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: Vanity Fair and Suspect Zero
by Richard Knight, Jr.
2004-09-01

This article shared 3681 times since Wed Sep 1, 2004
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


William Thackeray's classic romance novel supreme Vanity Fair has proved irresistible to television producers of 24-part mini-series for the BBC and the like—with about a decade or so passing between tasteful adaptations—but as far as I can recall, one has to reach back to 1935 to find a big-screen version. That account, named after the novel's scheming title character, Becky Sharp, is notable today as the first movie in three-strip Technicolor, a typical over-the-top performance by Miriam Hopkins and director Rouben Mamoulian's dramatic use of the color red.

Red is also prominent in this new filming of Vanity Fair. Ringed in red curls, often dressed in the same color and at times wandering through plush red velvet rooms, Reese Witherspoon plays Becky, the artist's daughter who rises from her humble but artistic beginnings to the upper strata of society in what appears to be record time. Over the credits we hear 'She Walks In Beauty' but actually she runs—it seems that within minutes Witherspoon has scurried up that social ladder, claimed her handsome bodice ripper of a lover for a husband (and isn't Rawdon Crawley the all-time perfect character name for a British rake?) and is soon scheming to get More More More. That old star sickness again and we are not yet a half hour into the movie.

Perhaps one reason for the long lag between theatrical versions of the novel becomes apparent at this point—the episodic twists and turns in the plot and especially the character of the nearly psychopathic Becky Sharp—defy the shorter running time. This is material that needs lots of breathing room to explain the lightning changes in Becky's character. Here, Witherspoon seems to have an assortment of split personalities which change from scene to scene: first she is sweet and coquettish, next world weary, then conniving and flirtatious. But the movie doesn't take the time to explain the changes and more, why Becky cares so much for social climbing. Instead, we seem to be in the midst of a malevolent, dark flipside to the Cinderella story with more than a dash of Gone With The Wind tossed in for good measure. This pretty music box of a movie is certainly dressed up but unlike its anti-heroine, seems to be in no hurry to get anywhere.

Witherspoon's Becky does seem to be a British cousin to Scarlet O'Hara and she does an admirable job with her British accent and displays a splendid bust in the Empire-waisted gowns. She is aided by what seems to be the entire cast of Gosford Park, yet another tale of class distinction that owed much to Vanity Fair, headed by Eileen Atkins, portraying Becky's peppery benefactress (the script is also by Gosford's scribe, Julian Fellowes). Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who first came to prominence as the bisexual Brian Slade in Velvet Goldmine, plays the über-snob George Osborne with a shock of dark ostrich feathers for hair and a sneer from his pouty lips. He's just the first of many of the beautiful, poisonous people ready to trip up Becky on her way to the top.

More interesting than Becky's ultimate fate, however is why Witherspoon, after the failure of The Importance of Being Earnest, would go forward with yet another costume picture. Unlike many Dickens and Austen heroes and heroines from countless movies, Thackeray's Vanity Fair doesn't tip the balance in favor of its main character—and though the enigma that is Becky Sharp makes for a great, complex read she's not a character that easily leaps off the page. And the idea that the book's actually a disguised feminist tract that Witherspoon and director Mia Nair (following up her successful Monsoon Wedding) have suggested in interviews seems fanciful. Becky's a social psychopath who always gets what she wants.

Is that the real reason why this sumptuous but ultimately empty Faberge goose egg of a movie got made? Isn't that always the reason these movies get made? Because through some fluke of timing, talent and marketing, someone made a movie or two that broke all box office records and then had the clout to get what they wanted? Just think of the endless vanity projects suddenly bankable stars have made over the years and then think of Vanity Fair. Compared to The Wiz, The Postman, Battlefield Earth and Beloved, Witherspoon has comported herself admirably.

Like slasher films, serial killer movies have rules, too. For example, stay out of New Mexico or anywhere in the southwest. Don't go near any roadside diners, gas stations or cheap motel rooms after sunset. Avoid semi trucks at all costs. All serial killers have an artistic side and write in notebooks, scratching their feelings down with pens or charcoal markers that make a lot of noise. Many of them speak quietly and are seemingly polite until their violent side ERUPTS.

Suspect Zero is a weary combination of two serial killer flicks, Seven and Manhunter and the mixture is not particularly potent, but then at this point what serial killer flick is? As these films have piled up so have their body counts, until audiences don't bat an eye when the death toll is in the hundreds, as it is here. And why does every actor in Hollywood have a yen to play a mass murderer? The names of A-list actors in the serial killer club includes Keanu Reeves, Robin Williams, Ken Spacey, and of course, Anthony Hopkins. Ben Kingsley gets the role here, though I suspect that the second Oscar that has long eluded him will not be forthcoming for this part? One cannot forget Charlize Theron in last year's Monster as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in HER Oscar-winning role.

But that's where the fictional and the non-fictional part company—the real-life tale of Wuornos wasn't so easily shrugged off, though, thankfully, Suspect Zero is.


This article shared 3681 times since Wed Sep 1, 2004
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Haring/Ortiz mural, Jamie Lee Curtis, Billy Porter 2021-10-24
- Dancing the foxtrot alongside partner Jenna Johnson to Olivia Newton John's "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)" for Dancing with the Stars' Grease night, 18-year-old social-media star JoJo Siwa received the season's first perfec ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'Bolshoi Ballet' series to start locally Nov. 7 2021-10-21
- The "2021-2022 Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema" series is set to begin Sunday, Nov. 7 with Bolshoi Ballet: Spartacus—LIVE. Spartacus is considered a ballet tour de force, set to Aram Khachaturian's score. Bolshoi Ballet: Spartacus—LIVE is set t ...


Gay News

Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Fest names winners 2021-10-21
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois — The 39th Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival today announced the winning films from its 2021 program, which included 33 feature films and 54 short films curated in nine programs. This year's submissions ...


Gay News

'Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets' LGBTQ+ Representation in the Media' panel Nov. 4 2021-10-21
--From a press release - In recent years LGBTQ+ people have increasingly seen representations of themselves, celebrations of their lives and stories, and coverage of LGBTQ+ issues across media channels. This has led to a worldwide rise in understanding, cultural acceptance, ...


Gay News

Black Alphabet returns to host annual film festival in November 2021-10-20
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - The Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) is returning to Chicago after the pandemic forced the organization to cancel last year's event. On Nov. 5-7, BAFF will showcase 21 films and shorts about the Black queer experience ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula' 2021-10-17
- The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...


Gay News

Wizard World Comic Con returns to Chicago 2021-10-17
- After being canceled last year because of the COVID pandemic, Wizard World Comic Con Chicago returned to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Oct. 15-17—and thousands of people attended. People ranging from attendees to vendors ...


Gay News

Jury selection in Smollett trial starts Nov. 29 2021-10-15
- The Jussie Smollett saga continues. Almost three years since out actor Jussie Smollett (TV's Empire; the film Alien: Covenant) was allegedly attacked in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, Cook County Judge James ...


Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24 2021-10-15
- North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...


Gay News

MOVIES Holiday comedy short centers on Muslim family and BIPOC queer relationship 2021-10-13
- The short film The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night follows Noor, a Muslim queer woman, and her experience with bringing her Puerto Rican partner home to meet her family for the first time. When Noor's ...


Gay News

THEATER 'A Rocky Horror Picture Party' at The Den on Oct. 30-31 2021-10-12
- Haven is presenting Science Fiction / Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party—an immersive Halloween experience that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film—directed by ...


Gay News

PBS to air queer documentary 'Things We Dare Not Do' Oct. 25 2021-10-12
- American Documentary | POV announced the national broadcast premiere of Things We Dare Not Do (Cosas que no hacemos), the second feature film from Mexican director and cinematographer Bruno Santamaría, as part of POV's 34th season. ...


Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out 2021-10-09
- The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...


Gay News

MOVIES Colman Domingo to star in Bayard Rustin biopic 2021-10-09
- LGBTQ+ actor Colman Domingo—who has been in movies such as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Candyman, and TV shows ranging from Fear the Walking Dead to The Big Gay Sketch Show—has landed the lead role the ...


Gay News

Filmmakers Bennett Singer, Patrick Sammon talk new documentary Cured 2021-10-07
- Producer-directors Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon have created a new LGBTQ documentary: Cured. The film tells the story of the LGBTQ activists, allies and events surrounding the American Psychiatric Association's ...


 



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.