a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘GLBT’

For Those of You Who’ve Never Seen A Complete Episode…

For those of you who’ve never been able to see a complete episode of “The Stephen Holt Show”, only You Tube segments, here’s a complete, unabridged version of what is aired on TV. Enjoy!

Camera ~ Jack Siberine

Editing ~ Kevin Teller

Theme Music, the Overture from “Kareer Suicide” by Donald Arrington

Gay Filmmaker Richard Glatzer Passes at 63 from ALS

The great filmmaker Richard Glatzer has passed from the crippling disease ALS. He was 63. He and his partner Wash Westmoreland, who does most of the talking in this interview, was by his side for the past 20 years.

This interview takes place on the steps of the Courthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, where their break-through film “Quincenara” was the Opening Night sensation in the summer of 2005.

As in most small festivals, you end up hanging out with the friendliest face and that for sure was Richard.

Unbelievably, he developed ALS, the same disease that struck Stephen Hawking, and that Eddie Redmayne just won an Oscar for portraying a few weeks back. And even more poignantly, neither Richard nor Wash could attend the Oscars, seeing Julianne Moore win for their film “Still Alice.”

Moore had been saying that Richard was effected also by early on-set Alzheimer’s, which was what the movie was about, but in her final Oscar acceptance speech, she admitted, at last, it was ALS. And unlike Stephen Hawking who is still alive and vital today in his ’70s, Richard’s disease progressed extremely rapidly.

He was a talented, genial spirit, a fellow native New Yorker. It’s a great loss to the independent film community, to the gay community and to the world.

R.I.P. Richard.

Oscar Winner Eddie Redmayne to Next Play Transgender

Eddie Oscar 1Eddie & Oscar 2Brand-new Oscar Winner Eddie Redmayne hurried right back to London after his Best Actor win on Sunday night to continue rehearsals for his new British film called “The Danish Girl.” And guess what? He’s playing the title role! Yes!

Directed by his ole pal and the man who named me “The Oscar Messenger” Tom Hooper, I can tell you from personal knowledge that Hooper is as dazzled by the Little Golden Guy and his army of Oscars as well say Harvey Weinstein. And me, too, of course. And now, Eddie, who also seems to have captured the Oscar Buzz Bug.

Lili Elbe, who Eddie is playing in “The Danish Girl” was the first ever male-to-female transgender person in 1930. Talk about transformative roles! Eddie is making a career of this. But if ever there was a role that “ticks all the boxes” as Colin Firth said to me when I told him HE was going to win the Oscar for “The King’s Speech.”(And he DID!) It’s Lile Elbe.

And Eddie is trying to lose a massive amount of weight, three stone, which is like 36 pounds to play Lile. That ticks another Oscar box right there.

And Tom Hooper, check (he always has his bar set Oscar-high). British, check. True Life story, check. Period (1930), check. Transformative performance, check.

And Eddie Redmayne, check. Hollywood’s new Golden Boy is going to be transforming himself into a Golden Girl, and guess what, I’m so sure he’s going to be back at the Oscars again next year. Or the year after that with “The Danish Girl.” And if Harvey Weinstein,who is the producer, check. He’s the Oscar Grandmaster, picks this one up, Eddie will be on his way to Oscar Number Two! You heard it here first! He’s the new Daniel Day Lewis! So I see multiple Oscars on his horizon. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer, more down-to-earth guy.

He was so surprised when Cate Blanchett announced his name, I’m sure he thought Michael Keaton or Bradley Cooper was going to win.He won’t be THAT surprised next time around.

You’re the King of the World, Eddie! And he’s also expecting his first child. When straight actors play gay(or transgender) they win. William Hurt, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, anyone? Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote”, anyone?  Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in “MIlk”….

The precedent is set and the list goes on! Go, Eddie!

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And now,more! Scott Cakes 2013 at the Provincetown Film Festival, Pt.1!

Ooops! I do everything backwards! So now ~ here’s Part ONE of my visit with Scott Cunningham of Scott Cakes! YUM! I want another Scott Cake NOW!

Scott discusses his marriage this past fall at the Pilgrim Monument and the correct prediction of Anne Hathaway’s winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Les Miserables.’

Camera ~ Robert Iacovissi
Editing ~ Kevin Teller

“Oscars are bulls–t”proclaims Joaquim Phoenix, eliminating himself from race!

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Joaquim Phoenix has declared in an interview with Elvis Mitchell in “Interview” magazine that “The Oscars are bullshit….” He goes further declaring Oscar “It’s a carrot, but a dirty carrot and one that I don’t want to eat”!!! He cites his negative experience campaigning full-tilt for “Walk the Line” and watching the less-than-stellar Reese Witherspoon his co-star in the movie as Johnny Cash’s wife, June, waltz off with the Golden Guy.

He was stupendous in “Walk the Line” but that was a popular movie. He was playing a real person. “The Master” is not well-liked and not a box-office success, though I personally liked it. Audiences are staying away. I thought it was a marvelously told closeted gay love story set in the ’50s against  the backdrop of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s charismatic Lancaster Dodd’s founding of a quasi-religion The Cause.

Perhaps if the film itself “The Master” had come out of the closet  and revealed itself for the epic closeted gay love story it is, it might have gained at least the LBGT support en masse. Which,as it is, it doesn’t have. This is the first case I can remember of “Don’t Tell. Don’t Win.”

As it is, I think Phoenix just eliminated himself from the race. O, a nomination, sure. But that’s probably it. When he’s up against such heavy weights as Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”, John Hawkes in”The Sessions”, Denzel Washington in “Flight” and Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables”(still yet to be seen).

There’s also Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Alfred Hitchcock coming up fast, and Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook” which has the ever-effective Harvey Weinstein and co. behind it.

Of course, H. Weinstein has been known to drop one film on his slate in support of another, famously backing the flop-a-roonie “Nine,” instead the much more effective “Inglorious Basterds.”

“The Master”, also a Weinstein co. effort, is failing fast at the box-office and with audiences. So Bradley Cooper may have a better shot with “Silver Linings Playbook” and I can see a scenario where Cooper gets in J. Phoenix does not.

In the distant past, you could refuse an Oscar like Marlon Brando and George C. Scott did, but the past is the past. And as recently as two years ago, the prickly auteur David Fincher proclaimed over and over again, in multiple interviews, that he didn’t want nor/care about winning an Oscar for the then critics darling “A Social Network”. And guess what? The Academy took him at his word and the world saw Tom Hooper win Best Director not Fincher. Hooper, and last year, an unknown Frenchman Michel Hazanviscius won for Best Directer of “The Artist” and both were at every Hollywood event imaginable, charming every one.

That’s what counts these days. Although Mo’nique said “No” too. And won. But Supporting Actress is not as big a deal as Best Actor and “Precious” was a popular film, where “The Master” is divisive. So we shall see.

I don’t think you can be an Oscar cry-baby anymore. Not with a Best Actor race as crowded as this one!

“The Master” is a Big Gay Movie! An accurate portrayal of the Closeted 1950s.

So FINALLY seeing “The Master” yesterday, I was astonished to find that my take-away from it was it’s A Big Gay Movie! Although clearly, it’s not being advertised as such. If only it were, I perhaps could’ve really loved it. But I found myself LIKING it more than I thought I would.

It really was to my great surprise a tortured, a VERY tortured gay love story, with two men who are so totally in the closet that they do not know what they’re experiencing as they both feel this inexplicable need and attraction for each other.

According to the Gurus o’ Gold, Daniel Day-Lewis in the still unseen “Lincoln” is right up there on the top of the list of Best Actors, separated by only one vote from Joaquim Phoenix’s tortured portrayal as Freddie Quell in “The Master.” And in Supporting, though again, he’s a LEAD, and shouldn’t be there, and he’s the title role for goodness sakes! Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman ‘s masterful portrayal of “The Master.” And he’s LEAGUES out in front of everyone else in that category. Maybe he’ll win his second Oscar for his role as Lancaster Dodd, the brutish, dapper, magnetic leader/creator/philosopher of “The Cause” a Scientology-ish cult.

The film is the story however of how Dodd, the Master, can NOT keep himself away from, or let go of the violent, abusive, lost drunken ex-sailor Freddie Quell. He becomes obsessed with him. He takes him with him everywhere, and his wife Amy Adams, does not like it. Unfortunately, her role is really nothing but pregnant wall-paper. She MIGHT get nominated if the film catches on with Academy voters, but there’s not much for her to do except, display her constant pregnancy and glare and glower at Freddie.

The fact that his wife is perpetually pregnant, and there is one scene in their bathroom, where she graphically masturbates her husband(Hoffman has his back to us, thankfully.) is meant to show that yes, the Master IS heterosexual, but NOTHING else explains this film and its’ existence except the explanation that The Master is in the closet and is in love with poor Freddie, who is also in the closet. In fact, the whole FILM is in the closet!

The Master”  starts out with a wrestling scene on a beach where a bunch of sailors in tight, brief  40’s navy-issue swim suits, their muscles glistening in the sun, are going mano a mano all around Quell. There is also a large breasted sand dune sculpture of a naked woman that Freddie masturbates, and gets himself a hand full of, of course, mud. Then HE jerks off, facing the ocean. Frustrated libido is everywhere. The film at the end returns to this shot of Freddie on the beach gazing at the gigantic sand woman’s breasts and nipples as he lies next to her on the beach.

Freddie has a girl friend named Doris who he deserts at the beginning of the movie. He’s a constantly in trouble ne’er-do-well, to put it mildly, and an alcoholic who is driven to drinking medicines from everyone’s bathrooms’ medicine cabinets to get high. His potions are so lethal, he accidentally poisons a man at one point a Mexican field hand, who drinks one of his concoctions of paint thinner and whatever else Freddie has devised to put into.And Freddie is then on the run from the law.

One night in a drunken stupor he wanders onto a boat where Lancaster Dodd is having a party that is about to set sail, celebrating his daughter’s wedding. They are to sail “through the Canal to New York” and Freddie stays on board and sails with them.

The Master likes Freddie so much at the outset because Freddie has put together the right combination of paint thinner and peach juice that DOESN’T kill The Master.

And this film is much more about Scientology than I thought it would be. WWII and the post-war 1950s are its’ backdrop and The Master’s control of all his followers in this cult that is called “The Cause” is really rather frightening and chilling. But as the film goes on and on and on(yes, it’s WAAAAY to long) it seemed to me that Hoffman’s portrayal of Dodd got more and more effeminate. And the big gay pay-off scene is of the Master and Quell rolling over and over each other, smiling and laughing, giggling even, as they embrace on the grounds of The Cause’s current posh residence. Over and over and over they roll on top of each other. And they both seem to be having the time of their lives doing so.

It’s the only scene in the film where you see the two men(or any of the characters in this bleak, chilly film) actually expressing human warmth towards each other and having FUN.

There, yes, is a scene, where Freddie, who is prone to alcoholic hallucinations, sees all of Dodd’s female followers dancing around the Master nude. But tellingly,none of the men are.

Clearly, Freddie can’t find happiness with a woman and his only positive, ongoing relationship is with Dodd. Freddie is such a lost soul, you can see why he’s drawn to the charismatic Dodd, but why is Dodd so drawn to Freddie? He loves him. He wants to save him. He wants him with him for the rest of his life. It homo-erotic to say the least.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Master expresses every nuance that is required of him.

And that includes Dodd’s sick, controlling side, too. Which is frightening when it explodes. He HAS to be in the power position over all these people, and to me, he was sublimating his homosexual impulses into this scary, and sometimes violent, controlling persona.

But when Dodd calls Freddie transatlantic from London and says “I need you!” it was a quintessential  gay moment, closeted, of course, to be sure. Freddie is watching a Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon in an empty balcony of a movie theater when this moment happens. But it is telling nonetheless. It was the ’50s! THIS is how closeted gay men expressed themselves, the only outlet they had. Everything was coded, or sublimated. At that time, it was a love that couldn’t even be mention to those that felt these emotions.

So Freddie expresses it in violence and drunkenness and the Master expresses through his obsessive need of  control over others. It’s a disturbing film, but it may bring Phillip Seymour Hoffman his second Oscar.

Joaquim Phoenix’s Freddie Quell has to duke it out with Daniel Day Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” Only a vote separates them on the Gurus o’ Gold chart. When we can see “Lincoln” in its’ entirety, we will know who really is on top for Best Actor.

“The Master” is a divisive film, because it doesn’t wear its’ homosexuality on its’ sleeve, so you don’t know what is REALLY going on between these two men, but it is there, though unstated, nonetheless. And that was the pre-Stonewall America to a T.

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You Tube Phenomenon Chris Crocker of “Leave Britney Alone!” fame on the Stephen Holt Show

Chris Crocker, who sobbed in drag on the Internet dressed as Britney Spears “Leave Britney Alone!” and got 540 million hits, talks to me about his stunning new documentary film “Me @theZoo” about his life online and in rural Tennessee where he was bullied so much he wasn’t allowed to attend high school! His marvelous doc tells his life story and also the story of the Internet and You Tube and the tremendous impact it has on life today.

Shot at Sage restaurant at the Provincetown Film Festival 2012.

Camera & Editing by Kevin Teller

icelandic Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center

I have always been enthralled by Icelandic Cinema, and also dismayed by the almost complete lack of attention paid to it state-side. But the American glacier of indifference is slowly melting as evidenced by the historic Icelandic retrospective of films recently on display by the enterprising Film Society of Lincoln Center, which just had a very big spring with their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in March.
Scheduled directly opposite the Tribecca Film Fest downtown,  this terrific retrospective tribute was struggling to gain media attention, and also public attention. But the films are very, very good, some of them unforgettable, and attention must be paid.
I was fortunate to have been in Reykjavik twice in its’ banner season of 1999-2000, when Baltasar Kormakur who is now one of the main forces in Icelandic cinema, had his first film “101 Reykjavik” a GLBT comedy/romance about lesbian marriage starring Spain’s Victoria Abril, open to record-breaking box-office attendance in Iceland.
Baltasar was also starring in the true Icelandic legend Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Angels of the Universe” as a stuttering madman who thinks he is a Beatle.
The Film Society proclaimed “Angels of the Universe” as “Fridriksson’s masterpiece” having seen the film four or five times now over the years(once without English subtitles!) I can only heartily concur.
“Angels” is a haunting, beautifully rendered cry of great pain from the great heart of Fridriksson as he charts the downward spiral of schizophrenia in the true story of his best friend’s brother. Based on Einar Gudmundsson’s prize-winning book, its’ a compassionate, violent and also very funny look at Iceland’s attitude towards the insane. Ingvar Sigurdsson’s Pall is wrenchingly memorable as the central character who longs to paint or play music or SOMEthing, before his world fades inevitably to black.
And  the asylum he is sent to is almost a respite from the endless white noise in his head. There he encounters Baltasar Kormakur’s crazed/shy Beatles’ maniac, who stutters and strums his way into the viewers heart with an Icelandic “Hey Jude.” Kormakur utterly captivates the audience as he befriends the friendless Pall, who doesn’t seem insane to him at all.
The scene where they, on an illicit afternoon out, end up having the most expensive and delicious dinner of their lives at the Hotel Holt (yes, the Hotel Holt. I must be Icelandic going back centuries…) and then getting arrested when they, of course, try to walk out on their bill, It’s a hilarious set-piece and also heart-breaking as you realize this will never ever again happen in their imprisoned lives.
And there  is the suicide of another chain-smoking inmate played memorably by Hylmir Snaer Gudnsasson. Who was also the star of Baltasar’s “101 Reykjavik.”
And did I mention Baltasar was also directing “Midsummer’s Night Dream” at the National Theatre of Iceland while starring in another production there of “A Doll’s House.”? He’s a one-man Icelandic powerhouse.
Iceland also produces incredibly talented and versatile actors, by the dozens(literally) who populate the films in “Images” from the Edge” over and over again. In a country which now has a population of 320,000, there is a lot of artistic overlap, and because of the small size of its’ vibrant and highly creative film and theater community, actors are expected to be as skilled at drama, and comedy, and even musicals.And they are. Because if they want to work constantly, they have to be.
Baltasar Kormakur also proved a vital action hero in this festival’s “Reykjavik Rotterdam”(2008) directed by Oskar Jonasson. It’s a pulse pounding thriller, which had the highest audience turn-out so far at Lincoln Center this Sunday. You’ll be familiar with this story of luckless drug smuggling sailors as Kormakur just directed Mark Wahlberg in its’ American language re-incarnation this spring. It was “Contraband” and it made # 1 at the box-office, the first time any Icelandic director has ever done this American hat-trick, and it has catapulted Kormakur into directing Wahlberg’s next feature starring him and Denzel Washington and Paula Patton now lensing in New Orleans.
In addition to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s magnificent “Angels of the Universe”(2000),this towering almost -Viking figure, had THREE other films in the Festival, one of them “Rock in Reykjavik” from 1982, a doc on Iceland’s red-hot music scene, featuring a teen-aged Byork, in her then group called Tappi Tikarrass.Also “White Whales” (1987) and an installation in , off the main foyer of the Walter Reade Theater called “The Circle” or “Ring-Road” which looped constantly  in the Furman gallery, And hypnotized all who watched it as the camera,as Fridriksson described it, “moving at the speed of light” down Iceland’s all encompassing Hwy.No .1 which literally rings the island.
Set in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, this isolated volcanic island of poets, artists, actors and filmmakers touches the Arctic Circle. And anyone who seeks out any of these marvelous films(too numerous to mention here) will also be touched by this enchanted island’s magical allure. Iceland itself is always the main character in any of its’ films. I can’t wait to go back.
If only “Angels of the Universe” had been shown at the New York Film Festival when it was originally made in 2000! Now 12 years later, it’s getting its’ due But I was shocked to discover that no Icelandic film,  as EVER been shown in the prestigious NYFF. I think after this colossal “Images from the Edge” retrospective festival, things will be different in the future.
It ran through April 26.

A GRRRReat Day for “The Artist”! Bad day for George Clooney…

So Super Tuesday of the Awards Season has come and gone and the faster-than-they’ve ever been, the Speedy Alkaselzters of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle named “The Artist” Best Picture and its’ unknown-in-America director Michel Hazanaviscius, Best Director! Yay! But what does this alll MEAN?

Sasha Stone at www.awardsdaily.com and Tom O’Neil, the guy who started all this Oscar madness, at www.goldderby.com both point out that only five times in the past 20 years have the Oscars and the New York Film Critics agreed.

But it must be a VERY happy day over at the Weinstein Company! And at chez Hazanaviscius! The champagne corks must be popping! I mean, not only is this bon-bon of a movie in BLACK and WHITE, it’s also SILENT! And FRENCH! Or French made! And I can NOT name a French movie that has gotten THIS close to Oscar before.

So it’s unprecedented and unbelievable, but not by Sasha and I who called it as soon as we saw it. She, in Cannes, and I, in Montreal! At the Montreal Film Festival! What a beautiful moment that was!

And I described earlier how exciting the NY Press junket was. In this blog, just a little while back, I said that I felt Oscar’s presence in that room. Or rather suite of many rooms. Everyone was just so happy that day! But there was the little(or not so little, really) golden guy’s overwhelming presence in the air!

I knew I was surrounded by winners but the alllll knew it too. It was a nonpareil feeling, vraiment! Bien sur!

And since this is the first announced major award of the season, it may have more impact than any other NYFCC’s awarding has ever had before.

Famously the NYFCC moved up its date to be BEFORE the National Board of Review which is set to announce on Thursday. Will they rubber stamp the NYFCC? Or will they differ? Well, they may choose a different Best Actress than Meryl Streep. They could choose Michelle Williams’ wonderful Marilyn. But their choice of La Streep shows that yes, indeed, she is the front-runner in that category and NOT Viola Davis. Also, strangely, it’s a movie that hasn’t even opened yet and won’t for a couple of more weeks.

Oh, and not so strangely, “The Iron Lady” is ANOTHER Weinstein opus. I mean, it’s just incredible!

Also incredible is that David Fincher’s American re-make of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” got NO-THING from the NYFCC. And this is the movie that made them move their date YET AGAIN to accommodate seeing this just-finished film.

Also everyone and his blogging brother was saying it was  a war between “The Descendants” and “The Artist” and now…”The Descendants” lost big time all over the place. It got NO-THING from the NYFCC and also George Clooney did not get a Best Actor Nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. Yes, THEY were announced today, too, and Sasha has all of them over at www.awardsdaily.com And her take on what all this means.

I think, personally it means nominations for all these winners. It REALLY helps Albert Brooks who got Best Supporting Actor for “Drive”. And “Drive” which I liked immensely seemed to be slipping off the pundit-o-sphere. But Albert’s back and I think IN. And yes, he WAS really scarey in that movie! He was playing a gansta. No, I’m not kiddin’! He really was! People forget what a good, solid actor is underneath the rest of his many talents, but the NYFCC with this award has reminded everyone.

This is not necessarily the case for the lovely Jessica Chastain who wins for THREE movies. But which of these three “The Tree of Life”, “The Help”, and “Take Shelter” is the Academy(and the Globes and SAG, etc. etc) going to choose to rally behind as THE ONE. The Academy only allows for one film per nomination.

Like for instance, the National Board of Review can give Jessica the same Supporting Actress award for all those movies, too.

But the Oscars have to pick just one. It seems like “The Tree of Life” is the one with the most life in it. It tied the Gotham Awards last night for Best Picture with “Beginners” Yay! For Mike Mills! And for Christopher Plummer! “Beginners” also got Best Ensemble at the Gothams! And “The Descendants” AGAIN got nothing.

I tell you as well made as I felt “The Descendants” was it was ultimately extremely depressing.
So we can almost write “The Descendants” off our lists. And it seems Brad Pitt is now the movie star to beat for Best Actor, since he won here for “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life”(yup, there it is again!) As I wrote earlier in the Comments Section of Awardsdaily tonight, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT “TREE OF LIFE” but it seems I have, too.

People keep bringing it up, primordial ooze, dinosaurs and all. RIDICULOUS film! But Brad Pitt’s and Jessica Chastain’s ’50 Texas husband and wife WERE lovely. I’m just surprised to find people remember them and remember them so strongly.

So now it’s Brad Pitt v. Jean Dujardin with George Clooney running on the sidelines, huffing and puffing, like he does so memorably, in his Mad Dash scene in “The Descendants”…trying to keep up.

Well, we’ll see what the National Board of Review does. They, too, may pick “The Artist” but I’m betting Best Actor, Actress and Supporting will be different. But Jessica Chastain may score again with them because she’s got those multiple movies. Seven I think, behind her this year.

But congratulations to all these winners, and let me do a final shout out to winner of the Breakthrough Director Award Dee Rees for “Pariah” and also to Adepero Oduye who received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for “Pariah” Both were my guests at TIFF this year.

And you can see them and ALLLL “The Artist”s on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

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