A Variety article announces that Dreamworks is remaking Rebecca. There have been many adaptations of the Daphne DuMaurier novel, the most famous of course being Reese Witherspoon’s favourite movie directed by her favourite director Alfred Hitchcock. If you don’t get the Resse reference, it’s because you weren’t stupid enough to have seen This Means War. This re-adaptation also means that this is the girliest thing Steven Spileberg has ever touched second to “Smash.” Anyway, and despite my questions about such a homophobic movie being remade, or how Walter Hollman has had farts better than my casting posts, let’s begin!
MAXIM DE WINTER – Originally played by Sir Laurence Olivier. My Choice: Michael Fassbender. What? I just want the Jane Eyre crew together. I’d even want Judi Dench to play the Florence Bates role. My second choice would be Orlando Bloom who theoretically would bring in the young female fan base. But seriously Bloom has turned down so many roles from the Dominic Cooper Role in An Education to the Aaron Johnston role in Albert Nobbs. And I know this is just a fantasy list but I still want someone who will actually show up.
THE SECOND MRS. DE WINTER – I mean we’re never going to find someone as glowingly beautiful as Joan Fontaine. Stars before her looked like Betty Boop and the ones after her, even ones more elegant like Grace Kelly, were sun-kissed girls. She hasn’t come out in public since the 80’s but during Rebecca she was blond and alabaster. Infuriatingly lily white yet incomparable. Without considering tanned beach regulars of contemporary Hollywood, my main choice is either ones who look too mousy or one who might grow up too fast (and yes, I resent this girl for being just six months older than me and I know someone who knows something about her that’s not embarrassing yet I can’t print here). I choose beauty over age. I choose Sarah Gadon.
MRS. DANVERS – Originally played by: Dame Judith Anderson. A picture is worth a thousand words. My ‘research’ has already shown me that more American actresses – of difference races to boot – can do this faster than their British or Australian counterparts do. I can also just put up Helena Bonham Carter or Charlotte Gainsbourg who has proven themselves to be able to play matronly. But of course this exercise is about new perspectives so let’s give Olivia Williams, still beautiful yet still beautifully evil in The Ghost Writer, this chance.
JACK FAVELL – Originally played by: George Sanders. British actors of the late 1930’s had smarmy gravitas in their early thirties while actors of the same age these days still look like they came out of a dorm room’s uterus. I almost put Fassbender to fill Favell’s shoes so that someone like, as I previously said, Bloom or pretty boys like Cillian Murphy to take the de Winter role. But then I remembered a man who has given us four and a half years of creepy hot yet play the most human role Sanders has ever played: Benedict Cumberbatch.
MRS. EDYTHE VAN HOPPER – Originally played by Florence Bates. But can she be funny? It’s really the only requirement, as the role and the actress who plays her are somewhat on lower billing. She’s a memorable Hitchcockian caricature like all Hitch caricatures are. But how about actresses today. How about someone humble enough to play bit parts yet have won an Oscar for playing someone who talks too loud in restaurants and make a really bad first impression as well as receive bad first impressions of others? My Choice: Emma Thompson.
Apparently Michael Pitt played a young, clean-cut football jock in “Dawson’s Creek,” thus becoming the show’s second most successful alum. I watched the show’s first two seasons but I wouldn’t know. The Michael Pitt that I know is the one who got his rocks off at a tub, as well as other forays into American indie cinema.
The off-Broadway incarnation of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” has its star, writer, and director John Cameron Mitchell plays both the titular East German transsexual rocker and her arch-rival Tommy Gnossis. The film begins with Hedwig singing one of her songs about the origin of love and he might as well be singing about their broken relationship as lovers and mirror images as well as about his disjointed body. In the film, Pitt plays Tommy and we can see the characters in their separate lives when Tommy has become famous and during flashbacks, when Hedwig is still singing in restaurants and Tommy is still a God-fearing 17-year-old. Instead of an off-screen reference, Hedwig now has someone to lust for, to break her heart and to plot revenge against.
Pardon my ignorance on queer trans body politics, but it’s easy to assume that drag is an exterior performance. Camp and sex appeal, essentially. There is some truth to this bravado in the film, as we look at Hedwig’s glazed eyes as he looks into the mirror, looking like one of the deadpan mannequin heads where he places his many wigs. But Mitchell also remarkably infuses interior layers within Hedwig, a confident performer and a vulnerable child. There’s a revelatory scene when he appeals to Tommy that he Tommy loves her, he should also love the front of her. Of course it’s a hard sell. Nonetheless, her drag side is so human that we the audience might be surprised at what she looks like in the end.
Richard Eyre‘s Notes on a Scandal begins with the symbolically named Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) looking out of her classroom window, narrating her low expectations about her pubescent, multiracial students. A lesser actress would read the word ‘progress’ as a racist, but Dench knows to keep the undertones down here and besides, Barbara has taught long enough to see the rough-edged evil within every generation of adolescents and she hates her students equally for that.
The more Barbara gets to know the new art teacher, the symbolically named Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the more she thinks she knows what latter wants. She calls Sheba’s affair with the year 10 student Robert Connolly a middle class fetish to mold any poor person and that Sheba needs rescuing from her loveless and impulsive marriage. Robert joins her so, curtly telling Sheba that she wanted to feel like Bob Geldof. They’re not necessarily wrong – Sheba is a lost character but comfortably so because of her financial stability and beauty, making others covet her, and a character shouldn’t feel needy if she’s wanted back. She hasn’t planned on the husband (Bill Nighy) and children (Juno Temple) but she’s grown to love them.
I’m also still ambivalent about how these major characters place themselves on a morality scale. Barbara and to a lesser extent Robert distrust Sheba as the other, a person similarly inwardly dirtier. There’s obviously some class war here. These working class characters dissociate the bourgeoisie as a prison of appearances and consumerism, both thinking about the affair as if she’s had many. The two are easy to condemn if we forget that Sheba is inadvertently a leech, too.
- Notes on a Scandal (shewhoshallremainmentallychallenged.wordpress.com)
It’s kind of sad that Madeleine Olnek’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks the Same is my first Ed Wood movie, but the experience was fun in this new incarnation. The title, however, isn’t that self-explanatory, only referring to an ad that one of the three lesbian space aliens (Cynthia Kaplan) have given out, their mission on earth is to get their hearts broken.
Shot in cheap digital black and white, the main focus is on Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) who finds her Jane (Lisa Haas), without telling the latter that her stay on Earth isn’t permanent, that Jane is only part of her mission to rid herself on earthling love. But while they’re together, their budding love, the banter of the spies watching the, and the aliens’ creative behaviour actually seems natural. 4/5.
For fear of sounding reductive, here’s a movie about relatively lower middle class people in German-speaking Switzerland. In Off Beat, Lukas (Hans-Jakob Muhletahler), a Zurich based rapper in his mid twenties, is literally going down while his brother Sami (Manuel Neuberger) takes his place in the music game. The relationship between him and older his manager Mischa (Domenico Pecoraio) gets sour when the latter wants Sami into the fold, made more complicated because of drugs, alcohol and the secret romance between elder brother and manager.
The film focuses on the melancholy within Lukas instead of getting more conventional storytelling done. And we know his is a sad movie because it is set and shot in eternal night/dawn/twilight. What the audience gets instead are rap-like narrations, exposing Lukas interior thoughts, his surprisingly convincing love for Mischa as well as thoughts about his fragmented family, especially about his father who never appears on-screen.
We also see Sami ignoring his older brother the way adolescents do, even when the latter is being publicly humiliated or being helplessly young within the adult world he’s thrust himself into. Or Mischa’s reticence in revealing his romance with Lukas, or not doing anything to mend the brothers’ relationship. Or Lukas, a character well performed by Muhletahler, starting rap rivalries like their North American counterparts do. Extras include the worst rap song and the four most creative interpretations of the anthem-like Beethoven’s 7th I’ve heard so far. A slow-paced yet convincing drama. 3/5.
Renée is a documentary about the tennis player/eye doctor Renée Richards, who made a splash in the 1970’s tennis scene because she was born Richard Raskind. There are two threads in this documentary about transformation. The first being the forces, like transphobia, that’s stopping her from taking the top spot. The second are her friendships as both Richard and Renée. We see her in present day dealing with her fractured relationship with her son whom she abandoned and occasionally visits. Renée could have been about both instead of just about Renée, but looking back now, that possibility would have been too depressing, but this film nonetheless decides to show her contentment in changing into a woman. This is also a sports film, and there’s focus on her interest in sports as a man and her technique and flaws on amateur and professional courts, shown in colorfully restored footage. Also Contains short but graphic depictions of sex change operations. 4/5.
Playing before the documentary is a short film called “Love and Other Red Spot Specials,” about a male-to-female transvestite in Australia. I was expecting Chris Lilley.
- Op-Ed Columnist : Between Torment and Happiness (nytimes.com)
The Advocate For Fagdom, about the life and work of Toronto film director Bruce LaBruce, is structurally a bad film. It uses clips of LaBruce’s films that discredits him as scatter brained. The interview subjects explain the provocateur’s work and doing so aimlessly, eventually going off into diatribes about an idea of queerdom and making LaBruce its main representative. A subject even audaciously claims that the shock audiences and actors get from LaBruce’s work is because male actors are more ‘shy’ about performing nudity and sexuality than their female counterparts.
Nonetheless, I just can’t write this movie off because LaBruce is essentially interesting. The POV footage of LaBruce’s hometown are raw and endearing. That there’s one subject who actually discourages LaBruce’s use of the latter’s experimental film influences. That John Waters talking censorship in Ontario is actually pretty funny. He also talks about the men in LaBruce’s early work with clips that surprisingly aren’t gratuitous. And yes, we probably share the same taste in men. The film is a good introduction to the man, which the only thing it needs to be. 3/5.
- Hot Docs 2011 (jwhyteappleby.wordpress.com)