Monday, May 20, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 42 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 4, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 45
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Spellbinding Moonlight a truly magnificent achievement
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MOONLIGHT
Now playing


Youngster Chiron (Alex Hibbert), also known as 'Little,' is being chased through a seedy section of a dilapidated Miami neighborhood by a number of fellow classmates looking to rough him up. Ducking into an empty crack house to hide, he is ultimately rescued by, of all people, the quietly authoritative drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali). Later, the pair strike up a delicate father-son bond, one that is looked at with knowing wariness by Little's secretive mother Paula (Naomie Harris), yet also one the single parent doesn't goes out of her way to vehemently discourage, either.

Now in high school, Little (Ashton Sanders) continues to try and navigate his way to adulthood. Paula kicks him out of their small apartment on a regular basis so she can feed her growing drug addiction, while a number of the kids who bullied him in elementary school have only grown more aggressively nasty now that they're all teenagers. Little finds solace in the home of Teresa (Janelle Monáe), Juan's former girlfriend, the kindly woman happy to help him find sanity amidst the chaotic travails of his life no matter how awful things might on the surface appear.

Years later as an adult, known on Atlanta streets by the nickname Black, Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) makes his living supervising young street dealers much in the same way Juan used to almost two decades prior back in the old neighborhood. Out of the blue, he receives a phone call from childhood best friend Kevin (André Holland), and on a whim makes the decision to drive to Miami for an impromptu visit. On the way, he stops at a treatment facility to check in on Paula, verifying she's continuing to stay clean and sober even though sitting at the same table with his mother dredges up a number of painful memories that are difficult for him to revisit.

Moonlight is a masterpiece. I don't normally like to make pronouncements like that during a film's initial release, as the only real way to measure a motion picture's staying power and lasting imprint on the cinematic landscape is to see how it marinates over the period of decade or so. But in the case of writer/director Barry Jenkins' (Medicine for Melancholy) sophomore feature, I find it close to impossible not to proclaim it an almost instant classic, this study of masculinity, race, gender, poverty, addiction and sexual identity a stunning, emotionally flabbergasting triumph.

It's hard to know where to begin. The opening section looking at Chiron as a child is instantaneously immersive, and I found myself slipping right into the boy's shoes with remarkable ease. Jenkins has an uncanny ability to make his story universal for every viewer even though the experience of the characters as they attempt to navigate their way through this Miami world is strikingly authentic. But while I can never know what it was like to be an African American child growing up with a crack-addicted single mother, watching him search for truth, trying to figure out his place in the world, seeing Chiron reach for role models who can help him learn more, all of that I could relate to. The director has an uncanny ability to not overplay his hand, subtly setting the stage for Chiron's future evolutions in ways that are dynamic, invigorating and pure.

Things move with deliberate grace from there, Chiron still dealing with many of the same obstacles as a teen as he was forced to face head-on as a boy. What's intriguing is how unapologetically Jenkins treats the circumstances that help shape his protagonist, showing how the road before him has numerous turn-offs, some leading to salvation and others going in the exact opposite direction. But the majority lie in an uneasy grey area filled with various obstacles, and it is here Chiron finds himself, constantly trying to figure out if the road ahead will get any easier or if he should turn back around and start over again as close to beginning as he can.

Jenkins' script, based on a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, weaves a fascinating web. Juan isn't a role model, but he also isn't a demon, the richness of his compassion in direct juxtaposition with the life he lives and the way he is able to earn the money that allows him to sit in relative comfort alongside Teresa. Paula isn't a stereotype, her battles with addiction sitting in direct opposition with her love for her son, the two in a constant battle for supremacy that produces horrifying collateral damage as they do so. Kevin understands Chiron better than he knows, his attempts to discover himself no less complex and terrifying. Yet even when their friendship becomes intimate, the dangers of perception and peer pressure are continually present, the choices the two make as children and teenagers having unforeseen consequences that follow them well into adulthood.

The acting is stellar, especially as it pertains to Ali, Harris and, somewhat surprisingly, Monáe, the popular pop star making the transition to the screen with ease. Harris, the only one present at all three stages of Chiron's journey, is particularly stunning, bringing substantive depth to a character who in theory should be so unlikable finding a single reason to care about her should be impossible. Yet, somehow the veteran character actress maneuvers her way through things with shocking conviction, revealing not only layers hidden beneath her own character's skin, but also the one portrayed by Hibbert, Sanders and Rhodes at various stages of Chiron's life as well.

As for those three actors who play the main character, each leaves an indelible mark. Hibbert's quiet intensity is beguiling, a climactic smile as he revels in learning how to swim absolutely earth shattering. For Sanders, he has a number of signature moments, chief of which is a late night beachside chat that allows him to process longings and needs he's gone out of his way to try and suppress. As for Rhodes, I could watch him sitting in that diner, layer by layer shedding his street thug persona to reveal the still searching boy underneath, for hours, the actor's deeply passionate, almost effortless ability to say so much without seeming to utter a word close to extraordinary.

Moonlight could be compared to a lot of different films, Jenkins' opus recalling works from filmmakers as varied as Richard Linklater, François Truffaut, Fernando Meirelles, Cheryl Dunye and Spike Lee. But, in the end, the director makes this motion picture its own uniquely satisfying enterprise, and while the influence of others is felt his imaginative take on the material is never in doubt at any point. Jenkins delivers a cinematic experience that is as satisfying as it is unique; the truths laid bare ones viewers of every race, gender and sexual identity owe it to themselves to take notice of.


Byzantine Handmaiden a seductively sensual thriller
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE HANDMAIDEN
Now playing


Nothing is ever what it seems to be in celebrated director Park Chan-wook's latest mind-bending opus The Handmaiden, the man behind cult favorites like Oldboy, Stoker, Thirst and Lady Vengeance spinning things on their ear once again with his freewheeling adaptation of Sarah Waters' 2002 novel Fingersmith. Told in three parts and from just as many points of view, it is an audacious, rapturously romantic thriller filled with visual delights, unexpected comedic flourishes and readily anticipated jolts of ugly violence. While not entirely successful, the film is certainly unique, delivering a sexually explorative jolt that is as imaginative as it is intoxicating.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, beautiful young Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-ri) finds herself employed as maidservant to the aristocratic Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). But it's all a ruse, the young woman not who she appears to be. She's actually a streetwise thief working in concert with a suave conman known as the Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), the two having a secret plan for him to seduce and marry the lonely Hideko and thus setting themselves up for life after they abscond with her fortune.

That's enough plot for a single story, but for Chan-wook, that devilish bit of conspiratorial nastiness is only the tip of the iceberg. For a film running almost two-and-a-half hours in length, there is a brisk urgency to all the twisted machinations that follow this introduction, none of the characters behaving quite as I expected them to as the journey to the climactic turn of events vigorously kicks into gear. Romantic entanglements spring up in the most unlikely of places, and it's never entirely clear who is seducing who and which members of the central trio are in on the actual con. It's David Mamet by way of Bernardo Bertolucci with a dash of Claude Chabrol and a heavy dose of Akira Kurosawa, Chan-wook the devilish mastermind pulling the strings with the gleeful relish of a master magician getting ready to unleash his greatest illusion upon a clueless, if wide-eyed and rapturous, audience.

Meticulously designed to the last detail, elements of the supernatural weave in and out as differing accounts of the events taking place are recounted one after the other, each variation allowing new insights into the headspaces of the main characters as well as a mysterious aunt (Moon So-ri) who hung herself from a cherry tree and an ethereal housekeeper, Mrs. Sasaki (Kim Hae-sook), who sees more going on inside the mansion than she freely lets on. The differing visual esthetics of cultures in continual oppositional chaos is evident every step of the way, Chung Chung-hoon's (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) opulent cinematography an intimately visceral exploration of structure and style that's practically as substantive as the cryptically byzantine, emotionally-driven plot itself proves to be.

Much like pretty much all of Chan-wook's films, it can get a little too crazy, the operatic flourishes coming perilously close to overwhelming things to an almost critical degree. The last third drowns in opulent bedlam, things getting so outlandish that continuing to believe in what it is the characters are doing as well as their reasons for doing so is sometimes far more difficult than by all rights it should be. Yet, unlike his previous works that I have seen, this one finds a way to maintain cohesion, Chan-wook's focus upon Sook-Hee and Lady Hideko so razor sharp, and Tae-ri and Min-hee's performances so superb, the emotional histrionics that come to pass end up feeling oddly authentic in ways that are compellingly intimate.

I'm not going to say The Handmaiden is Chan-wook's masterpiece. It's as overwrought and as self-indulgent as anything the auteur has ever made, and not all of its numerous tangents fit together as nicely as I can only imagine he intends them to. But the film is still a glorious achievement, one filled with a number of unparalleled delights that only get richer and more meaningful the longer I think about them. Truth becomes fiction, fiction becomes truth, the seductive grey areas in-between an orgy of carnivorous beguilements that lead both to Heaven and to Hell in equal measure, Chan-wook delivering a marvel of storytelling sleight of hand worthy of euphoric admiration.


Robert Langdon returns in mechanically forgettable Inferno
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

INFERNO
Now playing


Unlike its two predecessors, 2006's The Da Vinci Code and its anemic 2009 follow-up Angels & Demons, the latest cinematic adaptation of one of author Dan Brown's theological thrillers Inferno isn't terrible. This does not make it good, however; and as much as all three of them most likely will say otherwise, it's hard to imagine director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer or star Tom Hanks would have returned for a third go-around if the paychecks hadn't been substantial. This is a dull, lazy adventure, one that is as mechanical as it is ludicrous, filled with third act plot twists so asinine and inane they'd likely have made me angry had they all not been so darn laughable.

After following ancient religious trails that led him to discover the identity of Jesus Christ's progeny and helped him save the Vatican from the Illuminati, Prof. Robert Langdon (Hanks) has gone back to teaching at Cambridge in relative anonymity. Or so he thought. Waking up with no memory of what has happened over the past two days, Langdon finds himself in an Italian hospital with only the young doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to help him put the pieces together. But before she can be of any assistance, an assassin (Ana Ularu) makes an attempt on their lives, forcing them to flee into the night with the assassin hot on their tail.

Forced to retrace his own steps, with only Dr. Brooks to assist him, Langdon comes to the horrifying realization he's a pawn in a massive global conspiracy involving billionaire recluse Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) and the works of Dante Alighieri, most notably the latter's depiction of Hell. On a journey that will catapult them across Europe with agents of the World Health Organization, including dogged French investigator Christoph Bouchard (Omar Sy), intent on catching them, the duo are in a race against time to stop a horrific virus from being unleashed that will wipe out half the world's population. Also, not only is that mysterious assassin still after them, so is the shadowy Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan), the cryptic bureaucrat knowing more about what is going on than he'll freely admit.

Good news? Unlike the other two entries in this series, Inferno hits the ground running and never looks back. Having not read the book, how similar all of this is to Brown's source material I cannot say. That being so, screenwriter David Koepp (Premium Rush, Jurassic Park) goes out of his way to keep the momentum going at maximum velocity throughout, the film rarely slowing down for a breath, its only interludes one where the side characters explain what's going on or make their intentions, good, bad and in-between, known to others. I can only imagine he's streamlined things considerably, excising as much of the fat as he could, and as such at just barely two hours in length this third chapter in Langdon's saga is relatively easy to sit through.

None of which makes what eventually transpires any more intelligent, the sheer stupidity of it all reminding one of a '24' subplot that Jack Bauer would have taken care of in the first couple of episodes. The sheer volume of red herrings grows increasingly tiresome, as do the supposed twists and turns that arise during the final 30 minutes. The climax is an obvious cacophony of sound and fury, the only thing making it notable being the inspired setting and Howard's initial attempt to pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock, namely the symphony hall finale of his 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. But it's all just too silly to take even slightly seriously, the explosive final seconds about as thrilling as sitting in a dental chair waiting for the Novocain to kick in.

In fairness, the gifted Khan is having a blast, throwing off one-liners with charming ease, while at the same time oozing a lethal form of menace that's increasingly intriguing. I also really liked Hans Zimmer's (Interstellar) viscerally propulsive score, the music doing a wonderful job of keeping the energy level up even when the on-screen action becomes difficult to maintain interest in. Finally, cinematographer Salvatore Totino (Everest, Concussion) returns once again to lens the proceedings and does so rather beautifully, his smoothly enthralling images utilizing the various lush European locations magnificently.

Not that I care. The whole thing is absurd, and the only saving grace is, unlike The Da Vince Code or Angels & Demons, Prof. Langdon's latest adventure is thankfully never boring. But Howard is on autopilot, and while his film looks and sounds terrific, it never does anything notable to stand out in a way that might make all these tedious absurdities palatable. As for Hanks, so good in Clint Eastwood's Sully, while he's hardly terrible it's just as clear he's going through the motions, and it's only in a pair of heartfelt scenes with the great Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen that I felt anything akin to a pulse emanating from him. As I already said, Inferno might not be terrible, but that's not saying much. Here's hoping all involved are done making these Dan Brown adaptations, because I seriously doubt I have the desire or the energy to try and sit through another one anytime soon.


Doctor Strange expands Marvel's universe into the mystically unknown
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

DOCTOR STRANGE
Now playing


Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant surgeon and he knows it, his skills in the operating room only exceeded by the massive ego that fuels his never-ending quest to be the best. But when a devastating car accident leaves him without the use of his hands, all of the things going on in his life that once held so much meaning now begin to evaporate as if they never existed, including a close friendship with former girlfriend and fellow doctor, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

When traditional medicine fails to help him regain the use of his hands, Strange journeys to the Himalayan enclave of Kamar-Taj, hearing rumors that their unique spiritual techniques have shown the ability to heal even the most shattered and irreparable of human bodies. What he discovers goes beyond anything he ever could have imagined, a mystical being known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) opening his eyes to powers beyond rational thought. Making friends with true believer Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Strange becomes obsessed with learning all he can about these mystical arts, never thinking for a moment that outside forces, led by the deranged and emotionally damaged Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), are conspiring to destroy Kamar-Taj and bring unfathomable ruin to the citizens of the Earth.

Marvel's latest adventure takes their cinematic universe into the realm of the supernatural, Doctor Strange a trippy, freewheeling jaunt into the comic book multiverse where time is fluid and death is only a doorway to a brand new adventure. An origin story that does not rely upon any of the Avengers to show up and add clarification as to what is going on (not to mention an adventure where it actually makes sense Iron Man or Captain America aren't around to lend a hand), the movie is a stupendously entertaining thrill ride that breathes new life into this ongoing series. Much like Guardians of the Galaxy the movie hints at stories that go beyond the typical superhero status quo, and while there are plenty of little hints as to how Strange's escapades fit into the bigger story, for the most part the filmmakers do a fine job of keeping things enjoyably self-contained.

There are issues, and I'm not altogether certain what is the best way to approach the major one. That's the obvious whitewashing of a slew of ideas and themes, not the least of which is the all-important character of The Ancient One. In the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comic series, The Ancient One is a stereotypical white-bearded elderly Asian man. But in trying to stay away from one form of racist cinematic symbolism that goes back a good 80 years, writer/director Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil) and his fellow screenwriters C. Robert Cargill (Sinister) and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) stumble face-first right into another one. Not only is a traditionally Asian character suddenly recast from a decidedly Caucasian perspective, this is also another in a long line of stories where a white male savior embraces the teachings of another culture, mastering its mysteries better and faster than anyone else has before.

There are thankfully a number of partially mitigating factors that allow this not to feel as egregious as would likely otherwise be the case. There's the great use of veteran character actor Benedict Wong as an acid-tongued librarian who is also a selflessly determined soldier in the fight against evil, the transformation of his character from the comic books to be enthusiastically celebrated. There is also the love and care Derrickson and his crack team of craftsmen, most notably production designer Charles Wood (Thor: The Dark World) and costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Elizabeth), bring to things, the attention to detail required to give this world life sublime.

But the ace in the hole? That would be Swinton. Say what you will about having a Caucasian tackling the role of The Ancient One, that doesn't make her performance any less extraordinary. Of all of the Marvel movies to date, this is, without a doubt, the single greatest performance any of these 14 comic book adventures have showcased so far. The power of her portrayal, the varying degrees of modulation, it's mesmerizing, a dialogue between her and Cumberbatch as they stare at a stormy, lightning-riddled sky just glorious. Swinton says so much by speaking very little, each move of her arms or raise of an eyebrow hinting at expansive interior complexities that are as deep and as passionate as they are poignant and universal.

It also helps that this is as visually audacious as any film 2016 has had the good fortune to see, Derrickson unleashing a series of sights and sounds that are like Christopher Nolan's Inception turned on its ear or an M.C. Escher drawing burst into constantly evolving 3-D life. A textural kaleidoscope where the possibilities are endless and the transformations only increase in size and in scope as events progress, this entry in the Marvel cannon is an eye-popping kick in the pants that only gets more imaginative as it goes along. It's impressive stuff, and for the first time maybe ever the studio has engineered one of their comic book adventures in a way that makes it virtually imperative viewers take the time to see it in a theatre.

Some of the same Marvel weaknesses do come into play. Mikkelsen is a fine actor, and while Kaecilius is a formidable adversary for Strange, he still remains a frustratingly one-dimensional villain whose master plan is vaguely nonsensical. Even more so is the intergalactic, multidimensional ghoul pulling his strings, this supposedly all-powerful baddie a CGI monstrosity that's more silly than he sadly is scary. As for McAdams, the talented actress is wasted in a throwaway secondary role that might be one of the more reductive the studio has seen fit to unleash yet, her wide-eyed looks of awe and astonishment growing increasingly tiresome as things go along.

Still, when Doctor Strange works it does so beautifully. Cumberbatch is nicely cast as the title character, and horror maestro Derrickson makes the jump to comic book derring-do with somewhat remarkable ease. While I have a number of concerns, especially on the cultural side of the coin, the simple truth is that I was grandly entertained watching Marvel's latest superhero take flight. In fact, I almost can't wait to see this master of the mystic arts return for another adventure, and not just alongside the Avengers. Doctor Stephen Strange is a mysteriously fascinating firebrand of courage and curiosity deserving of future solo outings into the unknown sooner rather than later.




Theatre22 presents an exceptional production of The Pride
------------------------------
Clear and Sweet celebrates Sacred Harp (shape-note) singing
------------------------------
Pacific MusicWorks & Seattle Baroque Orchestra present fabulous concerts
------------------------------
Taut, terrific Dangerous Liaisons takes the stage at ACT Theatre
------------------------------
Some of the biggest theater openings of the year are saved for November
------------------------------
Queer Seattle writer debuts new full-length play for Gay City Arts: When There Were Angels
------------------------------
Village Theatre's Pump Boys and Dinettes a down-home feel-good show
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------------------------------
INITIATIVE 735

We need to stop big money to protect LGBTQ rights

------------------------------
Seattle Rock Orchestra to perform David Bowie tribute show in Tacoma this weekend
------------------------------
Spellbinding Moonlight a truly magnificent achievement
------------------------------
Byzantine Handmaiden a seductively sensual thriller
------------------------------
Robert Langdon returns in mechanically forgettable Inferno
------------------------------
Doctor Strange expands Marvel's universe into the mystically unknown
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1707 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News 2016 - DigitalTeamWorks 2016

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News