is about to happen really is going to take place. When it does, you can then hear them all gasp - not in emotional overload, but in un-amused befuddlement. All the heart and soul the audience invested in these characters because of the strength of the writing and the performances is - and excuse me for saying this - reduced to rubble. The only thing left behind is the sound of a strong movie falling to pieces right before your very eyes.

I'm finding this all exceedingly difficult to talk about, mainly because I don't want to deliver a spoiler and reveal the climax of the film - though every fiber of my being really, truly wants to. The screenplay - the first produced by writer Will Fetters (no relation, for those few wondering) - introduces a twist that adds nothing to the proceedings and, worse, infuriated me to such an extent I'm almost beside myself with rage. Not because I don't think the subject matter should be broached in a feature film - a 2006 Paul Greengrass flick was in my top 10 of the past decade - but more because it's so out of left field it feels like a device meant to pander to people's collective memories (and miseries) in hopes of producing emotional devastation.

I don't know what else there is to say. I should probably talk about the plot, but because of the way the script pulls the rug out from underneath its narrative, I kind of wonder what the point of that would be. I should also probably speak to the acting, mainly because Pattinson shows some serious thespian chops that his signature role of Twilight's Edward Cullen doesn't allow for, but again I'm feeling so freakishly let down that I don't particularly care that Emilie de Ravin is fantastic or that Tate Ellington steals every scene he's in.

None of it matters; not a stunning opening scene of breathtaking tragedy that director Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland) stages brilliantly, not a performance from Chris Cooper that's worthy of a second Oscar, and not some beautifully nuanced work from Pierce Brosnan that caught me by surprise. The simple truth is that this is a movie that took everything away from me and left me grasping for straws as to what it all meant - and why I should even care in the first place. It wrecks itself, as if the filmmakers were doing it on purpose, ruining what could have been a wonderful early-millennia star-crossed romance and transforming it instead into a total waste of time and talent the likes of which I've never experienced.

I will say one thing for Remember Me: they certainly got the title right. No matter how hard I try, no matter how long I work to do it, no matter what else I see this year, this is one movie I can honestly say I will never, ever forget.


Filmmaker David DeCoteau perfects the Gay thriller
by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

Prolific out filmmaker David DeCoteau has two films on DVD this month: The Pit and the Pendulum, his latest Queer re-imagining/adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe's story (after film versions of The Raven and The House of Usher) and Brotherhood V: Alumni, the newest installment of another series he helms. On the phone from his home in Los Angeles, DeCoteau spoke about his genre films, which focus less on plot and more on hot guys in their underwear.

The director's films, for the uninitiated, are B-grade thrillers where sinister things happen to beautiful people. In Pit, seven gorgeous, athletic college students agree to allow JB (Lorielle New) to hypnotize them. Alas, several of characters meet horrible ends. In Alumni, a handful of high school friends are reunited a year after a murder to ferret out the killer.

The filmmaker insists his genre entries are thrillers, not horror movies, because there is little blood and no gore. "They are not terrifying. I'm very squeamish and proper. I'm not into extreme violence, and gore, I've done vampire movies without blood and fangs. They are the opposite of true horror films - rarely are there naked women, coarse language and [graphic violence]."

Likewise, his Poe adaptations put a new twist on an old master and eschew suspense for sensuality. "We used the original text as inspiration, and [added] Gay and Bisexual characters," DeCoteau says, joking that the scariest thing in his films are when straight guys "see two guys in their underwear & touching and not knowing what will happen next."

The filmmaker has developed a cult following for featuring sexy studs in their skivvies. DeCoteau started out his career making erotic films (under a female pseudonym, back when he was closeted, but that's another story). These days, however, his skin quotient is low. "Nudity is a taboo, even rear nudity," he exclaims, adding, "There's nothing very erotic about a flaccid penis." Although he made the 1997 Gay romance Leather Jacket Love Story, which featured full frontal male nudity and sex, DeCoteau has moved away from explicit cinema, concentrating instead on homoeroticism.

And DeCoteau is all about the tease. "I push the limits, and I respect the limits, and there is a lot of negotiation - how tight and what color the underwear is," he reveals. "It's in the contract! Guys want black, not white because of VPL - visible penis lines - especially if they get wet."

Pit has a lengthy scene of two hot guys wrestling in their black briefs, while Alumni has a lengthy love scene between two underwear-clad men. The filmmaker describes these moments as "over the top" plot elements meant to change the audience's expectations, not shock them. He admits that these scenes and his films are campy. "I don't like to wink at the audience. They are a bit ridiculous, but I try to do something different with each one and have an outrageous moment."

The love scene in Alumni is the first same-sex kiss and cuddle scene in the Brotherhood series, and DeCoteau is proud of this, even if he claims that it is difficult to get actors to do "boy-boy intimacy" onscreen.

Likewise, getting the actors he wants to do nudity is an uphill battle he chooses not to undertake. "People are not willing to drop trou just to be in a movie. The minute the underwear comes off, 99% of the actors would run. The actors who want to be stars get paranoid [about nudity] unless Gun Van Sant asks them to do it in an important big-budgeted project."

As such, DeCoteau focuses his energy on casting, selecting talent by personally reviewing the 5,000-7,000 submissions he gets for a film. He recalls producers criticizing his actors for being "too pretty" and he acknowledges that some guys who come in are so striking, "the straight guys in the office are checking them out."

DeCoteau says that the actors he discovers and casts - such as Jason Shane-Scott (One Life to Live) in Pit and Nathan Parsons (General Hospital) from Alumni - trust him because they know he will make them look beautiful, not foolish.

What is more, the filmmaker is careful about how he portrays his characters - especially the Gay and Bisexual ones. Both Pit and Alumni feature Queer characters that are both good and evil. DeCoteau says that evil Gay characters provide "a dilemma" - citing Sharon Stone's "killer Lesbian" from Basic Instinct - but emphasizes that, "The characters' being bad has nothing to do with them being Gay." One solution he has found is to level the playing field by introducing many Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual characters in his films.

If the filmmaker's style is not for everyone, he has amassed legions of fans. "It's a weird subgenre," DeCoteau admits. "There's a niche out there that likes my films. Otherwise I wouldn't be making them."

Or so many of them.

© 2010 Gary M. Kramer


Forgettable Wimpy Kid an insufferable waste
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Opening March 19


Based on a series of best-selling illustrated novels by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a movie that I knew nothing about. Coming out of the theatre afterwards, I could only fantasize about that still being true.

I found this cinematic exploration of the immensely popular books to be tedious at best, insufferable at worst, and by the time it was all over, the headache I was nursing was so humongous it took a plethora of aspirin, a cold compress, and a viewing of the new The Neverending Story - a kid's film well worth revisiting - Blu-ray to make it finally go away.

Quite frankly, this was not the movie for me, and while I'm not familiar with the source material, I have trouble believing that legions of pint-sized fans that adore it are going to be happy with how their favorite tomes have been adapted. It plays like an overproduced Disney Channel sitcom, everything amplified to such an insane degree that finding an actual moment of human reality is virtually impossible. The thing is, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is barely a half-hour long - a length much easier to endure than this film's 90 minutes. A person is only able to take so much hyperactivity before it becomes intolerable.

I knew I was in trouble the moment protagonist Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) walked into middle school for the very first time. The whole moment reeked of movie chaos - not real-life middle school chaos, but kids acting like psychopaths, running around like chickens with their heads cut off chaos. Not only is the scene absurd, but any chance a person could relate to Greg and his journey through a new grade level are thrown instantly out the window. It doesn't matter if his diary entries are realistically read and sometimes make both humorous and touching points, because the world surrounding this document isn't realistic.

I find it interesting that it took four different writers to adapt something so relatively simple (a kid experiences his first year of middle school and discovers it's better to be true to himself and his best friend than it is to be popular). As for director Thor Freudenthal, he handles things here the same way he did with 2009's Hotel for Dogs, confusing energy with acting and frenzy with subtlety. The whole movie never slows down, never spends enough time getting inside its hero's head, and never allows the colorful supporting cast to be anything more than caricatures searching for a punchline. All in all, Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a serious waste of my time, and while the target audience will probably feel a tiny bit differently, I can't imagine it will be enough to make this hugely forgettable adaptation anything close to a success.
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 36 YEARS!