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 Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Dear John; The Last Station
by Richard Knight, Jr.
2010-02-03

This article shared 3317 times since Wed Feb 3, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Author Nicholas Sparks has cornered the market for modern romantic novels with five best-sellers in a row.

Though the majority of the books have been adapted for the screen, none of them has had the same kind of commercial success. But that hasn't stopped many of these pictures from connecting with viewers who love nothing more than getting out their hankies. I offer my husband as Exhibit A. No matter what time of day or night, if he's cable flipping and The Notebook is on, he will stop and, in seconds, become immersed in the romantic waterfall flowing from the screen. When it comes to affairs of the heart, Sparks' characters never find love without paying a heavy emotional price.

All of which makes director Lasse Hallström, whose biggest successes have been with the über romantic Chocolat and the nostalgic, tender and tragic Cider House Rules, the perfect choice to helm Dear John, the latest screen adaptation of a Sparks big time success.

The movie—set in South Carolina, as many of Sparks' stories are—follows his two fetching would-be lovers over the course of their extremely bumpy road to Eternal Love. Channing Tatum plays John Tyree, a hunkalicious surfer on leave from the special forces in the Army who "meets cute" with Savannah Curtis ( Amanda Seyfried ) when he dives off a dock to retrieve her purse. ( Tatum's gay fan base is sure to rise, thanks to the large number of shirtless beach scenes. ) He's a moody loner who is used to taking care of himself and is guarded with his emotions, while she's sunny, open and a do-gooder—not at all the traditional Southern belle that her wealth and privilege would lead one to expect.

The two have an intense two-week affair before John is called back into action. Their only argument occurs when Savannah intuits that John's ultra-shy father ( Richard Jenkins, marvelous in a supporting role ) might have some behavior problems; hothead John reacts defensively. But the two make up—passionately—and promise to write until John's return ( this being 2001, when texting was not an option ) . Then Hallström gives us one of the movies corniest set pieces—the love-letter exchange montage—in which we actually see the postal service in action. Right on cue a gently plucked guitar and lush strings wash over the screen.

But trouble looms for our comely pair and, before this interrupted love melody can be finished, the story will involve the 9/11 tragedy, cancer, autism, dappled sunsets by the beach, moonlit nights spent apart and many more musical montages.

Both young leads do their thing with the requisite passion required ( although, oddly, neither sports a southern accent ) and Hallström's unhurried pacing guarantees that, by the fade-out, both tears of grief and joy will have been shed. Like the other Sparks adapted movies, Dear John is so old-fashioned and its hyper-romanticism such a rarity in cinemas these days it almost seems new again. It will more than satisfy those with a predilection for the genre but cynics are warned to keep clear—or be prepared to shut up and hand some Kleenex to their cow-eyed better halves.

Cynics are also warned to avoid The Last Station from director Michael Hoffman. Hoffman has adapted Jay Parini's novel, based on true events, of the last days of acclaimed Russian writer Leo Tolstoy ( Christopher Plummer ) and the war over the rights to his valuable copyrights ( War & Peace and Anna Karenina being just two of the titles in contention ) between his wife of 43 years, Countess Sofya ( Helen Mirren ) , and the leader of Tolstoy's acolytes, Vladimir Chertkov ( Paul Giamatti ) .

Hoffman—who has directed his share of romantic dramas and one of my camp favorites, Soapdish—gives the material his all and with this fascinating story; three grand thespians like Plummer, Mirren and Giamatti to shoot off the acting fireworks; and James McAvoy and Kerry Condon as the young lovers who provide the film with its lusty subplot, who can blame him?

Tolstoy, the Bob Dylan of his day, was so influential a literary and cultural figure that he inspired a fervent group of followers known as "Tolstoyans." This pro-Tolstoy movement eschewed material possessions and advocated the spread of passive resistance during the last decade of Tsarist rule in Russia. The movie, told through the eyes of Valentin ( McAvoy ) , one of Tolstoy's starry-eyed devoted followers, is set in Russia in 1910 near the summer home of Tolstoy where a group of the supplicants are living in a commune. Valentin has a major case of star worship and not even a hot affair with the nubile Masha ( Condon ) can shake his devotion to the group. As Tolstoy's new secretary, Valentin becomes a pawn in the ruthless tug of war between Chertkov and Sofya over Tolstoy's new will.

The protracted battles between Plummer and Mirren ( who has her best role since The Queen ) —during which Sofya uses every trick in her emotional arsenal—and their tender moments in between are thrilling, fun and deeply satisfying to watch. These are great actors having a whale of a time with tremendous parts. From the moment we first see the couple having afternoon tea on the terrace their philosophical differences—despite their deep affection—is clear.

It will be a fight to the acting death it seems and, indeed, as Sofya shamelessly schemes to get rid of Chertkov ( who has an additional aide in the Tolstoy's distant daughter ) , things go from promising to comical to the emotional breaking point for all concerned. The movie centers on the larger theme of the responsibility of the artist to his legacy and his audience versus the responsibility to the personal, which Hoffman nicely balances ( along with the subplot of the young lovers, who represent the young, idealistic version of the Tolstoys ) .

All of which help envelop the viewer in The Last Station, which—despite some dramatic implausibility and a misstep here and there—is, overall, a very well-told, well-made historical romantic drama.

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter Web site.


This article shared 3317 times since Wed Feb 3, 2010
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

Brittany Devon meets a 'Platonic Girlfriend' 2021-09-15
- Queer, genderfluid actor Brittany Devon has created a brand new project to explore with Platonic Girlfriend. It is the story of a relationship between straight woman Alice and a queer, nonbinary person named Dev. Devon stars ...


Gay News

THEATER Out actor Dan Butler to be in 'When Harry Met Rehab' 2021-09-15
- Don Clark, a Chicago-based film/theater producer as well as co-owner of the Chicago Magic Lounge, will present the world premiere of When Harry Met Rehab—a comedy that takes sobriety seriously and is based loosely on the ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Boy Meets Boy,' Jennifer Hudson, 'SVU,' tennis honor, ABBA 2021-09-12
- Ariztical Entertainment is releasing the German movie Boy Meets Boy on DVD and VOD on Oct. 26. According to a press release, the plot of the 70-minute movie is as follows: "Harry has been partying for ...


Gay News

MOVES Talking about 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' 2021-09-08
- The new movie Everybody's Talking About Jamie tells the inspiring story of Jamie New, a young drag artist who overcomes hardship and homophobia in Sheffield, England. Out actor Max Harwood stars as New, who gets by ...


Gay News

Survivor shares the story of trauma and thriving in 'Untold' 2021-09-07
- WARNING: This article contains material of a graphic nature. Gina M. Garcia is finally sharing her story of thriving after trauma in her new docu-drama biography, Untold: This is My Story, which premieres Sept. 6 at ...


Gay News

MOVIES Fall films harvest famous names for LGBTQ+ stories 2021-09-01
- The film industry is featuring world-renowned names like Lady Gaga, Truman Capote and Tammy Faye on the big screen this fall season. Award-winning musicals, true-life stories and far-out fiction are all part of the fun in ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'On Broadway' to open Sept. 10 in Highland Park 2021-09-01
- As theatergoers prepare for the return of Broadway after an unprecedented absence of 18 months, Kino Lorber is releasing Academy Award nominee Oren Jacoby's documentary On Broadway. The tribute to one of the most vibrant ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Billy Porter, 'Death Drop,' Brandi Carlile, vintage films, Gaga 2021-08-29
- Billy Porter will direct a queer teen comedy feature titled To Be Real for Amazon Studios, which is being helmed by Gabrielle Union's I'll Have Another Productions, NME.com noted. Porter, who is currently working on his ...


Gay News

EVENTS Celebrity attendees named for Wizard World Chicago 2021-08-28
- William Shatner (Star Trek; TV's Boston Legal), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, TV's The Walking Dead), Matthew Lewis (All Creatures Great and Small), James Marsters (TV series Buffy the ...


Gay News

TV Netflix animated series 'Chicago Party Aunt' debuts Sept. 17 2021-08-27
- The LGBTQ-inclusive series Chicago Party Aunt will debut on Netflix on Friday, Sept. 17. Inspired by the popular Twitter account Chicago Party Aunt, this eight-episode adult animated comedy follows Diane Dunbrowski and nephew Daniel as they ...


Gay News

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival announces full slate 2021-08-25
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois — Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival today announced the full slate of programming for 2021, opening September 23, 2021 at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) and running September 24 ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'Mr. SOUL!' looks at groundbreaking '60s show and Black, gay host 2021-08-23
- Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin, Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Muhammad Ali, The Last Poets, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sidney Poitier, Mavis Staples and even a teenaged Arsenio Hall were ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ RuPaul, GALECA toast, Elliot Page, 'Chippendales,' bi model 2021-08-22
- RuPaul revealed a new wax figure at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, a press release noted. The all-new Rainbow Runway experience invites guests to "meet" and take cues from the most commercially successful drag queen of all ...


Gay News

MUSIC Lyric Opera of Chicago's 'Pagliacci' on film 2021-08-18
- Lyric Opera of Chicago announced that registration is now open for audiences to secure a free link to screen the new, original film production of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, filmed at the Lyric Opera House. Audiences can now ...


Gay News

MOVIES Candyman 'Say It. I Dare You' challenge Aug. 21-22 in Chicago 2021-08-17
- The Candyman "Say it. I Dare You!" challenge—an interactive pop-up experience—will take place Aug. 21-22, 12-8 p.m., at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave. Guests are invited to enter a dark room where they are challenged ...


 



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.