Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: A Late Quartet; Jack & Diane; notes
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Two indie Manhattan melodramas—one opening in Chicago theaters this week and one available OnDemand—both offer proof that glittering and sometimes gritty New York City remains a vital backdrop to frame stories of the heart.

In the first of these, Peter, Robert, Juliette and Daniel—the members of a renowned string quartet—are about to embark on rehearsals for their 25th season when Peter, their cellist and elder statesman, announces that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's and wishes for their first concert of the season to be his final one. The other three respond with compassion and a few tears but, just as quickly, a long-dormant dissent becomes evident. Herein lies the theme of director Yaron Zilberman's dramatic chamber piece, A Late Quartet. Will the power of the musicianship these four have shared be enough to overcome the melodramatics that have suddenly threatened to dissolve the group?

Any film that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken—along with the unfamiliar but very talented Mark Ivanir—engaged in wrestling with a dilemma like this is bound to have genuinely touching moments; there are also insightful and bitter ones filled with regrets and emotional pain. We get plenty of these—not to be unexpected as we are most decidedly in Woody Allen territory—as the story is set in Manhattan's posh Upper East Side and covers much of his usual emotional terrain as well. But Zilberman's film (which he co-wrote with Seth Grossman) could have used some levity and, more importantly, lost one or two of its predictable, multiple subplots.

Peter (Walkin, who is tremendously moving in what is essentially the Dad part) is still recovering emotionally from the death of his supportive wife when he receives his diagnosis, and he's prepared for the worst. However, the impact of his announcement brings to light the dissatisfaction of Robert (Hoffman), who hasn't really been happy playing second violin in support of the egotistical Daniel (Ivanir), who has always played first violin in the quartet. And when Juliette (Keener), Robert's wife, doesn't immediately get behind his desire to take the lead at least on occasion, the strength of their marriage is called into question. Bereft, he spirals out of control—leading to a dalliance with a pretty dancer.

Still further complications arise when Robert and Juliette's gorgeous daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots), a reluctant but extraordinarily talented violinist with mom issues, becomes involved in a heated affair with Daniel, which leads to further trouble that leads to something else, etc. A few less familiar twists might have helped disguise the abundance of subplots (by making Daniel gay and excising the daughter altogether, for example). The soap opera comes to a grinding halt at the climax of the film during the concert when Beethoven's glorious Op. 131 takes blissful focus, leading to an emotionally, very satisfying conclusion. A delicately balanced film, driven by these glorious actors and a gorgeous soundtrack, A Late Quartet will certainly reward filmgoers looking for melodrama gussied up with sophisticated trappings.

The heart of Manhattan also pulses through the odd little lesbian romance that is Jack & Diane, from writer-director Bradley Rust Gray. Juno Temple plays Diane, who, after starring roles in Dirty Girl and Kaboom, seems to have become queer cinema's It Girl. Kristen Stewart look-a-like Riley Keough plays Jack. (She co-starred with Stewart in The Runaways and is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley.) The names define the relationship; the strange, feral-like Diane with her out-of-control blond mane, blank, open-mouthed stare, baby smile and voice is the femme and just what the tough-talking, short-haired brunette butch Jack has been looking for.

After an accidental meeting in which Jack plays savior to Diane, the relationship slowly proceeds. Jack is fascinated by the dainty little Diane, and Diane is touched by Jack's almost immediate willingness to drop the bravado and reveal a deep vulnerability and aching loneliness. The romance proceeds in fits and starts as the two wander around the city, mooning when they're apart and being a tad sunnier when they're together. (During one of their "off" moments, Kylie Minogue has a cameo as another potential love interest for Jack.)

But the course of young love, ever fraught, is naturally complicated—this time by intermittent nightmares and stop-motion animated segments (done with expected finesse by the experimental filmmakers the Quay Brothers, although they seem out of place). These seem to suggest that pretty and delicate Diane is a werewolf who is between lunar cycles. The sullen mood of the film, livened by some canny musical choices, never really moves beyond or does much to develop this sorta cool premise that suggests that it will elevate the otherwise familiar material but then never really does. But again, good performances from this lovelorn duo and a sure feel for location help separate Jack & Diane from the typical lesbian romantic fare.

Film notes:

—Department of shameless self-promotion: Attention, all you roller-disco/leg-warmer/Olivia Newton-John/Gene Kelly/Michael Beck/Muse-loving queens! My alter ego, Dick O'Day, is hosting yet another edition of Camp Midnight, the film series dedicated to presenting "the best of the worst." I'm once again teaming with David Cerda of Handbag Productions and the Music Box for a return engagement (our third!) of Sing-Along Xanadu.

The 1980 flick is one of the most fabulously hideous musical car wrecks in cinema history. We'll have a jam packed pre-show, complete with contests, surprise performances, prizes and more beginning at midnight followed by the movie, which will feature easy-to-follow lyrics on the screen, an interactive audience guide, live commentary by moi and Michael Hampton of Handbag, complimentary glow sticks and, of course, actual roller skaters whooshing up and down the aisles!

—On Monday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., is presenting an evening of nine short films under the blanket title The Great Refusal: Videos Taking on New Queer Aesthetics. The evening is being designed as a companion piece to the School of the Art Institute's "first-ever" queer-themed art show (first ever—really?), which features more than 50 contemporary artists from the school and is dedicated to exploring queerness in today's culture. The film shorts, according to press materials, "focus on the power of the perverse, the sexual, and the potentially violent" which, natch, means the S&M subculture. The majority of the filmmakers will be present for a Q&A following the 65-minute program.

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.

facebook twitter pin it 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: Tab Hunter Confidential 2015-11-25
Entertainment: 'Gotham' actor; Melissa Etheridge; Nathan Lane; Samira Wiley 2015-11-24
NUNN ON ONE: MOVIES Van Hansis, The name game 2015-11-24
TELEVISION Ilene Chaiken helps to rule an 'Empire' 2015-11-18
Upcoming: Susan Sontag movie; Barlesque 8; HBHC and FFC 2015-11-18
Chicago Public Library, Chicago Commission on Human Relations to screen Waking in Oak Creek 2015-11-13
Upcoming: Buck Angel; Mitchell/Wachowski; Maserati; Barlesque; Twyla Tharp 2015-11-03
MOVIES Out model/actress, director weigh in on 'Liz in September' 2015-11-03
Knight at the Movies: Suffragette; Nasty Baby 2015-10-28
Entertainment: James Franco; Selena Gomez; Laverne Cox; Adele 2015-10-27
THEATER David Zak talks theater, film, upcoming benefit 2015-10-24
Ellen Burstyn on working with Personal PAC 2015-10-21
Chicago dancer on Alvin Ailey, film and coming out 2015-10-21
CIFF: 'Mia Madre,' LGBT films and more 2015-10-20
Entertainment: Ezra Miller; 'Ab Fab;' Lee Daniels; Lupita Nyong'o 2015-10-20
MOVIES Talking with 'Big Eden' director Thomas Bezucha 2015-10-19
Knight at the Movies: Chicago Internat'l Film Festival LGBT highlights 2015-10-14
Upcoming film, music: I Am the Queen; Homolatte 2015-10-14
Reeling announces festival winners 2015-10-14
Entertainment: 'Model'; Lance Bass; ABC Family; Madonna & Prince 2015-10-13
Queer Bits Film Festival becomes two programs of international LGBTQ+ shorts 2015-10-12
MOVIES Talking with 'Freeheld' screenwriter Ron Nyswaner 2015-10-07
THEATER All Girl Dracula: Interview with the vampire and a director 2015-10-07
First UK LBQ Web series makes transatlantic debut 2015-10-07
KNIGHT AT THE MOVIES 'Freeheld' kicks off fall 2015-10-07
LGBT HISTORY MONTH P.L. Travers: A spoonful of speculation 2015-10-07
IMPACT seeks persons for HIV video 2015-10-06
Entertainment news: Gaga; Ian McKellen; Ruby Rose; Matt Damon 2015-09-29
PASSAGES Honey Lee Cottrell 2015-09-26
VIEWS Dis-membering Stonewall 2015-09-23
MOVIES Stonewall: Brick layers 2015-09-23
Reeling Film Festival: Into the homostretch 2015-09-23
'Easy Abby' Web series raising funds for second season 2015-09-23
Knight at the Movies: Fall LGBT movie preview 2015-09-23
Bully Project uses film, education, litigation to assist schools 2015-09-23
Trans groups, allies protest Stonewall screening 2015-09-23
1985 MOVIES 2015-09-23
Reeling turns ripe old age of 33 2015-09-22
"Not a Sin" film highlights religious rejection, homelessness among LGBT youth 2015-09-21
Emmy wins exhibit diversity 2015-09-21

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.








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.