Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On Oliver & Elio & Bottoms & Tops (Oh My)

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I've been considering writing a few more thoughts about Call Me By Your Name that've been plunking around in my head since the last big piece I wrote over at The Film Experience, and two factors have conspired over the past few days to make it happen (it is happening right now, you see). First off there was that question at the Q&A this past weekend with Timothée Chalamet that I posted video of, the terrible one about whether he and Armie had discussed the sexual roles Elio and Oliver would take in the bedroom - which was the "top" and which was the "bottom." Here's that video:
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And the second factor that's got me yapping more is this lovely review of the film by Tomas Trussow at Film inquiry; specifically this section from it, which brings up the pan out the window which I went into a detailed defense of myself in my last piece:

"When they finally consummate their relationship, Guadagnino pans to the bedroom window—but not out of prudishness. It is rather a normalizing gesture, since for time immemorial, a pan away from the lovemaking couple has been a traditional feature in cinematic romances. It is to give them their privacy, as well as to give our imaginations a stake in the process.
Here, Guadagnino seems to say, the love of two men now belongs in that tradition. Desire is not always dependent on whatever is made explicit, and here, it is enough to imagine the intensity of love that no actor—not even actors as extraordinary as Chalamet and Hammer—can reproduce as convincingly as two people so madly in love as Elio and Oliver are."

You can maybe kind of see where I'm going to go with this at this point, but I've got to give credit to my boyfriend, who made this case to me immediately after reading my piece last week, well before either of these factors came around to goose me into action today - that part of the reason for the privacy that Guadagnino extends to Oliver and Elio by panning out the window is due to the politics of gay sex and the idea of power, submission and dominance. The act of gay sex always gets complicated by who is the "top" and who is the "bottom" and what that says about who is in control at that moment, yadda yadda - it's an exhausting and stupid conversation quite frankly, and I don't blame Luca for wanting to side-step it entirely since it would only at that point in the film serve as a distraction.

Trussow's piece lays out the structure of the film nicely - how its split into thirds, with Elio coming to realize his attraction to Oliver in the first third, with Elio pursuing Oliver in the second, and with their post-consummation bliss through its end in the final act. The turning point from the second to the third act is when Elio & Oliver have sex and the camera pans out the window, and it seems to be foundational to the structure of the film that the two of them be on equal footing in our minds at that moment. The audience shouldn't be thinking about one dominating the other - that moment is about them finally being on the same page, eye to eye.

The book, of course, has time for a back and forth - the two characters trade roles in bed as Aciman lengthily details their lovemaking over the span of their final couple of weeks together. That's the benefit of writing a book, which is not the same as writing a basic three act film. And it seems to me Guadagnino made the right choice to entirely circumvent the power conversation at that moment, and focus instead on finally immediately realizing Elio and Oliver as equals, partners, joined side by side like those twin beds I wrote about in my other piece. Even if you think the conversations around passive versus active roles in gay sex are silly and unnecessary like I do there's no denying that they interject themselves into the conversation whether you want them to or not. And that's not the conversation this film needs to have to work.

Once Elio and Oliver do consummate their relationship the bottom (so to speak, hardy har) really falls out of the film time-wise and its previous languid pace is tossed out the window - you really get the sense in its last act of time escaping too quickly, of the air running out of the room. When Marzia shows up she says three days have passed since she last saw Elio and every time I watch the movie that statement surprises me - where did all that time go? And then before you know it they're on the bus to Bergamo and then they're saying goodbye. I love the Rome section of the book, where the boys meet all the hip literati and have a magical night, but cutting that lengthy section, which would've brought the film to a standstill, was imperative for the film to get across this sensation of Oliver & Elio's time together ending before its even properly begun. That's the tragedy of First Love, gone before we even realize what we had and what it was doing to us, that was Guadagnino's aim and ultimately his bullseye.
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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A happy 21st birthday to the already-an-Oscar-nominee Lucas Hedges today! Lucas can be seen in theaters right this minute in Lady Bird, giving one of its many fine performances off-center (his scene in the alley behind Lady Bird's coffee-shop is for me the film's most moving, but then it would be) and he can be seen sometime in 2018 in Joel Edgerton's gay conversion therapy drama called Boy Erased, which we've talked of previously right here and right here. That one hopefully fulfills all the promise it's got here at the outset. 

These pictures (which by the way are very HQ, click them to embiggen) are from some play called Yen that was put on here in NYC about a year ago - I'm pretty sure this morning is the first I've heard of it (I can be lousy with keeping track of theater) even though it co-starred by beloved Ari Graynor. Did anybody see it? 


Monday, December 11, 2017

Daniel Kaluuya Two Times

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If you head on over to The Film Experience we're facing brand new Golden Globe nominee Daniel Kaluuya off with his nightmare Get Out girlfriend Allison Williams for this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast." And yes I know Kaluuya is going to stomp her butt to Timbuktu and back, but let's see just how lopsided a victory we can make it! GO VOTE.


DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH

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Happy Psycho Day.
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Giulia : If you want... want to... 
Marcello : If I want to...? 
Giulia : Yes, right here... on the floor... 
on the carpet... Want to? 
Marcello : Better think about the priest. 
He may not grant absolution. 
Giulia : They grant everyone absolution.

This is just one of the most gorgeously shot scenes in one of the most gorgeously shot films ever made, is all. The light moving through those blinds against the colors of her dress, everything about it, it makes my eyeballs sing. Watch:
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God I adore this movie. Top Ten of Ever, for sure. A happy 87th birthday to the legend Jean-Louis Trintignant today - I'm supposed to see the new Michael Haneke film Happy End tomorrow night if all goes according to plan, which reunites Haneke with his Amour leading man, so stay tuned for my thoughts on that soon enough!


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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My Time With Timmy

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I was scanning Tumblr yesterday to see if there were any good pictures from the Call Me By Your Name Q&A that Timothee Chalamet did here in NYC this past Friday night (I have some of my own to share in a minute) when I came upon the above images that a fan took with Tim outside the theater after the event, and my eyes noticed something over in the corner...

Haha look at that creeper! In case you don't know what your trusty blogger here looks like that's me at the bottom right. I got my picture with him after all! Success!
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It was chaos out there so I decided it would be easier to just have him sign the issue of Little White Lies magazine that I'd brought with me rather than to try for a picture, and it was - if you feel the need to see that signed magazine I 'grammed that too because of course I did; what kind of nerd do you take me for.
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I took two videos from the Q&A too - that one above and the second one right here. The video above is right at the start of the Q&A with them talking about what a mad season it's been for him; the second video is a (truly terrible and embarrassing) question from the audience about whether he and Armie discussed what sexual positions Elio & Oliver were using? I guess that's his question? Timmy does the best he can which is to deflect because good grief.

Sorry if I am kind of rushing through this stuff this morning - thanks to the hullabaloo at Port Authority my whole schedule's been thrown out of whack and I'm way behind. (I'm not being cavalier about a scary situation but this is New York, after all.) But hey here's another picture of Timmy to enjoy:


Friday, December 08, 2017

Behind Jake's Screams

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Yesterday I wrote about the New York Times year-end "Great Performers" horror videos starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Timothee Chalamet and Nicole Kidman and so on, which were directed by Floria Sigismondi (hey she directed an episode of American Gods!) but only today am I seeing they've added this behind-the-scenes video, which brings us these very fine images of Jake and his director playing together. Why the heck didn't any shots of him in that sweaty t-shirt make it into the actual video though??? Well at least we have this now...


The Threads That Bind Us

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Two people take up a lot of space living in the same house. Doesn't matter if the house is a multi-tiered mansion or a New York City hot-pocket - we spill like water and sound through walls, claiming our corners. And without even noticing it with time you start finding ways of noiselessly maneuvering that tit-for-tat - like two invisible octopi entangling their legs you squeeze over and under, around one another, claiming what you can. Every tentacled bit accounted for, but stealthily so.

This is what a long-term relationship becomes. Personhood management. A quiet negotiation of where one person's borders end and the other's begin. They say two become one but it's way more complicated than that - two stay two, but they get affixed like a shut-in whose skin's become attached microscopically to the fabric of the sofa cushions.

Microscopic concessions, day after day, year after year - that's romance! Exclamatory sarcasm aside, for real though. It is romance as I've come to see it, going on eighteen years into a working relationship of my own, and Paul Thomas Anderson seems to get it too, at least judging by his phenomenally knowing new film Phantom Thread. The titular Thread is a delicate noose of scavenged lace looped around the throats of Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Alma (Vicky Krieps), and for all of their growth spasms they clearly wouldn't have it any other way. Choke me awake every morning, my love.

It's like an art-house remake of The War of the Roses in reverse - a darkly comic emotional vomitorium of our bad thoughts burning brightly and beautifully, like ball gowns on fire. Two alpha souls (Alma might seem blushingly acquiescent but the joke's on anybody reading her that way, most especially the man ostensibly in charge) wrestling for dominance, finding splendor in the dance. Nobody needs to scrape toast that noisily just like nobody needs to side-eye asparagus with such mad dripping venom, but we do what we do, we drive each other absolutely batty, and with a gleam in our eyes we place one another's futures like crystal chalices perched precariously on the palm of the other's hand. Knock me senseless, mi amore.

Just think how easy it would be to be murdered by the person sharing your bed. Anyone who's been in a long-term relationship has had this thought more than once. I walked into the kitchen last week while my boyfriend was cooking and he turned around holding a knife in his hand and there it was, the entire scenario spilling across my brain that I've pictured a thousand times, my life-force oozing in between the pitch-black marble tiles. But we give that piece of ourselves to the other - our safety, our sleeping breath - in exchange for theirs. Where we meet. That's trust. That's love, man. 


Big Little Andrea Arnold

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Both times that I've seen Andrea Arnold do a Q&A in real life she has told the audience that she was jet-lagged and drunk - both times! And that might've been enough to endear her to me permanently,  even if she didn't direct astonishing movies like Fish Tank and Red Road and Wuthering Heights and American Honey; each one one of the best of their respective years. But the point is god I love her, deeply and profoundly - she makes my list of top directors working today with ease. 
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And so my initial shrug at the thought of a second season of Big Little Lies turned into a violent epileptic spasm of enthusiasm when I read that it is she that will be directing the entire, THE ENTIRE, second season. Mr. Michelle Pfeiffer, I mean David E. Kelley, is writing the whole thing, and most of the cast is returning - I mean I doubt Alexander Skarsgard is, spoiler-free wink wink nudge nudge, which is a real shame since Andrea Arnold sure as hellfire knows how to sex-up the dudes she points her camera at (see: Michael Fassbender, Shia LaBeouf, Tony Curran, et cetera).

Picture what she might have done with him! But just take a step back and imagine what we ARE on the verge of. We are about to watch several hours of Andrea Arnold directing Nicole Kidman. We are about to watch several hours of Andrea Arnold directing Reese Witherspoon. WE ARE ABOUT TO WATCH SEVERAL HOURS OF ANDREA ARNOLD DIRECTING LAURA DERN!!!!!! Rejoice, motherfuckers.
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I Am Link

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--- Thin Ice - Have you read my review of I, Tonya yet? If you're waiting to see the movie, i get it, but if you just missed it you can read it right here. I bring it up because I've been thinking about the movie a lot this week - it's not a perfect thing by any means (I might have lost the framing device of the talking heads altogether myself, even though some of the movie's best lines are in there) but the one complaint I see as wrong-headed and precious is the one complaint I see the most, and that's about its "funny" treatment of domestic violence. That tone seems to me entirely honest to the film's subject, but Vulture was nice enough to talk to the film-makers themselves about it and this was very much on their minds as they made it. Says the director:

"It was one of the first questions that Margot asked me: How would you portray the violence? I said, ‘We have to reflect the life that Tonya came from and the abuse that she went through that gave her the armor that she had, and the way that she sees the world.’ To not show it would be a disservice.”

--- Crazy Woman - Kimberly ripping her wig off on Melrose Place is kind of my own personal Field of Dreams - if you post about it, I will post about your post. And so here head on over to The Cut where they wrote a whole thing about what a fracture in the universe that moment created - there is Before, and there is After.

--- Good Times Ahead - This story's going on two weeks old but I keep meaning to mention it - Robert Pattinson, fresh off his maybe best performance yet with Good Time, is proving his indie-cred bonafides with his next project and then some: he's signed on to star in the new movie from Ciro Guerra, whose hallucinatory Amazonian film Embrace of the Serpent was one of the highlights of 2016. It's called Waiting for the Barbarians and it will also star Mark Rylance, but I think that's all the info we have so far (as if that is not enough already).

--- Holiday Fear - I should make a list of my favorite Xmas movies at some point this month now that I think about it, but you can bet your bottom that Joe Dante's Gremlins would have a spot. Nothing gets me in the spirit quicker than watching Mrs. Deagle flying out her second-story window. There's a nice little chat with Dante and the film's star Zach Galligan over in The Guardian where they reminisce about the making of the movie. Justice for Phoebe Cates! I wish she'd talk.

--- Gays On Screen - Yesterday IndieWire posted a list of the Best LGBT Movies of 2017 (thanks Mac) - I think you can surmise that if I were to make this list myself their number two would be my number one (ya think?) but I think BPM is an astonishing piece of movie-making too so I don't begrudge it a topping here and there! Anyway you really can't argue with any of the movies on the list - that Top Five is just an astonishing and diverse group of films. This year's one for the record books. At least cinematically speaking we're doing well!

--- Stories For Scaring - Have you guys seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe yet? It's a totally solid spooker - here's my review - and it's been long out now where ever you watch movies, I believe. Give it a twirl! I bring it up because the film's director André Øvredal (he also made the fun-time Trollhunter movie) has officially signed on to direct the movie version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz's book series that creeped out an entire generation mostly thanks to the terrifying illustrations by Stephen Gammell. I really don't know how you make a movie from those books, which were all short short stories that relied for most of their bite from those drawings, but good luck to him trying! If nothing else maybe we'll get a fancy edition of the original books.

--- Barry's Harem - Yet another good looking dude has jumped on-board Moonlight director Barry Jenkins next project, an adaptation of a James Baldwin book called If Beale Street Could Talk - this time around it's Game of Thrones and Narcos' actor Pedro Pascal. (thanks Mac) The other week we told you how Dave Franco and Ed Skrein were both joining the cast. Lookers left and right. Not sure how they all figure into the story, which is about a pregnant woman trying to keep her accused-of-murder partner safe from the forces closing in, but I look forward to finding out.

--- And Finally earlier this week I shared the poster for Andrew Haigh's upcoming "teenager and a horse" drama Lean on Pete and told you the trailer was due soon - well soon has come and gone but I'm just getting to it. If you haven't seen it yet here's the trailer below; I'm really excited to see how young Charlie Plummer does - he was so good in King Jack a few years back. He's got a big year ahead - he's also in that Christopher Plummer movie (ha) All the Money in the World as the rich kid who gets kidnapped.
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Godfrey Gao Sixteen Times

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It's been awhile since we checked in on the Taiwainese-Canadian beauty Godfrey Gao, whose only real credit here in the US was the movie adaptation of the Mortal Instruments book series that didn't end up doing too well - still we'll always hold it dear for bringing Godfrey into our lives. Click through our archives to see more of him. He personally shared two recent foreign magazine photo-shoots on his Instagram; you can hit the jump for all the pics...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Celeste: The subject says he will be unable
to think about science unless he marries me.
Council Chief: Well, marry him.
Celeste: But we don't know what "marry" is.
Council Chief: One moment. ... Ah, yes.
The Monchine Forty says marriage is this:
he goes off to fight the Turks, and you put on a lock.
Second in Command: No, no, no.
Council Chief: Oh, yes, yes. Wrong century. Eh...
marriage is this: you cook and clean and bring him martinis.
Second in Command: No, no!
Council Chief: Wrong again? Ridiculous... Yes. Wrong decade.
Too old-fashioned. Ah, here we are, yes. The modern marriage:
there are no rules or responsibilities, but if he does something
wrong, you can set him on fire while he sleeps and go on a
talk show, where everyone will forgive you and love you.
There is only one drawback: you will have to have more sex.
Celeste: I'll do it!

I know I saw this movie when I was a kid but I'll be damned if I remember a single thing about it. But with dialogue like this somebody's due for a re-watch! Anyway a happy 64th birthday to Kim Basinger. The only correct answer if I ask you what Kim Basinger's best role was is LA Confidential right? So what's her second best? 8 Mile? Nobody say Vicki Vale, please.




Do Electric Dinosaurs Dream Of Jeeps?

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It's telling that I am having to force myself to post the first trailer for the new Jurassic World movie - when I saw the first Jurassic World movie I went with two other people and they both liked it and I walked out miserable; it lacked any of the wonder and joy the first film or world-gone-wrong horror of the second one - it just sorta sat there, which felt like the worst thing a Jurassic Park movie could do. Do realize I am coming at this as the Super Fan To End All Super Fans, in case you haven't been around here long - I saw the first movie in the theater a dozen plus times. It was my Star Wars
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Anyway as that tweet expresses I was hella excited (hella, I say!) when I found out the new movie was going to be a full-on disaster movie but with dinosaurs thrown into the mix - if there's one thing I love as much as my dinosaurs it is dumb disaster movies. A volcano? Come on! You're talking to a man who's watched Dante's Peak dozens of times over the years. But then the full trailer came out last night and... there's something off? Tonally speaking this thing just looks even more joyless than the last one.

Perhaps if I had an emotional attachment to Pratt & Howard's repartee but they just make me cringe, and I get that Dr. Ian Malcolm has been chased by dinosaurs two times in his life already but Jeff Goldblum feels like a husk of himself monotoning over this thing. And the CG on the dinos looks weightless - nowhere near the skill of what we were looking at 25 years ago (oh my god it's almost been 25 years) in the original film. Anyway watch:
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I really really hope I am proven wrong. JA Bayona is a GOOD director, having previously given us The Orphanage and The Impossible and A Monster Calls. What're you guys feeling with this?
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?

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Good Morning, World

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Happy 40 to my boy Matthias Schoenaerts today! I was going to say "funny enough I just re-watched A Bigger Splash this past weekend" but given all the Luca Guadagnino I been living I don't think any of you would be surprised enough to find that funny. (I also watched I Am Love the weekend before. I'm out of control!!!) Aaaanyway Matthias has a heap of projects lined up (because of course he does, as well he should)...

... but the ones I am probably most looking forward to are his re-teaming with his Far From the Madding World director Thomas Vinterberg called Kursk (read about it here) and then the one where he plays a drummer (because that will be hot) opposite his Splash co-star Dakota Johnson. I'd love to see him work with Luca again but they don't seem to have bonded the way Luca bonded with Armie & Timothee on Call Me By Your Name - if you look at pictures from the Splash tour Matthias always looks kind of uncomfortable and off to the side. Hmm.

For more of Matty in this movie click here.
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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Miguel Angel Silvestre Two Times

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Miguel also posted a video of himself getting splashed with water, as seen rendered motionless in these stills, so check that out on his Instagram. Wet, wet, wet! With this and then The Little Mermaid's Prince Eric and then Aquaman before that this afternoon has turned it into a real moist situation here on MNPP. Positively moist! Can I say moist one more time? Moist! Oops that was two more times. (Moist.)

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