a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Bennett Miller’

Disappointing Oscar hopeful “Foxcatcher”

Foxcatcher 2

I was soooo disappointed in "Foxcatcher", a film that has been touted as an Oscar hopeful since its debut at Cannes, and followed by TIFF, and the NYFF. But I was just not on board with this film. Bennett Miller, who directed "Capote" to great acclaim and netted an Oscar for the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is a director I admire. And though he directed the baseball saga "Moneyball", he has a penchant for tackling gay themed projects.

Which he is doing once again here with "Foxcatcher." Except that he isn't. He's totally de-gay-ed a VERY gay story, ripped from yesterday's headlines about Henry E. Dupont, the very rich and very weird scion of the Dupont family. They had so much money, Henry basically felt he could buy anyone or anything.

And he was gay, although you'd never know it from this incredibly closeted movie. I mean, how can you take the homo-eroticism and also the homosexuality out of this, what should have been a Big Gay movie? Except that it's not.

If you think wrestling in and off itself is exciting, which I don't, you might like this movie. But Henry DuPont was clearly a predator, creating this camp of muscle-bound young men, who he was purportedly training for Olympic wrestling.

Everyone thinks that comedian Steve Carell is going to get an Oscar nomination for his cold, rabbity portrayal of DuPont. It's true he's almost unrecognizable with this humonguous fake nose. He also attempts a monotonal speaking voice for DuPont, which is irritating. OK. So he's not relying on his comic chops. So?

So what do we get?

What he gives us is just a two-dimensional creep. Not the three dimensional one that Jake Gyllenhaal is currently essaying so well in "Nightcrawler." Gyllenhaal's Nightcrawler is obsessed with things that actually are depicted in the film. Money, power, violence, fame,tabloid television.

Dupont is obsessed with men and what's missing is the gayness. It's so toned down, repressed, if you will, that it seems that DuPont is totally in the closet, which he wasn't.

You think wrestlers are hot? In this film, they are cold.And so is the whole film.

"Foxcatcher" is the most unsexy movie imaginable. You can't do what is essentially a gay movie and leave the gayness out of it. I mean, c'mon! It's 2014 already!

And as the plot reveals, or rather, doesn't reveal that DuPont is super obsessed with one wrestling hopeful Channing Tatum( who BTW is turning in the really stellar performance here ), to the point that he moves him on to his estate which is called Foxcatcher. And yes, they do have horses and presumably hunt foxes. His domineering mother, Vanessa Redgrave, who is totally wasted here, with one mere scene of dialogue, is a formidable presence clearly. And Mrs. DuPont does NOT approve of her son's zealous pursuit of the sport of wrestling. She calls it "a low sport" and wishes Henry would stop importing all these young wrestlers to the grounds of their estate. She wishes we would, well, catch foxes at Foxcatcher, and not healthy young male wrestlers, everyone a beauty.

I guess we’re supposed to draw the parallel that he collects handsome athletic young men, the way that his mother collects horses.

Of course, this doesn't end well. And based on a true story, the events, when they at last unfold AFTER TWO HOURS, are baffling rather than revealing. Or tragic. As they should've been.

The only scene that approximates what may have been an homosexual affair is where DuPont and Channing's character snort cocaine together on DuPont's private plane.

The violence that in the end ensues is totally shocking in that it makes no sense with what we have seen before.

Mark Ruffalo, as Tatum's smarter, married brother is also wasted pretty much here. Which is a shame. But then so is Redgrave.

So what we are left with is a very cold, remote film about this weird rich guy that makes no sense.

Miller tried this de-gay-ing thing, too, with "Capote" but in that case it worked, because Truman Capote was sooooo gay, no matter how toned down you made him, he was still VERY gay.

Do we need another portrait of a gay psychotic? Well, I for one was looking forward to this film, given its' festival hype. But I was severely disappointed. It shed light on nothing. It's a gay film for straight people in that case. Maybe straight people will think that SUGGESTING DuPoint's sexuality was enough. To me it was just a big cop-out. I expected more from the talented Bennett Miller than a lot of tense, conversational scenes that illuminate NOTHING.

Gay people are going to be very disappointed with this closet of a movie.

TIFF Announces 2014 Slate! Foxcatcher, Maps to the Stars, more

Foxcatcher 1Julianne Moore 1TIFF logo 1Imitation Game 1It’s a starry line-up as always as TIFF today announced its’ upcoming slate of Galas, which always take place at the Roy Thomson Hall, and formal dress is required, and Special Presentations, which almost always happen at the classic Elgin(pronounced “El Gin” with a hard “g”) theatre.

Three of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing are David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” which netted Julianne Moore the Best Actress award at Cannes,

Bennett Miller’s follow-up to “Moneyball” “Foxcatcher” which is about wrestling, not baseball, and the British WWII spy film “Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch( PBS’ Sherlock Holmes to many) as the lead character who is a closeted homosexual.

There are many, many films more that were announced today. Go to Sasha Stone’s invaluable Oscar site http://www.awardsdaily.com for more info. Toronto always has soooo many films, you can’t see them all.

One movie I’ve already seen, today as a matter of fact, was the Dame Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas & Kevin Kline starrer “Me and My Old Lady” with Dame Maggic pulling out all the stops in yet ANOTHER tour-de-force performance that is soooo good I’m glad they are including it at TIFF. She deserves it.

And so now, the Oscar Race officially begins! Could Dame Maggie surprise and make it into the Best Actress race? She certainly deserves it. She’s plays a 92-year-old English woman living in France.  And I’m SOOOO glad I saw it today!

 

 

 

Only one week left! To help fund my Kickstarter Project to Toronto!

Only one week left Stephen Holt Show fans! Dear readers, dear cineastes! We need YOUR help to get to the Toronto Film Festival this year! 2014 is shaping up to be a very exciting year with great films galore at Toronto! Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” as I mention in the video clip, and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” among them.

I can’t tell you how crucial the Toronto International Film Festival is to my continuing coverage of all the stars that I get on the level that I get them. And the hotels adjacent to the Film Festival have raised their prices accordingly. Which is what has put me in this Kickstarter mode.

And right now, if you’re reading on this far, I can tell you that so far we have received $0.00 which is just a devastating figure to have to deal with.

I know you are out there, friends, Facebook-ers and fans! PLEASE HELP! Only one week left before Facebook turns off the lights!

Oscar Homerun for Brad Pitts’ “Moneyball”! It made even ME like baseball!

I just LOVED Brad Pitts’ “Moneyball”! And his winning, rousing, surprisingly moving performance in the great movie star tradition may garner him his third Oscar nomination, and maybe he’ll finally win Best Actor, for his terrific tour-de-force turn as real-life Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Beane. Who evidently made history by turning his losing team around and through his statistical micro-managing, his Beane-counting, if you will,  got his under – financed, underdog  Oakland As to break a historic American League baseball record of winning streaks.

Now I know I must be sounding like I’m a baseball fan or statistician. But I’m not. I’m definitely not. As a gay man, I was stereotypically not good at sports, and not into them at all. But there were many times in my life as a gay (or certainly gender confused) child growing up in the Bronx, where I wondered just what all the fuss was going on on the other side of my hometown borough.

Recently I have seen two Oscar-seeking movies a bit late in their Oscar life. And I have been astonished to find that I liked both of them A LOT.  A lot more than I ever thought I would, given their misleading advertising and pre-open trailer campaigns, if they can even be called “Campaigns.” And “Moneyball” is certainly one of them. The other being the tremendous “The Help.” But more on that surprising, haunting film later.

“Moneyball” was one of the big Gala openers at Toronto this year, and though one could not ignore the fact that it was there, and  that Brad and Angelina were in town, I chose to skip it. It was a sports movie. A baseball movie, at that. I never liked either genre, or sub-genre. I severely doubted that I could relate. Given my sports-deprived background.

And for the first half hour or so, I didn’t know WHAT was going on with it. The baseball inside talk was so thick.  What WERE they talking about? And it seemed to be statistics, statistics, nothing but baseball statistics, which is actually what the film turns out to be all about.

The Oakland As are losing and Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, their now-legendary general manager, tries to figure out how to change that and break their losing streak. Baseball these days its seems, is all about money. Hence the “”Moneyball” title.

Now Brad Pitt is also not one of my favorite actors. He phones it in all too often for me to label him an actor’s actor, say like his almost unregonizable co-star Phillip Seymour Hoffman who plays the Oakland As official coach certainly is. But Pitt goes beyond himself here and really soars into great acting territory with “Moneyball.”

He’s not phoning anything in, and “Capote” director Bennett Miller and also co-star Hoffman as the Oakland A’s frustrated and angry coach, keep Pitt as real as real can be.

I’ve also never given a thought to what a baseball team’s general manager does, but by the time you finish watching “Moneyball” you’ll know that, and just about everything else about baseball these days, upside down, inside out and backwards.

And you’ll know that for sure Brad Pitt is once again on his way to the Oscars, and maybe this time he’ll win! He redefines himself in a way that I thought he never could, but here, in the role of his career, he does!

The only thing I was disappointed with was Jonah Hill’s rather monotonal performance as Pitt’s nerdy acounting assistant. He gets better as the film goes on, but I thought he was the only flaw in an otherwise flawless film.

“Moneyball” did the impossible, made ME like, and get into baseball. So much so that I was cheering for Pitt and his underdog Oakland As and you will be, too. Now, will Oscar follow suit? Pitt will be in the running for sure. And with his other rather mold-breaking performance this year in Terence Malik’s “Tree of Life” as the stern disciplinarian ’50s dad…well, you just can’t avoid Brad Pitt’s emergence as a powerful, fascinating, Grade A actor with a Capital A.

Go see “Moneyball”! You’ll love it! Even I did…

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