Friday, Dec 06, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 45 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
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, June 28, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 26
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Devilishly inventive Annabelle Comes Home conjures up fear
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

ANNABELLE COMES HOME
Now playing


The evil has been contained. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have added the demonic doll Annabelle to their artifacts room, taking the extra precaution of placing her in a locked case made entirely out of church glass so her powers do not affect any other items they have collected over the years. Everyone that comes into their house knows they are not allowed into this room unattended, including their daughter Judy's (Mckenna Grace) trusted babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman).

But when the Warrens leave for a brief overnight paranormal investigation, Mary's best friend Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife) invites herself over for a visit under the pretense of helping celebrate Judy's birthday. In actuality she wants to see what is inside the legendary artifact room, sneaking in to get a peek after everyone else has gone to bed. While fingering a number of the supposedly cursed items littering the various shelves, Daniela also inadvertently leaves Annabelle's case unlocked. Not only does the doll escape, she also gives life to the demons whose possessions the inquisitive teenager touched while exploring the artifact room. Now Judy, Mary and Daniela are all in danger of losing their immortal souls, and the only way to survive the night is to put Annabelle back in her prison so her Hell-spawned evil can once again be contained.

Annabelle was released in 2014. It was the first spin-off born from James Wan's 2013 horror yarn The Conjuring and, even though it wasn't very good, it ended up doing exceedingly well at the box office. This led to 2017's Annabelle: Creation which not only was also a solid summertime hit, director David F. Sandberg's prequel was also a substantial step up in quality from its predecessor and helped prove a 'Conjuring Cinematic Universe' wasn't as terrible an idea as some (myself included) thought it was going to be. While both last year's The Nun and this past April's The Curse of La Llorona were decidedly mixed bags, the popularity of these genre entries partially inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren cannot be denied, so it isn't exactly shocking producers have returned to the malevolent doll that made all of this possible with the enthusiastically creepy Annabelle Comes Home.

As much as I enjoyed that second adventure with the evil titular doll, Annabelle Comes Home is such a massive amount of sinister fun it might be my favorite entry in The Conjuring universe outside of the first film. Franchise screenwriter Gary Dauberman (Annabelle, The Nun) makes his directorial debut with the sequel, and in the process crafts a delightfully spooky funhouse of thrills and chills I got a major kick out of. Utilizing a fantastic array of practical effects and an immersive sound design that had the hairs on my arms standing on end, the filmmaker makes a motion picture that's equal parts The Haunting, Poltergeist and a random R.L. Stine Goosebumps story. While nowhere near the classic level of those first two titles or likely having the lasting appeal of the latter author's numerous youth-friendly scary stories, there's something to be said about what Dauberman manages here all the same, the film's ghoulishly timeless appeal almost undeniable.

It starts with the characters. Judy, Mary and Daniela each feel authentic. In swift brushstrokes Dauberman manages to flesh each youngster out, giving them all compelling backstories and a valid reason to end up in the middle of all the supernatural chaos that is about to be unleashed. Even though the story is set during the 1970s the emotions swirling within each girl are still relatable, watching them find ways to band together to fight against a menacing evil, and doing so without passing judgment upon the one of their group who set Annabelle free, gives the film a heartfelt foundation I definitely appreciated. Daniela, in particular, is a far more complicated character than it initially appeared she was going to be, Sarife doing a terrific job of giving the teenager additional emotional dimensions that only helps augment the growing dread as the doll brings life to many of the more dangerous artifacts the Warrens have attempted to safely lock away.

Of course, it is those additional artifacts that end up making this latest entry in The Conjuring universe such a giddily suspenseful rollercoaster ride. Daniela unleashes a ferryman who steals souls, a hellhound looking to possess a new human host and a lethal wedding dress that transforms its wearer into a homicidal bridezilla with a taste for blood. The three girls have to navigate all of these dangers and more as they try to keep Annabelle from stealing their immortal souls, and they must do so without any help from either Ed or Lorraine. Dauberman keeps the focus on the trio's evolving relationship as all of the things going bump in the night try to possess them, their belief in one another and combined moral strength the only chance they have to survive.

A subplot involving Mary's infatuation with a boy from school (who ends up having to battle said hellhound while hidden away in the Warren family's backyard chicken coop) and his mutual affection for her ends up being more than a little silly, while the film's climax is a little overly hurried and rushed. But the sequel is superbly shot by Michael Burgess (The Curse of La Llorona) and masterfully scored by series veteran Joseph Bishara. I also loved the way in which Dauberman expands upon the franchise's mythology, especially as it pertains to Judy. Annabelle Comes Home is a devilishly gripping joy, and here's hoping this demonic doll doesn't stay locked away in her church glass prison for very long, as I for one can't wait to see what terrors she'll be able to unleash next.


Insightful Last Black Man in San Francisco an emotionally eloquent triumph
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
Now playing


In the Fillmore district of San Francisco sits a house. It is a massive Victorian, one reportedly built in the 1950s by iconoclast dreamer Jimmie Fails' grandfather. But his father James Sr. (Rob Morgan) lost it while he was still a child, all of the antique furniture and their most prized possessions currently stored in his aunt Wanda's (Tichina Arnold) basement. Now sharing a room with his best friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors) in his grandfather's (Danny Glover) cramped abode on the outskirts of the city, much to the consternation of the elderly pair now living there Jimmie heads downtown on a regular basis to do maintenance on his childhood. Montgomery joins him on these outings, chronicling every aspect of their many adventures in a hardbound notebook in which he is constantly scribbling.

After an unexpected confluence of events, the house in the Fillmore district suddenly sits empty. Grabbing all the old furniture from his aunt, Jimmie decides to secretly move back in, introducing himself to other homeowners as their new neighbor. He invites Montgomery to live with him, the pair going about attempting to restore the interior to its original glory. But things do not go entirely as planned, and it's never clear that the two friends should be setting up residence with such cavalier certitude in the first place.

There's a lot going on in director Joe Talbot's Sundance Film Festival favorite The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Loosely born from co-writer/star Jimmie Fails' own life experiences, the movie is at times a broad comedy, at others a searing social commentary, and in many instances a bracingly tragic melodrama. It is also a hopeful aria about letting go of the past and proceeding into the future undaunted, while at the same time a melancholic remembrance of times gone by and of an iconic American city in the throes of impossibly convoluted transition. Concepts of race, family, friendship, gentrification and economic inequality are all touched upon. This is as unique a motion picture as I've seen in 2019, and while not all the pieces fit together perfectly, the emotional response I had to Jimmie and Montgomery's journey was still staggeringly monumental.

There's plenty to unpack. There is a tenderness to Jimmy and Montgomery's friendship that's unusual and surprising. The latter is quiet, soft-spoken and constantly scribbling notes and drawing pictures in his notebook. The former conveys an equally approachable and laidback demeanor, yet he also has a stoic resolve and brash selfishness that feels diametrically opposite of any of the traits displayed by his best friend. But Montgomery is nowhere nearly as timid as he appears, while Jimmy's emotional resolve isn't as unbreakable as he tries to make it seem like it is. Each man looks out for the other in a variety of ways, most of them so under the radar the other almost isn't even noticing their friend is doing it.

Much in the same way Blindspotting made Oakland its third main character, this movie does the same with its titular city. Through Jimmie and Montgomery's eyes we see a changing San Francisco. The effects of gentrification and economic disparity are subtly on display, the extremes between the haves, have-nots and those struggling to find footing sitting smack-dab in the middle difficult to miss. There is a streetwise Greek Chorus of young Black men Montgomery analyzes down to their last detail, and when tragedy shocks everyone senseless, it is the soft-spoken writer who forces an entire community to face how they're feeling about this death while at the same time making them assess their own culpability in allowing something like this to happen.

Some of the story beats are undeniably heavy-handed. Others feel unfinished and not as completely thought out as I'm almost certain the filmmakers intended them to be. But there is so much heart to this story, so much affection for both the two main characters as well as everyone in the community that they end up encountering as they navigate their way through this crazy indescribable trip they are on. The heartbreak is palpable. As is the joy. Most importantly, the insights, even the ones that feel unfinished, are authentic and pure, the observational articulateness of this tale frequently moving me to the edge of tears.

Fails is very good, while Glover, Morgan and especially a superb Arnold make deep, long-lasting impressions that lingered with me long after I left the theatre. Adam Newport-Berra's cinematography is a constant revelation, and I was equally astonished by the passionately subtle depth of composer Emile Mosseri's expressively evocative score. But for me the real surprise was Majors. Montgomery is a fascinating character who only grows in resonance as the film goes on. Majors builds his performance with hushed vitality, his titanic explosion near the film's climax an absolute stunner. The actor has a magnetically soulful eloquence that blew me away, his and Fails final scenes so intimately terrific I'm certain I'll be thinking about them for the remainder of the year, all of which helps make The Last Black Man in San Francisco a towering achievement I'm ecstatic to be able to celebrate.


Charmingly inoffensive Yesterday a long, winding road to disappointment
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

YESTERDAY
Now playing


The premise of Yesterday is that, for some strange reason with no explanation whatsoever, a worldwide electrical blackout causes the entire catalog of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star, a.k.a. The Beatles, to vanish from existence with one man, a struggling singer/songwriter named Jack Malick (Himesh Patel), the only person who remembers either them or their music. He proceeds to pass off their songs as his own and becomes an overnight sensation who catches the ear of Ed Sheeran and gets signed to a major label recording contract by cutthroat music producer Debra Hammer (Kate McKinnon). Along the way he is estranged from his longtime manager and childhood best friend Ellie Appleton (Lily James), not realizing until it's almost too late that his feeling for her go way beyond the strictly platonic.

That's it. That's the movie, and as intriguing an idea as that might be, I'm not at all certain that Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill screenwriter and Love Actually and About Time writer/director Richard Curtis is the guy to pull a conceit like this one off. Working from a story he originally conceived with Jack Barth and handing the directorial reins over to Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later and Trainspotting filmmaker Danny Boyle, the scenario he's composed never strays too far away from the readily anticipated. His tale is perfectly content to be a moderately pleasing, overtly melodramatic what-if curio piece that places more emphasis on the potential romantic longings of its two leads than it does anything else. As enjoyable as the movie can be it oddly flatlines right at the moment it should be building to a knockout crescendo, and I found its climactic choruses strangely forgettable and not at all worth humming as I exited the theatre.

The weird thing is that Boyle and Curtis don't do a particularly good job of making it clear just exactly why The Beatles entire catalog would resonate so instantaneously with a modern audience. I totally get why a songwriter like Sheeran would be blown away by something like 'The Long and Winding Road' or 'Let It Be.' Those are exquisitely constructed songs with superior lyrics that have stood the test of time for a reason. But I honestly don't get why something like 'Back in the U.S.S.R.' would be a universal smash outside of Russia, or how 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' or 'I Saw Her Standing There' wouldn't sound anything other than slightly archaic in the 2010s no matter how passionately they were being performed. On top of that, a key component to The Beatles success were the crafty, pitch-perfect harmonies that Lennon and McCartney so often manufactured for their band to perform, an aspect of their musicianship that is lost when it's just one man up on the stage performing on his own.

Still, there is an incontestable charm in watching Jack figure out how to use the band's music to his advantage. He's such a nice guy, so unassuming and selfless, the idea that he is going to go through with passing off someone else's work as his own even though for all intents and purposes none of their art existed in the first place so alien to him he's instantly aghast that he's even contemplating doing it. But when he sees the response from Ellie and his friends when he first sits down and starts singing the title track, when Ed Sheeran shows up at his family's door asking him to go tour a few Russian clubs with him after hearing a couple of songs, Jack almost can't help himself. The singer is faced with an existential crisis that offers up a number of moral and ethical questions, the weight falling upon his shoulders as his ruse continues building exponentially at virtually the same rate as his fame also grows.

Not that Curtis seems to be concerned with almost any of that. His script reduces all of these ideas to easily digestible platitudes that basically culminate by saying, 'love is all you need,' and little else. But that paraphrasing of The Beatles is reductive and rudimentary, adding a layer of melodramatic schmaltz to their music that, no matter how emotional many of their songs might have been, was arguably never there until now. Worse, his depiction of Ellie and her feelings for Jack often feel as if they are from another era entirely, and while I'm all for stories that explore how someone's feelings of love and affection are not always reciprocated as one hopes they would be, her character would be more at home in an Andy Hardy vehicle than it is in one set in 2019.

Thankfully James is far too talented an actress to make Ellie anything other than supremely likable, the more odious aspects of her situation having nothing to do with her. The Cinderella and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again star has an enchantingly innate ability to warm even the hardest heart to its melting point, the quiver of her lip coupled with the alluringly crooked nature of her smile positively infectious in the best possible way. She has melodious chemistry with Patel, and in a movie without nearly as many issues, I'm certain I'd be sitting here singing their mutual praises as boisterously as I possibly could if that were not the case.

That's not going to happen. Boyle is a great filmmaker who is hardly afraid of sentiment (just watch his magnificent family drama Millions), but even in his lesser efforts like Trance or The Beach his imprint upon the material is always noticeable. But that's not how it is with Yesterday, and if you had told me Curtis had directed this and was just utilizing Boyle's name as a pseudonym I'd be hard-pressed to find any reasons to say you were wrong. The last third of this drama is an ineffectual slog that wastes the talents of its stars, and as breezy, inoffensively enjoyable and as adorably light as so much of this was, to suddenly hear it hit so many sour notes was undeniably disappointing, my emotions gently weeping the more I keep thinking about it.


Gruesomely loopy Child's Play a misguided reinvention of a horror classic
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

CHILD'S PLAY
Now playing


Single mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) has taken a job working at a local department store after she and her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) move to a new city and take up residence in a downtown apartment complex. He's something of an introverted loner. She wants him to get outside of his shell and try to make new friends. To help Andy with that, Karen comes into possession of a Buddi doll recently returned to her store. This interactive animatronic is one of the hottest toys on the market, imprinting upon its child the moment it is turned on. It also has the ability to run any other electronic components (televisions, smartphones, tablets, etc.) it happens to be networked to, making it a useful operational device for users of every age.

But this Buddi doll is different. Not only does it ask to be referred to as 'Chucky' (voiced by Mark Hamill), it also doesn't stop itself from repeating any number of four-letter swear words and obsessively treating its friendship with Andy with deathly seriousness. At first these technical glitches are quite humorous. Later, however, they start to become increasingly terrifying. It soon becomes apparent to Andy that Chucky's malfunction is no laughing matter, and when the doll says it's going to be his best friend it means it, anyone who attempts to get between the two of them better get measured for a body bag.

Child's Play is not so much a remake of the now-classic 1988 horror film directed by Tom Holland as much as it is a severe reimagining of the property using the idea of a killer doll that's named itself Chucky attaching itself to the son of a stressed-out single mother as its jumping off point to go in a variety of oddball directions. While I think it is wrong that creator Don Mancini was frozen out of this production even though he's been keeping the franchise going for 30 years and seven successful films, I do appreciate that new director Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) and screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith have at least made a passing attempt to radically reinterpret things for this new version. There's plenty about this playfully violent and malevolently humorous enterprise that can be a heck of a lot of fun, the insanely batty climax almost enough in and of itself to make the purchase of a matinee ticket worthwhile.

But not quite. Klevberg and Smith have a ton of ideas they're attempting to toy around with. Problem is, they never linger on any of them long enough so they could matter in any discernible way other than something vaguely superficial. Some of the stuff they introduce, most notably a key sequence involving Chucky watching Tobe Hooper's 1986 controversial cult favorite The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, is so poorly conceived and thought out it comes close to being offensively indefensible. There are moments this movie feels like the Jackson Pollock painting of modern-day horror remakes, and I can't help but imagine Klevberg and Smith throwing general ideas, plot developments and various character interactions at a blank canvas as if they were swatches of paint. Some stuff sticks, others decidedly do not, the resulting image a colorful hodgepodge of insanity, inspiration and inanity that's never quite as fascinating (or as entertaining) as I tend to think the filmmakers assume it is.

Some of this did still manage to put a smile on my face. There are a couple of deliciously grisly kills, not the least of which involves a string of exterior Christmas lights, a tall ladder, a motorized electric tiller and a watermelon. There's also a surprisingly effective scene where Andy and his two new friends Falyn (Beatrice Kitsos) and Pugg (Ty Consiglio) get the brief upper hand against Chucky only to find they're somewhat emotionally conflicted about trying to shut him down. I was also taken with Brian Tyree Henry's performance as a veteran police detective whose mother (Carlease Burke) lives in the same building as the Barclays, and I really liked the way he was able to construct such an intriguingly multidimensional character with only a handful of scenes to do it in.

Then there is Hamill. He easily could have channeled his inner Brad Dourif (the original voice of Chucky who has made a second career bringing the doll back to life again and again these past 30 years). He could also have repurposed his iconic Joker persona from 'Batman: The Animated Series.' Instead, the Star Wars legend brings a genuine sense of uncomforting pathos to his portrayal of the sentient robotic doll, all of which allows his homicidal malice to come from a place of genuine concern for Andy's wellbeing that's shockingly sincere. Hamill knocks it out of the park, and it's a shame the movie is such a frustrating mixed bag because I'm almost curious to see where he would have taken this character in the future if this remake had proven to be a hit.

Yes. I'm assuming this new Child's Play won't catch on with general audiences. The design of the Chucky doll is underwhelming. The film's emphasis on overt terror oftentimes works against its best interests. Most of all, almost all of its strongest ideas (the increasing interconnectivity of everyday household devices, the corporatization of daily life, children disconnecting from reality due to an overuse of social media and the like) are never fully realized or developed, making them feel so half-baked they barely register. Additionally, as magnificently loopy as the film's climax might be, and it's gruesomely insane on a multitude of levels, I felt so little emotional investment in what was going on that the outcome to the Andy versus Chucky battle didn't matter to me whatsoever. Because of this the remake and I could never quite strike up an effective friendship, and when it was over we parted more as genial acquaintances who would likely never meet again more than we did anything even moderately long-lasting.




Melissa Etheridge to march with GLAAD in historic WorldPride march in New York City
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------------------------------
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
------------------------------

------------------------------
Devilishly inventive Annabelle Comes Home conjures up fear
------------------------------
Insightful Last Black Man in San Francisco an emotionally eloquent triumph
------------------------------
Charmingly inoffensive Yesterday a long, winding road to disappointment
------------------------------
Gruesomely loopy Child's Play a misguided reinvention of a horror classic
------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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