Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-10-15
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Trans musician to appear at documentary screening Trans musician to appear at documentary screening
Jennifer Leitham, the renowned transgender jazz bass virtuoso, will be in Oak ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times Knight at the Movies: Anonymous; classic DVDs
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2011-11-02

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


With his mega-blockbuster films like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, et al., the idea of out writer-director Roland Emmerich using a literary figure like William Shakespeare as the basis for one of his movies is akin to Rodney Dangerfield yelling, "Shakespeare for Everyone!" in the '80s frat comedy Back to School. As it turns out, that's exactly the result that the well-intentioned but misguided Emmerich has achieved with Anonymous.

The movie poses a question ("Was Shakespeare a fraud?") that Emmerich's regular moviegoing audience—the masses who have made his movie behemoths billion-dollar winners—might only not be particularly interested in answering: "Let's see, Shakespeare was…is…oh, whatever." Although this assessment certainly sounds more than a tad jaundiced and cynical, I can assure you that the cacophony that ensues as Emmerich's movie dances around this sorta tantalizing idea won't likely satisfy those that are in the dark about our greatest playwright—nor those who are.

As I sat, watching Emmerich's huge budget lavishly expended on the eye-popping sets and costumes, classy cast and sequences, I found myself lost in the intricate plot that had something to do with a battle over Queen Elizabeth's successor. Tossed into an excessive amount of court intrigue is the idea that Elizabeth (played by both Vanessa Redgrave, having a hammy good time, and in flashbacks by daughter Joely Richardson) just loved old Willy's plays. However, they were maybe dangerous or too distracting or, oh, whatever. Rhys Ifans—as the effete, titled Edward de Vere—loves the plays, too. That's because, as the film has it, he's the real author of not just the plays but the sonnets as well; unfortunately, those to the manner born during the Elizabethan period weren't, heaven forbid, allowed to do something so low-class as write plays or think of acting in them.

So, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations as de Vere gets Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to pretend to be the author of the products of his vivid imagination—which, in turn become wildly popular plays, thus killing Jonson's own playwriting prospects. Then, in an accidental moment, the drunken womanizer himself, old Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) takes credit for Ed's work and becomes a sensation, adding even more intrigue to the movie.

The plot raises some intriguing questions but is so dense that you finally throw your hands; stare at the beautiful scenery; enjoy the over-the-top acting from the pedigreed cast and the beautiful boys (in and out of their codpieces—there's plenty of homo subtext here, m'lord); and sit in awe of the wads of cash necessary to pull together this bombastic claptrap. Anonymous, as it turns out, is an apt title for this entertaining nonsense as that's likely to be the swift fate of Emmerich's Edsel of a movie.

Classic DVD recommendations:

Warner Archives has led the way with its DVD on Demand service (although I still contend the price point is too high). The success of its service has inspired other studios to follow suit. (The lone hold-out seems to be Paramount, which continues to keep tons of its classic titles locked in vaults. What's the delay, Paramount?) Although the Warner Archive titles are rarely remastered or have much if anything in the way of special features (like their imitators), they allow classics fans to at long last add these much desired titles to their collections—reason enough for movie maniacs like myself. Recent titles I'm recommending include:

—Obsession: Writer/director Brian DePalma's 1976 mystery-thriller homage to Hitchcock's Vertigo (down to the Bernard Herrmann film score) includes a fine performance by the recently departed Cliff Robertston, whose tricky Hollywood career is due for reassessment. Genevieve Bujold has the dual role and is fantastic.

—The Phantom of Hollywood: Jack Cassidy stars in this 1974 TV movie parody of The Phantom of the Opera as a once-great actor who lives among the shadows of MGM's once glittering backlot and goes nuts when the powers that be decide its time to turn the sets into a parking lot. For nostalgia addicts like myself the movie is a must-see, as it features actual footage of the real MGM backlot being torn down and has a dazzling array of classic stars making cameos in what amounts to as a sad wake for MGM's golden era.

—Berserk!: Late-stage Joan Crawford (1967), showing off her still shapely 70-year-old gams, is the head of a tatty little circus plagued by a murderer who keeps killing off her acts in front of a horrified/thrilled public. It's bottom-of-the-barrel stuff but Crawford—who romances cocky new aerialist Ty Hardin without batting an ironic eye at their age difference—gives it her all, as usual. This movie's campish rather than camp.

—The Catered Affair: Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine star in Paddy Chaefsky's 1956 film adaptation of his TV play as a world-weary Bronx couple—a harried housewife and her cranky cab-driver husband—who haggle over how lavish a wedding to give their only daughter (Debbie Reynolds, who is the tough realist of the family and who gives an Oscar-worthy performance). Rod Taylor plays the fiancĂ©. Andre Previn contributes an emotionally ripe score that underscores the bitterness of the character's lives. Decades later, gay icon Harvey Fierstein realized a dream of turning the piece into a musical that, alas, didn't resonate with Broadway critics or audiences and closed after a brief run.

—Julie: Just days after marrying a dreamy concert pianist (Louis Jordan), Doris Day, as the title character, is hysterical after being terrorized by said husband, who is insane with jealousy. An early version of both Sleeping with the Enemy and Airport '75 (really), this little 1956 programmer ups the tension from its first frame and never lets go. Also, it also has an eerie, dream-like title song (sung by Day, natch) that haunts long after the movie ends at the end of a screeching runway. Juuuuuuullllliiiieeee.

—Athena: This rather oddball 1954 MGM musical focuses on astrology, numerology and, most important for gay audiences, the fitness craze. The latter plot point finds Louis Calhern (dressed in ruffled gold shirt and pants) training a bevy of live-in bodybuilders at the family spa for the impending Mr. Universe pageant. The he-men (including Steve Reeves) stand around posing in their bikinis and, once in a while, offer scenic support for the movie's musical stars—Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds and Vic Damone—who give it their all.

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitymediagroup.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Knight at the Movies: Dracula Untold; film notes 2014-10-15
MOVIES Rory Kennedy re-creates 'Last Days in Vietnam' 2014-10-12
Alan Cumming on his memoir, acting 2014-10-09
Alan Cumming in Conversation at Music Box Theatre Oct. 13 2014-10-08
NUNN ON ONE Gay actor from 'Nurse Jackie' shows theater chops 2014-10-08
Knight at the Movies: Pride; film notes 2014-10-08
CIFF's LGBT highlights: Week one 2014-10-08
Documentary on telephone hotlines out in November 2014-10-07
Knight at the Movies: Last Weekend; Hunted; notes 2014-10-01
Disc and That: Upcoming and recent DVDs 2014-09-30
Knight at the Movies: Two Faces; This Is Where...; Devil's Door; Innocents 2014-09-24
Festival 'Reeling' in audiences 32 years later 2014-09-24
Bjork film screening; Chely Wright campaigns on Kickstarter 2014-09-24
Director talks dynamics of trans-focused film 'Boy Meets Girl' 2014-09-17
Pastor/CTS student in trans* documentary 2014-09-16
'Queers in the Kingdom' filmmaker on movie, Wheaton College 2014-09-16
REELING FILM FEST The movie 'Lilting': Lost in translation 2014-09-16
REELING FILM FESTIVAL Max Adler of 'Glee' runs amok in Saugatuck 2014-09-16
Ugandan documentary screens at church 2014-09-16
Five Worth Finding: West Loop restaurant, steamy film 2014-09-16
Reeling Film Festival overview 2014-09-14
Roosevelt doc sidesteps Eleanor's sexuality 2014-09-12
Skrebneski unveils Chicago International Film Fest poster 2014-09-11
Reeling Film Festival at Century Centre Sept. 20 2014-09-11
Screenings: Bjork film, Ugandan LGBT film 2014-09-11
Knight at the Movies: The Skeleton Twins; The Homestretch; film notes 2014-09-10
Fall LGBT movie preview 2014-09-10
'The Roosevelts' avoids Eleanor's sexuality 2014-09-09
Women's Film; Martina proposes; Sky finals; AIDS Run, Walk 2014-09-09
Pride Films, Plays' Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts 2014-09-09
POV's 'Koch' airs Sept. 22 on PBS 2014-09-08
Alan Cumming in Conversation Oct. 13 at Music Box 2014-09-08
Knight at the Movies: The Last of Robin Hood; film notes 2014-09-03
John Leguizamo 'Klowns' around, talks 'To Wong Foo' 2014-09-03
ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS Women's Words Fest; Queer poetry; Reeling 2014-09-03
Carell's gay film; Bomer's Horror Story; Gaga joins Lambert 2014-09-02
Gay Asian website to debut 'Break-up King' 2014-08-30
Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts 2014-08-29
Reeling LGBT film fest opens Sept. 18 2014-08-27
Knight at the Movies: Love Is Strange; To Be Takei; Yves; film notes 2014-08-27





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Trans entrepreneur Kinley Preston lives her truth
 
Man's Country renovates to add leather emporium
 
Chicago House luncheon puts spotlight on disparities
 
Dining news: Hot Doug's replacement; Chefs Hall of Fame
 
Jennifer Hudson and HRC; Transparent; Annie Lennox on Beyonce
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now








  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.