Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Beyond the Hills; Oz the Great and Powerful
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2013-03-13

This article shared 4038 times since Wed Mar 13, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


A look at the trailer for the Romanian drama Beyond the Hills—the latest from acclaimed 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days writer-director Cristian Mungui—might give viewers the mistaken impression that it's a horror film: A young woman arrives at a remote convent in order to convince her best friend to leave with her. The friend, now a devout nun, refuses and after a series of attempts to change her mind, the young woman seemingly goes berserk, becomes possessed by the devil and is given an exorcism. And though these events do occur, the only horror here is what is done to Alina (Christina Flutur), the outsider, in the name of religion.

Mungui's movie is slow-moving and repetitive as he captures the austere lives of the nuns who cluster around the dour, take-no-prisoners priest who brooks no intrusions into the regimen of life at the convent—and certainly isn't about to loosen his grip on Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), the newest nun in the orthodox order, when her friend Alina arrives. Alina, blond and quiet, grew up in an orphanage with the dark-haired Voichita, her best friend and lover. Upon her arrival she's taken aback that her heartfelt reminders about the love she and Voichita shared aren't enough to convince her to pack her things and head to a new life via the promise of new jobs "on a boat" (which one presumes, might be a cruise ship).

Nor do her attempts at seduction work. Voichita has found something in religion or the simplistic, task-driven lifestyle at the convent that Alina—try as she might—can't seem to break through. And herein lay the seeds of a tremendous tragedy—one that Mungui slowly records. As Alina goes into emotional freefall over Voichita's refusal, the other nuns, egged on by the priest and led by the woman they address as "mother," attempt to use their religious training to forestall Alina's breakdown. When that fails, they resort to measures that seem reasonable to them but, when discovered, naturally horrify the outside world.

The two young actresses immerse themselves in their roles (both shared the best actress prize when the film premiered at Cannes), and Mungui's methodical pacing; the desolate, wintry location of the convent; and the hardscrabble lives of the women allow for a great deal of detail and shading within the scenes. At the heart of the film is the conflict between orthodox religion and the secular world—each represented in the two leading characters—and the incredible damage that unerring faith in one's viewpoint can wreak. The final sequence in which the two worlds intersect is masterful. Beyond the Hills is a subtle, heartbreaking film that rewards the patient viewer.

Kinda related: Strange Frame, just out on DVD from Wolfe Video, also focuses on a lesbian couple fighting against some pretty tough constraints. Let's just say that Naia and Parker, who share similar musical tastes as they fall passionately in love and form a band, have a lot to contend with in G.B. Hajim's critically acclaimed animated science-fiction rock musical. Set 500 years in the future on a moon of Jupiter, the film is a delightful, original hybrid. Tim Curry, George Takai, Claudia Black, Ron Glass and Juliet Landau are among the actors providing the voices.

Oz the Great and Powerful is the first cinematic attempt to cash in on the recent resurgence of Ozmania brought about by the phenomenal popularity of the stage musical Wicked. Disney, journeying back to the Land of Oz for the first time since 1985's offbeat and winning (but underperforming) Return to Oz, has spent close to $200 million on the film. The movie substitutes young con man Professor Marvel (called Oscar Diggs here) for the dewy-eyed innocent Dorothy Gale of Kansas, but essentially their trajectory is the same. Trapped in the black-and-white "real world," Oscar—a flop magician in a two-bit circus and a bit of a womanizer—flies in his big balloon to Oz (via a handy tornado, of course). Immediately, there's a transformation into vivid color, amid a host of eye-popping digital effects. On the way to killing the baddest of the three witches, who are sisters he romances on their first encounters (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), Oscar takes along some strange new friends, makes a stop in Munchkinland and learns to grow a heart.

The basic trouble with this family-friendly film, which Sam Raimi directs, is that it takes just as long to grow a heart as Oscar does. Visually dazzling and sumptuously appointed (although the negligible 3D, again, is merely headache-producing), Franco is dead wrong for the part of an irresistible con man. Handsome he is; irresistible and charming, no. And there is an inescapable feeling of condescension in almost every line he utters. As any Ozmaniac will tell you—without heart and innocence as a starting point, there's no point in starting. Franco could have taken a lesson from Williams, who elevates every scene in the movie with her delicately delivered performance.

While the movie, as noted, looks great and kicks into satisfying high gear as it heads toward the last act, with Franco and his allies in league to destroy the witch and her minions, the tinhorn feeling of the bulk of Oz the Great and Powerful leaves one yearning for another trip down the yellow brick road—the one first glimpsed by audiences in 1939.

Film notes:

—It's certainly going to be some enchanted evening when TCM's "Road to Hollywood" tour brings the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1959 musical South Pacific to the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on Tuesday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. Film historian and author Leonard Maltin will host, with an onstage appearance by none other than the film's perky, seemingly ageless star, Mitzi Gaynor.

South Pacific, which Joshua Logan directed, has forever been critically maligned because of his decision to shoot the musical numbers through various colored filters (a creative mistake that Logan humorously owned up to in his memoirs). But Gaynor's best screen performance, the unbridled romantic appeal of co-star Rossano Brazzi, handsome John Kerr, lovely South Sea locations and acres of hunky, shirtless sailors—not to mention all those sing-a-long ready tunes—definitely put South Pacific in the plus column. Tickets are free but must be ordered in advance; see www.tcm.com/2013/roadtohollywood.

—Cinema Q III, the annual Cultural Center LGBT film series, continues Wed., March 13, with 2009's gritty To Die Like a Man, a fascinating portrait of an aging Portuguese drag queen from writer-director Joao Pedro Rodrigues. The series—which The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Legacy Project, Queer Film Society and Reeling are co-sponsoring—takes place in the Claudia Cassidy Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. A discussion follows each of the movies. Windy City Times, Time Out Chicago and ChicagoPride are media co-sponsors for Cinema Q III. http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/cinema_q.html

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitymediagroup.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.


This article shared 4038 times since Wed Mar 13, 2013
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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ LGBTQ movies, 'Color Purple,' Nick Jonas, gay coach 2021-01-17
- The film Draw with Me has launched its virtual theatrical release at ArenaScreen through Feb. 9, and was the subject of the first-ever panel at the United Nations on Transgender Health, a release stated. Featuring Jennifer ...


Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions to present Out, Darn Spot! 2021-01-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Jan. 15, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to present the campy comedyOut, Darn Spot!, written by and starring ensemble member Tyler Anthony Smith* and directed, filmed and edited by Stephanie Shaw. ...


Gay News

Report: Here are the highest grossing LGBTQ+ actors on Netflix 2021-01-13
--From a Journalistic.org press release - Highest grossing LGBTQ+ actors on Netflix - Kristen Stewart comes in first, with a net worth of 70 million dollars - Bisexual women are the top earning members of the LGBTQ+ community - The TV industry ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Laverne Cox, lesbian coach, Jim Parsons, 'Brokeback,' theater items 2021-01-11
- Laverne Cox is teaming with Meryl Streep and Rashida Jones to executive-produce a new documentary exploring one of the most critical issues at the intersection of race, feminism, and power: the sex industry, out.com noted. Sell/Buy/Date ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2021-01-11
- "Harry Styles is looking REALLY good. I'm into the fishnets. And we have very similar tastes. I think sharing a closet, sharing a life together, it just makes sense."—Miley Cyrus. I'd rather see Harry with Miley's ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Tales' star dies, 'Wonder Woman 1984,' holiday songs, 'Drag Race' 2021-01-05
- Marcus D'Amico—the original Michael "Mouse" Tolliver from the miniseries Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City—died at age 55, Queerty noted. In 1992, he also originated the role of Louis in the National Theatre's London run of ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans movie, best/worst LGBTQ films, sports items, Whitney 2020-12-27
- Shout! Studios entered into an exclusive deal with Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions (KKP) and Scatena & Rosner Films (SNR) to distribute the new LGBTQ-focused documentary The Sound of Identity, a press release noted. The movie chronicles ...


Gay News

'Party Monster' killer Michael Alig dies at 54 2020-12-26
- Michael Alig who was at the center of the LGBTQ "club kids" scene in late 1980s and early '90s Manhattan, and whose involvement in the murder and dismemberment of his drug dealer was chronicled in the 2003 film Party Monster died Dec. 25th ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race,' year-end honors, 'Guardians,' Taylor Swift 2020-12-21
- VH1 unveiled a game-changing twist from the upcoming season of the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race, premiering Friday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, a press release noted. For the first time in Drag Race "herstory," queens ...


Gay News

'Cheer' star pleads not guilty to child-sex charges 2020-12-18
- On Dec. 17, Cheer star Jerry Harris pled not guilty to new federal felony charges that he tried to lure minors for sex and shared sexually explicit photos with them, media outlets reported. The charges alleged ...


Gay News

PrideArts to screen A Not So Silent Night Tuesday, Dec. 15 2020-12-15
- To honor the tradition of gathering around with family and singing holiday songs, even in a pandemic. PrideArts is hosting a one-time screening of the film A Not So Silent Night tonight, Dec. 15, 2020. The ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-12-14
- "I don't agree that only gay actors should play gay. … I don't agree with having to laser focus the casting of it all, or else you'll be playing yourself the rest of your life."—Juan Pablo ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans acting challenge, NYE parties, Charlize Theron, Diana Ross 2020-12-14
- Michael D. Cohen, with support from Nickelodeon, is launching the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, according to a press release. Trans and non-binary kids can submit audition self-tapes online (preferably through their parents), and the top 12 ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Naya Rivera, Jodie Foster, MTV, Marc Jacobs 2020-12-07
- Naya Rivera's Glee co-stars are honoring the late actress with a fundraiser launched in her memory, Page Six noted. A GoFundMe account has been established by the crew in her name, with proceeds going toward Alexandria ...


Gay News

Black Ensemble Theater's 'Holiday' event Dec. 18-25 2020-12-03
- The Black Ensemble Theater is celebrating the 2020 holiday season with The Black Ensemble Virtual Holiday Extravaganza, written and directed by Producing Managing Director Daryl D. Brooks. Filmed from the performers' homes and the theater, the ...


 



Copyright © 2021 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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

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.