Archive for the ‘Adaptation’ Category

Love, Simon (trailer)

December 4, 2017

Have you read Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Check out my review on Goodreads,

Loved Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda! Easy, feel good YA novel about a 16 year-old boy in the suburbs of Atlanta coming out as gay. These stories warm my heart and make me happy LGBT teens today can find a voice in literature. Great writing and strong characters make Simon stand out in the crowd. The formulaic plot doesn’t hinder – instead makes it easy to breeze through this beautiful book. Becky Albertalli makes Simon 3-dimensional while balancing a light and fun read.

So they’ve adapted the book into a film called, Love, Simon. The first trailer is out and it looks lovely. Check it out.

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The Mist

November 30, 2017

There’s something about a Stephen King adaptation that always lures me in. I retain hope. Hope for excellence as in The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne, or Apt Pupil. Hope for creepy comfort food like Storm of the Century. Unfortunately The Mist falls into neither category. The quality screams second-rate television. There’s nothing chilling about the story. It’s unfortunate because all the elements are there for either excellent or good, clean fun. Too bad. 2 out of 5 for The Mist. Next.

Mudbound

November 24, 2017

Director Dee Rees’ (Bessie, Pariah) Netflix original film, Mudbound explores the dark and violent side of race relations in post-WWII America. Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel, Mudbound tells the story of two young men, one African-American and one Caucasian who return from Europe after fighting in WWII only to be suppressed and constricted in the small mindedness of Alabama during the late 1940’s. Incredible ensemble cast featuring Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, Jason Clarke, and Carey Mulligan. Mudbound certainly is not an easy film to watch. But it’s essential. There is a tenderness between the two returning soldiers as they share PTSD and liquor that’s rarely seen between two straight male characters in American film. That tenderness only makes them more vulnerable to the hatred of the locals who don’t understand what these heroes need in order to live the rest of their lives healthy and happy. Mudbound assaults you with prejudice and racial violence. It also reminds you that people who leave and return for any reason, usually come back more evolved and enlightened. So there is hope for humanity subtle and deep. Director Rees created a classic work with Pariah. Mudbound feels like she’s on her way to a long and intelligent career. 4 out of 5.

Murder on the Orient Express (2010)

November 14, 2017

In anticipation of the new Branagh 2017 Murder on the Orient Express, I ordered the British television 2010 version for the library. I had a blast watching this adaptation. It stars David Suchet as Poirot and includes a strong supporting cast featuring Eileen Atkins, Jessica Chastain, Barbara Hershey, Hugh Bonneville, David Morrissey, Brian J. Smith, and Samuel West. Without even seeing the remake, I know it’s a simpler film than Branagh’s big budget release. As a result, the film relies on the talents of the director, writer, and cast. Murder on the Orient Express offers real comfort food whodunit excitement. 4 out of 5 for this Agatha Christie classic adaptation.

Women He’s Undressed

November 5, 2017

Documentary on three-time Oscar winning costumer Orry-Kelly who came from Australia and made it big in the movies during the 1930’s forward. Women He’s Undressed has an odd way of using actors to illustrate Kelly’s voice. Not reenactments, but sort of short skits to move the story along. Once you get used to this, Orry’s life proves fascinating. Kelly managed to live as an openly gay man his entire life. Two of his male contemporaries both married women. Kelly had a long-term relationship with Cary Grant which is covered in detail by the film maker. I knew a bit of Grant’s gay life, but this illuminated a sadness in me that he and Randolph Scott never could live the life they were meant to live because of the times and the homophobic Hollywood system. Kelly’s story is also punctuated by a long working relationship with Bette Davis, bouts of alcoholism, and not one but two marvelous comebacks. He dressed some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood. The film gives the viewer a meaty glimpse into the life of an artist who made a grand life for himself and figured out how to survive and thrive in a world that didn’t have much respect for him. 3.5 out of 5 for Orry-Kelly’s tale, Women He’s Undressed.

Kevin Keller’s Nuanced Life on Riverdale

November 1, 2017

Riverdale‘s episode last week finally featured a prominent Kevin Keller plot. Keller (played by Casey Cott) is Riverdale’s resident out and proud gay teen. The idea of a high school student going to a public cruising park at night, alone might scare many parents. Kevin’s story reinforces the isolation many modern out gay kids find themselves in as they navigate life with their straight counterparts while trying to find appropriate romantic and sexual partners. The fact that Betty wants Kevin to be just like her and the rest of the gang – searching for love in their school proves impossible and ridiculous since Kevin is the only out gay kid at Riverdale High. Yes, he had an interrupted hook-up with Moose and a brief down low affair with Joaquin last season. Still, Kevin deserves to figure out a good life for himself on his own terms. While not perfect, the episode proves there are many facets to young LGBT sexuality in the midst of their hetero peers. And Kevin owned his sexuality without apology which felt right. The ending with a hug from Keller’s Sheriff Dad (Martin Cummins) also felt good. I hope the writers continue to give Kevin more complicated stories to help him be more than just window dressing for the four main characters. Riverdale serves fun, edgy, and must-see comfort food.

The Little Foxes

October 4, 2017

Every so often, I watch a classic film for the first time and get blown away. Such was the case with The Little Foxes. Talent lives in every inch of this movie. The remarkable cast includes Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea, and Patricia Collinge (two years away from reuniting with Teresa Wright in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt). Directed by the luminous William Wyler (The Best Years of Our LivesThe Heiress, Funny Girl), screenplay by Lillian Hellman with additional scenes and dialogue written by Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell, and music by Meredith Willson, with costume design by Orry-Kelly. But honestly it’s the writing and delivery which makes this film so strong, so lasting. Nearly every minute captivated me. Not an easy task for a 75-year-old work. The Little Foxes does that and more. It rises above melodrama and Southern stereotypes to become that illusive perfect classic film. 5 out of 5 for the Bette Davis masterpiece.

Baywatch (2017)

August 28, 2017

I know, I know. But Dwayne Johnson is scorchingly hot. And if you don’t agree, that just leaves more of his massive body for me. Meanwhile, the Baywatch film based on the popular television series ran predictable, with lots of dirty jokes and virtually no sex. It was fun for a while. In the end, of course my snooty film snob self overtook my rabid smooth muscle lustinator and I turned off the film around 2/3 of the way to the finish. It’s not bad bad. It’s not camp bad. It’s just Hollywood: 69 million dollars worth of explosions and taint jokes. Why do most of these films feel like they are made for 11 year-old boys? Answer: because they are. 2.5 out of 5 for the Rock as Hasselhoff Baywatch.

Best line: Mitch Buchannon: “You going night-night, bitch.”

Watch Three Clips from the Gay Drama ‘Beach Rats’, Due Out This Friday (Towleroad)

August 22, 2017

I’ve heard buzz this year about the new indie film, Beach Rats. Now that it’s being released in theaters this Friday, there’s more news including three new clips released on Towleroad today. From the earlier blurbs on various websites, I wasn’t interested in watching a negative film about coming out. Should filmmakers be able to make work without happy ever after endings? Absolutely. From Towleroad,

Wrote on commenter on Towleroad (andrewd215) a month ago (possible SPOILERS):

I had Beach Rats as one of my must see movies when I went to the Provincetown Film Festival in June. After watching the movie I left wondering if they had shown a different version than the one I had read about getting all the praise. The film did a good job of drawing you into the character and the struggles he was going through, especially in the hyper sexual heterosexual normative male environment he was in. However, it was interesting at the conclusion of the movie to hear more than a few scattered boos but rather a good number and vocal comments among people as they stood to leave and walking out making comments such as “such a f**king cop out” and other like statements. It seems that among those most verbal, that an ambiguous ending for movie can be exceedingly frustrating after the build up the movie because the ambiguity of the ending was so complete and that it would be hard to have a discussion as to how Frankie’s life went from there. Maybe the harsh reactions at the end of the movie were because it showed the anguish, the angst, and his struggles but did not portray or provide that anything resulted from it all so that any dialogue would have to been abstract.

From what I remember about the movie the cruising that went on was a result of Frankie’s online cam site sessions, that in addition or rather than a JO session, lead to an arrangement to meet up. The active cruising scene was the exception but was the result of a failed hook up that lead him to approach a car in the hookup cruise parking area that lead to a very successful night of hot sex. I don’t think this movie is one that will reach people that need to be reached, or in pain and conflict or questioning their sexuality because of the ending of the film. If anything the movie will probably lead those in similar situations and environments to stay in the closet. At least in a 90’s coming out movie you had some idea that come out was a positive thing to do.

I will say that I’m not seeing (for now) Beach Rats. I can handle difficult films with ambiguous endings. I adore French cinema after all. But I’m too wrapped up in politics right now to deal with films that don’t at the very least offer a glimmer of hope to young gay characters. For similar reasons, I’m avoiding Call Me By Your Name. I read the book. Hated it. It’s a story about two straight-identified men who have an affair one summer and then go back to being straight. Whatever. Fluidity be damned. Maybe this story makes sense to hetero men who dipped their toe in the pool in their youth. If you’re going to show bisexuality, show it with satisfying and positive relationships on both sides of the sexual aisle. Otherwise, you’re simply reinforcing heteronormativity. Personally I rarely get to see myself on the screen. I’d rather not have to share it with a straight male’s interpretation of what a gay experience is. And to reinforce this interpretation, the director made a choice not to show any male/male intimacy. Just longing. Give me a freaking break.

Watch the Beach Rats clips.
Beach Rats trailer.

Call Me By Your Name trailer.

Victor Victoria (first time on Blu-ray)

August 13, 2017

Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s review of the timeless classic film, Victor Victoria.


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