Friday, Aug 23, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 43 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, December 16, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 51
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
The Force is with the exhilaratingly powerful Rogue One
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

ROGUE ONE:
A STAR WARS STORY
Now playing


Years after she watched her mother fall and her father, military scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), be lead away at gunpoint by Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), intergalactic fugitive Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is stunned to learn her father has sent her a clandestine message via Imperial defector Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). Currently being held by violent extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), Jyn's former mentor and protector before their falling out, it is suggested by Rebel commander Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) the young woman return to the besieged planet of Jedha and discover what her father has gone to so much clandestine trouble to say.

Joined by surreptitious operative Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his reprogrammed Imperial combat droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Jyn is shocked by what she learns. Turns out, Galen has been instrumental in completing the weapons system for a planet killer dubbed the Death Star, and right under the Empire's nose he's managed to build in a fatal flaw that will allow the Rebel Alliance an opportunity to destroy it before the machine can become operational.

Problem is, they need the plans, and those are stored in a secure Imperial facility halfway on the other side of the galaxy. Worse, a number of the Rebel leaders are too terrified of this new Death Star to risk an open assault, tying Mon Mothma's hands to the point she's powerless. Jyn, aided by Cassian, Bodhi, K-2SO, blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), grizzled gunman Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and a handful of fellow die-hard soldiers itching for a fight, hatches an impossible plan. With their help she'll break into these Imperial archives and steal the plans, and no matter what the cost she'll make sure her father's desire to see this weapon destroyed comes to pass.

Taking place immediately before the events of the 1977 classic Star Wars, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first in a proposed series of side tales taking place inside George Lucas' universe set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla), working from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) and a screenplay written by Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy) and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity), this is as big a major surprise as anything released this year. Tough, hard-as-nails and refusing to just get by on the goodwill generated from last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens or coast on the nostalgia generated by the original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Edwards and company brazenly refuse to bow to convention, and in doing so craft a motion picture that proudly stands on its own outside of the stories and characters that have become a cherished part of movie history.

Not that it doesn't utilize knowledge of those characters or that history to its advantage. Even with the inherent prequel drawback of knowing how things must turn out otherwise the next chapter cannot come to pass, Rogue One still manages to weave in a number of figures from the original Star Wars in increasingly imaginative ways. While the trailers and commercials have already hinted at an appearance from Darth Vader, he's not the only Death Star stalwart to have substantial screen time. The moderately creepy nature of the visual effects and CGI required to bring this character to life aside, there's some superb writing as far as a certain Grand Moff is concerned, the film cementing his status as one of the most formidable villains in Lucas' universe with wicked clarity.

But the main reason the film works as well as it does is that Edwards and his crew treat the material like they're making a hard-hitting WWII epic in the vein of Battlefront or Attack, only also one mixed with the likes of The Dirty Dozen, The Big Red One and Where Eagles Dare, a healthy dose of Platoon and The Thin Red Line thrown in for good measure. This is a gritty film, one where the stakes for these Rebel fighters is never in doubt, the lengths they all find themselves willing to go to achieve even the smallest victory equally so. The climactic battle sequences are jaw-dropping in spectacle and in effectiveness, the level of intensity exceeding almost everything else inside the Star Wars cinematic canon.

Yet it is the characters who make all of this work. They are all complicated and none of them are perfect. In the case of Cassian, he's a spy, a dangerous assassin who will do whatever it takes to see the job is done and his orders are carried out, his hands so dirty he's positive he'll never be able to wash them clean. Chirrut, a true believer connected to the Force but not a Jedi, has fallen to being a con man and a mystic, eager to get back on the path of the righteous when he comes in contact with Jyn. As for Baze, he's a bad man who kills with dispassionate ambivalence. But he's equally connected to Chirrut in ways going well beyond friendship and brotherhood, the two sharing a bond that borders on romantic.

But the same could be said for everyone here, as no one is perfect or entirely pure, and even if the cause they are all fighting for is worth their collective efforts what they've done to see that the Rebellion continues to survive doesn't sit easy on any of their collective consciences. This includes Jyn, a woman who has seen the worst the Empire can dish out yet at the same time has also viewed how fighting for what one believes in can be perverted into something nearly as horrible as the evil you're trying to stamp out. Her faith has been shaken, practically destroyed, and it isn't until the full weight of her father's message dawns on the youngster that she remembers how valuable this resistance can be and how important hope is to the future freedom of planets throughout the galaxy.

Featuring an international cast the likes of which no Star Wars film has seen before, Jones is a strong, resilient anchor, grounding things with a fully committed performance filled with depth and moving dramatic tenacity. Luna is equally terrific, a late scene where he tries to come to grips with the evils that he's done in the name of fighting for something greater than his own moral well-being tenderly profound. Ahmed is also wonderful, as is Whitaker, especially early on, Gerrera's crazed interrogation of the perplexed Bodhi eerie in its unhinged immediacy. As for Mendelsohn, he's a fine bad guy, his Director Krennic a power-mad plutocrat who yammers like a petulant child yapping for respect from a parent who pitilessly refuses to give it to him.

As wonderful as they all are, it's the trio of Tudyk, Wen and especially Yen who steal the show, each bringing to life characters that will likely go down as three of the best ever to grace a story set in the Star Wars universe. Yen, in particular, is a wonder, Chirrut a fascinating figure whose complexities astonish. The actor's chemistry with Wen is virtual perfection, their interactions bringing me to tears as the film neared its conclusion as these two Chinese superstars went above and beyond in order to make sure their moments connect as fervently as possible.

Edwards is no stranger to spectacle; both his previous features proved that. Here, however, he also remembers the human elements, and while the edge is a hard one that doesn't mean he doesn't allow the heart at the center of it all to beat with passionate determination. Even so, he's not above staging some stunning sequences, and from the tropical beach firefight that reminds one of the D-Day opening to Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, to a final handoff that allows a familiar figure to utter the word that will guide the first three films in the original Star Wars trilogy, moments big and small amaze. Edwards' best trick, though, might be how he utilizes the ultimate big bad, Darth Vader, seeing this terrifying demon unleashed to his full murderous potential as scary and as shocking as anything I could have imagined it would be beforehand.

If Disney and Lucasfilm are intent on bringing more of these types of side Star Wars stories to life, here's hoping they follow this template in the future. With Rogue One, Edwards doesn't attempt to redo what has come before, isn't interested in any already established template. He and his team have crafted a film that exists inside a known universe yet still manage to plant their own idiosyncratic stamp upon it. This is a marvelous piece of entertainment, as wondrous as anything I've seen in 2016, and here's my wish the powers that be allow filmmakers just as much latitude to make something great as they have done here going forward.


Winsome La La Land a musically euphoric romantic adventure
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

LA LA LAND
Now playing


I think about my favorite musicals, films like Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon, Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Bob Fosse's All That Jazz, Herbert Ross' Pennies From Heaven and John Carney's Once, and I realize so many of them have a sense of sadness that flows throughout, a melancholic grace that tugs at the heart. Yet, in each and every instance, they also have an innate ability to make me feel joy, an unencumbered feeling of euphoria that allows the thought that the world, no matter how bad it can be, no matter how awful things can get, can spin on its axis in the exact opposite direction in the blink of an eye. These films, these triumphs, each makes me love life itself, and as far as I'm concerned that is no small feat and a trait that should never be undervalued.

After wowing everyone, everywhere with his 2014 sophomore outing Whiplash, writer/director Damien Chazelle returns with his most ambitious effort to date, La La Land, an old school Technicolor marvel of imagination and ingenuity that sent my heart soaring into the stratosphere to dance alongside the stars. A whimsical, poignantly touching musical of connection, growth, longing and friendship, this is a movie to be celebrated, a winsome journey into the tuneful vagaries that connect us all and the universal truths that love's variances oftentimes reveal.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress working at a coffee shop located on a busy Hollywood studio's lot. She lives in a Los Angeles home with a cadre of other young women, all of whom go out almost every night of the week to hobnob with anyone who might help jumpstart their respective careers. Mia is starting to lose faith, however, and she's thinking maybe it's time to drop out of this rat race and head back home, the thought of one more rejection potentially more than she can bear.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who doesn't like to change his playing style or musical point-of-view for anyone, even his employers. He longs for the old days when clubs were filled with patrons eager to hear the musicians improvising with one another as if they were all sharing a single brain, each night a symphonic adventure where anything was possible and all melodic avenues were available for exploration. But Sebastian is struggling, taking gigs with '80s pop cover bands and playing tired holiday tunes in various restaurants in order to pay the bills.

It's easy to figure out what happens from there. Mia and Sebastian meet. They bicker. They banter. They sing. They dance. They fall in love. More than that, though, they find themselves seeing life through the other's eyes, their time together giving them fresh insights into their dreams and careers that they would never have discovered had they not entered one another's personal space. It's a romance for the ages, but one still not without its pitfalls and dangers, their ability to navigate all the twists and turns going to be the determining factor as to whether or not their time together will stand the test of time.

It's an old story, but still an effective one, and in Chazelle's hands it feels revolutionary. Like a combination of Demy and Minnelli's best musicals, La La Land balances honest emotion and cinematic fantasy with ease. Chazelle juggles the varying components with rapturous eloquence, the emotional maturation of the two main characters coming through with evocative veracity. Sebastian and Mia are real people doing the best they can with what they have, discovering they can do it even better with the other cheerleading and challenging their every movement. They, like the movie itself, suddenly are willing to take risks, and while their dreams remain the same how they go about achieving them is an amorphous adventure that's as ever-changing as the nighttime sky.

The staging is beyond compare. From Mary Zophres' (True Grit) deliriously refined costumes, to David Wasco's (Inglourious Basterds) production design, Austin Gorg's (The Neon Demon) art direction and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco's (Fifty Shades of Grey) set direction, the technical facets are extraordinary, the use of color and texture a breathless wonder from the first second the movie begins. It might just be Linus Sandgren's (Joy) cinematography that impresses the most, however, his dexterous framings, not only of the musical numbers but just in general throughout, a divine spectacle that's tremendous.

Speaking of the musical numbers, Chazelle eschews modern MTV music video methods as far as staging and editing are concerned. Instead, much like the Hollywood greats, he allows these moments to play themselves out so that the poetry of the movement and the connections between the actors speak to the viewer with dazzling clarity. There is an observational glory to many of the individual sequences that I immediately wanted to rewind and watch again the second they concluded, each building upon the next to shape Mia and Sebastian in ways that are profound no matter how fanciful or dreamlike an interaction might initially appear.

Gosling and Stone, working together for the third time (Gangster Squad, Crazy, Stupid, Love.), continue to display sublime chemistry, their ability to connect with one another reminiscent of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan or William Powell and Myrna Loy, each in their respective heydays. But as good as the former is, and he's wonderful, it is the latter who steals the show. Stone, so amazing in Birdman, so close to perfect in The Help, is still a revelation, watching her build Mia layer by layer a virtuoso star turn that's extraordinary. Her final musical number left me speechless. The way it builds, how Chazelle daringly holds his camera on her face as she navigates through all the various emotions while singing her chosen song, each second is divine, Stone bringing many moments such of this to such organically energetic life I couldn't help but be amazed by the actress.

There's not a lot here for any of the supporting players, who wander in and out of the proceedings, to do, and as gorgeously simplistic and honestly sentimental as the denouement might be, the transition to the finale is slightly jarring as it happens with such ferocious rapidity. Yet the feeling of bliss I felt as I exited the theatre afterwards was omnipresent, filtering into every fiber of my being with melodious ease. La La Land is magnificent, Chazelle delivering a musical that instantly ranks alongside my favorites of the genre and as such is a motion picture I'll be almost certain to cherish and sing the praises of for decades to come.


Insultingly melodramatic Beauty a facile waste of time
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

COLLATERAL BEAUTY
Now playing


Still reeling from the death of his six-year-old daughter two years ago, formerly outgoing advertising executive Howard (Will Smith) has returned to work a shell of a man. His business partners, Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña), are worried about their friend's mental well-being. But they are even more concerned about the declining health of their agency, and unless Howard is willing to sell his ownership stake it's likely they, and more importantly their entire staff, will be out on the streets with nothing to show for it.

Thanks to a colorfully iniquitous private investigator (Ann Dowd), the trio discovers Howard has been writing clandestine letters to Death, Time and Love, dropping them in the mail as if he expects a response. After a chance encounter with a beautiful young actress, Amy (Keira Knightley), Whit hits upon an idea. Why not hire people to pretend to be the three deities in order to help Howard process his grief? While initially reticent, Claire and Simon sign onto the plan, enlisting Amy and her two theatre buddies Brigitte (Helen Mirren) and Raffi (Jacob Latimore) to impersonate Love, Death and Time, hoping their insertion into their friend's life might help him turn the corner.

Collateral Beauty isn't subtle. Allan Loeb's (Things We Lost in the Fire, 21) script is as manipulative and as reliant upon melodramatic coincidences as that synopsis makes things sound like they might be, the resulting film almost insulting in regards to the depths it is willing to go to in order to draw tears out of the eye sockets. All of the twists are telegraphed from a mile away, and the climactic revelations aren't even moderately surprising, a couple of them so on-the-nose I almost choked on my popcorn at the way they are brusquely revealed.

Thankfully, director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Hope Springs) has somehow managed to assemble one heck of a killer cast to help bring all of this nonsense to life, each throwing themselves into this sophomoric mess of emotional pabulum with more intensity and personality than the actual motion picture deserves. Additionally, there are a small handful of winning moments hinting at the Capra-esque potential lurking at the center of things, most revolving around Norton's conversations with Knightley as well as his character's brief interactions with his angry, disillusioned adolescent daughter Allison (Kylie Rogers). Additionally, there is a bona fide terrific performance turned in by soon-to-be-an-Oscar-nominee Naomi Harris (Moonlight) as a grief counselor who becomes obsessed with Howard's case, and even if Loeb's script throws her character under a slab of treacle-fortified concrete the spectacularly talented actress manages to authentically tug at the heartstrings all the same.

I get what the screenwriter is attempting to do. He's channeling themes and ideas familiar to anyone who has ever watched It's a Wonderful Life or any of the numerous versions of A Christmas Carol. Loeb's going for a type of magic realism that lives comfortably inside a recognizable world, the twinkly holiday lights of New York City helping hint at the promise for human understanding, resilience, forgiveness and togetherness that lurks at the heart of the scenario he has concocted.

But it doesn't work. Not only are the coincidences tying everyone together tiresome, the tropes that are trotted out as if they are something imaginative and unique are just plain dumb. There is no nuance to these constructions, emergencies, health problems, marital discords and motherly ticking clocks all tossed in willy-nilly more because they're needed to up the ante than because they help give the drama additional life. The audience isn't treated with respect, and as such I lost patience with the movie long before the climactic reveals came to pass.

This could end up being one of those cases where general audiences and critics fail to see eye-to-eye, the preview crowd I watched this film with clearly responding to the story far more positively than I sadly was. Even so, the problems with the script and its subsequent execution are readily apparent throughout, and as strong as the acting might be that wasn't enough to warrant enduring this facile disaster any longer than was necessary. Collateral Beauty is a waste of time, and I just don't see myself reassessing that verdict anytime soon.


Thoughtfully unforced Things to Come a lived-in triumph
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THINGS TO COME
Now playing


Nathalie Chazeaux (Isabelle Huppert) is a popular professor of philosophy who looks to challenge her students, hoping they will venture into the world ready to think for themselves freely and without reservation. She has been married for a quarter of a century to her husband Heinz (André Marcon), the pair having two grown children who they love dearly and are ecstatic to see attempting to build lives of their own. Nathalie is also beholden to the whims of her eccentric, hypochondriac mother, Yvette Lavastre (Edith Scob), the older woman prone to calling the fire department whenever she has a health issue as she's fearful of hospitals and doctors.

An unforeseen series of events changes everything. Suddenly Nathalie is on her own, sitting inside an empty house and charged with taking care of Yvette's cantankerous cat. She strikes up a collegial friendship with former student Fabien (Roman Kolinka), heading out to his mountain hideaway for a brief bit of rest, relaxation, intelligent conversation and mental stimulation. As the days pass, Nathalie feels liberated by her newfound freedom yet is also torn up about the sudden isolation. But this is life, and she's determined to make the best of it, especially with her eldest Chloé (Sarah Le Picard) expecting her first child.

There is a thoughtful, unforced vitality to writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come that is spellbinding in its subtle gracefulness. The mind behind such films as Eden and Father of My Children, the filmmaker's latest is a relatively straightforward examination of a woman dealing with various ups and downs in her life with fortitude and resilience. More than that, though, she allows us to see Nathalie in full, revels in her intelligence while never shortchanging her shifting emotions as things spiral this way and that. It's magnificent, the quiet dignity of it all having a rhapsodic eloquence that's simply beautiful.

Huppert, having already delivered a powerful performance earlier this year in Joachim Trier's Louder Than Bombs and who is likely on the verge of an Academy Award nomination for her stellar, ferociously complicated work in Paul Verhoeven's upcoming Elle, is once again stunning. Her work as Nathalie never goes the way I thought it would, the light, almost playful ebullience she showcases in some scenes completely catching me off guard. More than that, though, Huppert's responses have astonishing depth and nuance, the power of her emotional outbursts, when they do occur, just shattering in their impact. It is almost as if she is Nathalie and Nathalie is her, Hansen-Løve grabbing a camera and following the actress around as if she were filming a documentary and not a piece of cinematic fiction.

There's honestly not a lot to the movie if I'm being entirely honest. Hansen-Løve has constructed an observational enterprise that ticks off days and years as if they were hands on a clock. But there is a lot more happening here than it might initially appear, this examination of this middle-aged woman's life and times speaking poignant volumes for those with the willingness to listen. Things to Come is astonishing, bringing delicate truths into the glaring light of day that are as timeless as they are universal, Hansen-Løve showing just how less can indeed be more when the hands sewing the pieces together into a seamless whole are as confident and as talented as hers are.




Hedwig rocks!
------------------------------

------------------------------
Vietgone should not be forgotten
Try to see it!

------------------------------
Stevie Nicks mesmerizes and The Pretenders rattle a full Key Arena with unforgettable show
------------------------------
Have yourselves a Hammy little holiday!
------------------------------
Café Nordo serves up an out-of-this world holiday extravaganza
------------------------------
Gay City Arts co-presents: 9 OUNCES:

A One-Woman Show by Anastacia Tolbert 12/15-12/18

------------------------------
GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS:

Moonlight, 'Transparent' and Tom Ford lead LGBT nominees

------------------------------
Author Jake Biondi previews his sixth BOYSTOWN book - available December 16!
------------------------------
The Orchard of Flesh bears dark fruit
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------------------------------
Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey coming to Key Arena in April
------------------------------
The Force is with the exhilaratingly powerful Rogue One
------------------------------
Winsome La La Land a musically euphoric romantic adventure
------------------------------
Insultingly melodramatic Beauty a facile waste of time
------------------------------
Thoughtfully unforced Things to Come a lived-in triumph
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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