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 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: This Must Be the Place; recent DVDs
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2012-11-14

This article shared 4965 times since Wed Nov 14, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


In This Must Be the Place, Sean Penn's new movie, the actor plays a once-popular goth rock star slowly withering after 20 years of self-enforced retirement.

As Cheyenne, Penn sports the sky-high hairdo, the kabuki whiteface paint and hot-red lips that New Wave fans will recognize as a backhanded homage to Robert Smith, lead provocateur of The Cure. Cheyenne speaks in the high-pitched whine of a petulant child, adopting the nearly incomprehensible speech patterns and babyish eccentricities of Ozzy Osbourne. Drinking orange juice through a straw, he shambles about his mansion in the Dublin countryside with the blank eyes of a zombie.

One of the wondrous things about watching Penn, who has pulled off this kind of thing before (especially in I Am Sam), is that all these years after his breakthrough role in 1995's Dead Man Walking, he is still willing every once in a while to go out on that ledge and try crazy stuff—to go balls to the wall. Cheyenne is the kind of surface character that's the equivalent of a parlor trick: It's something that actors adore and audiences either entirely embrace (think Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) or hold at arm's length, not quite sure if they're going to buy in (think Depp in Willy Wonka and the recent Dark Shadows). With Penn, as with Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and a few exalted others, there is a difference: He's able to reward an audience's patience and take viewers past the fun surface stuff and get at the inner turmoil underneath.

I wish that Penn's hard work had been in service to a better movie—rather, a more nuanced, less convoluted one. Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino makes his English-language feature debut with This Must Be the Place, which he wrote for Penn, and he gets him off to a great start. Cheyenne has been married to Jane (Frances McDormand) for 35 years and she's like a friendly drill sergeant, ordering him sweetly about and greeting his solemn insights with perky scorn. Bored with his self-imposed retirement (the reasons for which slowly become evident), and noting that, "There are too many things I don't do anymore," Cheyenne impulsively heads home to New York to visit his estranged, dying father. Arriving too late, he learns that his father, a Holocaust survivor, spent the balance of his life trying to track down the SS officer who persecuted him at Auschwitz. Improbably, Cheyenne heads across the United States to finish the job.

A quintessential road picture ensues and though many of Sorrentino's observances of American mores are extremely sharp and funny, they aren't particularly fresh; also, he emphasizes the eccentric, strange and the plain wacky in nearly every scene in the picture. This seems charming and adds to the comedy at first, but as Cheyenne drives from location to location in his black pick-up truck and the pageant of rather unique individuals he encounters piles up, you begin to yearn for the plain and uncomplicated without an order of crazy on the side. Yet, Penn's Cheyenne is endearing and ultimately a little bit heartbreaking, McDormand is always welcome (and one wishes that her part was larger) and the addition of a lot of expert performers in the crackpot roles (Judd Hirsch, Harry Dean Stanton and Joyce Van Patten among them) help make This Must be the Place live up to its title.

Recent DVDs of note:

—Merida—the feisty, flame-haired teenage heroine of Disney/Pixar's Brave—was one of my favorite characters this year. The Scottish fairy tale she inhabits—part Beauty & the Beast, part Little Mermaid—made for a familiar but very winning adventure story. The film, which features the voice talents of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, et al, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD (or both if you go for the deluxe edition, which has five discs). A raft of special features focuses on the exceedingly detailed effort to bring this charming story to life.

—TCM has partnered again with Universal for a release that classic-cinema fans will definitely want to add to their collections. This is a duo from director Billy Wilder, new to DVD, a two-disc set that includes his 1943 WWII spy drama Five Graves to Cairo (his second directorial effort), a quite engaging little thriller with an expert performance from Eric Von Stroheim as Hitler's field marshal, Erwin Rommel.

Even better is Wilder's 1948 post-WWII romantic comedy A Foreign Affair, which somehow finds Jean Arthur competing with Marlene Dietrich for the affections of handsome John Lund. Arthur brings the movie her typical, self-deprecating comedic expertise; Dietrich that sensational and stunning beauty; and Wilder his razor-sharp, acidic wit. Although neither film is on par with Wilder's more well-known triumphs, these are both entertaining gems.

—TCM has also joined with Sony for an even more hotly desired release—a four-disc set titled Joan Crawford in the Fifties that includes a quartet of films that showcase the actress during the period when she played some of the bitchiest characters of her career.

My favorite of the bunch is 1951's Harriet Craig, in which Crawford, in a remake of the Rosalind Russell original, plays the insanely controlling titular housewife who stops at nothing to keep order in her immaculate home. The 1955 film Queen Bee is also big fun, with Crawford as the nasty matriarch of a Southern family whom everyone within shouting distance seems to hate with a passion as outrageous as Crawford's over-the-top wardrobe.

Autumn Leaves, from 1956, casts the actress as an old-maid secretary who takes pity on hunky but seriously disturbed loner Cliff Robertson, who she marries and then helps bring back to sanity. The little-seen 1957 tearjerker The Story of Esther Costello isn't as fun but has its compensations—mainly Crawford's over-the-top performance in which she gets to enact the grand lady as a rich divorcee who devotes herself to a blind, deaf teenager.

—Barbra Streisand is in the midst of celebrating 50 years in show business with a very busy year. Following on the heels of a mini-concert tour and the recent Release Me, a revelatory collection of unreleased Streisand favorites from the vault (the first of at least three promised volumes), comes A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand. Streisand, honored in February 2011 by the MusiCares organization, is feted in concert by a host of singers who serenade her with their versions of her songs.

The line-up includes Kristen Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison, Diana Krall, Lea Michelle (singing "Don't Rain On My Parade," naturally), Seal (singing "Guilty" and doing it well!), Barry Manilow, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Tony Bennett and others. At the end of the tribute concert, the Great One herself hits the stage and delivers flawless versions of "The Windmills of Your Mind" and the little-known but gorgeous "I'll Never Say Goodbye." This is a nicely paced tribute with some lovely highlights that even non-Streisand devotees will enjoy.

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


This article shared 4965 times since Wed Nov 14, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

MOVIES Siskel films include 'The Power of the Dog,' 'Flee' 2022-01-20
- The Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., has current and upcoming movie slates that include everything from older classics to current award-festival favorites. On the more contemporary side, the Jane Campion film The Power ...


Gay News

Revry's Black History Month of LGBTQ-First Films and Series celebrates Black stories 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - Los Angeles - This Black History Month, Revry is programming LGBTQ-first Black stories with themes from the differently-abled, LGBTQ athletes, activists and the lesbian, trans and the cis-gender lesbian community. Over 35% of Revry's audience is ...


Gay News

Billy Masters: Colton Underwood, Golden Globes and more 2022-01-17
- "I was not prepared to receive death threats over a fictional character's fictional relationship choices that are fictional which means not real."—A writer on the Sex and the City sequel And Just Like That describes feedback ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Music festivals, Murray Bartlett, Reese Witherspoon, author David Sedaris 2022-01-16
- Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival revealed the lineup for this year's festival, taking place June 16-19 on the Bonnaroo Farm in Manchester, Tennessee, a press release noted. Highlights will include performances by Tool, J. Cole, Stevie ...


Gay News

SAG nominees include 'Gucci,' 'Power of the Dog,' 'Squid Game' 2022-01-12
- Nominees for the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards honoring outstanding individual, cast and ensemble performances for the past year were announced Jan. 12 by actors Rosario Dawson and Vanessa Hudgens via Instagram Live, according to ...


Gay News

NBJC celebrates Mj Rodriguez on Golden Globes win 2022-01-11
—From a press release - The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) congratulates Michaela Jae "Mj" Rodriguez on earning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama during the 2022 Golden Globe Awards. Rodriguez won for her role as Blanca ...


Gay News

Billy Masters: Andy Cohen, SJP and more 2022-01-10
- The virus hit us both like a freight train. Thankfully, we were both triple vaccinated and the vaccinations did their job, which kept us out of real danger and out of the hospital… [We're] still isolating and waiting to see until we test ...


Gay News

Trans actress Rodriguez makes history at quiet Golden Globes 2022-01-10
- On Jan. 9, Michaela Jae "Mj" Rodriguez won a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV drama for her role as Blanca on the FX show Pose, according to media reports. The awards were announced on social media, as the Globes were not broadcast or live-streamed ...


Gay News

Chicago's first-ever Festival au Cinema to take place Aug. 26-28 2022-01-07
- Haven Chicago has announced its first-ever Festival au Cinema, described as "the company's new platform for visionary and innovative filmmakers and media artists staking their claim in the future of digital storytelling." Festival au Cinema will ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Jeopardy! champ, director dies, Frank Ocean 2022-01-02
- TikTok fans of LGBTQ entertainer Jojo Siwa said her new teenage girlfriend, Katie Mills, is a supporter of anti-LGBTQ Republican former President Donald Trump, per LGBTQ Nation. Mills also once questioned if transgender women are "actually" ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ The film 'Licorice Pizza,' Aaron Sorkin, WNBA player, Mariah Carey 2021-12-26
- Alana Haim, who stars in the film Licorice Pizza (now out in theaters), talked with out.com about how the movie incorporates queer representation by including unsung queer political figure Joel Wachs. "Joel Wachs was such an ...


Gay News

'Real Housewife' Julia Lemigova talks about Miami Housewives, miniature cattle 2021-12-24
- The Real Housewives of Miami finally has an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ in the main cast with Julia Lemigova. (She's the franchise's second such cast member, following The Real Housewives of Orange County's ...


Gay News

Filmmaker B. Danielle Watkins discusses her 'Higher Spirit' 2021-12-22
- Although lesbian filmmaker/screenwriter/author B. Danielle Watkins has now made two films about Christmas, she admitted she really doesn't like movies that center on the holiday. "My best friend and business partner, Onyx Keesha, loves them," Watkins ...


Gay News

MOVIES Twenty years after the premiere of 'Kevin's Room,' the film still resonates 2021-12-21
- Walking down a Chicago street in 2021, actor Keith Butler said a man recognized him from a character that he played in a film two decades ago: Kevin, from the local production Kevin's Room. "The fact ...


Gay News

Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building launches new website, ticketing for spring productions 2021-12-21
- Chicago's Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., launched its new look and a website with centralized ticketing and rental platforms that encompass all of the landmark building's spaces: artists' studios, offices, rehearsal halls and two ...


 



Copyright © 2022 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.