Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The 2017 Outfest Los Angeles Film Festival is set to begin it's thirty-fifth year of showcasing cinema highlighting stories involving the LGBTQ communities. The eleven day event is set to begin on July 6th with screenings to be held at the Theatre at The Ace Hotel, Orpheum Theatre, Harmony Gold, Redcat and the Directors Guild of America.
The Opening Night Gala will be "God's Own Country", the first feature from filmmaker, Francis Lee. This highly-praised drama was proclaimed to be a British "Brokeback Mountain" when it premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Fest (and won the World Cinema Directing prize). A stressed out farm worker (Josh O'Connor) feels his life is passing him by. Spending his off-duty hours drunk and engaged in unfulfilling hook-ups, his life changes when a Romanian migrant (Alec Secareanu) arrives to help on the farm.
The 2017 Outfest Achievement Award goes to visionary television creator, Bryan Fuller. He is the innovative talent behind bringing offbeat programming to the small screen like "Hannibal", "Pushing Daisies", "Dead Like Me" and the recent, "American Gods" with a determination to make sure that they feature fascinating LGBTQ characters. Mr. Fuller will be presented the award before the Opening Night Gala screening at the Orpheum Theatre on July 6th.
Some of the Special Centerpiece screenings include the documentary, "Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast In Me" about the life and career of the late celebrity make-up artist. Another doc, "Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall" which focuses on Hall, a singer, dancer and YouTube sensation and a look at the creation of his latest project, a "Wizard of Oz" inspired musical based on his life. The U.S. Centerpiece is "Strangers", a digital comedy series from Mia Lidofsky and Celia Rowlson-Hall. Zoe Chao stars as a newly single woman who decides to rent out her spare room in order not to lose her home. Each episode deals with a revolving door of colorful renters and how they offer her a new way to view the world.
The Closing Night Gala will be activist, producer and long-time partner of musician, Sting, Trudie Styler's directorial feature debut, "Freak Show". Based on a novel by James St. James, Billy (Alex Lawther) is encouraged to be free-spirited and fabulous by his open-minded mother (Bette Midler). But after he's sent to live with his father in a conservative neighborhood, the teenager struggles to be himself. Billy bands together with a group of misfits at his new school to take on the bullies. Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb and Laverne Cox also star.
There will also be several short film programs, a panel with the female directors involved in the television series, "Queen Sugar", a sneak-peek of the fourth season of "Transparent", a live reading of the Screenwriting Lab entries which celebrates it's 20th anniversary, a panel on virtual reality storytelling, a comedy special from the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8, Bob the Drag Queen and screenings of the Outfest UCLA Legacy restoration projects, "Beautiful Thing" (1996) and "Chasing Amy" (1997).
For the complete list of films, tickets and additional information, please click below:
Outfest Los Angeles 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
In honor of pride this month, Out magazine has complied a list of twenty-five of the most important, groundbreaking and influential films featuring stories about the LGBTQ communities. Some of the films selected range from "Un chant d'amour", a 1950 silent short from French novelist, Jean Genet; "Querelle", based on a story by Genet and the last feature from German bad boy, Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Marlon Riggs' meditative 1989 semi-documentary on black gay identity, "Tongues Untied"; "The Birdcage", the delightful American version of "La Cage aux Folles"; and the obvious selections of "Brokeback Mountain", "Paris is Burning", "Carol" and the 2016 Best Picture Oscar winner, "Moonlight". These are all amazing films and you should make it your mission to see each one.
Click below to read:
Pride on Screen: 25 Essential Queer Films
Friday, June 16, 2017
It's only been seventeen years in to the 21st century, so it seems like a perfect time to evaluate the best films so far. Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, chief film critics of the New York Times, have taken a look back and selected their picks for the best films so far this century. Their list is certainly interesting with an eclectic selection of cinema with films ranging from Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 drama, "There Will Be Blood" which sits at the top of the list to "Boyhood", "Inside Out", "The 40 Year Old Virgin", and Best Picture Oscar winners, "Million Dollar Baby", "The Hurt Locker" and last year's "Moonlight". I've seen seventeen of the films chosen and while I agree with a large number, I 'm less enamored about a few of the others like "Mad Max: Fury Road" and the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis".
Click below to read:
The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century
The Times also enlisted six prominent filmmakers; Antoine Fuqua ("The Magnificent Seven"), Sofia Coppola ("The Beguiled"), Paul Feig ("Ghostbusters"), Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival"), Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") and Alex Gibney ("Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief") to add their picks of their favorite films from this century.
Six Directors Pick Their Favorite Films of the 21st Century
And finally, I decided I might as well add my two cents. So here is my selection of the twenty-five best films from this century (and they are in alphabetical order since it would be much too difficult to rank them in order of preference):
"20 Feet From Stardom" (2013)
"The Artist" (2011)
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (2012)
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000)
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)
"Ex Machina" (2015)
"I Am Not Your Negro" (2017)
"The Incredibles" (2004)
"Mulholland Dr" (2001)
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (2006)
"The Pianist" (2002)
"Requiem For a Dream" (2000)
"A Single Man" (2009)
"Talk to Her" (2002)
"There Will Be Blood" (2007)
"United 93" (2006)
"The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013)
"Y Tu Mamá También" (2002)
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Diane Keaton became the 45th recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 8th. This is a well-deserved and long-overdue honor for this delightfully eccentric, seventy-one year old actress. While she was first noticed for her dramatic work in "The Godfather", it was her distinctive gift for comedy that made Keaton a star. Woody Allen recognized her talent instantly and took full advantage by casting her in his early films as a director. Their successful collaboration eventually cumulated with her winning an Oscar for her exceptional comedic performance in his 1977 Best Picture winner, "Annie Hall".
The Hollywood Reporter has gone back to examine her work in cinema over the last five decades and have selected what they consider are the five best performances by Diane Keaton.
Click below to read:
A Closer Look at Diane Keaton's Career
The AFI Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Diane Keaton will be broadcast on June 15th on TNT and an encore presentation will be shown on Turner Classic Movies on July 31st with a night of programming dedicated to her work.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
The LA Film Festival, which brings intriguing new independent cinema from across the globe to the city, is set to begin on June 14th through 22nd. The Arclight Cinemas Culver City is the official host venue of the fest with select screenings also to be held at Bing Theater at LACMA, Kirk Douglas Theatre, The Theatre at Ace Hotel and Arclight Cinemas Hollywood and Santa Monica.
"The Book of Henry", the latest from director Colin Trevorrow who returns to his indie-roots after making the Hollywood blockbusters, "Jurassic World" and "Star Wars: Episode IX", has been selected as the Opening Night film. Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), a mature 11-year-old living with single mother, Susan (Naomi Watts) and younger brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay from "Room"), who develops a crush on his new neighbor (Maddie Zeigler, best known as the young dancer in the Sia music videos). He realizes something is wrong in her home life and devises a plan to rescue her.
Closing the fest will be "Ingrid Goes West", a social satire from co-writer and director, Matt Spicer. Aubrey Plaza plays Ingrid, a mentally unbalanced young woman who is obsessed with an online beauty and lifestyle star (Elizabeth Olsen) and does everything she can to become part of her inner circle.
In between, there will be 37 world-premiere titles, two international premieres, nine North American premieres, 51 short films, 15 Future Filmmaker High School shorts and nine web series episodes that will be shown. Special screenings include a Sofia Coppola double feature with her latest, "The Beguiled" and her 2003 breakout film, "Lost in Translation" with the director on hand for a Q & A. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, stars of the hit series, "Portlandia", will discuss their favorite moments from the show and spill a little about the upcoming final season. And director Ava DuVernay will be part of a panel that will present a sneak peek of the second season of her drama series, "Queen Sugar" and discuss the program.
For the complete list of films, purchase tickets and additional information, please click below:
2017 LA Film Fest
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Directed by Seth Gordon
Where & When: Springdale Cinema De Lux 18, Cincinnati, OH, May 30, 2017 4:15 PM
"Baywatch" is the latest in a long (mostly tragic) line of bringing popular television programs of yore to the big screen. I must admit I've never watched a complete episode but I was aware of this campy show that focused on the relationships between sexy, LA lifeguards who patrol the beaches saving lives from the many dangers that lurk there; sharks, murderers, surfer gangs and occasionally preventing someone from drowning. With very little attention paid to thoughtful development and execution, this banal spoof makes the TV show seem sharp and tasteful.
Dwayne Johnson has taken over in a variation of the role that David Hasselhoff played on the series as Lt. Mitch Buchannon, a beloved lifeguard who has saved hundreds of lives on the beaches of Florida. With his second-in-command, Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and veteran crew-member, C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach) by his side, they work together to keep people safe from harm.
In search of new lifeguards, tryouts are held and Ronnie (Jon Bass), a sweet, doughy nerd, dreams of being a hero of the beach like Mitch and getting to work closely with the beautiful C.J. who leaves him completely tongue-tied. All recruits must pass a rigorous physical test to be selected but Matt Brody (Zac Efron) rides in on his motorcycle informing Mitch that his boss, Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel) said he already has a position on the team. This won't fly with Mitch and doesn't care that the cocky but dim, Brody is a former Olympic swimmer. But Brody went from hero to zero after a race he swam hungover, earning him the nickname, "the Vomit Comet"
It's not much of a surprise that there is tension and rivalry between Mitch and Brody with the veteran lifeguard proving that the two-time, gold-metal winning Olympian is not the natural, all-around athlete as he claims. But Mitch decides to give him a chance along with Ronnie and Summer (Alexandra Daddario), a pretty surfer that has caught Brody's eye, in the training program.
Drugs wash up on shore and businesswoman Victoria Leeds (played by Priyanka Chopra with expert cartoon villainy) is running them out of her chic country club. So it's up to Mitch and his team to stop her and save the community.
What is most surprising about "Baywatch" is that the story and script had six people involved in it's creation yet the outcome remains shockingly messy and tedious. The lame jokes sink and the CGI-heavy action sequences are waterlogged. After previously helming the middling films, "Four Christmases", "Identity Thief" and "Horrible Bosses", the direction here by Seth Gordon continues his trend of lazy, scattershot work.
Let's keep it real; nobody really watched this show to see David Hasselhoff running around the beach to save the day. It was all about the shapely Pamela Anderson in her skimpy red swimsuit delivering a wooden performance as C.J. that had viewers tuning in to "Baywatch". Another surprise with this film is that the female lifeguards, while quite lovely , are bland and unmemorable. So in a turn for equal sexism, this version of "Baywatch" is all about ogling the buff bodies of our male leads. With an immense charm that's just as powerful as his bulging biceps, Mr. Johnson brings his reliably easy-going vibe that's much needed yet it's not enough to keep this afloat. Beyond flaunting his admittedly impressive abs, Mr Efron's main purpose here is to be the butt of numerous jokes and gags. Some of the indignities he suffers through involves him touching a corpse's penis, having the rotting bodily fluids of another dead body drip in to his mouth and sadly parading around in unconvincing drag.
"Baywatch" tries to impress like a suntanned, muscular body ripped on steroids but all it will leave you feeling is like somebody just kicked sand in your face.