Sunday, May 26, 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, November 16, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 46
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Well-acted Boy Erased a perplexing misfire
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

BOY ERASED
Now playing


Good intentions and even better performances do not always a decent movie make. Such is the case with writer/director/star Joel Edgerton's adaptation of Garrard Conley's gay conversion therapy memoir Boy Erased. The film's episodic nature and overtly melodramatic tendencies are its undoing, as is its inability to flesh out many of the supporting characters no matter how strong the actors filling these various roles might prove to be. Only when it focuses on the central dynamic between a loving mother and her emotionally beleaguered son does the story being told ever deeply resonate, Edgerton otherwise having a terrible time emotionally connecting the audience with the material.

College freshman Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) is the son of Baptist preacher Marshall (Russell Crowe). While home life has all the appearances of being just fine, understandably he's been hiding the fact he's gay from both his parents for fear he'll no longer be welcome in the family home. This is why, after he is forcibly outed, his devout Southern belle mother Nancy (Nicole Kidman) is escorting him to Love In Action where he'll participate in a 12-day outpatient program to 'cure' his homosexuality. While they'll be able to reunite each evening at a local motel, the rest of the time he'll be under the strict supervision of counselor Victor Skyles (Edgerton), Jared forced to participate in a psychologically manipulative program designed to eradicate every gay tendency the young man possesses.

Utilizing a series of flashbacks Edgerton attempts to flesh out Jared's relationship with his parents as well as show what transpired that ended up landing him at Love In Action. While an obvious attempt to add an aura of mystery and suspense to the story, this fracturing of the narrative has the unintended side effect of significantly lessening the emotional impact of what transpires over the course of the tale. It also doesn't allow any of the kids joining Jared in the program to make a lasting imprint, and even though actors Troye Sivan, Jesse LaTourette, Britton Sear and especially a sensational Xavier Dolan all try their best to give each of their characters a complex, emotionally fractured inner life, they all end up being a series of emotive radar blips that barely register as far as the bigger picture is concerned. Also, while Edgerton commendably underplays things as the belligerent Skyles the man is still such a didactic cretin his callous, self-hating evil is sadly never in doubt and he never comes across as anything other than a sanctimonious robot. His effectiveness is seriously undercut by this, the full inhuman terror of gay conversion therapy never breaking through as forcefully as it might have had this man felt like an authentic flesh and blood human being.

In many ways that last point is exactly why I feel that Desiree Akhavan's The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of the year's best films and in the same breath can't help but look at Edgerton's Boy Erased as one of its most frustrating disappointments. In that Sundance award-winner starring Chloë Grace Moretz, the individuals running her gay conversion camp, portrayed by John Gallagher Jr. and Jennifer Ehle, are nearly as fascinating as the main character and her fellow campmates (notably Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck) all are. They have their own interior lives, their own internal complexities, and while what they're doing is nothing short of child abuse, the fact they still come across as normal, everyday people is undeniably compelling. Akhavan's movie is fearless in that regard, and by imbuing every character with an innate sense of their own humanity this only augments the ghastly tragedy of what is being done to all of the kids at this anti-gay conversion camp.

None of that happens here. More, it's almost as if Edgerton, even though his intention is to obviously show just how heinous a process conversion therapy is, isn't particularly interested in spending all that much time at the Love In Action center. This leaves all those kids going through Skyles' program left in something akin to narrative limbo, each trying to make the most of every moment they're a part of but never given the room to fully explore the psychological damage this therapy is doing to them. Additionally, their home lives, most of which are far, far worse than Jared's, are equally nondescript, an entire plot strand involving Dolan's character and the various bruises he seems to freshly sport each day going infuriatingly nowhere.

But Hedges is excellent, delivering a multifaceted, emotionally withering performance that's right up there with his Oscar-nominated turn in 2016's Manchester by the Sea. He and Kidman (who is equally outstanding) share a series of magnificent scenes that dig right to the core of much of what Edgerton is attempting to say, their evolving relationship the heart and soul of the motion picture. As important as the Love In Action pieces of this tale are, part of me kind of wished the director had spent more time on their relationship, as well as the one between Jared and his conflicted preacher father Marshall, than he does on the 12-days the kid is supposed to be undergoing anti-gay treatment. Hedges, Kidman and Crowe are so dialed-in, so fully invested in their respective characters their performances leap off the screen, and it's a shame I didn't like the movie more because all three are exceptional.

I loved Edgerton's previous effort, the grim psychological thriller The Gift. Because of his success there, and considering the emotionally suspenseful way Conley's memoir reads, I had every reason to think the filmmaker would be equally triumphant bringing this story to life as he was with his last directorial endeavor. But for whatever reason Edgerton loses his way trying to adapt Boy Erased, and while numerous individual elements soar, and while his handling of actors remains close to perfect, the various pieces of this story never fit together as succinctly or as comfortably as they by all accounts should have. It's a mixed bag of positives and negatives, and while I respect what it is the director is trying to do with Conley's tale I'm equally upset that he can't do it justice, making this drama one of the more perplexing misfires I've seen in quite some time.


Colorfully eccentric Nutcracker a bizarrely fantastical kid-friendly ballet
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS
Now playing


I'm not sure how Disney's colorfully indulgent The Nutcracker and the Four Realms even exists. This fantastical reimagining of E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's timeless ballet is a psychedelic playground of vibrant imagination and playful hogwash. Screenwriter Ashleigh Powell has crafted a story that is as rudimentary as they come, casually lifting ideas and scenarios from everything, including C.S. Lewis' The Chronicle of Narnia series, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland. But her story's wide-eyed glee as it explores its strange characters and their surreal world is undeniable, as is its childlike enthusiasm to please audiences of all ages no matter what the cost. In short, this is as bizarre a confectionary cinematic creation as any I've seen in quite some time, and I'm honestly shocked that the studio heads at Walt Disney Pictures gave this one the go-ahead to begin production let alone grant it a full-blown theatrical release.

Before they head to the annual Christmas ball thrown by their godfather, the inventor Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), siblings Louise (Ellie Bamber), Clara (Mackenzie Foy) and Fritz Stahlbaum (Tom Sweet) are given presents by their father (Matthew Macfadyen) with express instructions that they be opened on Christmas Eve. This was one of the final wishes of their recently departed mother, Marie (Anna Madeley), her explicit instructions stating they must all be opened before the family heads out to Drosselmeyer's party. While each receives a gift that most closely fits their personality, 14-year-old Clara's item is somewhat perplexing. It's a beautiful bejeweled egg that was one of her mother's most cherished keepsakes, its inner secrets hidden thanks to a special locking mechanism that cannot be undone without the proper key.

Turns out, Drosselmeyer made this particular egg for Marie when she was a girl just about Clara's age, and he knows exactly why she decided to entrust it to her inquisitive and intelligent daughter. But he can't tell her why that is. These are all things Clara must learn for herself. So instead of finding her the key he plants before her a string that will lead the young girl to a faraway land where imagination runs rampant, sugar plum fairies exist and nutcrackers are loyal soldiers willing to do just about anything for those they choose to serve. It's a strange world of mystery and magic, all of it once ruled by a beloved queen the citizens of all four realms of this candy-coated wonderland would do just about anything for, that person being none other than Clara's late mother, Marie.

This is a crazy movie. I'm not sure this parallel world that Clara finds herself in is actually ever given a name. If it was, I missed it. The place is this Oz-like playland where each of the four realms is oversaturated in wildly blossoming pinks, blues, greens, reds, whites and purples that pop off the screen with unbridled abandon. They are each governed by their own idiosyncratic regent, the Land of Snowflakes by the sentient icicle Shiver (Richard E. Grant), the Land of the Flowers by the constantly in bloom Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez), the Land of Sweets by the bubbly Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley) and the Land of Amusements by the mouse-loving Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren).

The general gist of things is that Mother Ginger has been banished by the other three regents for trying to take over while Marie was away and now that Clara has arrived it will be up to her to decide what to do next. Aiding her is the Nutcracker soldier Captain Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), his dauntless courage only dwarfed by his selflessness and capacity to love all those dearest to his heart. He'll assist Clara in figuring out why Mother Ginger revolted as well as help her decipher the central mystery lurking inside Marie's egg, the two of them discovering an inner resolve and untapped strengths neither ever knew they possessed.

It's all as silly and as superficial as it sounds, and I can't say narrative originality is exactly this film's strong suit. But directors Lasse Hallström (My Life as a Dog) and Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger) seem to delight in all of their motion picture's most surrealistic nuances. They allow Guy Hendrix Dyas' (Passengers) magnificent production design and Jenny Beavan's (Mad Max: Fury Road) astonishing costumes to overwhelm the proceedings, letting cinematographer Linus Sandgren's (First Man) camera to slavishly take it all in almost as if it were a voyeur's binoculars intent on reveling in every last detail right down to the seemingly most mundane item. The whole thing is a triumph of art direction, makeup, hairstyles and pointy-toed shows, the movie a visually resplendent marvel that only grows more creatively eye-popping as it goes along.

But this excess of style can compensate for the story's increasingly obvious shortcoming for only so long. At a certain point, the fact this story is as obvious and as tired as it is does get frustrating. Even the central twist as to why exactly Mother Ginger was exiled and her Land of Amusements was allowed to rundown into bedraggled disrepair isn't even moderately shocking, and considering none of the characters are exactly what anyone would call 'well developed' getting emotionally attached to any of what Clara is currently going through is understandably difficult. Powell also trots out that most dated of Disney family film clichés, and that's the mysteriously dead mother, and while that doesn't lessen the potency of the scenes featuring Marie in flashback, there is still something eye-rolling and tired about the trope being trotted out with such brazen obstinacy.

But Foy, probably best known for playing Bella Swan and Edward Cullen's supernaturally eerie daughter Renesmee in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, is a beguiling delight as Clara, her steadfast resolve undeniably charming. I also got quite the kick out of newcomer Fowora-Knight as the human nutcracker Phillip. There was just something about him, a little sparkle hidden within the eye and a knowing intelligence accompanying his smile, that just won me over, and if Disney ever wanted to finance some sort of teenage Before Sunrise knockoff featuring him and Foy I'd be first in line to buy a ticket to see it. As for the rest of the talented supporting cast, most of them get upstaged by their costumes, their makeup or by the production design, Mirren one of the relative few who manages to breakout of all this joyfully vibrant artifice in any noticeable way.

But as good as she is, as wonderful as Foy and Fowora-Knight might be, none of them can hold a candle to Knightley. Her performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy is one for the ages, and I'm not entirely certain whether or not this is a positive or a negative. The actress grabs a hold of this role and fearlessly goes for broke, sporting a Marilyn Monroe meets Betty Boop vocal style that befits her gaudily girlish costumes and suitably poofy cotton candy hair kind of perfectly. Knightley is so larger-than-life I found it impossible to take my eyes off of her. She's a living doll, a flesh and blood cartoon character, the two-time Academy Award nominee putting on the kind of bravura go-for-broke showcase that's so incredible there just aren't words to describe its whack-a-doo magnificence properly.

None of which means I'm recommending The Nutcracker and the Four Realms to viewers any older than the age of eight, maybe nine-years-old. Even with a pair of superlative ballet sequences headlined by the wondrous Misty Copeland and a Fantasia homage that had me giddily giggling like some unhinged crazy person, this movie is ultimately just too whimsical and narratively threadbare for me to ever have been able to take it seriously. And yet, I'm still beyond happy that it exists, and part of me can't help but think if I were to watch it again in the next couple of years my appreciation for what Hallström and Johnston are attempting might continue to grow. There is magic here. Not a lot of it but there definitely is some to be certain, and with that being the case maybe this newest utilization of Hoffman's story and Tchaikovsky's ballet isn't such a waste of time after all.


Brutal if compelling Outlaw King an uneven historical epic
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

OUTLAW KING
Now playing


After the defeat of William Wallace at Falkirk, the majority of the remaining Scottish noblemen make peace with the reigning English monarch King Edward I (Stephen Dillane). This includes the respected Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick (Chris Pine), the king's son, Edward, Prince of Wales (Billy Howle), particularly happy to see his former friend re-pledge his allegiance. To further cement the bond between their respective families, King Edward also ordains that Bruce marry British noblewoman Elizabeth Burgh (Florence Pugh), thinking she'll be able to keep the hotheaded Scotsman from picking up arms against England again in the future.

This assumption is wrong. After King Edward captures Wallace, has him drawn and quartered, and then has all his dismembered body parts displayed across Scotland as a warning to the people to never revolt again, Bruce realizes that being under the thumb of English rule isn't something his fellow countrymen are going to be able to stand. Another revolt is unavoidable, and it's up to him to lead it. As such, Bruce strikes a deal with many of the ruling clans and has himself crowned King of Scots. In turn, King Edward sends his son to deal with this latest uprising, hoping that he'll both prove himself on the battlefield as well as display leadership qualities he has so far in his life failed to showcase.

Acclaimed director David Mackenzie reteams with his Hell or High Water star Pine for the early 14th century epic Outlaw King. While I can't speak to the veracity of the screenplay (credited to five different writers, including Mackenzie), Scottish history not exactly my strong suit, it feels real, and that's important, the grimy, mud-splattered aesthetics of Bruce's world having a grungy validity that's palpable. There's something gripping about what Mackenzie splashes up on the screen, especially during the kinetically staged battle sequences, the grotesque brutality of these close-quarters combats having an abhorrent beauty I couldn't take my eyes off of.

But there is a strange emotional detachment to the narrative that I had trouble getting past. Character development is not this story's strongest element, and with everyone dressed so similarly, oftentimes covered in blood and sporting massive beards, there were times I had trouble distinguishing between who was who and which side they were fighting for. Most frustratingly, the relationship between Bruce and Elizabeth isn't fleshed out as clearly as it needs to be, making the fact they seem to form such an unbreakable bond as husband and wife moderately unbelievable. Pugh, in particular, is given precious little to do, and considering just how incredible she was in 2016's Lady Macbeth this almost can't help but be a massively disappointing turn of events.

Thankfully Pine is superb, delivering a richly layered, strikingly internalized performance. He's magnetic as Bruce, bringing a masculine physicality to his portrayal that's suitably virile and robust. But there is an innate uncertainty to what Pine is doing that's consistently compelling. The ways in which Bruce battles his religious beliefs, his family commitments, his growing affection for Elizabeth and his sense of duty to what he believes to be the best course of action for the Scottish people, all of that is there. The actor conveys so much with the way he holds his body, the increasingly withered manner in which he contorts himself physically adding an extra layer of emotional magnetism. It's spectacular stuff, Pine holding the screen with an iron grip that only grows in magnitude as events progress.

From a technical standpoint Mackenzie is right at the top of his game. As stated, as shot by the great Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker) and edited by Jake Roberts (Brooklyn) the two primary battle sequences are magnificently staged. The climactic Battle of Loudoun Hill, which wasn't the end of Bruce's war against England but was still an important stepping stone to his eventual victory, is one of the greatest action sequences I've seen this year. It's a nasty and cruel affair, the forcefulness of the violence leaping off the screen in ways that made me feel as if I was there slogging through the mud struggling to survive.

There is also some nice supporting work turned in by both Dillane and Howle, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson is both unrecognizable and sensational as James Douglas, Lord of Douglas (eventually to become known as Black Douglas), and as terrific as he was in Nocturnal Animals he's even more incredible here. I just wish the script had spent more time building a lot of these relationships up more than it does. Instead, there's an episodic quality to the plotting that can get tedious, and as strong as so many individual elements might be there was still no getting past just how emotionally distant from the majority of the interpersonal dynamics I felt like Mackenzie was keeping me.

Still, when the film focuses on Bruce's guerrilla warfare against King Edward and then zeroes in on the broadening of his campaign against England with the Battle of Loudon Hill it achieves a belligerent urgency that's suitably thrilling. Outlaw King might not be Mackenzie's finest hour behind the camera, but he's still just too skilled a filmmaker to craft a motion picture that's not at least somewhat worthwhile. Even with its faults this one ends up being more than a bit better than that, and for those that do get the opportunity to watch this one in a theatre (and not on Netflix), the visual spectacle alone is more than enough to warrant the price of a ticket.


New Grinch a bland yuletide disappointment
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE GRINCH
Now playing


Can't say I'm much of a fan of The Grinch. This is Universal Pictures second attempt to transform the Dr. Seuss classic into a feature-length motion picture. The first was a live action version released in 2000 starring Jim Carrey as the iconic character in a suitably larger-than-life performance. But director Ron Howard's film, while a massive hit, was ugly and obnoxious, the whole thing an overblown, ungainly comedic travesty that I didn't particularly care for at the time of its release and that I have only grown to despise even more these past 18 years.

This new variation, this time an animated effort courtesy of the folks behind Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, isn't nearly as terrible. There are some winning sight gags, and I can't say directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier don't at least make a somewhat heartfelt attempt to do both Dr. Seuss as well as the classic 1966 animated holiday special both justice with their take. Screenwriters Michael LeSieur (Keeping Up with the Joneses) and Tommy Swerdlow (Snow Dogs) have attempted to update things for today's audiences while also staying relatively true to the source material, and their efforts aren't entirely in vain.

Yet this movie is so shockingly bland, so immediately forgettable, so pedestrian in its plotting, that I found watching it to be fairly laborious. It also makes some bizarre changes to Seuss' story that are perplexing. Even though the Grinch's heart is still supposed to be 'two sizes, too small,' with what ends up being depicted I honestly can't say I felt this was the case. He's a loving owner to Max, his trusty dog. He actually goes into Whoville on a regular basis to buy groceries and interact with the citizens. He ends up making friends with an overweight reindeer he charmingly nicknames, 'Fred.' He shows elements of kindness and compassion throughout.

I'm not saying this is inherently a bad idea to make these changes. I get that the screenwriters are trying to add layers of complexity to the Grinch that make him more relatable and easier to emotionally connect with. Problem is, it undercuts the whole point of Seuss' story in regards to how kindness, love, community and family can fundamentally change someone right at their core. If the Grinch is already a fairly decent guy, if he's just lonely and misunderstood, then it makes his transformation and his heart (which grows two sizes) overflowing with Christmas Spirit that less of a big deal. It's still nice, of course, just not as affecting or meaningful, and because of that I found it difficult to be moved in the same way I am whenever I read Dr. Seuss' book to my nieces or when I watch that classic animated special.

There's some lovely animation, and an extended sequence where the Grinch is trying to get a hold of some reindeer only to make friends with Fred instead is undeniably amusing. There's also a great bit of visual ingenuity during a scene where the cantankerous curmudgeon absconds with a gigantic red sleigh from one of Whoville's jolliest citizens, the whole scene from start to finish pretty wonderful. I also thought the vocal work from Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, newcomer Cameron Seely as little Cindy Lou Who and Rashida Jones as her harried but always still cheerful and loving mother Donna Lou Who was top-notch. I also kind of loved 'Saturday Night Live' star Kenan Thompson as that perpetually happy Whovillite, a few of his one-liners getting me to chuckle out loud more than once.

But the overall movie still left me cold. While I'm all but certain little kids will enjoy it, The Grinch just didn't do a lot for me. It's dull and boring, and on more than one occasion it spends more time having someone, usually the Grinch himself, give a long-winded speech explaining what we've either just watched or been told about by the Narrator (Pharrell Williams, who sadly won't make anyone forget about Boris Karloff; not that anyone could). Maybe my heart needs to grow a size or two, but this newest take on the Dr. Seuss classic ended up being a pre-Thanksgiving present I honestly wish I'd never taken the time to open.




Northwest African American Museum presents Bold As Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home, defining his Seattle roots
------------------------------
Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) presents You Got the Look
------------------------------
Framed asks - Is it art or is it hobby?
------------------------------
Seattle Gays come out to see Mr. Showman, Jake Shears at the Neptune
------------------------------
UW World Dance presents Compagnie Käfig
------------------------------
Out of the Box Silent Auction at METHOD Gallery
------------------------------
Seattle Humane - Pets of the Week
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------------------------------
Well-acted Boy Erased a perplexing misfire
------------------------------
Colorfully eccentric Nutcracker a bizarrely fantastical kid-friendly ballet
------------------------------
Brutal if compelling Outlaw King an uneven historical epic
------------------------------
New Grinch a bland yuletide disappointment
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 2018 - DigitalTeamWorks 2018

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