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Posts tagged ‘Patricia Highsmith’

Benjamin Walker Kills in Bloody Underpants in “American Psycho:The Musical”on Bway

American Pyscho 1I never really understood the ’80’s. The 1980s. They didn’t have the defined Gestalt of the ’60s(hippies), the ’70s(punk rock). Nor have any of the decades since then seem particularly definable to me. Just one big blur. Or is just life as we know it….continues…And “American Pyscho” tries its’ best to define the undefinable ’80s. And goes ahead to prove that New York City hasn’t changed that much. So it’s relatable.

It’s trying to be the ultimate New York ’80s Wall Street musical. And at that it does succeed. And it’s combining genres like mad.Which is very avant-garde of it, which I liked. It’s complex.

The rather unbelievable idea of trying to transform Brett Easton Ellis’ novel “American Psycho” into a musical comedy is indeed, er, dicey. And it veers widely in tone. Is it comic? Well, it’s funny, at times. It rhymes “ironic” with “Manolo Blahnik” and “mahi-mahi” with Issac Mizrahi. So it’s TRYING. And it tries too much. But what can you do with intractable, basically non-musical comedy material? Well, you put the comedy and the fantasy and the sex,(see above picture) front and center.

And it does this by having its’ incredibly comely leading man Benjamin Walker enter in his tighty-whiteys (see below)And pretty much keeps him there, unclothed, for most of the rest of the musical. And that’s a good thing.AMerican Psycho 2

It’s a great thing, really, because Mr. Walker, is an incredibly adept actor/singer/comic, who dances up a storm in Act Two particularly. And yes, again in his white underwear, that is now drenched with blood. In his incredibly long, monologish sequence in Act Two, he stays drenched in blood and singing, too, it is really a tour-de-force and to his credit, he’s never self-conscious, but always sexy. And yes, compelling. He acts OVER his underpants.

“American Psycho:The Musical” owes a lot to the late lesbian novelist Patricia Highsmith’s “Talented Mr. Ripley” and all her novels, including the Alfred Hitchcock-adaptation of her”Strangers on a Train.” Highsmith’s great achievement was always putting you INSIDE the murderer’s head, be it Tom Ripley or Bruno Anthony or any of them, and making you side with the psycho, which is exactly what “American Psycho” succeeds at, too.

“American Psycho” wants to put us all, as Patricia Highsmith did, inside the mind of serial killers.

But you see, Patrick Bateman is a Don Draper-look-alike, who is really a nerd. Nothing he ever says or does satisfies him. And New York and Wall Street particularly drive him crazy, and so he acts out, bloodily. Or does he?

Where “American Psycho:The Musical” also succeeds is abstracting all the violence. The French had a whole school of theatre called “Grand Guignol” and this is a perfect example of that. Blood was always everywhere as it is at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where audiences are loving it! Es Devlin’s chiarascuro set aided by Finn Ross’ stunning scenic video projections are constantly turning the black and white Wall Street world of Patrick Bateman into a sea of red.

The first act was way too long by half, but by the time they got to “Mistletoe Alert” their Christmas number the show began to jell into the bloody aspic it becomes successfully in Act Two.

The fact that Patrick escapes to the Hamptons (see below) which he hates. (He also hates Christmas, btw.) And has to run back to New York, New York, where he feels “Safe,”made me begin to like this guy.American Psycho 3A seemingly impossible feat given the premise.

And oh yes, the chorus especially the men, are as buff as buff can be and as frequently shirtless as Benjamin Walker is. They form a very decorative set themselves.

Main among them I really liked Drew Moerlein’s Paul Owen, the perfectly slimy Wall Street a-hole, who is just BEGGING to be slaughtered by our serial-killer savior Bateman. (You see, he gets you on his murderous side, so you’re glad when he lowers quite a spectacularly bloody boom on the haplessly drunk and high Owen.)

Red-headed Jordan Dean also scores  as the closeted Wall Street-er who constantly is trying to seduce Bateman, in VERY physical ways.  His hands were all over Benjamin Walker’s superb physique rather constantly. I could relate.

Helene Yorke has the only stand-out female role as Bateman’s society-and-label-crazed fiance. And she keeps calling him “PA-TRUCK.” And Tony Winner Alice Ripley is totally wasted and unrecognizable as Pa-truck’s mother.

No. This is a show where the guyz, as you can see above, have it.

Benjamin Walker’s bravado turn just earned him an Outer Critics Circle nomination this past week. And so did Helene Yorke’s droller-than-droll deb.

The Drama Desk, btw, of which I am a voting member, announces their nominations on Thursday AM.  The Outer Critics gave “American Psycho:The Musical” the lions share of their nominations. Will the Drama Desk follow suit?

We’ll shall see. All I can say in conclusion is “AP:TM” is a bloody good time.

#American Psycho # Benjamin Walker # Outer Critics Circle # Patricia Highsmith # Talented Mr. Ripley # Alfred Hitchcock

There’s Something Missing from “Carol” & I Think It’s Rooney Mara

Carol Blanchett 1I was disappointed in my response to “Carol” the highly touted lesbian love story derived from one of my favorite lesbian authors Patricia Highsmith. I felt not swept away by the film as a whole, which I should’ve been. Being out and gay myself all my life, THIS seemed to be a movie meant for me, it’s target audience.

But yet…

It didn’t play at Toronto, which tipped me off that something was up.And the Weinstein Co. kept me, a major Oscarologist, away from this Oscar-seeking film.

Rooney Mara won Best Actress at Cannes.

Something was obviously wrong.

What was missing? I think it was Rooney Mara’s performance. Playing a young, innocent (?)”from another planet” as Carol describes her, she seems cold, asexual. The Sapphic sensibility is just not there.The film was directed by a man. Maybe that’s the problem.

sarah Paulson

But it IS there in the performance of Sarah Paulson (ab0ve) as Carol’s ex-lover. You get an astounding sense of past history and love lost between the two women, that you never get from Cate the Great and Mara.

And Cate IS great in this movie! She’s just magnificence personified. 1950s movie star to the max, she seems to just REEK of sexuality and sensuousness and glamour. It is a stunning performance, maybe Blanchett’s best. She just floored me.

And Rooney Mara just well, didn’t.

The great Ed Lachmann’s amazing cinematography swept me away, in a way the Mara’s Therese Belivant, didn’t. Filmed in, of all things, 16 mm. and in CINCINATTI(!) the period style is exactly right down to the tiniest detail, and Blanchett’s costumes by the great Sandy Powell, and  her golden, perfectly coiffed hair and  make-up are swoon-worthy. She just radiates a heat that makes men AND women fall in love with her. She’s beyond brilliant in this film.

And she’s the one in dire trouble. She’s married, you see, and it’s 1952 and her husband wants to take her beloved little daughter away from her because she’s “abnormal.” So that part of the film is totally believable and fine. And disturbing. And true.

But don’t get me wrong. I loved Rooney Mara before. She was very exciting in both “Social Network” and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” for which she rightly garnered an Oscar nomination.

So I was rooting for Rooney, and god knows, I was rooting for “Carol” to be a lesbian “Brokeback Mountain.” But it isn’t. And I’m not a gay woman so perhaps I can’t say that. But I am.

Expectations were so high for this film, and the raves out of Cannes where so great, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. A “Brokeback Mountain,” it’s not. “Carol” is just strangely hollow. Cate is great, the cinematograpy, set design and costumes are off the charts. But the LOVE is missing.They have no heat, no chemistry.

It’s not even gay, particularly, except when the superb Sarah Paulson shows up. SHE should get nominated for Best Supporting Actress. THERE I’ve said it.

But the Tom Toms are beating for Rooney, and probably both she and Blanchett will end up in the Best Actress races that are upon us.

Cate Blanchett is just a genius of an actress.

But Rooney Mara is well, just OK. And in something as sumptuous and important a gay film, as “Carol”, well, she should-be better.

The picture at the top of this article says it all, I think.(see above} Cate as Carol is front and center and Rooney Mara, well, we see the back of her head. Which in “Carol” is as expressive as the front of her head.

Oscars on the Horizon,Rooney & Cate, “Carol” & Cannes

Rooney & Cate 1So a few days ago, I posited that Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara would split the Best Actress Award at Cannes. That didn’t happen. Rooney won and split it with an obscure French actress that no one has ever heard of (nor probably will again), but Cate the great got nothing! Well, nothing but career-best reviews, as the title role and heroine of Todd Haynes’ lesbian love story “Carol.”

Based on the late Patricia Highsmith’s story “The Price of Salt”, it is set in the 1950’s and according to all reports magnificently photographed by Haynes’ great cinematographer Ed Lachman.

Cate can NOT and WILL not be ignored by the Academy if you want to know. Both she and Rooney Mara WILL be nominated for what evidently is being considered a tour-de-force by all and sundry.

But who will go in which category? And does it really matter? Especially at this (very) early point in the Oscar race? I’m assuming “Carol” will go the tried and true Festival route.  Telluride in August, Toronto in Sept. with New York’s Film Fest immediately following.

And who’s deciding all this? Why its’ legendary Oscar Whisperer Producer Harvey Weinstein that’s who. And he’s slated the opening for Dec.18. So “Carol” and Cate and Rooney and Harvey, too, have a long row to hoe before “Carol” opens, and as we all know, some Cannes’ favorites can run out of steam by the time the actual Oscars role around. Witness last year’s “Foxcatcher” barely making it to the Big Night and coming up with No Wins.

Guessing I would say that Rooney will be in the Supporting category and she could very well win there. Even if she is a co-lead with Cate.

Witness Patricia Arquette’s co-lead(she was the Mom) in “Boyhood” and won in Supporting though she could’ve been campaigned in lead. But her immediate switch to Supporting got her the gold, though the film won nothing else.

I think the same will be true for Rooney Mara in “Carol.” Harvey is NOT putting Cate Blanchett in the Supporting category if he ever wants to work with her again. Blanchett I don’t think would stand for it. And neither would Academy voters.

And what does the Cannes Best Actress Award and the Oscars have to do with each other anyway? Well, last year Julianne Moore won for “Maps to the Stars” in Cannes, but on Oscar night it was in “Still Alice” that gave Moore the gold, finally, after four tries.

Cate has two Oscars, Rooney has none, and the Academy is Rooney-friendly, nominating her for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a few years back.

And Harvey, as usual, has another Best Actress contender in the 19-year-old Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”, also coming up this fall. And putting all three Weinstein women in Best Actress would be a big much of a much-ness. Wouldn’t it?

Oscars 2016 ~ Is Cate Blanchett Turning Into Meryl Streep?

Stepmother 1At first when I saw “Cinderella,” which I just loved, btw, I wondered whether the superb performances by the two leading ladies, Lily James(“Downton Abbey”s Rose) and Cate Blanchett as the not-so-Wicked-but-merely-troubled-and-lonely Stepmother, would even be considered for this year’s Oscar race. I now think that two-time Oscar Winner Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress is definitely a possibilty for a nomination. I think she’s becoming the New Meryl Streep, and will get nominated for her usually outstanding work in almost anything she does, even Disney fairy tale extravaganzas. So the precedent has been set. At least in the Supporting Actress category.

I mean, look, if Meryl Streep can get nominated for playing a Witch in “Into the Woods”, her astounding 19th nomination! Then Blanchett certainly could for another fairy tale character.

Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com says her most-looked-forward-to film of 2016 is the upcoming Todd Haynes “Carol” which is the lesbian love drama based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt.” And yes, Blanchett is the lead in “Carol.” So theoretically, she could get TWO nominations this year. Bringing her net total so far to six, with two wins.

And considering, as Sasha points out, this is another bleak year ahead for roles for actresses, Cate Blanchett very well pull off this double-nominated hat-trick.

And on the male side, I personally think it’s Eddie Redmayne by a mile for Tom Hopper’s “The Danish Girl” opening now Nov.26, right in the heat and heart of the Oscar season.

Eddie LiliCould Eddie Redmayne do a Tom Hanks(as they say) and pull off two Best Actor wins in a row? He sure could.

Could he beat out Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”? And get two Oscars while Leo wasn’t won one yet? Yup.

As Oscar Grand-daddy Tom O’Neil is always pointing out in his Slugfests “They sometimes like to give you two.” O’Neill, of course, is at http://www.goldderby.com

Witness Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Sally Fields…and more. Streep has three. Jack Nicholson has three…

Sometimes what is going to happen at the Oscars is SOOO clear. Even at this distance…

 

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