Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Knight at the Movies: Two Faces; This Is Where...; Devil's Door; Innocents
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

This article shared 11 times since Wed Sep 24, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

      More Photos

Movie-wise, we're in that pocket between summer blockbusters and meaty awards contenders—that time of year when most of the movies are "medium" rather than "good" or "bad." And even with audiences finding new ways to watch movies, sidestepping the Cineplex altogether, the majority of what they're being offered—whether it be in theaters, On Demand, at a streaming site or on Blu-ray—in this time period still seems to fall into the also-ran category. Here are four cases in point—well, three sorta goods and one classic.

In person, the late bisexual mystery writer Patricia Highsmith was, by most accounts, a nasty person one should avoid at all costs but, on paper, to read Highsmith is to fall hard for her. The flinty, evocative prose welded to her sensual ( and very sexual ) subtext—lots and lots of it gay—are just one of the pleasures to be counted on in Highsmith's novels. It's little wonder that Strangers On a Train and the Tom Ripley novels ( with The Talented Mr. Ripley being the most famous ) are esteemed classics. One of her lesser-known thrillers, The Two Faces of January, has now been given a very fetching screen adaptation.

Helmed by Hossein Amini—the screenwriter of Drive and The Wings of a Dove who is making his directorial debut�—the film focuses on a wealthy and dazzlingly beautiful couple: Chester MacFarland and his much-younger wife, Collette ( Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst ), who are vacationing in Greece in the summer of 1962. They are spotted by Rydel ( Oscar Isaac ), a handsome American expat who makes a living as a tour guide, glomming onto pretty young heiresses, hoping for a big score. Rydel figures the McFarlands to be his latest pigeons but soon learns, at least as far as Chester's concerned, that he's in way over his head.

Greed outweighing his good judgment, Rydel helps Chester cover up a man he has accidentally killed over a money dispute—but how accidental? As the trio flees across the Greek islands and on to Istanbul, the tension ratchets up, along with the underlying sexual implications. Although the plot is a bit straightforward and could have used a couple more twists, The Two Faces of January is nonetheless stylish, cinematically lush and well-acted by its gorgeous three leads. This is a more-than-satisfying mystery thriller filled with plenty of the patented acrid Highsmith touches.

This Is Where I Leave You, which has been in theaters for a week, is an all-star dysfunctional family variation on August: Osage County and many other movies of this ilk. Jane Fonda is the sexed-up mother who insists her adult children and their significant others, returning home for their father's funeral, live under one roof for the seven days of shiva that follow.

During the week, naturally, secrets are uncovered, old wounds are brought to the surface and life lessons are learned. This being a comedic spin, the movie, with Shawn Levy ( Night at the Museum 2, Cheaper By the Dozen 2 ) directing with the blandness that has come to be his stock in trade, includes a "hilarious" pot-smoking scene, repeated sight gags centered on Fonda's enormous breasts, her grandkid's morning poop sessions and a last-minute gay twist that feels as contrived as the rest of Jonathan Tropper's script ( based on his best-selling novel ).

Jason Bateman and Tina Fey are the two siblings at the center of the movie with Adam Driver ( from TV's Girls ) as the younger and truly obnoxious, spoiled younger brother, with Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Timothy Olyphant, et al., in the lineup. The knockout cast does wonders with the predictable characters and situations but, in doing so, constantly make one yearn for worthy material. This Is Where I Leave You deserves to get left behind.

Budding horror-meister Nicholas McCarthy, who broke through with 2012's The Pact, now writes and directs At the Devil's Door ( available On Demand, various streaming sites and playing at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on Friday, Sept. 26 ). A young real-estate agent named Leigh ( Catalina Sandino Moreno ) stops by her new listing and stumbles upon some rather odd things in the empty house. Suddenly, the daughter of the owners appears out of nowhere and just as quickly disappears when Leigh tries to get her story.

As we quickly learn, it's a much more sinister figure. Is it a teenage girl who committed suicide in 1987—or was it actually a satanic spirit possessing the girl that murdered her? Now that same malevolent spirit is after Leigh and her sister Vera ( Glee's Naya Rivera ) and nothing, it seems, can stop it. Juxtaposing the young teen's story in 1987 with the current plight of the two sisters, McCarthy pours on a lot of the familiar psychological horror tropes and the film definitely has … something creepy going for it. With all of these elements in place it would seem that we'd be in for a bloody good time; however, McCarthy's marvelously unnerving set pieces are in service to a headscratcher of a story that never coagulates.

McCarthy and all other students of the psychological horror film should immediately get their hands on the new Criterion Collection's edition of Jack Clayton's The Innocents, which is just out on Blu-ray. Clayton's 1961 adaptation of the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw used the play based on it ( by William Archibald ) as his primary source, and gay icon Truman Capote wrote most of it. The Innocents is that rare ghost story that fires on all cylinders: It's tremendously acted, sensationally photographed in deep-focus black and white by Freddie Francis ( in CinemaScope, no less ), sumptuously produced and, best, genuinely frightening.

Deborah Kerr ( in her greatest screen performance ) plays the inexperienced governess who finds herself in charge of a young brother and sister, the niece and nephew of a fabulously wealthy man who has left them to their own devices on his enormous estate in the English countryside during the Victorian era. The governess soon suspects that the previous caretakers for her young charges—who seem rather adult in manner—are haunting the estate, trying to use the children for their own insidious purposes. Repressed and filled with moral indignation, the governess attempts to gain control of the situation and her young charges before it is too late. Not only does the Criterion's new Blu-ray edition look sensational but the fascinating psychological underpinnings in the script added by Capote and other little known details offered up by cultural historian Christopher Frayling in the supplements and audio commentary are reason enough for an upgrade. This edition of The Innocents is a great way to kick off the Halloween movie season.

Film notes:

—Samuel L. Jackson, Kim Cattrall, Billy Joel and Eve Ensler are among the mega-achievers profiled in The Boomer List—the latest "list" documentary from filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders—which focuses on 19 baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Well-known queer baby boomers Rosie O'Donnell, Dave LaChappelle and AIDS activist Peter Staley ( profiled in this issue of WCT ) are also included. The film is playing on PBS throughout the month. The DVD version and a coffee-table book tie-in are both arriving Oct. 1.

—The 32nd edition of Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival has been going on since last week and continues tonight with two exceptional screenings the Queer Film Society is sponsoring: Lilting, starring out actor Ben Whishaw, and Drunktown's Finest, a transgender drama Robert Redford is executive-producing—scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., respectively. The fest closes tomorrow night, Thursday, Sept. 25, with the queer-themed Blackbird, starring Mo'Nique and Isaiah Washington. All screenings take place at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark St.

Now available: The Best of Knight at the Movies: 2004-2014—a compilation book of more than 150 of my film reviews from a queer perspective for Windy City Times—is now available.

This article shared 11 times since Wed Sep 24, 2014
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.


Gay News

SHOWBIZ LGBTQ movies, 'Color Purple,' Nick Jonas, gay coach
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!
--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
--From a 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

'Mombian Database' released
Mombian columnist Dana Rudolph has released the Mombian Database of LGBTQ Family Books, Media, and More, with more than 500 books, music albums, movies, games and toys for and about LGBTQ families. The site offers multiple ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Laverne Cox, lesbian coach, Jim Parsons, 'Brokeback,' theater items
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, noted. Sell/Buy/Date ...

Gay News

Billy Masters
"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'
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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 ...


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.








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.