WINDY CITY TIMES
||Knight at the Movies: Million Dollar Baby and Saints and Sinners
by Richard Knight, Jr.
This article shared 4293 times since Wed Dec 15, 2004
Poor Hilary Swank! Raped and murdered in Boys Don't Cry, brutally abused by her red neck husband ( Keanu Reeves! ) in The Gift, nearly burned alive in the sci-fi dud The Core and now pummeled virtually non-stop as boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in the new Clint Eastwood picture, Million Dollar Baby. Perhaps Swank is drawn to these earnest but determined women who fight against incredible odds ( but never seem to come out on top ) or maybe she figured that a return to a victim of circumstance character would add some luster to her career after several box office flops. No matter what her reasons, though the picture is literally the 'feel bad' movie of the year, she gives a beautiful, restrained performance.
I must admit up front that I'm not predisposed toward ANY boxing film—I was much more interested in the relationship between Cathy Moriarty and DeNiro in Raging Bull than the fight scenes, for example—so to say that I was underwhelmed by the movie's tight focus on the blood sport and its by-the-numbers set up is being generous. At the outset, the crusty Frankie Dunn ( Eastwood in yet another variation on his gallery of sourdoughs ) , the best 'cut man' in the business, is quietly, desperately trying to stop the blood flowing from his boxer's eye before the fight is called. We know that this time he'll get the blood to stop but before the movie's over ( this being another Eastwood treatise on Catholic guilt and the search for forgiveness like last year's Mystic River ) it's gonna metaphorically spill all over the audience.
It's also a given that sooner or later the poetry-reading Frankie is going to agree to train the 'girlie' boxer and not just because his former fighter, current gym manager, and verbal sparring partner Eddie 'Scrap-Iron' ( Morgan Freeman ) is going to secretly make it happen. Frankie's estranged from his daughter ( and as part of his self-inflicted penance, attends Mass every day to devil the irritated Priest ) and training Maggie will give him a new lease on life. Scrap sees this and though Frankie resists, the 'grumpy old men' relationship the two share eventually prevails.
Maggie describes herself as 'white trash,' lives in a crummy hotel room, works as a waitress, and frankly tells Frankie, 'This is the only thing that makes me happy.' She batters at a punching bag hard through the night ( almost in darkness ) and though she calls Frankie, 'Boss,' once he's released her gift, she can't hold it back. Soon she's setting the world on fire in a series of fetching boxing outfits and the usually cautious Frankie then does something against his better instincts. All those night scenes in the gym ( the film's lit like a slasher picture ) should have subconsciously warned us 'Tragedy Ahead' but when it comes, the picture changes tone so quickly that I felt like I'd been knocked out.
The film is being described as 'Rocky in a bra' but 'Ice Castles with boxing gloves' would be a more apt description—without the uplift of that final triumphant skate around the rink. Scrap serves much the same function as Freeman's character did in The Shawshank Redemption. He narrates the story and his character's role as the caretaker of the broken-down gym ( which seems to be around the corner from Vince Vaughan's place in Dodgeball ) allows for several plot-filler scenes with the Hit Pit's regulars ( including Anthony Mackie from Brother to Brother ) . Mostly, Freeman's character serves to explain the emotionally stilted Frankie and the emotionally damaged Maggie for us but stops short of stating the movie's underlying theme: 'When life hands you lemons … expect more lemons.' Perhaps the triumph of the movie will be multiple Oscar nominations—what better way to reward all this suffering—but who gets left holding the bag of lemons? Three guesses.
Saints and Sinners, which plays at Facets from Dec. 17-23, is another movie in which the Catholic Church plays a starring role. Here, its huge influence over the lives of even those it has dispossessed—like the gay couple Ed and Vinnie—comes center stage. Ed and Vinnie have each gone through difficult coming-out processes ( what middle-aged gay men have not? ) , complicated by their continued devotion to the church ( seen vividly through their association with Dignity—the religion's unofficial, gay facsimile ) . They want to get married—and not just with the cake, the flowers and the DJ—but in a ceremony that contains rituals sacrosanct to the Catholic religion and naturally, forbidden to gay couples.
As the documentary begins, the first feature from directors Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg, Ed is on the phone dialing up priest after priest looking for one to perform the ceremony for he and Vinnie. Of course they can't find one and so settle on a Catholic service in an Episcopal Church performed by a Dignity priest. With that question settled at the outset and knowing that the 'wedding' ( the word that both partners insist on ) won't having any legal meaning, the film focuses on smaller roadblocks that stand in the couple's way—like whether or not at the last minute Vinnie's sister will show up, if The New York Times will select the duo as the first Catholic gay couple in the wedding announcement section of the paper, and if taking communion from the Dignity priest is a no-no.
Gay marriage as documentary subject material may seem to be wearing thin but this small, tightly focused film, nicely shot, scored and edited, has some fresh things to say on the subject and the quiet persistence of Ed and Vinnie to get married within the confines of a religion that has 'officially' cast them out is quite moving. www.facets.org
Hi-tech Tickets: Loews Cinemas, via the Fandango Web site, will now allow you to pay for tickets with a charge card, print them out and go directly to the ticket taker at their local theatres. I've long been a fan of this convenience for movie lovers and applaud Loews for hopping onboard—especially with the holiday movie/Oscar mad dash upon us. www.fandango.com
This article shared 4293 times since Wed Dec 15, 2004
| ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE|
|Being BeBe documents life of first RuPaul's Drag Race winner 2023-03-27|
- On the evening of March 9, the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University presented a screening of Emily Branham's documentary Being BeBe, the story of Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa, a.k.a. Benet, the first winner of ...
|WORLD Venezuela code, Oxfam, Bosnia items, 'Brokeback,' Pope Francis 2023-03-25|
- Venezuela's Supreme Court annulled a controversial part of the military justice code that had criminalized same-sex relations within the armed forces, the outlet Punch noted. The court annulled the provision, which had provided for a penalty ...
|SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon 2023-03-25|
Video below - The first trailer for the upcoming comedy Joy Ride has been released, Out noted. The movie stars Ashley Park, queer Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and ...
|SHOWBIZ 'Black Adam,' Cyndi Lauper, Sondheim, Oscars, OutFest 2023-03-18|
- Cultured Magazine recently profiled Quintessa Swindellwho became the first out, non-binary actor to play a lead superhero in the DC universe when they portrayed Cyclone in the 2022 movie Black Adam. Swindell grew up in Virginia ...
|SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10|
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...
|Billy Masters: Raunchier Uncoupled on the rebound with Showtime 2023-03-06|
- "I never liked when she did this in concerts either. I don't like when females are overly sexualized in art. It degrades and objectivy's [sic] women in a way that's not healthy." TJ Jackson on reports ...
|SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04|
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...
|Queerties honor LGBTQ+ creatives at Feb. 28 event 2023-03-01|
- The 11th Annual Queerties Awardswhich recognizes LGBTQ+ creators, tastemakers, storytellers and newsmakerstook place Feb. 28 at Eden Sunset in Los Angeles. Hosted by drag comedian Bianca Del Rio, the ceremony ...
|SHOWBIZ 'Bob's Burgers,' P!nk, sports items, Billy Porter, Ben Platt 2023-02-24|
- Animated sitcom Bob's Burgers marked another major milestone with its 250th episode. Gay actor/comedian/musician John Roberts (who voices Linda Belcher) talked with Queerty and said that one of the most important lessons he's learned from ...
|'Everything' sweeps The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics 14th Dorian Film Awards 2023-02-23|
--From a press release - GALECA,The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, has named A24's fantastical and affecting family relationship drama Everything Everywhere All at Once 2022's Film of the Yearand then somein its 14th Dorian ...
|At 'FIRST(ISH)' Sight: Producer Ashley Flowers speaks on 'honest' representation 2023-02-22|
- Ashley Flowers—a producer, co-creator and actor in the short film First(ish) Date, now in pre-production—wears many creative hats. She also has an extensive resume working with stage and film props as well; Flowers has been working ...
|SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19|
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...
|Goran Stolevski grows up fast with Of an Age 2023-02-14|
- Openly gay filmmaker Goran Stolevski is a triple threat: He handled directing, writing and editing chores for his new project, Of an Age, which Focus Features is now distributing. The film is already taking home trophies ...
|SHOWBIZ Isaac Mizrahi, Viola Davis, Laura Jane Grace, Elton John, GLAAD 2023-02-11|
- On Sherri Shepherd's talk show, entertainer/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said he'd love for out actor Dan Levy to portray him in a potential biopic based on Mizrahi's memoir, I.M., The Wrap noted. "Dan Levy, OK," Mizrahi ...
|SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, Alan Cumming, Andre Leon Talley, AIDS drama 2023-02-05|
- Openly gay stand-up comic and recent Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael is set to star in a comedy documentary series for HBO, according to Entertainment Weekly. The yet-untitled series will center on Carmichael's personal life, following ...