Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray, Ric Menello
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
In the early 20s, a Polish woman (Marion Cotillard) immigrates to America, only to find herself forced into prostitution by Joaquin Phoenix’s character. This film is as desperately bleak as it sounds: a relentless downer that had potential to be grand and moving, but is hindered by the contrived plot, the glacial pace and the overblown orchestrations. Darius Khondji’s cinematography is lovely, but bathed in an unoriginal sepia cast. Cotillard works those big eyes to full effect as she suffers endlessly, while Phoenix practically twirls his non-existent moustache. The period situations are interesting, but the dramatic potential is amped up to melodrama. (Criterion Cinema only)
GAY ANGLE: Jeremy Renner is the love interest, but he looks nerdy and keeps his muscles hidden under the period clothes.
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Stars: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Jon Favreau (who also wrote/directed) plays an innovative chef whose confrontation with a critic devastates his career, so he ends up on a food truck to reestablish his love for cooking (and his relationship with his son, winningly played by Emjay Anthony). John Leguizamo joins the trip to add some enjoyable spice. The first half spends too much time with Favreau’s character blustering and bitching, but once he hits the road, the story takes on a sweet charm. This is the kind of small personal film that started Favreau’s career (before he became director of blockbusters like “Iron Man”) and it’s a welcome return to a heart-felt, charming little gem. The music’s great fun too. NOTE: Stay thru the credits to see the real chef giving Favreau some technique tips.
GAY ANGLE: Apparently, nobody in this man’s food service world is noticeably gay.
Jerry Williams reviewed movies for WTVR-TV for 14 years and for Style Weekly for 10 years. When he launched his own website in 1998 at TVJerry.com, he took his reviews to the Internet. Through those hundreds of reviews, Jerry kept his sexual orientation muted. So, he's excited to be adding "gay angles" to his postings for GayRVA.com.