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 2019-12-11
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: The Dog; The Giver; film note
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2014-08-19

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


On the sweltering afternoon of Aug. 22, 1972—when John Wojtowicz robbed a bank in Brooklyn, taking hostages and standing off with the police for hours—he entered the legion of New York's most memorable characters.

He also became a gay-rights pioneer, of sorts, when the motive for the robbery came to light: Wojtowicz wanted the money to finance a gender-reassignment operation for his lover, a trans individuals named Ernest Aron nee Liz Eden. Three years later, both were immortalized in the Hollywood firmament with Sidney Lumet's vibrant masterpiece of the incident, Dog Day Afternoon, which starred Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon as the star-crossed lovers, both giving Oscar-nominated performances in the process.

As incredible as the story of the robbery and its lively, disparate characters are, there is much more to this story than Dog Day Afternoon revealed. Now, in Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren's The Dog, courtesy of Wojtowicz himself, we get the whole enchilada. Talk about colorful! For starters, the short, pugnacious, unapologetically horny Wojtowicz seemingly spent a lifetime indulging his sybaritic pleasures, both female and male. At the film's outset, this self-described "pervert" claims four wives and 23 girlfriends, although it becomes clear that his use of the word "girlfriend" blurs traditional gender categories.

"Anybody can be straight but it takes somebody special to be gay," Wojtowicz proudly asserts as he takes us along on a tour of the West Village, revisiting his old stomping ground, which he began visiting for male sex when his first marriage went on the rocks in 1969 just after Stonewall. In the process, a history of the burgeoning gay-liberation movement comes to light as Wojtowicz—who was known in the community by his alias, "Little John Basso"—was a fixture at the Gay Activists Alliance dances and took part in various gay lib activities. It was during one of these social occasions in June 1971 that Little John first laid eyes on "Ernie," aka Liz Eden.

Jeremiah Newton, a friend of Ernie who was also close with Candy Darling ( and the producer of the excellent Beautiful Darling documentary on her ), recalls the obsession that Little John felt for Ernie, showering her with gifts and indulging her every whim. The two were "married" in a mock ceremony that was so lavish and realistically done it fooled church officials ( right down to the bridesmaids in drag ).

This astonishing retro footage is just one example of a film filled with such moments. ( Newscasts of the bank robbery and a rare talk-show appearance by Eden after her transition to female are also eye-openers. ) The cast of characters—which also include Little John's doting, tough but broadminded mother to his first wife Carmen to George Heath, his male prison lover—is nearly as fascinating as the main attraction.

That would be Wojtowicz himself, of course, who the filmmakers interviewed repeatedly over four years as he struggled with skin cancer ( dying in 2006 ). Once the camera turns, nothing deters the profane Little John, who exhibits gifts for self-aggrandizement second to none, and for making both mundane and sordid details tremendously absorbing. He's bizarrely gleeful as he recalls everything from the most salacious, amusing, hurtful and oftentimes depressing areas of his often tatty life history of which, not surprisingly, the robbery was the infamous highlight. Even that renowned incident, worked over in Lumet's film and two subsequent documentaries, elicits new details. ( For instance, the three would-be robbers went to a matinee of The Godfather before committing the robbery as inspiration. )

Fueled by a queer Scheherazade whose legacy is both outrageous and pathetic, Berg and Keraudren's The Dog is as entertaining as its central subject. It's available on VOD and iTunes. http://drafthousefilms.com/film/the-dog

Set in a utopian, though rather boring, pristine futureworld, The Giver is based on Lois Lowry's 20-year-old YA novel that has been a must-read for teens since it was first published. The story focuses on 16-year-old Jonas ( Brenton Thwaites ). Along with his fellow teens, Jonas is assigned a job during the Ceremony of Growth. Unlike his pals, who get the job of rocking babies in the nursery or other nondescript vocations, Jonas gets singled out to be the new receiver of memory.

According to the chief elder ( Meryl Streep, stern and overbearing in a gray hippie wig with bangs ), this one-of-a-kind job is the juiciest of positions. Jonas will work closely with the giver ( Jeff Bridges, who speaks as if he had a mouth full of marbles ) and will slowly receive all the knowledge of the previous world—the world that existed before it apparently mostly destroyed itself.

Soon, the memories ( which include learning to play the piano and an introduction to war and violence ) begin to mess with the rigid regulations that Jonas and everyone else lives by—rules degreed by the ruling council. When the giver, who is at odds with the chief elder, realizes that Jonas is out of control, he overdoses the young heartthrob with the entire data bank of memories at his disposal before encouraging him to escape. We know this is a fantasy—and a dated one at that—because not one of the memories that covers the gamut of human history includes a single example from LGBT history or a queer person.

At that moment, this vaguely enjoyable but rather pedestrian movie from director Phillip Noyce—a quasi-Pleasantville ( right down to the black-and-white world giving way to color as the forbidden knowledge is learned )—lost its rather tentative hold on me. Back home, I did the sensible thing and popped 1976's cheesy but fun Logan's Run into the DVD player and enjoyed a true sci-fi guilty pleasure—something I suspect The Giver will never have the distinction of enjoying.

Film note:

Bruce Campbell, king of the '80s horror B movies, is in town for Bruce Campbell's Horror Film Festival, which takes place Thursday, Aug. 21—Sunday, Aug. 24, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

The highlight will surely be The Evil Dead Marathon—screenings of Campbell's three best-known movies, the gross-out black comedy/horror films: Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Campbell will preside over the screenings that are taking place Saturday, Aug. 23, at The Dome at the Rosemont Ballpark ( 34 Jennie Finch Way, Des Plaines ) beginning at 8 p.m. Advance tickets http://wizardworld.ticketleap.com/awesomefest/

Now available: The Best of Knight at the Movies: 2004-2014—a compilation book of more than 150 of my film reviews from a queer perspective for Windy City Times—is now available. www.knightatthemovies.com .


facebook twitter pin it 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

Gay News

Chicago Filmmakers kicks off 2020 with 'Justice January' 2019-12-11 - This January, Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to present a series of documentaries that explore current social and political issues around environmental justice, immigration ...


Gay News

Sean Hayes at Feb. 5 Goodman event 2019-12-11 - Goodman Theatre, now in its 95th season, will host the "Legacy & Promise" Education and Engagement Luncheon Wed., Feb. 5, featuring Emmy-winning and ...


Gay News

Winter movies bring an intriguing mix 2019-12-11 - We finish out the year with some heavy hitters that we previously mentioned in the fall preview, such as Star Wars: The Rise ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Gay spy movie, Santa Suite and more 2019-12-11 - —London Spy: In this British-American series that originally aired in 2015, devil-may-care Danny ( played by a fantastic Ben Whishaw ) meets the ...


Gay News

LGBT films and personnel among Golden Globe nominees 2019-12-11 - The 2019-2020 awards season kicked into full gear with the Dec. 9 announcement of this years Golden Globe nominees, and numerous LGBT-themed films ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Neil Patrick Harris, Mary J. Blige, Jane Lynch, Pet Shop Boys 2019-12-11 - Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka are in Walgreens' new #TrueHolidayStory campaign, which finds the beauty and humor in memorably imperfect moments, ...


Gay News

TELEVISION 'Work in Progress' spotlights Chicago, LGBTQ+ representation 2019-12-10 - The new Showtime series Work in Progress really features queer represenation—arguably, more than such landmark series as Orange Is the New Black and ...


Gay News

Siskel showing LGBTQ+ films in December 2019-12-10 - The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 164 N. State St., is showing several LGBTQ+ films ...


Gay News

Holiday rom-com from lesbian filmmakers debuts 2019-12-05 - Thanks to classics such as Love, Actually—not to mention a seemingly continuous stream of confections from Hallmark and Lifetime Channels—romantic comedies have become ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jamie Lee Curtis, Taylor Swift, trans model/activist, Lil Nas X 2019-12-02 - Actress Jamie Lee Curtis told interviewer Chris Azzopardi she supports the outing of closeted lawmakers who advocate for anti-LGBTQ causes, The Washington Blade ...


 



Copyright © 2019 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


 



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 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.