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Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Cher Saves “Mamma Mia 2,” but It’s Hard to Resist


When Cher, yes, CHER, enters in the Final Act of “Mamma Mia 2,” she saves the film, and yes, kicks it upstairs into Gay Heaven, or at any rate, Camp Heaven with a good, swift  stilletto-heeled sureness, only a stage and screen legend like Cher could provide. Pow! All the dullness and wishy-washiness of her young co-stars vanished, and NOW we were in the midst of a glorious fun-filled summer musical romp. She was so good, I immediately re-wrote my mind’s middling review and began raving like a teenaged fan-girl. Which let’s face it, is a cheery place to be in these troubled times. I guess I ended up loving it, and wanting to see it again. No, really.
In spite of all good sense, I found myself totally abandoning myself to its epic silliness. And why not? I always loved ABBA as a guilty pleasure. Those original, now classic, tunes got me through some very dark times when I was a house-cleaner in London in the ’80s. I was trying to get my plays done and become a right, proper British actor in the grand tradition. And it was tough. But ABBA was so uplifting, it made me forget all the charring.

I was a “Super Trooper”, and now Cher is a Super Trooper, too. In fact, she climaxes this barely organized mish-mash with that song, as well as her much heralded “Fernando” duet. As she and Andy Garcia(yes, ANDY GARCIA!) tango and sing their hearts out, both Senior Citizens now, as fire-works explode behind them, like it was 1968. Or ’86. Or one of those years, or decades that Cher’s career spans and she’s still singing! She’s a goddess for the ages. And FINALLY makes up for Meryl Streep not being in this movie except as a ghost.

You see, “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again” does not really have a center to it, until Cher appears at the end like the Deus Ex Machina that she is. “Here We Go Again” flips back and forth in time between two stories, both starring lovely young blondes, Amanda Seyfried and Downtown Abbey’s Lily James. They both have to carry half the film each.

It seems Meryl’s character has died a year before “Mamma Mia 2” starts and her cinematic daughter Sophie (Seyfried) has to carry on without her, trying to re-build her mother’s dream of a turning their Greek island into a perfect Aegean guest house. Meanwhile, the film flashes back in time to the ’70s, when Donna (Lily James) was a wild young thing cavorting all over the continent, shagging everybody in sight.

Thus explaining (or trying to) how three different men could have potentially been the father of the single Mom Meryl’s child. As played by a trio of young hunks, notably “War Horse”s Jeremy Irvine (who grows up to be Pierce Brosnan). They make the case quite clearly how and why the young Donna/Meryl couldn’t keep her hands off all of them, one after the other, in rapid succession.

I would say Josh Dylan, who is making his big screen debut here as the young yachtsman that one day would become Stellan Skarsgard, has the best chiseled bod. British actor Hugh Skinner, who plays the young Colin Firth, doesn’t really get enough foreshadowing that his character is in later life going to be gay. An interesting opportunity missed.

Though Firth does camp up a storm in his own reserved way as his grown up self, and Christine Baranski (and Julie Waters) are back supplying even more camp (as if this film needed it).Which goes to prove something I’ve always felt. There can never be too much of a muchness. Or too much camp. Camp makes you happy. And so will “Mamma Mia 2.”

And last but not least, the young British hunk of hunks Dominic Cooper is back again as Sky, Donna (Seyfried)’s hotter than hot love interest. Dominic was one of the many stars of my year’s Best Film of that year “My Week with Marilyn” playing Milton Green, Marilyn Monroe’s ex-lover and now exasperated agent. He was also one of the original “History Boys” on Broadway and in film, and has been on “The Stephen Holt Show” more times than just about any one else (in this movie).And he used to date Cher! He just told Stephen Colbert. So it must be true!

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Come Ride Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Wonderful, Rousing Revival of “Carousel” on Bway!

 

“Come ride away with me! And I will take you to heights you never dreamed of! ” beckons the plaintive/beautiful “Carousel Waltz” that opens Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic “Carousel” now being magnificently revived on Broadway, directed masterfully by Jack O’Brien. It stars, as the star-crossed lovers Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful”) and Joshua Henry(“The Scottsboro Boys”).

And “Carousel” is sounding more blissfully like an opera than ever. with the largest, most opulently orchestrated orchestra (with a harp even!) I’ve ever heard on Broadway! Orchestrations by the great Jonathan Tunick and Musical Supervision by Andy Einhorn.

The legendary lyric soprano Renee Fleming is on hand, too. To make the point even more clearly that Rodgers and Hammerstein meant to break your broken heart even further with a celestial, moving “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

You can’t miss this one! All you musical  theatre romantics out there!. It will make you cry from the first chords of the wordless, long, lush overture that opens with the “Carousel Waltz ” as Santo Loquasto’s glittering cup-cake-like tiara of a shimmering crown descends to represent the top of this dizzying merry-go round, as Tony-winning choreographer, Justin Peck keeps his dancers flying, spinning through the air. You MUST ride their joyous Carousel with all these wonderful artists on it! It’s a joy ride of a revival that surprises and startles and blows you away over and over again. especially musically. Particularly if you think this is an over-familiar chestnut of a  score that has no surprises left to find. You’ll never be able to forget the sounds this magical musical makes..


As perfectly classical as this “Carousel” is in every respect, it is breaking ground thoroughly too with its casting of African-American Joshua Henry, who proves beyond a doubt that he is one of the best great baritones Broadway now has, but that also director Jack O’Brien’s color-blind casting gives this masterpiece even more depth and timeliness that it’s ever had.

Joshua Henry’s reluctant wooing of white Jessie Mueller seems a perfect match, and gives credence to the other small town New Englanders giving vent to their small-town New England prejudicial warnings to Julie Jordan(Mueller). Their constant put-downs of Billy Bigelow(Henry) now seems justified from the 19th century point of view. It reminds us that their admonishments of an inter-racial romance’s “ending will be sad” prove true  as the (spoiler alert) Second Act turns tragic.

Billy never thinks he’s good enough for Julie and events bare him out.

Joshua Henry brings down the house with a rage-full “Soliloquy,” turning it more powerfully dark than I’ve ever remembered it. When he sings he doesn’t want his unborn daughter “to be dragged up in slums with a lot of bums like me,” it is coming from a place of pain that Rodgers and Hammerstein never envisioned.

And Jessie Mueller is a revelation too, singing in a sweet coloratura soprano that we’ve never heard her use before. She’s always been a Broadway belting baby utilizing her killer voice in the lower veiled registers. She now shows that her vocal and emotional range is limitless. She also doesn’t shy away from the passion Julie is feeling that propels her to Billy. “What’s the Use of Wond’ring” which is often just a throw away, here becomes a life lesson. 

It is foreshadowing as she is joined in its sad, resigned tones as Mueller proves to be a true relation of Renee Fleming, who joins her in the song and agrees with her. And then on Billy’s horrifying death, a bloody one this time, when Fleming tells Mueller over Billy’s dying body “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” she shakes the heavens as well as the rafters with the celestial perfection of her legendarily, thrilling voice.

My only disappointment, and it was a big one, was that Tony Winner Lindsey Mendes was out the night I saw it. She was replaced by a very bland, super-white, uptight college girl, which is not what Carrie Pipperidge’s character is supposed to be at all. I disliked her so much I won’t even mention her name.

And SHE won the Tony? In THAT part? Ms. Mendes must’ve been terrific, because the massive achievements of Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller and Renee Fleming were world-class, unforgettable.

The excited audience applauded everything. The opening carousel appearance, and stopped almost every single number with rounds of applause also, WITHIN the song. I’ve never seen anything like it.

And last but not lost, Method Actress Margaret Colin proves that tasty, tacky, businesswoman/owner of the carousel, Mrs. Mullins demands and commands every single second of her stage time. She makes one wish she had more to do and even makes you think that SHE should have had a rousing song, too. I’ve never seen a “Carousel” with such a strong Mrs.Mullins. In Ann Roth’s flouncy, bouncy costumes, Colin’s virago becomes a diva.

I could see this “Carousel” over and over and over again, and I can’t wait til the next time I do!

There’s Hardly Any Time Left Now! Trying to Save My Early Plays, TV shows


This logo pic was taken in 2009 on the rooftops of Provincetown.Boy, do I miss P-town! I wasn’t able to go again this year because this situation described below with my storage room has been happening and now as the days dwindle down, I grow more and more in despair that my life, well my early life, as a young gay playwright will be lost. I never thought this would happen to me. It’s like being cut-in-two. 

Here’s a link to my GoFundMe page ~ https://www.gofundme.com/save-my-early-plays-amp-tv-shows

I’ve paid all along every month since I had to move into there in 1996 when the rent was considerably lower than the $427 a month that it is now. And I still continue to pay it, but there was always a late fee accrued which they are now demanding and it’s 1500 and they want the whole amount. All my writings and early TV shows(1988 to 1996 are in there.

 

My writing dates back to the ’60’s when I started keeping a diary, which is also in there and my journals from the Warhol years and the many, many tapes I made about Candy Darling. Talking to hundreds of people after she died for a book that still has yet to be written (by me). A chronicle of the Warhol years, my life as a drag queen. Letters from when I acted with Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company, then went to try to be an actor and playwright in London for three and a half years. All this will be lost…

Please help.

A Comedy About Prostate “Milking” & Testicular Cancer?

An Indie comedy about Testicular Cancer? Immediately you want to barf. And “Funeral Day” does kind of make you feel that way until the third act, as they say, of the movie. It’s short 79 mins. but it feels like forever, until it finally gets going at the end. Jon Weinberg is the writer/producer/director/ star and his self-absorption as the hypochondriacal Scott is staggering. He makes everyone around him suffer, especially the audience. The film gets its “quirky” title from the sad fact that this loser we’re supposed to identify with won’t even attend a late friend’s funeral. So he spends the five hours, he calculates, that it would take to attend this event, by running around Hollywood trying to”find himself.” Have you thrown up yet? I can’t believe I kept watching this thing.

“Funeral Day” moves fast, as fast as our hapless protagonist, runs around L.A. From quaint/dull location to location, he sprints, but is never out of breath, because he has no car. This is supposed to make us like him? Not very much. And Weinberg isn’t cute enough or charismatic enough to pull this ridiculously unsympathetic loser of a character off, if anybody even could.

Oh! And if ever a film was in the closet, it’s “Funeral Day.” The plot really gets going in the last third of the film, when he has a friend examine his scrotal area. He thinks he has cancer. He feels a lump. And he asks his stoner friend “Feel my nuts.” This is followed by a verbal description, (no visuals, please!) were his “cock-toid area”(is that even a medical phrase?)is described ad nauseum, and well as his pubic “forest.” I began to think that this film was going to be about coming out, but no. Our hero stays in the closet.

I can’t think of another film where the words “cock,” “nuts” and “balls” is more frequently used. And not in a sexy way. And then the penultimate scene involves him encountering a hetero couple in a park, who immediately diagnose his problem as “You need your prostrate milked.” (?!?) And they do.That this scene is the high-point of the movie, and actually was funny, redeemed “Funeral Day” from being, er, a complete, real funeral.

We don’t see anything, except that yes, Our Hero is pretty summarily in bed at home with the couple (a very game Jed Rees and Kristin Carey, pictured above). His ass is in the air(but demurely covered by the bed clothes and the camera angles) and yes, Rees inserts three fingers into Weinberg’s anus, while  he fondles Ms. Carey’s large breasts. And yes, they do bring him off. And if that isn’t gay, what is?

Turns out that the obliging couple are both doctors, and insist that he see another doctor(presumably a “real” doctor immediately. And in the end, well, I guess I shouldn’t spoil the tiny little surprise that comes at the finale and tries to subvert all the bad writing and acting that has gone before. But it’s not enough. Prostate milking ends up being sold as something everyone should experience. And most gays do on a daily basis. Please. If author/director/producer/star Jon Weinberg wants so badly to be anally penetrated, will somebody please give him directions to the next gay bar?? If “Funeral Day” was a gay film, made by gays, about discovering the joys of anal sex, it might have been a riot. But as it’s made by dull straights…well…it just stays dully in the closet.

 

And Still More SAG Live Blogging!Gary Oldman Wins ~Again!

Once again, the same performer wins the SAG award as has one the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice, Gary Oldman, for his incredibly distinguished Winston Churchhill in the Darkest Hour. This is all feeling a bit been there done that this year. Now, more so than ever. But Oldman’s was a truly transformative and amazingly accurate portrayal of the great British Statesman, who it is said saved the world from Hitler.

My SAG 2018 Predictions

After much consideration, and I’m trying to be as simple as I can be, I think the key to this year’s SAG Awards predictions is as plain as the nose on my face. Or as plain as the nose on anyone’s face in Ebbing,Missouri. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is going to sweep and win all four of the categories it’s nominated for. The overwhelming performance of an angry, but not tear-stained, grieving mother Mildred will win Frances McDormand her second SAG award. The fierceness of her unforgiving fury will translate into universal acclaim  as she has already received., at 60, the Golden Globe for Best Actress Drama and the same at the Critics’ Choice Awards.And her co-star Sam Rockwell, as the confused small-town policeman, Deputy Dixon, who tries to help her solve the  seemingly unsolvable mystery of her daughter’s violent rape and death, will precede McDormand to the podium and win Best Supporting Actor. Both of them bumping into each other on their way to the Oscars.

And two of the a-fore-seen winners of the other two awards,  Gary Oldman as the definitive Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” (Best Actor) and Allison Janney as Tonya Harding’s frightening mother in the surging “I, Tonya.” (Best Supporting Actress), both will win again.

The SAGS only give out few awards to film. Mostly, it’s television that is being awarded. And usually at the start of the show BANG! They announce one of the two  Supporting Awards. So tune in on time at 8pm tomorrow night at TNT and TBS (Check your local listings.) Or you might miss Sam winning! Hopefully, I’ll survive the suspense until Sunday night when once again, I will be live-blogging.

Their fourth nomination being the supposedly predictive Best Ensemble award. That’s the only one of “Three Billboards” four nominations that I’m a little bit shaky about. But I think it’s their night. They might not win the Oscar, but they’ll win this. It’s an actor’s actor movie. And the SAGs, lest me forget, are actors voting on actors. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing” is co–starring some of the greatest actors of our time. Woody Harrleson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges are among the long list of its’ sterling ensemble.

“The Shape of Water” can’t win because it wasn’t nominated.

It could easily go to one of the other films. I would automatically say “Lady Bird,” but that got shut out surprisingly at the Critics last week! What? What? But I’ll put my pen down for the night, and just wish all of them good luck on Sunday!

“I, Tonya” Margot Robbie & Allison Janney Are Wonderful. The Film is a Crock

“I, Tonya” is Australian actress Margot Robbie’s attempt at going for the gold, and trying to win an Oscar. She may have succeeded in getting herself a nomination the week after this on January 23. But who she’s more seriously pulled into Awards contention and the quite possibly the win, is her co-star Allison Janney, everyone’s favorite go-to actress, as her hateful mother LaVona.

And Janney has just astoundingly won TWO major awards, the Golden Globe and also the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for her horrifying turn as the Wicked Witch of the Ice Rink with a parakeet on her shoulder.

Up until this past week, Laurie Metcalf had been predicted to be winning those awards, and suddenly the Golden Globes just turned this particular race, Best Supporting Actress upside-down. Just as Sam Rockwell did with Best Supporting Actor.

I found “I, Tonya” such a distasteful croc of lies, that I’ll concentrate on Ms. Janney’s chances, shall I?

Remembering all too vividly the events this loathsome episode that will forever cloud the history of figure skating, I just was not ready to listen to Tonya Harding’s side of the story. She had some foul person attack champion Nancy Kerrigan by hitting her in the shin with a mettle rod, thus effectively side-lining her and allowing the rabbity Harding to shine abd get onto the Olympic ice skating team. It was a horrifying incident and you just hated Harding for it.

Well, there’s more to the story, as it turns out. Or sort of turns out. If Harding is to be believed, which I for one, can’t. Seems that her husband/ ex-husband/ boyfriend/ whatever executed this hateful scheme .Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gilhooley is wonderfully scummy, but I didn’t believe a word out of his mouth. Both he and Robbie play the untruths they have to spout believably, which must be considered a great feat of acting on both their parts. But Robbie will be the one who wins  a nomination for producing this nauseating sea of lies. Which brings me to Allison Janney and why she keeps winning Best Supporting Actress Awards this season.

She’s got her own TV series, which she stars in every week on CBS, “Mom”. She won many, many Emmys for her yeoman multi-season run on “West Wing.” And so she is extremely familiar to viewers, and voters, who know she is NOTHING like LaVona , the very worst mother ever seen depicted as a character, reel or unreal on screen.

Laurie Metcalf’s compassionate, though beleaguered Mom on “Lady Bird” is VERY believable. She does not physically abuse her wayward daughter. But Lavona constantly smacks Tonya around and even throws a knife at her, which penetrates Tonya’s upper arm. So LoVona’ s bad behavior, makes “I, Tonya” believable and sympathetic, but only somewhat. This is a sports movie about child abuse. It’s going to seem very timely with the winter Olympics coming up.

Janney’s physical transformation is key here. She uglies up to the nth degree, and many think that’s acting, but  I don’t. However, Janney is so skilled an actress, you buy it. She’s also a comic, though horrible, relief from the incessant whining and bitch-slapping of her irritating daughter.

And I think voters are going to feel that Janney is the one to vote for, and surprisingly they say “I, Tonya” is surging right now. She’s a comfortable way in. It’s clearly a performance of someone we don’t like, by someone we do like.

And there is ONE scene in a diner, where else? Where LaVona tries to plead HER case as a mother to her destructive daughter, who hates her. And still does to this day. Janney as LaVona says that she went out and worked and gave everything to her daughter. “I didn’t stay home as bake brown betties all day.” Janney had me at that moment. And clearly she had the voters , too. So far.

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