a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Inglorious Basterds’

Oscar Campaign for Christopher Plummer Begins With “Beginners”!

Is too soon to talk about Oscar races? Not if you ask Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone over at Awardsdaily, OR if you ask anyone at Focus. Focus Features has gotten VERY savvy about how to turn indie Oscar seekers’ hopes into Academy reality, esp.with Gay-themed features. Like last year’s unlikely Best Picture Nominee~ “The Kids Are All Right.” And now timed just right, for Gay Pride month a beautiful, sweet film “Beginners” just may WIN Christopher Plummer his first Oscar! At age 80-something!

Hale, hearty and handsome, and happy to be being interviewed by the likes of gay ole me, Plummer admitted to me this morning at the Waldorf Astoria that I was much gayer than the character he plays in “Beginners”!

Mike Mills, who directed “Thumbsuckers” another Indie with our mutual love goddess Tilda Swinton as one of its’ many stars, (It also included Keanu Reeves and Benjamin Bratt), has done a lovely job of creating a sweet memory piece about his father. This is a true story. Plummer plays Dad. And Ewan MacGregor plays his startled, but VERY understanding and patient grown son, Mill’s stand-in. Melanie Laurent, the beauteous French actress, who burnt down the house with her incendiary performance in Quentin Tarentino’s “Inglourious Basterds” a couple of seasons back, is MacGregor’s love interest.

And Melanie told me in her beautiful French accent(she had a translator present just in case) that “If we save one life from this film, that shows that homosexuality can be accepted as part of life, then we’ll have done something good.”

And this film is so touchingly, achingly beautiful, and meaningful, I think “Beginners” will go on to do just that. And hopefully win Christopher Plummer his first Oscar for his role of the 75-year-old Out and Proud Gay Dad. He also gets to die in this film of Stage Four Cancer. Oscar likes death scenes, too.

And since Focus is so wisely putting him in Supporting this year, a category he COULD prevail in, well, I just think he will.

Christopher Plummer is a great stage and screen actor whose career spans over 50 years. “The Sound of Music” another Oscar winner for Best Picture, back in the day, was his first wide-screen success back in the ’60s.

He was nominated the year before last for his ferocious Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station.” Helen Mirren was, too. As his over-the-top wife. And I asked him if he thought she was Too OTT as the flamboyant Russian countess and he said, “No. I thought she was restrained. She could have done so much more.”

Which if you have seen “The Last Station” is a very funny comment indeed.

And “Beginners” also resonates because it’s the first film to really deal with gays in their ’70s. Judging by Christopher Plummer’s vibrant Mel, we can all look forward to a rollicking good time!

The Year’s 10 Best – Analysis of “I Love You, Phillip Morris” & the Enduring Influence of Paul Corrigan

Phew! Now I have the time to go into a little bit more deeply the whys and the wherefores and the WTF element(to some, perhaps) of my selection of the Year’s Ten Best Films.

As someone who sees films ALL THE TIME, Day in and Day Out, nearly every day of my waking life…Films that really last and really stay with you, films that are a total, immersive cinematic experience that affects one so deeply that it becomes part of your life as well as part of the year’s discussion of Best Films…well, that’s why they are all here…And why we are all here…Because we love film…

Yes, I do have a propensity for foreign films and independent films. I stay away from the big studio blockbusters and franchises, if I can help it. Unless I CAN’T help it. Like as you all know, I reluctantly found myself at “Harry Pooter 7 1/2” and I’m glad that I did~ ONLY to see Helena Bonham-Carter’s THIRD terrific performance of the year, as a witch with the name that I just can’t stop saying “Bellatrix La Strange”. A scary ten-minute turn that could help her get her long overdue Oscar…The other two films are “Alice in Wonderland” and of course, “The King’s Speech.”

But I digress…

Number Ten ALMOST was “Fish Tank” a film I loved tremendously. A British Indie. Gritty, grimy, grinding poverty depicted in a council flat setting in London’s East End where I, as you all know, lived for quite a number of years in the ’70s& ’80s. Andrea Arnold, the writer/director, and Michael Fassbender, the rising star of stars, acting alongside a completely inexperienced non-actress, Katie Jarvis, was really a wild, unexpected ride. I couldn’t believe Jarvis was NOT a pro, so profoundly compelling was her portrayal of teenage Cockney torment, when her mom brings a new boyfriend (Fassbender) home. You’ll remember Fassbender from “Inglorious Basterds” as the British officer in that wacky, unforgettable card game.

I guess that would be my number 11, if I was going to extend this arbitrary listing slightly, but I just wanted to give the stunning “Fish Tank” an honorable mention.

I made “I Love You, Phillip Morris” my number  ten, because I found myself laughing out loud and also crying inside and totally immersed in the preposterous, gay yarn, that is evidently ALL TRUE, about a homosexual con man extraordinaire(Jim Carrey is his best EVAH) and his finding true love, in jail, natch, with a sweet blond gay guy, Phillip Morris. Yes, that’s his real name…played to a touching fare-thee-well by the unrecognizable Ewan McGregor. I was told not to review it at the time, but I guess I’m raving about it now. It’s in theaters and playing very robustly AND it was raved about by my critical colleagues! Good! Great!

And I do have to mention that as much as I was enjoying the film, when the end credits rolled, I was blown away all over again, by the film’s dedication to my late friend Paul Corrigan, who evidently was the impactful teacher of these young filmmakers, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, both straight. At Pratt. In Brooklyn. Paul died tragically of AIDS a number of years ago.

And I thought the book was closed forever on his life. But no! His great gay spirit keeps jumping up from beyond to assert Paul’s powerful, playful personality once again. It was uncanny how much I thought the Jim Carrey character did, and still does remind me of Paul.

I wrote an Obit for him at the time that I wrote for “Lesbian and Gay New York.” It was all too brief, and didn’t give at all a taste of what Paul was really like. There was very little space. He went to Sarah Lawrence where he was a classmate of Bob Plunket, Susan Haskins(of “Theater Talk”) and Amy Robinson, producer-extraordinaire and also Harvey Keitel’s girl-friend in “Mean Streets.”

I remember Paul first play, his first New York production of two one-acts called “Tan My Hide” and “Nancy’s Tragic Period.” At La Mama E.T.C. and they starred if memory serves Bob and Amy as Santa’s Elves, who were having to make leather gear for Santa, or something like that.

I remember Bob had the immortal(to my mind) lines, “Have you ever seen a dwarf come?”

“Little drizzle droplets.” 

 And I think Susan was Nancy in “Nancy’s Tragic Period” where she was a girl whose record player(yes, her RECORD PLAYER. That’s how long ago this was.) whose record player keeps telling her how to live her life and acting like a Greek Chorus…I could go on and on.

But I remember to this day the freshness of the writing and the humor and the direction, which I think Paul essayed himself.

But he did not continue with his playwriting.  I wish he had.

Years later I encountered him on a Manhattan street and he told me he was teaching Film at Pratt University, a school in Brooklyn that at the time was not known as a cinema studies center, by any means…

And I thought he was being disingenuous.

Then I met Susan Haskins, who was also a fellow teacher at Pratt. And she assured me that yes, Paul was teaching a very special cinema class.

And all these years later, “I Love You, Phillip Morris” bares testimony to the enduring quality of his teaching and his impact on his pupils.

More on numbers 9 to 1 of my Top Ten later…

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