Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Joyful Noise; film notes
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2012-01-11

This article shared 11350 times since Wed Jan 11, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Thank God for queer writer-director Todd Graff. With his latest film, a quasi-musical called Joyful Noise, he has brought back to the movies ( after a 20-year absence ) the singular talents of the Backwoods Barbie herself, Dolly Parton. Parton looks increasingly like a visitor from a foreign planet—a place where inhabitants wear pounds of makeup, bouffant wigs and glittery clothes, as well as subsist on a liquid diet abetted by lots of plastic surgery procedures and cheerfully admit that "it takes a lot of money to look this trashy." Yet none of these physical trademarks detracts from Parton's buoyant Southern charm or from her seemingly endless musical gifts.

It's not hard to see why Parton has finally agreed to return to the big screen. Graff's movie, a gospel mash-up of Sister Act and Footloose, is an unabashed cornball confection that is about as modern as a Grandma Moses painting and gives Parton a role that cannily exploits her manufactured persona and exuberant, what-the-hell acting style. Even with a creaky conceit that stretches credibility to the limit, this old-fashioned movie is a crowd-pleaser that really pleases.

Graff's secret weapon is Parton's co-star, the almighty Queen Latifah, whose talents are also pretty spectacular and whose ability to connect with modern audiences anchors the movie in what little reality it maintains. Latifah is nothing if not a level-headed actress. She specializes in characters who inspire trust, and who audiences look at to find their bearings as well as to learn the moral of whatever story she's embellishing with her presence. Here, as Vi Rose Hill, she's a conservative nag who wants to keep to the straight and narrow when she's asked to take over guiding the gospel choir of the little church in Pacashau, Ga., after Parton's husband ( an ossified Kris Kristofferson ) has kicked off.

Although Parton as G.G. Sparrow—the economically depressed hamlet's richest citizen—isn't happy with competitor Vi Rose taking over the choir, for the sake of unity she agrees to the change in leadership. Moreover, Vi Rose is none too happy with the "pop junk" ( like "Man in the Mirror" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" ) the choir has been performing or when her spirited 16-year-old daughter, Olivia ( Keke Palmer ) , puts a little too much emphasis into her solos and makes it apparent that she's fallen for Parton's visiting grandson, Randy ( Broadway performer Jeremy Jordan ) —a troublemaker with a dreamy voice, dreamy dimples and a dreamy smile.

However, the audience knows that Vi Rose doesn't need to worry—not about the burgeoning interracial romance between Olivia and Randy ( it's so chaste that all it seems to be missing are the fidelity rings ) ; not about when and if her kids will learn the truth about her wayward husband; and not if her teenage son with Asperger's syndrome will be okay. ( There's also a hint that he might be gay. )

Mostly, we know that Vi Rose doesn't need to worry about whether she and G.G., with her form-fitting choir robe and matching outfits, are ever going to get along or, heaven forbid, what the outcome of the big gospel competition will be. Naturally, G.G. will eventually confront Vi Rose and the two will have a big ol' public bitchfest where the zingers will fly and, with this being Southern-fried hokum territory, both Latifah and Parton will spout one aphorism after another throughout the entire movie. Taking into account the delicate balancing act of having two big stars to please, Graff gives them both musical and dramatic moments in which to shine.

Graff, who started in the business as an actor before graduating to screenwriting and directing, has gotten less original with each of his three feature films. Camp—his 2003 debut that looked at a bunch of teenage showtune queens at a Broadway musical camp—remains fresh, funny, poignant and observant while 2009's Bandslam, another teenage comedy ( this one focused on high-school rock bands ) was much less diverting. Although it's quite entertaining, Joyful Noise is incredibly formulaic and predictable.

Yet, what all of Graff's movies have in common is not just his talent for assembling expert casts and drawing excellent performances out of them but the forthright love of music in the films. The musical numbers in his movies elevate and energize them, enlarging both his characters and his audiences' identification with same—a rare gift. ( Glee could sure use his way with staging and shooting a song. )

This facility with music is front and center in Joyful Noise. When, at the climax, Parton, Latifah and company let loose with a long melody wrapped around Sly Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher," the audience goes haywire with the exultation of the moment. Suddenly, the mawkishness becomes complete and Graff's movie more than lives up to its title.

Film notes:

—James Franco goes the queer poet route again after portraying gay icon Allen Ginsberg in Howl. This time he writes, directs, produces and stars as Hart Crane, the sailor-chasing modernist poet who committed suicide in 1932 and whose seminal work, The Broken Tower gives Franco's film its title. The movie ( which co-stars Michael Shannon and Franco's brother, Dave ) was shot in black and white, and is available now through Focus World's online digital VOD service ( a DVD release arrives at the end of March ) . http://focusfeatures.com/focusfeatures/film/the_broken_tower

—Integrity Northern Illinois, the Diocese of Chicago's chapter of Integrity USA, presents God and Gays, a film series focusing on "religious communities' discovery of homosexuality and how they respond to it." The series runs Friday, Jan. 13-Friday, Feb. 3. All screenings will take place at the Center on Halsted ( 3656 N. Halsted St. ) beginning at 7:30 p.m. A $5 donation is asked and refreshments, including popcorn, will be provided.

The line-up:

Jan. 13—Incompatible with Christian Teaching, a 45-minute documentary from 2009 centered on The United Methodist Church's struggle to "change institutional orthodoxy."

Jan. 20—Trembling Before G-d, the excellent 2001 documentary that focuses on gay and lesbian Hasidic and Orthodox Jews.

Jan. 27—Anyone and Everyone, a documentary originally broadcast on PBS in 2007 about religious families dealing with their children's queer sexuality.

Feb. 3—Love Free Or Die, a sneak preview of Macky Alston's documentary portrait of Bishop Gene Robinson that is slated for screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Further information is at www.centeronhalsted.org .

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


This article shared 11350 times since Wed Jan 11, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Actor Ezra Miller supposedly housing people at firearm-filled farm 2022-06-24
- Non-binary actor Ezra Miller is allegedly housing a young mother and her three small children at a Vermont farm, which is allegedly littered with firearms, ammunition and marijuana, according to a Page Six item that cited ...


Gay News

'Hacks,' 'Euphoria' lead LGBTQ+ critics' Dorian TV nominations 2022-06-23
-- From a press release - JUNE 22, 2022 - The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics—now composed of 385 professional critics and journalists covering film and television—announced its 14th Dorian TV Awards nominations for the best in all of TV, mainstream to ...


Gay News

TELEVISION 'A League of Their Own' screening July 2 in Rockford 2022-06-23
-- From a press release - ROCKFORD, Illinois — June 22, 2022 — Prime Video and the City of Rockford will team up to host a free advance screening of the upcoming Prime Video original series A League of Their Own. The ...


Gay News

Chicago Philharmonic launches 2022-23 season 2022-06-21
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - (June 20, 2022) Chicago Philharmonic has announced its 2022-23 symphonic season on the heels of a 2021-22 season that ended with the sold-out Chicago Premiere of Marvel Studios' Black Panther in Concert. The ...


Gay News

DANCE Chicago's Joffrey Ballet releasing Pride video filmed in NYC 2022-06-20
- The Joffrey Ballet and Action Lines—a video-production company founded by Joffrey artists Xavier Nunez and Dylan Gutierrez as well as writer/producer Eric Grant—have unveiled a video filmed at the FDR Four Freedoms State Park (on New ...


Gay News

Gloria Allen screening/gathering to take place June 23 2022-06-20
- A film screening/community gathering to honor the late trans icon Gloria Allen (also known as Mama Gloria) will take place Thursday, June 23, 6-8 p.m., at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-06-20
- "u don't know my alphabet."—Sexy Lukas Gage (from The White Lotus; Love, Victor; and the rebooted Queer as Folk) tweets his response to criticism that Hollywood shouldn't hire him to play LGBTQIA+ roles. When asked to ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Lightyear,' celebrity event, LGBT runner, Mariah Carey 2022-06-19
Video below - Pixar's latest film Lightyear is hitting theaters, and it has a special moment for gay fans—a same-sex kiss between the character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her female partner—that almost didn't happen, Out Magazine note ...


Gay News

Spacey charged with sexual assault; UK hearing set for June 16 2022-06-13
- British authorities have charged actor Kevin Spacey with four counts of sexual assault and a further offense, Deadline reported. The actor has also been charged with causing a person to "engage in penetrative sexual activity without ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jodie Comer, 'Queer As Folk,' trans film, Tom of Finland photos 2022-06-12
- Jodie Comer—the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning actress perhaps best known for playing LGBTQ+ assassin Villanelle on BBC America's Killing Eve—will make her Broadway debut next spring in Prima Facie, a new play by Suzie Miller, Deadline noted. ...


Gay News

Rebel Wilson comes out as LGBTQ+ [UPDATE] 2022-06-09
- It's fitting that, during Pride Month, actress Rebel Wilson has seemingly come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. On June 9, Wilson shared an Instagram post beside her new love, with the caption: "I ...


Gay News

WTTW celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month with special content 2022-06-08
- WTTW recently released its schedule of special programming in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month. Highlights include: True Colors: LGBTQ+ Our Stories, Our Songs (NEW) Wed., June 8 at 9:30 pm Offering a unique look at the ...


Gay News

2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards & Movie & TV Awards unveiled 2022-06-06
-- From a press release - New York, New York: (June 5, 2022) - The 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by Vanessa Hudgens, honored the biggest and brightest stars in movies and television with an epic, one-night only global event ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-06-06
- "My mother says that she will not sleep with anybody over the age of 25."—Rocco Ritchie talking about Madonna. This tidbit came courtesy of Dame Joan Collins—who prefaced the quote by saying "We were with her ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Variety list, Billy Porter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janelle Monae 2022-06-05
- In honor of Pride Month, Variety published "55 Queer Artists and Decision-Makers to Know in 2022." A few of those on the list include Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey; actor Sara Ramirez (And Just Like That…; Grey's ...


 



Copyright © 2022 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






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.