a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Serial Killer’

“Gianni Versace” American Crime Story ~ 3 Spellbinding Episodes,# 4 Stumbles

FX’a American Crime Story “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is Must-See TV, whether you like it or not. I veer between awe that something this gay is on TV at all, and then sometimes I’m totally revolted by the horror of all those gruesome murders committed in the ’90s by one Andrew Cunanan. Who was Andrew Cunanan?

He was a hunky male hustler of very rich, usually very old gay men, culminating in his shooting Gianni Versace on the steps of his palatial mansion in South Beach. The violence is graphic beyond belief, for television, and the subject so horrible that it is amazing that it is so well done, that it glamorizes and turns everyone in it into some kind of stars.

Judith Light particularly shines as the wife of murder victim #4, Marilyn Miglin, the Home Shopping Network’s “Queen of Perfume.” She is in complete denial that her real estate mogul husband Lee, was gay. In fact, nearly all the victim’s families refuse to admit their murdered son or husband or father was in any way connected to Andrew Cunanan and the irony is their silence = death, and totally impedes the cross-country police investigation. Andrew Cunanan is the one whose life story is told here, and he is glamorized to the max, just like the life he always wanted to live, like his gay idol fashion designer Gianni Versace, whom he ultimately shot dead at point blank range. He’s like the Talented Mr. Ripley but without the talent. Darren Criss 2

Episodes I and 2 were kind of astounding, majorly helped by the presences of stars Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin and Edgar Ramirez as Versace himself.Cruz magnetizes as Donatella Versace, his sister, who went on to run the fashion empire, but never learned English clearly. She doesn’t show up until a stupendously photographed entrance at the Miami airport, to crowds of paparazzi. Flash bulbs exploding and shooting at her like guns. She embodies the luxe jet set world we are going to be plunged into for Ep.1 & 2.

Judith Light carries the day and will probably win an Emmy for her brittle Home Shopping Network icon in Episode 3. She carries the glamour if not the Versaces with her, as the series shifts to a completely differently local, the Gold Coast of Chicago, where we are compelled to watch the unfolding horror of her super-rich, 72-year-old husband, being bound and gagged and bludgeoned to death by Cunanan,in a scene in their large garage that is stomach churning, and disturbing in its S&M implications.

Darren Criss is unforgettable as Cunanan himself, formerly of “Glee” where he had no challenges other than to sing and be cute. The cuteness factor is still there, but he spellbinds as the handsome gay boy toy who could kill you. Criss astounds with the length and breadth and depth of his range as he grasps every one of Cunanan’s multiple personalities, most of them evil, but at the same time commonplace.

Many have said that the “Why” of these deaths is not explained, but the answer is simple homophobia and the closet. And since it’s a NINE part series, we still have five more episodes to get into the “Why” Having just read Maureen Orth’s page-turner of a book on which this is based, I know what’s coming in the five remaining scenarios. If you want to know all read the book “Vulgar Flavors.” Ricky Martin, who is openly gay himself, plays Versace’s stricken lover, and is utterly refreshing in his candor(and his nudity) as he is the only one of the major characters who is NOT denying that he is gay.

Where I felt the series stumbled a bit was last night’s Episode 4, “The House by the Lake” where the scene again shifts, this time to Minneapolis, and a time when Andrew had people of his own age to relate to, to fall in love with and kill.

David Madson, “the great love of my love” is shown as a very weak soul. An award-winning young architect from a small town in the mid-west, Cunanan kills David Trail, their mutual friend, with a ball-peen hammer right in front of Madson(Cody Fern). Who he then semi-kidnaps for the rest of the week, then kills him when he tries to escape.
The motives are so murky here, and the writing, and Fern’s performance is no match for the star-studded cavalcade that we have seen heretofore.

But there are five more hour-plus episodes to work this all out. Next week, for instance, in Episode 5, we will be focusing on Victim #1 David Trail (Finn Wintrock).Finn Wintrock 1

Set in the ’90’s and brilliantly going backwards in time, it depicts the closeted forbidden loves and lusts of the gay world as it was then. Before gay marriage or any of the rights that we know today.

The police keep dismissing the deaths. as they find them. as merely “gay killings” and therefore of no importance. Until he kills Versace, and that is totally accurate in its’ mundane prejudice and horror.

If all these people only admitted to the homosexuality of the victims, the body count would never have risen so high and the clumsy devil that was  Andrew Cunanan, would’ve been caught right at the beginning.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” has five remaining episodes that can be seen every week on Wednesdays on the FX channel.

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How I Adore “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”!

Seeing “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” for the SECOND time, I couldn’t believe how much I loved it ~ more! I saw it when it first opened this past winter, and I adored how tuneful, how witty and how inventive it was and how ingeniously staged and performed it was by all hands on deck. I thought it was too rich, too lushly melodic, too good, too period perfect(It’s 1908), or too perfect. Period. For Broadway in this loud, flat day & age, but guess what?

It survived the long, horrid winter we’ve had and has come up this Spring blooming with Award nominations! So the SECOND time I saw it, “A Gentleman’s …” was even more delightful, if that’s actually possible, because you just relax and luxuriate in its’ glorious excesses of gorgeousness. malevolence,melody & wit!

WIT! How many musicals on Broadway have this, my most prized delectation! And how I miss it!

Not since Lerner & Lowe have we heard this wealth of sharp lyrics, luxuriant melodies and the rebirth of patter songs. I kept thinking of Rex Harrison’s immortal Henry Higgins all through this juggernaut of tongue-twisting fun. It harks back to the best of George Bernard Shaw, too, in its spot-on depiction of life high and low in Edwardian England. And it’s also thoroughly British, which I love, Anglo-phile that I am.

The opening tableau of a grim, gleeful, rain-soaked chorus all in black sets the tone with “A Warning to the Audience” that “you’d best depart!” at once, if they don’t like murder and mayhem. They re-unite merrily in Act Two’s Opening asking “Why Are All the D’Ysquiths Dying?”

You see, our redoubtable hero, Monty Navarro (the stupendous Bryce Pinkham) is impoverished and grief-stricken at the outset. He is reeling, coming from his beloved mother’s funeral. A strange old woman named Miss Shingle,(pictured above^) whom he doesn’t know from Adam, turns up to comfort him in his Dickensian, down-at-heels bed-sit in a grimy, smoke-stack spewing part of London (kudos to scenic designer Alexander Dodge) to tell him that “You’re a D’Ysquith!” And consequently the heir to a vast fortune, but unfortunately there are eight other D’Ysquiths in the way to his ascendancy to the Earldom of Chislehurst.

The marvelous Jane Carr (the apple of Maggie Smith’s eye in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) turns up here as Miss Shingle, evincing a perfect Cockney accent, and a twinkle in her mischievous eye, to set the plot a-rolling and the pots a-boiling.

She quickly transfers that deadly twinkle to the bereft down-and-outer Monty’s big baby blues and hence a dastardly, dashing, handsome devil of a villain is born.

I.E. The plot is to bump off the eight people standing in his determined way. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a social-climber quite so much!

Monty sings: I am standing here with poison in my pocket,
One eye on the target, one eye on the clock. It
Better happen soon before I lose my nerve and run.
If I had a knife I could have grabbed him,
Then discreetly knocked him on
The head and stabbed him,
Not to mention what I would have done,
If I had had a gun.

And one after the other, in one hilarious set piece after the next, each one a knock-out, literally. (Kudos again to the inventive Mr. Dodge. His back-projections are as hilariously apt as his front-projections) The D’Ysquiths all begin to fall like nine (or rather eight) pins in an East End bowling alley. That they all are played by the incredible Jefferson Mays is simply beyond astounding. And each one of the doomed D’Ysquiths are meticulously differentiated from the other. He’s a one-man cast of thousands ~ of dead people.

In case all of this is sounding a tick familiar, “A Gentleman’s Guide…” is based on the book “Kind Hearts and Coronets” that the famous movie starring Alec Guinness is also based upon. And Jefferson Mays fills the bill quite, quite well.

Mr. Jefferson Mays is, of course, the esteemed Tony recipient of “I Am My Own Wife,” where once again he showed his chameleon versatility playing multiple roles in a one-man show. Though sweating and spitting up a storm in Act One, he nevertheless engages the audience’s affection and admiration as the bodies pile one upon the other in seemingly endless succession, all them bodies his. And who knew he could sing and dance like that?

D’Ysquithian highlights abound as we await the next deliciously daffy dispatch of one dastardly aristocrat after the other. Without spoiling just how hilariously they all go to meet their maker, there’s one patriotic, and also homo-erotic, number called “It’s Better With a Man” that both Mr. Pinkham and the inevitable Mr. Mays seem to take particular purple relish in.

Bryce Pinkham, Broadway’s newest, hottest leading man, has a lilting tenor, arched eye-brows and chiseled cheekbones. Plus he has the difficult job of making all the many murders of Mr. Mays, be sympathetic, and also empathetic, as well as sexy, as he slashes, and stabs and poisons his way to the top. You root for him to be the sociopath that he becomes. Pinkham has been seen before buried in the chorus of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” and also playing the third lover in the musical “Love’s Labour’s Lost”in the park this past summer. You’ll remember him as the hot guy in silver lame hot pants, and on roller-skates. An agile triple-threat, he.

Keeping the sex count as high as the body count are the beauties battling for his affections, the pink-obsessed blonde Sibella (Lisa O’ Hare) and the brunette soubrette Phoebe(Lauren Worsham). The brilliant director of all this madness is the meticulous Darko Tresnjak and the bloody good music & lyrics are by the two and only Steven Lutvak and Robert L.Freedman(who also penned the tart, smart book). All of these are the gentleman, who will guide you through love and murder, and all are astonishingly making their auspicious Broadway debuts!

And they’ve all been nominated for Tonys! And Drama Desks! And the Outer Critics Circle Awards, too! Ten or eleven! Almost as high as the count of murders! And surely on the way to topping and copping all the awards for “Best Musical of the Year”! Sometimes quality is rewarded on Broadway! T</em>hank the Theater Gods! YAY!

Paul Walker Dead at 40 & Terrible Train Wreck in the Bronx

This is a morning full of death. I see on the Internet that the handsome actor Paul Walker is dead in Hollywood in a fiery crash, not unlike the one that killed James Dean. Walker was a very young-looking 40. And surprisingly had a teen-aged daughter.

And then I turn on the TV and get all the broadcast channels going on endlessly about a Metro North commuter  train derailment in the Spuyten Duvill section of the Bronx, the borough that I grew up in. Four people died and many more injured. I often have taken that train. Life is so fragile.

Death seems everywhere now that the holiday of Thanksgiving is over. New York is particularly a city that goes haywire on a long holiday weekend. Nothing gets done.

Like for instance Fedex was supposed to deliver a package to me, but it has not yet gotten there. And although they are open in some location sites 24 hours 7 days a week, nothing can get done till tomorrow Monday. No drop offs on Sundays, holidays especially. I found this out the hard way.

Show business and entertainment news, which I purport to cover, is a twenty-four/seven situation. It just never stops. Ask Jeffrey Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com He’s complaining that “Don’t I get a day off!?!” Because Paul Walker’s death happened right in the middle of his holiday weekend. You can check out Jeff’s blog, if you want more info on Paul Walker’s horrifying demise.

I never got to interview him in my LONG(three decades) career of interviewing celebrities. So I don’t have a personal memory or anecdote to share. Except that my perception of him was some one attractive and blond enough to work a lot in Hollywood. He was once on the cover of one of Vanity Fair’s Young Hollywood issues, back in the early ’00’s.

I knew he’d work at lot in action films, and he did.

Like for instance the “Fast and Furious” franchise which brought him major stardom, as it were. I never have seen any of the seven immensely successful movies. I don’t even drive, so films about cars usually don’t interest me.

I always see them as weapons of death. And the violent, sudden end of Paul Walker’s life bears that thought out.

I did for some reason unknown to myself now, and lost in memory, I DID see a very good mystery thriller with him in the lead in or around 2001 called “Joy Ride.” And I remember him vividly from that. I thought he was someone who was pretty, but probably couldn’t act, but in “Joy Ride” he showed me that there was much more to him than that. As he and Steve Zahn were a couple of college kids driving(again the car theme) and picking up a psycho killer named Rusty Nail by accident on the CB radio.

Walker pretended to be a sexy female stripper/prostitute named “Candy Cane” and Rusty Nail began stalking their car. Walker had to switch in and out of this hilarious female role vocally. And got in a great deal of trouble for doing so in “Joy Ride” which was anything but. This little known, little-remembered film was also as I looked it up co-written by a young J.J.Abrams! And directed with great suspense by the great John Dahl. It was probably because of Dahl’s directing it that I went. And I was really surprised and glad that I did.

It was truly harrowing, and Paul Walker was just terrific in it. He showed he had potential to grow beyond the teen stuff he was being given at that time. And he did. I always liked him better than his better known contemporary Matthew McConaghey, who I never cared for much, until I saw this year’s stupendous “Dallas Buyer’s Club” which I will be writing more fully about soon.

R.I.P. Paul Walker. You didn’t deserve this tragic, early death.

I FINALLY meet NOOMI!*Swoon* Give that girl an Oscar Nomination!

Well, dear readers, dear cineastes and dear Stieg-0-philes, I FINALLY had my big interview with the legendary Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who has the third and final film of the late Stieg Larson’s  ”Millennium Trilogy”, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” which I liked A LOT, needless to say,opening this week. And she was here in New York to talk about it and to kick off her campaign for an Oscar for Best Actress. She’s Foreign. She’s new. But then so was Marion Cotillard. And look what happened to her! She talked to me and against all odds, she won! And that video is still up and getting over 200,000 hits on YouTube! 

So a Golden Globe nomination from the Hollywood FOREIGN press, I do think she’s already got in the bag, and this year the category of Best Actress is JAMMED to the gills. And the Golden Globes have a bit more lee-way having ten slots. Five for Best Actress, Drama and Five, for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

 Whereas the Oscars of course have only five Best Actress slots. She has a lot of competition this year, whereas Marion didn’t, but if ID-PR and UTA get her out there and talking, so charmingly, so wistfully, as she did with me today. Then VOILA! Noomi might get in!

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know how much I’ve been posting about these books and movies and Noomi. I mean, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been obsessed!

And Nooooomi, which is actually pronounced like that, Like “Nuumi” a long “U” sound and her last name is pronounced like “Replace” but it’s Rapace. I knew I was never going to get the correct pronunciation until I met her today, and what a moment that was!

She floated into the swanky (always) New York City hotel room where we were to film the interview for my Cable Television Show and my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow with such grace and glamour and delicacy, every inch a great European film star.

 And how she managed to float on high heels as tall as the Empire State building, I do not know.

She is very beautiful in person. And indeed her beauty and charm were her major obstacles in over-coming the film director’s reservations in casting her in the first place as Lisbeth Salander, the most famous female character ever to emerge from a work of fiction, a novel (or series of novels) since Scarlett O’Hara.

I am beginning to think that the three novels are really one BIG novel an epic, in Iceland they’d call it a Saga, like “Gone With the Wind”. It’s a Swedish “War and Peace.”

I’ve read the first novel in a serious (ra)pace this weekend, then saw the first film last night, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Phew! 

I haven’t read #2, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” but  I saw the third film “The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest” first a couple of weeks back, as I told you in this blog. And I couldn’t believe the impact it had on me! I felt like I’d had my head blown off ,and I knew I was in the presence of a great screen actress giving a legendary, incomparable performance.

And I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. It’s a VERY complicated story and you really do need to read all three books. (Which I still haven’t) to get the full effect.

Disguised as a crime novel, it really is the late Stieg Larson’s social chronicle of life in Sweden today. It’s an indictment, really. And it isn’t pretty.

Though in the movies the city of Stockholm and the surrounding countryside and many islands all look sumptuous. Stockholm has never looked more beautiful. And at times, it’s so romantically photographed in these films you wonder why its’ beauty hasn’t been used more often as a great, cinematic location.

So last night, also in preparation of this interview, which I was strangely, atypically very nervous about, I watched every single solitary interview Noomi Rapace has done so far in English on YouTube, and there aren’t that many. So far. Just wait….

And of course, everybody asks the same questions of her, and I wasn’t going to do that.

I was determined to ask her things that nobody ever interviewed her about. I wanted to bring out another side of her.

And I knew how to do that. To talk about ICELAND! Where she spent part of her childhood and where she started her film career in Hrafn Gunlagsson’s “In the Shadow of the Raven” as a little child.

Hrafn which is pronounced “Rafe” like Fiennes, is the Icelandic word for Raven, and Gunlaugsson has the reputation of being the most difficult director in Iceland. I know because I was fortunate to have traveled to Iceland twice. Once in December of 1999 for a series of “Christmas in Iceland” shows I did, and once again the following summer of 2000 when the sun is up all day long, for a series of shows(nine episodes!) on film and theatre in Iceland.

So when Noomi realized I just wanted to talk about how beautiful she was, and different from Lisbeth Salander she is, and how talented she was, and how wonderful a place Iceland is to have spent (at least part of) her childhood in, she just melted.

She loves shoes, especially expensive designer shoes, and she was wearing black(her favorite color) sky-high stilletto heels, and I got her to put her feet with the shoes on them on to the low coffee table in front of us and I held her ankle. Turning it for the camera to see in its full effect.

I don’t think I’ve ever held a woman’s ankle before. I’m gay. When would that situation arise? Anyway, she just loved that I got her to show off her VERY shapely Scandinavian cinema goddess legs. She was wearing a skin-tight, black mini- sweater-dress,and her hair is brown, a dark brown, but not black. And when we sat down on these very LOW cushioned chairs in the hotel suite, her dress went up so high, I could barely see it anymore!

This video is going to get A LOT of hits on YouTube!

And she was so delighted to not have the SAME questions asked that everybody else has asked her over and over and over again about Lisbeth Salander.

The magic word was ICELAND!

And I got her to speak Icelandic! I got her to say “I Love You” in Icelandic, and I repeated it to her.

It was a rapturous moment…

I can’t wait to see the video! And you can’t miss it either. But it won’t be up on YouTube for at least a week or so… But when it is it’ll be here www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I brought out her sweet side. SOOOOO different from Lisbeth Salander. Which I feel is one of the great, legendary screen performances by an actress.

I really hope,and WANT Noomi to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress this year, and so does her publicist, of course.

Those three performances in three films, put together and filmed right after each other is an overwhelming achievement. One of the greatest acting feats ever by a woman, I feel, and so do many critics.

I was so excited and thrilled to meet her, I hope I told Noomi all this. But not as succinctly as I’m expressing it now.

What a lovely lady!

And I just HATE David Fincher more and more for not using her in the American adaptation that he is filming now with Rooney Mara.

Noomi was devastated by this.

In one interview, in English on YouTube,she blurted out “They didn’t want me!” And I just wanted to cry.

This tiny, brave, beautiful, young woman put every ounce of her heart and soul and intelligence and TALENT into these three UNFORGETTABLE performances.

And then to be ignored by the Americans!?!…

David Fincher…you made one film already this year that I hated, as you all know, “The Social Network,” and YOUR version of these fantastic books had better be BETTER than the beautiful Swedish versions!!!

I HATED “Benjamin Button,” “The Fight Club” and “The Social Network” and I did like “Zodiac” and “Se7en” which are both about serial killers, a crime genre at which he really does excel. And of course, the Stieg Larson trilogy IS, partially about a serial killer, at least the first book.

But poor Noomi! She’s doing all right though, and seemed to be enjoying the hell out of her New York press day!

And all I can say is ” I LOVE YOU, NOOMI!” I’d say it again in Icelandic, if I could remember it, and GIVE THAT GIRL AN OSCAR NOMINATION!?!?!?

Just finished”The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”

It looks like a lovely fall day outside in New York…Ah, Autumn in New York…Supposedly the best season…When I was living in London, I always used to fly back to New York in Sept./Oct, missing the heat and humidity of the summers and leaving before the blistering cold of the winters…

Just finished reading “The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”! Phew! My first complete Steig Larson novel experience, and yes, it’s a terrific read. “Unput-downable” as  a colleague  of the late Larson says in the upcoming FOURTH volume. And it certainly is…

So tragic that this brilliant writer is dead. He could’ve gone on and on giving us more Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Bloomkvist thrillers…but at least we have the three he lived to complete…

According to a mention in the upcoming FOURTH volume, which is a collection of articles about him and essays AND HIS EMAILS! That there was an uncompleted three-quarters of a FOURTH volume and an outline for a fifth in his computer…when he died of heart attack at 50. And the tragedy of his early death just overwhelms me…He never lived to see this all happen. So sad…And the emails between him and his editor Eva Gedin are frustratingly few and brief and end sooo abruptly…He sounded like he was working himself to death before these books came out…

Why is this all so gripping?

Well, Lisbeth Salander is just this GRRRRRRREAT literary creation and her outrageous, rage-filled character is dropped right into the middle of a VERY traditional formula= the crime or suspense novel.  Or for mystery fiction  She’s a great detective. Which is what this really is and why this really works so well. It’s a whodunnit in the great Agatha Christie style. Miss Marple is now a punk rock hacker.

the eccentric,brilliant bisexual biker/hacker, Lisbeth, with her nose and eyebrow piercings and her spiky hair, COULDN’T be more unique in this type of genre. Or any genre really. She just JUMPS off the page at you and GRABS your attention and holds it for the duration. Just as the equally brilliant and intense Swedish/Icelandic/Spanish actress Noomi Rapace does in the movies.

And she’s balanced by her Sherlock Holmes, the banal, middle-aged investigative reporter Mikael Bloomkvist, who is the stolid, plodding alter ego of the late Larson himself, I’m guessing.

 So the audience has HIM to identify with, if they can’t wrap their heads around the quirky, surly Lisbeth, whose personality is as spiky as her hair-do. She’s a punk Dr. Watson, who keeps stealing the stage from Mikael Bloomkvist, her unlikely partner-in-crime solving…

Having seen the THIRD movie FIRST(I do everything backwards) this is beginning to make much more sense.

There’s a vast cast of supporting players and that did confuse me for a bit in the “Hornet’s Nest” movie. I didn’t “get” Bloomkvist and his relationship with his ex-wife, his teen-aged daughter and also the married co-publisher of the magazine he writes for who is named Erika Berger, who he has this very Scandinavian on-again, off-again sexual relationship with.

In the movie, she’s played by the great Bergmann actress Lena Anders, and I thought it odd that she took such a supporting role, but now I see why. She’s a major character in “Snake Tattoo” and obviously  continues that way through all the films and all the books. So it’s the middle one that I still have to try to finish before I interview Noomi Rapace on Wed.

But I’m doing  my homework!

And being gripped by “Snake” which is in the end quite quite sick and shocking….I just COULDN’T STOP reading it!

Well, Steig Larson was re-inventing and expanding a very tried and true formula, the  detective murder mystery and putting a very mod, Swedish gloss on it. And Sweden itself is a delightful, major character here. In the third movie “Hornet’s Nest”, Stockholm looks like an amazingly new, refreshing romantic locale, and nothing at all the like Stockholm of Ingmar Bergmann’s movies. It’s like some place we’ve never seen before. It’s enchanting…and also frightening.

Mikael Bloomkvist, when we first met, in the first several chapters, is actually quite boring. I almost didn’t make it any further – then BLAM! Lisbeth Salander enters the scene and she just TAKES over the book, as she does the movie, in her intense, fascinating way.

So I look forward to reading Book 2 “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and to interviewing Noomi Rapace herself on Wed.! I’m having a Stieg Larson week, for sure! It’s like a trip to today’s Sweden, and I can’t wait to go back!

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