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 2019-08-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: This Must Be the Place; recent DVDs
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In This Must Be the Place, Sean Penn's new movie, the actor plays a once-popular goth rock star slowly withering after 20 years of self-enforced retirement.

As Cheyenne, Penn sports the sky-high hairdo, the kabuki whiteface paint and hot-red lips that New Wave fans will recognize as a backhanded homage to Robert Smith, lead provocateur of The Cure. Cheyenne speaks in the high-pitched whine of a petulant child, adopting the nearly incomprehensible speech patterns and babyish eccentricities of Ozzy Osbourne. Drinking orange juice through a straw, he shambles about his mansion in the Dublin countryside with the blank eyes of a zombie.

One of the wondrous things about watching Penn, who has pulled off this kind of thing before (especially in I Am Sam), is that all these years after his breakthrough role in 1995's Dead Man Walking, he is still willing every once in a while to go out on that ledge and try crazy stuff—to go balls to the wall. Cheyenne is the kind of surface character that's the equivalent of a parlor trick: It's something that actors adore and audiences either entirely embrace (think Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) or hold at arm's length, not quite sure if they're going to buy in (think Depp in Willy Wonka and the recent Dark Shadows). With Penn, as with Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and a few exalted others, there is a difference: He's able to reward an audience's patience and take viewers past the fun surface stuff and get at the inner turmoil underneath.

I wish that Penn's hard work had been in service to a better movie—rather, a more nuanced, less convoluted one. Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino makes his English-language feature debut with This Must Be the Place, which he wrote for Penn, and he gets him off to a great start. Cheyenne has been married to Jane (Frances McDormand) for 35 years and she's like a friendly drill sergeant, ordering him sweetly about and greeting his solemn insights with perky scorn. Bored with his self-imposed retirement (the reasons for which slowly become evident), and noting that, "There are too many things I don't do anymore," Cheyenne impulsively heads home to New York to visit his estranged, dying father. Arriving too late, he learns that his father, a Holocaust survivor, spent the balance of his life trying to track down the SS officer who persecuted him at Auschwitz. Improbably, Cheyenne heads across the United States to finish the job.

A quintessential road picture ensues and though many of Sorrentino's observances of American mores are extremely sharp and funny, they aren't particularly fresh; also, he emphasizes the eccentric, strange and the plain wacky in nearly every scene in the picture. This seems charming and adds to the comedy at first, but as Cheyenne drives from location to location in his black pick-up truck and the pageant of rather unique individuals he encounters piles up, you begin to yearn for the plain and uncomplicated without an order of crazy on the side. Yet, Penn's Cheyenne is endearing and ultimately a little bit heartbreaking, McDormand is always welcome (and one wishes that her part was larger) and the addition of a lot of expert performers in the crackpot roles (Judd Hirsch, Harry Dean Stanton and Joyce Van Patten among them) help make This Must be the Place live up to its title.

Recent DVDs of note:

—Merida—the feisty, flame-haired teenage heroine of Disney/Pixar's Brave—was one of my favorite characters this year. The Scottish fairy tale she inhabits—part Beauty & the Beast, part Little Mermaid—made for a familiar but very winning adventure story. The film, which features the voice talents of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, et al, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD (or both if you go for the deluxe edition, which has five discs). A raft of special features focuses on the exceedingly detailed effort to bring this charming story to life.

—TCM has partnered again with Universal for a release that classic-cinema fans will definitely want to add to their collections. This is a duo from director Billy Wilder, new to DVD, a two-disc set that includes his 1943 WWII spy drama Five Graves to Cairo (his second directorial effort), a quite engaging little thriller with an expert performance from Eric Von Stroheim as Hitler's field marshal, Erwin Rommel.

Even better is Wilder's 1948 post-WWII romantic comedy A Foreign Affair, which somehow finds Jean Arthur competing with Marlene Dietrich for the affections of handsome John Lund. Arthur brings the movie her typical, self-deprecating comedic expertise; Dietrich that sensational and stunning beauty; and Wilder his razor-sharp, acidic wit. Although neither film is on par with Wilder's more well-known triumphs, these are both entertaining gems.

—TCM has also joined with Sony for an even more hotly desired release—a four-disc set titled Joan Crawford in the Fifties that includes a quartet of films that showcase the actress during the period when she played some of the bitchiest characters of her career.

My favorite of the bunch is 1951's Harriet Craig, in which Crawford, in a remake of the Rosalind Russell original, plays the insanely controlling titular housewife who stops at nothing to keep order in her immaculate home. The 1955 film Queen Bee is also big fun, with Crawford as the nasty matriarch of a Southern family whom everyone within shouting distance seems to hate with a passion as outrageous as Crawford's over-the-top wardrobe.

Autumn Leaves, from 1956, casts the actress as an old-maid secretary who takes pity on hunky but seriously disturbed loner Cliff Robertson, who she marries and then helps bring back to sanity. The little-seen 1957 tearjerker The Story of Esther Costello isn't as fun but has its compensations—mainly Crawford's over-the-top performance in which she gets to enact the grand lady as a rich divorcee who devotes herself to a blind, deaf teenager.

—Barbra Streisand is in the midst of celebrating 50 years in show business with a very busy year. Following on the heels of a mini-concert tour and the recent Release Me, a revelatory collection of unreleased Streisand favorites from the vault (the first of at least three promised volumes), comes A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand. Streisand, honored in February 2011 by the MusiCares organization, is feted in concert by a host of singers who serenade her with their versions of her songs.

The line-up includes Kristen Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison, Diana Krall, Lea Michelle (singing "Don't Rain On My Parade," naturally), Seal (singing "Guilty" and doing it well!), Barry Manilow, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Tony Bennett and others. At the end of the tribute concert, the Great One herself hits the stage and delivers flawless versions of "The Windmills of Your Mind" and the little-known but gorgeous "I'll Never Say Goodbye." This is a nicely paced tribute with some lovely highlights that even non-Streisand devotees will enjoy.

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

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.


Gay News

Derek Jarman films out Aug. 27 2019-08-22 - Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films will release two movies by the late filmmaker Derek Jarman ( 1942-94 )—Blue and The Garden—on Tuesday, Aug. ...

Gay News

Reports: Wachowski back in the Matrix 2019-08-21 - Transgender filmmaker and Chicago native Lana Wachowski announced Aug. 20 that she would be directing a fourth Matrix film, according to Variety. Wachowski ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Tituss Burgess, IMDb, Halsey, Stephen Colbert, 'Queer As Folk' 2019-08-21 - Quibi has greenlit Dishmantled—described as "a high-octane cooking competition that will literally blow your socks off," with Tituss Burgess ( Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; ...

Gay News

10 Questions with Vic Featuring Xabiani Ponce de Leon 2019-08-15 - It's hard to stand out as an actor during a film festival such as Outfest where over 150 films are screened within nine ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Elm Street,' 'Crime Story,' Tab Hunter, Lady Gaga 2019-08-14 - Gay actor Marc Patton is returning to the big screen, as himself, with the documentary Scream, Queen: My Nightmare On Elm Street, The ...

Gay News

Reeling LGBTQ film festival announces film line up 2019-08-12 - ( August 12, 2019 - Chicago, IL ) Reeling, the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution ...

Gay News

UPDATE: Travolta to attend Wizard World Comic Con 2019-08-12 - This year's Wizard World Comic Con Chicago will take place Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 22-25, at Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River ...

Gay News

FILM Fawzia Mirza, Kathy Griffin and much more at Outfest 2019-08-06 - Founded by UCLA students in 1982, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit film festival Outfest celebrated 37 years of bringing LGBTQ stories to the screen. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Comic-book heroes, Cara and Ashley, Chris Pine, Pride Summit 2019-08-06 - The animated character Aquaman was confirmed to be LGBT+ on the latest episode of Young Justice: Outsiders—the DC Universe's animated show about teenage ...

Gay News

Gene Siskel Film Center to present Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am Aug. 23-29 2019-08-06 - As a venue that celebrates all art forms and a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Gene ...


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.







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.