Winter 2014 movie review wrap up
We here at GayRVA enjoyed our holiday a bit too much and we’re just getting back on track. Here’s a wrap up of a number of movies which came out over the last two weeks. While we stayed in bed, the ever vigilant TV Jerry stayed on task.
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers: William Monahan (screenplay), James Toback
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman
Mark Wahlberg plays a college lit professor (yes, you read that right) and he simply isn’t up to the dramatic demands. The script is pretentious and full of philosophical contemplation, which makes an already tedious film even more painful coming out of Wahlberg’s mouth (John Goodman and Jessica Lange show him how it’s done). He plays a compulsive gambler who gets deeper and deeper into debt, but seems more concerned about the meaning of his existence than his massive liability. There’s virtually no action, so it’s all people posturing and contemplating…agony all around.
GAY ANGLE: Sadly, there’s more of Goodman’s flesh than the quick peeks at Wahlberg’s chest.
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writers: Joel Coen (screenplay), Ethan Coen (screenplay)
Stars: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall
Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was an Olympic runner who survived in a raft for 47 days after his plane crashed, then endured 2 years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Through it all, he remained determined to survive. It’s important to feel the desperation and suffering in a movie like this, but director Angelina Jolie has taken it to painful extremes, presenting scene after scene of mistreatment. It’s effective, but went on way too long. Ultimately, it’s about a man’s stamina faced with overwhelming odds, but the film lacks the emotional power that would have made the suffering worth it.
GAY ANGLE: Who would have expected a drag show in a prison camp?
Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: James Lapine (screenplay), James Lapine (musical)
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine
This movie of Stephen Sondheim’s musical mashes up the plots and characters from several fairy tales into a wonderfully amusing and dark entertainment (although a little more Disneyfied and less dark than the original). The cast is in great voice, but their performances (and the ability to clearly hear the brilliantly clever lyrics) make it a delight. Meryl Streep brings her authenticity to nuanced and touching brilliance as the Witch and Chris Pine’s arrogant prince reveals his comic charms better than “Horrible Bosses 2″ does. Director Rob Marshall successfully shortened it. He keeps it grounded in the humor and humanity, without resorting to dazzling cinematic tricks. Lovers of the stage show will be pleased with this spirited and smart adaptation. Note to parents: even though it’s not lascivious or violent, this is not a typical fairy tale family film.
GAY ANGLE: It’s Sondheim, so we’re required to love it.
The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Andrew Hodges (book), Graham Moore (screenplay)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is considered by some to be the father of computing. It springs from his brilliance in solving the secret codes from Nazi Germany’s Enigma machine, which helped the Allies win the war. In the 50s, he was arrested and his solitary life took an unfortunate turn. Cumberbatch turns in a nuanced and touching performance without ever being pitiful (Alex Lawther is also poignant as the young Turing). The intelligent and sometimes humorous screenplay provides a solid groundwork for this compelling story. What could have been a dry lesson in code-breaking turns into a touching look at a fascinating personality.
GAY ANGLE: Everyone should see and enjoy this important part of gay history.
Director: Will Gluck
Writers: Will Gluck (screenplay), Aline Brosh McKenna (screenplay), 2 more credits »
Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx
The first movie version was a decent translation of the original stage musical. This new variation is so reworked by Hollywood hacks that it bears little resemblance to the original (it’s even been moved to present day NYC). The handful of songs that remain are supplemented with some new updated ones and they’re all overproduced and flat. Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role is cute. The other leads (Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz) are woefully unfunny and the staging is uninventive. Overall, the film has energy but no heart or charm. For a cast that features black actors in the leads, this is sadly soulless.
GAY ANGLE: Just because it’s a musical doesn’t mean we have to love it.
Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Writers: Dan Sterling (screenplay), Seth Rogen (story)
Stars: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park
The comic chemistry between James Franco & Seth Rogen makes them one of the most enjoyable teams in movies today and this latest effort maximizes the combo. Franco (creating one of his most delightfully funny characters ever) plays a tabloid TV host who travels to North Korea with his producer (Rogen) to interview Kim Jong-un. This is the type of madcap mayhem they do so well: lots of dick/ass gags, wacky interplay, outrageous stunts and homoerotic slants. The energy never slacks and the laffs are constant. If you like screwball comedy (with a definite juvenile sensibility), you’ll be very entertained.
GAY ANGLE: It’s fun to watch their constant homo interplay. We can dream, can’t we?
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.
One of Franco’s serious roles & if you want online thrills, stick to gay dating sitesApril 21, 2015
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