Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-22
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: My Week with Marilyn; Arthur Christmas; Carrie film note
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2011-11-23

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


Celebrity biopics—especially of troubled or closeted Hollywood stars like Judy Garland and Rock Hudson—used to be staples of the TV-movie genre. (James Franco as James Dean, Cheryl Ladd as Grace Kelly and Sherilyn Fenn as Elizabeth Taylor spring to mind.) In the last little while, though, film audiences have begun to lap them up and so we now go to the movies to watch young actors portraying their cinematic forebears. But make no mistake—although the budgets may be bigger, the care gone into them more exacting and the actors of a higher, starry pedigree, these movies still offer the same junky pleasures as their TV stepchildren.

Case in point: There's My Week with Marilyn, which features hot stuff—current art house "It" girl Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, as well as Zoe Wannamaker and Dominic Cooper as Monroe's coterie Paula Strasberg and Milton Greene. There are also Judi Dench (as Dame Sybil Thorndike), Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones and Emma Watson in a supporting role as the unrequited love interest of the film's leading character.

Said leading character would be one Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a young scion of the British aristocracy who was bitten by the showbiz bug and, through family connections, became a production assistant on Olivier's 1958 movie, The Prince and the Showgirl. The film, directed by Simon Curtis and adapted from Clark's memoir by Adrian Hodges, details the troubled production that increasingly finds Monroe at odds with Olivier—her director and co-star—and all the more reliant on sycophantic acting coach Strasberg (Wannaker, perfectly creepy), grouchy photographer-producing partner Greene (Cooper—wasted in a nothing role) and, eventually, Clark. Clark, naturally, has a mad crush on the world's most famous sexpot that, as the film tells us, was briefly returned in kind. (The movie leaves out Clark's memoir admission of a gay affair that also occurred during filming.)

Branagh has a great time hamming it up as the persnickety, short-sighted Olivier; Ormond is moving as the aging Leigh, whose marriage to Olivier was coming to an end; and Dench has several fine moments. Redmayne (who played the tortured, gay character in Savage Grace) is fine, if not particularly memorable, as the innocent lamb to the tough movie-making slaughter. However, it is Williams who really sets the movie apart. With a bit of a weight gain, her locks dyed the famed platinum blonde color, and dressed in recreations of the to-die-for '50s fashions, Williams eerily recalls the ethereal Monroe and her subtle shifts in mood really get at the heart of the often somnambulant girl-woman. She goes way beyond the breathy, easily imitated baby-speaking and singing voice (the film bookends with two musical numbers) and she brings off Monroe's odd mixture of vulnerability, toughness, resignation and knowingness.

This may be a case of one actress intuitively understanding another, and Williams' complex portrait of this endlessly fascinating woman elevates the movie. Although My Week with Marilyn doesn't really dig deep or offer much beyond its movie-star magazine glossiness its still marvelously fun and it does contain one unforgettable sequence in which Marilyn and Colin escape to the English countryside in what amounts to a dreamy, magical yet bittersweet interlude for both the characters and the audience.

The film's score, by Conrad Pope, is also worth noting, as is the sumptuous "Marilyn's Theme," which classical pianist Lang Lang played and Alexandre Desplat composed.

The idea that Santa and his elves have turned the distribution of presents every Dec. 24 into a major military operation—which is the premise of the animated children's movie Arthur Christmas—makes me more than a tad uneasy. Watching a covert op coordinated from a North Pole command center—with thousands of elves descending upon an unsuspecting city while it sleeps to sneak into houses under cover of darkness, aided by the latest night-vision gadgets, etc.—is more than a little creepy and is the antithesis of the traditional warm, fuzzy holiday movie.

The story pits Santa's two sons: Steve, the tough-as-nails super-achiever who commands the present delivery operation (and is given a gay, toady elf assistant) and the much klutzier, gentler Arthur, who answers holiday letters from the kiddies and still believes in magic. When a fault in the system occurs—one child is overlooked in the present delivery—Arthur determines he will use any means necessary to right the mistake. Once again we have the familiar story of jock vs. sissy in which macho, crass authority ("Christmas is not a time for emotions," Steve barks at one point) is shown to have plenty of kinks in its armor.

We are cued to root for daffy, good-natured Arthur and his offbeat companion (a punk elf sporting an eyebrow piercing) but it takes the movie, which belabors the military precision of the gift-giving with abundant zeal, a long time to come around to this point of view. In the process, the movie finds time to have the U.S. military blow up Santa's sleigh in what amounts to little more than a throwaway gag. While Arthur Christmas is certainly executed well (stuffed with more visual delights than the proverbial Christmas goose) and has a distinctive group of English actors (James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy) voicing it, the explosion was the moment I resigned my commission as objective film critic and took up the battle cry for sweeter, truly magical holiday fare (Miracle on 34th Street anyone?).

Film note:

Get out Your Bloody Prom Dresses and Crosses: How's this for a twisted, early Christmas present? Multiple Oscar nominee Piper Laurie will be in town on Sunday, Dec. 4, for a screening of the 1976 horror classic Carrie at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave. As the religious fanatic Margaret White, mother to "creepy Carrie"—the outcast teen played by Sissy Spacek who ends up taking out most of her snobbish classmates during a very bloody prom—Laurie is sensational. Both she and Spacek were nominated for Oscars. Camp Midnight is presenting the event, called A Very Carrie Christmas, and will feature a wacky pre-show beginning at 2 p.m. featuring a costume parade, prizes and more.

Dick O'Day (my alter ego) and David Cerda, artistic director of Hell in a Handbag Productions, will host. A Q&A with Laurie will follow the interactive screening, which, in turn, will be followed by a book-signing of Laurie's new autobiography, Learning to Live Out Loud. (Books will be available for sale.) The event will partially benefit Handbag Productions. www.musicboxtheatre.com

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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Dancing About Architecture 2015-07-22
Knight at the Movies: Do I Sound Gay?; Black Alphabet; restored films 2015-07-22
Lesbian director on movie debuting at Black Alphabet festival 2015-07-22
Entertainment: Jennifer Hudson; Lee Daniels; Margaret Cho; Thomas Roberts 2015-07-21
HIV+ musical comedy web series "Merce" premieres 2015-07-17
Cover story: National gathering honors Philadelphia's 1965 protests 2015-07-15
MOVIES David Thorpe: It's okay to sound 'gay' 2015-07-15
Knight at the Movies: Tangerine; Tig; Mr. Holmes; Edith Lake Wilkinson 2015-07-15
Entertainment: Marriage film; 'Million-Dollar Listing'; Ryan Reynolds 2015-07-14
Upcoming: Hall & Oates; Kelly Clarkson; Black Alphabet Film; Book Fair 2015-07-14
Black Alphabet Film Fest expands to 4-day event 2015-07-10
Upcoming: Queer Web screenings; Saints + Sinners; Taste of Chicago 2015-07-07
Entertainment: Ellen DeGeneres; Beyonce; Michael Sam; Dolly Parton 2015-07-07
MOVIES Matt Bomer: Magic Mike star on Channing flattery and indecent gyrations 2015-07-06
Entertainment: Celebs react to marriage news; Jeremy Renner; Spider-Man 2015-07-01
TELEVISION David Oyelowo talks personalities, sexuality in HBO's 'Nightingale' 2015-07-01
Love is Colorful, Make it Blu film series launched 2015-06-30
Knight at the Movies: Let's get serious about Pride 2015-06-24
MOVIES 'Horses' director on lesbian romance, working with animals 2015-06-24
Entertainment: John Barrowman; Dallas Buyers Club; Ellen Page; Downton Abbey 2015-06-23
PEW Center makes $300,000 grant for LGBT 50th Anniversary documentary 2015-06-17
Entertainment: Larry Kramer; Jussie Smollett; Warhol; Kristen Stewart 2015-06-16
Zachary Quinto Joins Foundation for a National AIDS Monument Board 2015-06-12
Knight at the Movies: Pride Month movies 2015-06-10
Upcoming: Takei; Dyke Delicious; Melissa Young at Davenport's; 'Witches' cabaret 2015-06-10
Siskel event spotlights actor Mark Ruffalo 2015-06-10
Screening of Hudson's marriage-equality video draws celebs 2015-06-09
Upcoming: eta to reopen with 'Liberty City'; Internat'l Cultural Fest 2015-06-03
Knight at the Movies: '54' and more 2015-06-03
MOVIES 'The Overnight' director on taboos, uncomfortable moments 2015-06-03
Chicago native helps make others look great 2015-06-03
Upcoming: Pride Fest; Black Alphabet Film Fest; EXPO Chicago; Dance for Life 2015-06-03
TELEVISION The bold standard: Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda 2015-06-02
Entertainment: Julianne Moore; 'Cruel Intentions'; Chris Pratt 2015-06-02
Tambor, Henson win critics' awards 2015-06-01
Israeli filmmaker talks about attitudes toward LGBTQ people 2015-05-27
Gay Black comic has concert film 2015-05-27
In entertainment: Elton John; Wanda Sykes; 'American Horror Story' 2015-05-26
Knight at the Movies: The Rose is still THE Rose 2015-05-20
Community briefs: Theater, film, Pride 2015-05-20
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our 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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



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     
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.