a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for July, 2015

Excellent Carpe Diem Guest House & Namaste Spa in Provincetown!

Our very handsome host, Hans Van Costanoble, is the great guest to this travel segment of “The Stephen Holt Show” Goes to the Provincetown International Film Festival 2o15. This is part one, and after Hans’ enticing description and the beauty of the rooms AND THE SPA, you’ll surely want to go there, too!

Camera -Phil Sokoloff

Editing-Kevin Teller


Less than ONE DAY LEFT! Only 20 hours! To help back Get Stephen Holt Show to the Toronto Film Festival 2015!

Kickstarter '15It’s only less than a day now! 20 hours or less! Left to pledge the Help Get Stephen Holt to the Toronto Film Festival Kickstarter Project!

We’re nowhere near our goal, so things aren’t looking good. So please help, if you can!

The correct link is in the blog post just below. So I’ll stop here, and thanks to Richard, Gina, Darrie, Tamara, Chris and Clement for their pledges of help, but as you know with Kickstarter if you don’t make or surpass your goal you end up with ZERO. And the pledged money is not charged to the backers. It’s not billed at all!

So go to the link below and time is surely running out! It’s not a good feeling…

Only 30 Hours Left! To Help Fund My Kickstarter Project!

Only 30 Hours Left! To Help Fund My Kickstarter Project! Watch the video! And Please Help! Time Is Running Out!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stephenholttiff13/help-stephen-holt-show-to-2015-toronto-film-festivKickstarter '15

ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT! To Help Back My Kickstarter Project!

Kickstarter '15http://http://kck.st/1TsXYDd


The temperature in New York is supposed to reach 90 degrees and above tomorrow! So I’m staying in in the air conditioning and monitoring my Kickstarter project  which is woefully far away from its’ goal.

Clearly your help is needed! Only three more days of Kickstarter left! Click on the above link and it will take you to my project! Help!

“Go Set a Watchman” a Real American Horror Story

“Go Set a Watchman” the suddenly discovered second novel of the saintly Harper Lee is disturbing, vile, truthful and a real American horror story. And you believe every single word of this Southern Gothic page turner. It’s very well written and it’s compelling. But it’s a novel that takes us inside the Ku Klux Klan in ways readers of “To Kill a Mockingbird” will find frankly disgusting.

If only they hadn’t found it! But they did and now we all have to deal with the seething, horrifying racism that it seems American literary hero Atticus Finch. or should I say FORMER hero, for he is now forever dethronedGo Set 1seems to whole-heartedly condone. Yes, a meeting of the KKK is the centerpiece of this book, the way the courthouse trial was in “Mockingbird.” And yes, they both happen in the same “sagging” court room!

Beloved characters from “Mockingbird” will never be quite so beloved anymore. “Watchman” destroys the innocence of all involved quite completely. And I feel Harper Lee meant this. REALLY meant every mean word in this shocking book. And I mean, MEAN!

You’ve loved these characters. They are people to you, and to me. And so you feel quite astonished to find there’s more to them than you ever thought. Three-dimensional is what it is. It takes great writing to make you feel so deeply. And upset you so much, when they characters(people) you thought you knew are not behaving in ways you thought they would. It’s like being at some great family quarrel, that you wish you could get out of, but you can’t. They’re your familly now too,.You’ve invested so much time and thought and love into them, you’re stuck.. You’re gripped.

Maycomb, Alabama is a hot-bed of racist issues and all kinds of human rights abuses and points of view that hopefully its’ real-life counterpart Munroeville has long ago out-grown. But here we’re smack dab in the middle of the 1950s, before the Civil Rights movement had really begun. But it WAS beginning and all the residents of Maycomb are scared out of their wits by it.

Jean Louise Finch, the now grown up Scout of “Mockingbird”, is also questioning, tacitly, her own sexuality, at least as far as fitting into the whale-bone corset of Southern womanhood, which is the marriage that awaits her. Or does it?

Running through “Watchman” is also not only the rising tide of the NAACP and the changes it will bring, but also Jean Louise’s realizations, prompted in no small part by her life in New York and her childhood friend Dill(who grew up to be Truman Capote), that she herself is more than “an eccentric”. She has a cousin, or some such, who is described as “a three dollar bill”(!) But Lee doesn’t go there. She stops with the paragraph “In New York you are your own person. You may reach out and embrace all of Manhattan in sweet aloneness, or you can go to hell if you want to.”

I wish she’d gone further with this train of thought, but she stops there.Suffice it to say, we are treated over and over again to Jean Louise’s absolute horror at having her first period, her dislike of dresses, her preference for slacks and her constant vomiting as she discovers that a) she is a woman and not a boy and b)that her beloved father, and also her fiance are card-carrying members of the KKK. Even her doting eccentric Uncle Dr. Jack turns out to be something else other than he appears to be.

So we are treated to upchuck after upchuck and indeed this whole strong novel seems to be spewn, rather than written. The world, the South, her father, her aunt, her uncle everyone makes Jean Louise sick .And I felt a bit ill at the end of it, too. And angry. It’s a polemic of the first water. A rant. Against racism, and also against heterosexuality, which the author(it was written BEFORE “Mockingbird” in the closeted ’50s.) against injustice, against male chauvinism which she encounters on every page, all of which left me with a profound distaste of Maycomb, Alabama and all its’ inhabitants, fictional or otherwise.

And this is the most difficult conclusion that Jean Louise Scout Finch has to come to, too. That she is inextricably part of it all. She was born that way and fight as she might against it all, and she DOES fight, she is stuck with this is who she is and what she has sprung from.

One only hopes that her character gets back to sweet Manhattan asap.

“Go Set a Watchman” is an important book, but it is a disturbing one, and it left me quite frankly, nauseated. But for all the right reasons.

Woody Allen Back on Top with “Irrational Man”! Oscar Nomination for Parker Posey!

Irrational Man 3Itrational Man 2Irrational Man 1I have to say, I just LOVED “Irrational Man”! Woody Allen’s latest just sent me out of the theater with wings on my heels! Woody has done it again! And not only that, it’s not just an older man/younger woman (Joaquim Phoenix/Emma Stone)love story, but something much more, well, Hitchcockian, and he’s written a humdinger of a juicy part for Queen of the Indies, Parker Posey that very well may net her her first Oscar Nomination.

This is after the literally HUNDREDS of Indie films she’s starred in, always gracing them with her funny/perceptive presence. Here she goes to town with the role of the drunken Rita, a college chemistry professor who is literally the campus tramp. throwing herself with nutty abandon at every new man on the faculty. Jill does this with Joaquim’s EXTREMELY depressed guest Philosophy  prof Abe Lucas. He is only in town( Newport, Rhode Island never looked more beautiful! Cinematography by ace Darius Khondji.)for the summer, so Jill wastes no time in snaring him. Abe resists her at first, but it’s no use. Who can resist Parker Posey when she’s in full throttle vamp mode?

She forms the unusual (for Allen) third point of a quirky love triangle. This time being an age-appropriate love object for Phoenix’s suicidal professor, who plays Russian roulette for real, and thinks nothing of it.

The students, main among them Emma Stone’s Jill, is horrified and of course attracted to him. Sparks fly and I must say both Stone and Phoenix and also Posey, have never been better.

But the story is much more than that. It’s also, to my mystery-obsessed mind a whodunit. Or suspense thriller, when Stone and Phoenix overhear a random terrible conversation in a Newport diner (pictured above ^), it prompts Phoenix to go off the deep end in a way I’m not going to spoil here. But it’s very Patricia Highsmith (yes, her again! She’s everywhere this summer!) and begins to resemble her Hitchcock movie “Strangers on a Train” as well as Hitchcock’s favorite film “Shadow of a Doubt” with a little of Highsmith’s masterpiece “The Talented Mr. Ripley” thrown in! No, I’m not kidding!

Of course, it’s also awfully funny and his three stars are all at the top of their various, varied games! And all I have to say is, don’t let anyone spoil the twists and turns of Woody’s delicious plot. It’s his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and I think will be just as successful because it’s genuinely entertaining.

After another major mis-fire “Magic in the Moonlight” and the disappointing dud”To Rome, With Love”, “Irrational Man” really is a tremendous comeback, a relief. And a joy. There’s nothing like a good Woody Allen film! When he’s good, he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad Cate Blanchett wins an Oscar..

This is all very good news for Parker Posey, and maybe Joaquim Phoneix and Emma Stone, too.

The Academy tends to nominate and award actors in this films. Especially in the Supporting Actress category. So kudos to Parker Posey and everyone else connected with this daffy, dark delight!


SH Rainbow 1

There’s only ONE WEEK LEFT to back my Kickstarter project! Here’s the link!


I hope it works! Our goal is nowhere near reached! And if you don’t make it or surpass  it, Kickstarter doesn’t give you ANY MONEY AT ALL! Them’s their rules.

And of course, I’m grateful to Kickstarter to participating for the third year in a row to host my plea, re: hotel and travel funds to get to the Toronto Film Festival. Me and a cameraman. So all expenses are times two.

Thanks to Richard, Joshua, Chris and Gina for their support so far! But we need many,many more people, it seems.

Fingers crossed! Just trying to keep “The Stephen Holt Show” a viable contender in the TV world. Which has not been easy on a budget of zip, as I’m sure you all are aware of by this time and which I make crystal clear in the accompanying video.

So please, I wouldn’t be asking, if I didn’t need it! I”m just trying to keep you readers entertained and informed on the best in film, independent, foreign, GLBTQ, Oscar-worthy cinema, which is getting scarcer and scarcer by the year! It’s like a filmic global warming! The tide of dreck is rising!

And I’m one of the few who is trying to stop the world of film from being taken over my comic book heroes and such. These are the adult, serious films that you, as well as I love. Or you wouldn’t still be reading this!


Cate Blanchett to Go Lead for “Carol,” Rooney Mara in Supporting, Despite Her Cannes Win

Rooney Carol 1Cate Carol 1In a surprise to no one, especially me, since I predicted this would happen way back after Cannes, Cate the Great Blanchett is going to be campaigned in lead for “Carol” by the ever sharp Weinstein Co. when it is released into Oscar season.

This is though Rooney Mara, who many claim is the REAL lead and who won Best Actress(lead) in Cannes this spring. But Harvey (Weinstein) knows what he’s doing when it comes to Oscars. No one does it better and if he puts Rooney in Supporting, it means he thinks she can WIN in Supporting, and sight unseen, I think he’s probably right.

Rooney Mara has already been nominated for Best Actress for her starring role (and yes, it was the title role)”Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” so the Academy knows her, and likes her.

“Carol” is based on the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt.” Highsmith is one of my favorite writers. She wrote “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” And now comes the lesbian story she was never allowed to publish in her lifetime.

Yes, once again, I think Harvey knows what he is doing. He’s got that je ne sais quoi with the Oscars that he didn’t have with the new-to-him Tonys this year with “Finding Neverland” which got a big goose-egg from the critics and the Tony voters. We at the Drama Desks DID nominate Matthew Morrison, however, for Best Actor in a Musical. He lost to Robert Fairchild for “An American in Paris.”

And y’know what? Rooney Mara could win in the Supporting category.You heard it here first!

This also clears the way for Saiorse Ronan’s shot at Best Actress for Weinstein’s other femme-centric film “Brooklyn” coming soon to a theater near you!

Roger Rees, a Great Actor & a Great, Out Gay Man Passes

Roger Rees 1I’m shocked and saddened to report the passing of the great British actor, Roger Rees. He was also a great out gay man. MAY 5, 1944 – JULY 10, 2015

I just saw him only recently on Broadway in “The Visit” and he was playing the man Chita Rivera’s Claire Zachanassian, the richest woman in the world had come back to their hometown in the German/Swiss Alps to kill. The plot is she buys the townspeople’s co-operation to kill him, because he rejected her years ago when they were both young and in love.

Rees made that role believable and you felt for his plight. Grizzled and worn, he was nowhere near the young, handsome Nicholas Nickleby, which is where I first saw him on Broadway)see above^). You worried about his frail character’s health in “The Visit” He seemed like a ghost already. So I was not surprised when I heard that he had left the show even before its’ precipitous closing right after the Tonys. And now, he’s suddenly gone.

He was dazzling as the young Nickleby, the absolute paragon of a Dickens hero.

I remember so well, Ian McKellen, now Sir Ian, telling me in the cafe of  the Circle, a Fringe Theater stronghold in  London’s South bank area, in the ’70s. He said, “I’ve just seen one of the most wonderful plays I’ve ever seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company!” I asked him what it was. And he said “Nicholas Nickleby!” and I could hardly believe him. An unwieldy, secondary Dickens novel turned successfully into a stage play? I didn’t see it, although the critics and the crowds were raving.I didn’t see it until it came to Broadway and I myself has also moved back to America, but yes, it was true.

“Nicholas Nickleby” with a bare stage and only the costumed actors playing everything, including a stage-coach, was absolutely what McKellen said it was. And Roger was its’ handsome star. Rees had a very rich, varied career ever since that memorable launch.

I’ve followed his career with interest ever since. And was very proud of him when he came out as a gay man.

My sincere condolences to his surviving partner, friends and family.


Tonight at 9pm on PBS! Don’t Miss “Hey Boo”! All About Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird” & “Go Set a Watchman!”

To Killl a Mockingbird 1 A great treat is in store for you all dear readers, dear cineastes! Tonight at 9pm don’t miss, PLEASE don’t miss the great, straightforward, truth-telling doc “Hey Boo” on enigmatic Southern author Harper Lee. She, of course, is the Pulitzer Prize Winning novelist of only ONE great, classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird”. But now she is once again at age 89(!) the center of controversy as her just discovered SECOND novel(or is it her first?) is being published next week.

This great documentary which was released theatrically last year and which I raved about then (Search my blog and read even MORE about it!),has now been re-edited to include the exciting news about the dramatic discovery of “Go Set a Watchman.”

And “Hey Boo” settles once and for all that the indomitable Ms. Lee still has “all her marbles” and that she is not senile, though she lives in an assisted living facility, and is very pleased that “Go Set a Watchman” is FINALLY seeing the light of day. She thought it was lost. But it was found. Only last year. And publisher Harper Collins has literally rushed it on to bookstore shelves as fast as humanly possible. Reese Witherspoon, who is Southern herself, did the Audiobook for “Watchman” and avers that it is worthwhile, though admits she was “shocked by a lot of “the words that were used” in the novel, set in same town, Macon, in the 1950’s and dealing with the same characters Scout who is now a grown-up Marie-Louise and her famous lawyer father Atticus Finch. That was the role that won Gregory Peck his only Oscar. And it deals with the same themes, small Southern towns and racism.  I can’t praise its’ achievements highly enough! As I said above, don’t miss it! I’ll be watching it for a third time tonight!

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