Archived entries for TV and Movies

Coop on Carter

I was re-reading old blog posts when I came across this one, in which Anderson Cooper talks about his brother’s suicide in an essay on CNN.com. The piece is rife with fascinating quotes and observations on life and death and is a must-read! The ending zinger is rather profound:

I used to think suicide was a conscious act. A plan made, then carried out. I know now it’s not always like that.

My brother was a sweet young man who wanted to be in control. In the end, he simply wasn’t.

None of us are. We all dangle from a very delicate thread.

The key is not to let go.

500 Days of Summer

Just saw “500 Days of Summer,” a cute boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl doesn’t kind of film. My friend Brian said I HAD to see it, describing it as a perfect depiction of my life.  I have to admit it DID feel a bit like I was watching my life flash before me on the big screen. My BFF Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a good job playing “me.”

The zinger at the film’s end, after Tom and Summer have split and she has gotten married, is so simple and so profound. It’s like Brian said to me one day: “How can two people have so much fun then one completely disappears?”

Continue reading…

Bruno

I’m not a huge movie guy — I’ve only seen three movies in the past three years — but Bruno totally cracked me up. In fact, I saw it twice this past weekend. It was that good! Truth be told, I’m not sure what’s more amusing: this laugh-out-loud film, or the objection to it by so many — both gay and straight.

As for the claims that this movie actually encourages homophobia by showcasing such a wildly effeminate man, I have to agree with Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, who told CNN: “You’d really have to be quite dense and idiotic to think this is was in any way an accurate reflection of the way gay men live their lives.”

A lot of people are getting worked up over this. Like an unfortunate number of LGBT organizations, GLAAD seems to be particularly out of touch with reality (again), putting out this ridiculous statement. I’m all for equality — but as gay blog Queerty says, “gay rights organizations are in the business of crying foul whenever someone or something does anything to remotely offend the community, which gets interpreted as oppression.”

We’re living in a “Post PC” world. Does anyone take this stuff serious anymore? (Apparently, some do.) Why waste the energy? Live a little…laugh a lot.

Regardless of what one thinks of the film’s content, there is absolutely no disputing that Sacha Baron Cohen is a brilliant actor, and brave as hell. Two thumbs up.

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“Outrage”

outrageToday I had the distinct pleasure of seeing “Outrage,” the new documentary out this week that takes aim at politicians and public officials, alleged to be gay, who have been leading double lives — playing gay in private while simultaneously voting against equal rights legislation. Doing one thing in private while railing against it in public is so not cool.

The film’s on-screen “sources,” credible names like Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin; Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank; ex-Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe; CNN commentator Hilary Rosen; and ex-HRC head honcho Elizabeth Birch — plus staffers and ex-lovers of the exposed — name names. But they certainly don’t out simply for the sake of outing. As radio commentator Michelangelo Signorile has so eloquently put it, this film isn’t about outing. It’s about reporting the truth about people who are gay but who have used their power and privilege to deny rights to gay people.

I’ve never been one to support outing. But there is a limit to personal privacy when your actions — limiting marriage to straight couples, banning gay adoptions, allowing employment discrimination to persist, and voting against funding for AIDS research and prevention — are injurious to millions of Americans. “There is a right to privacy, but not a right to hypocrisy,” House rainbow-striper Barney Frank succinctly puts it.

Those among the “named” have been named before, and they’re really no surprise: people like airport-loo-toe-tapper Idaho Sen. Larry Craig; chief-of-staff-dater Calif. Rep. David Dreier; frat-boy-lover Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery; phone-sexer Virginia Rep. Ed Schrock; and in the most egregious and bizarre example, Florida Gov. Charlie “i’ve-started-dating-a-woman-because-there’s-an-election-coming” Crist, whose personal life — and his record of finding girlfriends just as a campaign or appointment looms — truly defies any explanation.

outrage_quoteThe other very shameful theme that rises to the top is the widely-known reality that the GOP excludes its gay members, or those rumored to be gay, from rising to any position of leadership. Gazillion-term Congressman David Dreier, being too “moderate,” was cited as one example of this. To be sure, it’s their party, and they certainly have a right to run it the way they choose, but to do so at the expense of ordinary Americans is shameful. The mainstream media doesn’t have a stellar record, either: “There exists a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy to keep gay and lesbian politicians as closeted as possible,” begins the film.

The film could have gone on for days naming names. There was no Mark Foley and no Aaron Schock (though, to be fair, the rumored-to-be-gay Illinois congressman just entered office, but he has already voted against expanding hate crimes legislation to include LGBT people). But Outrage is sure to serve an important purpose in bringing anti-gay hypocrisy to the fore, and hopefully a gay politican or two out of the closet. Here’s hoping for a sequel.

My recommendation: run, don’t walk.

The curse heard ’round the world

No TV outburst has ever been quite as amusing as this week’s gaff by WNBC’s Sue Simmons. The other night, during a tease for the 11 o’clock newscast, she must have thought her mic was off because this came out of her mouth…I’ve been watching the clip on loop for days and it just gets funnier each time.

Real Housewives of New York

real_housewives_nycI have such severe ADD that I can’t really watch TV very long without becoming completely distracted (I haven’t seen a movie since 2005, if you can believe it!), but the Real Housewives of New York is keeping my attention. It’s truly trash television, and I’m transfixed by it. The women are completely vapid but I can’t take miss a second of the show (Real Housewives of Orange County was much better, but this is still TV crack).

Everyone watching the show seems to be in agreement: Alex and Simon are a freak show couple. Who brings her husband to girls’ night? And what respectable woman says things like, “Jill is a great person to know. She can introduce to even better people.” As Bethenny mused, “I think Alex overcompensates for insecurity by being pretentious.”

I have an addiction

I realized I hadn’t yet blogged about one of its most spectacular exports: MTV’s “Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County“, the show featuring a group of kids from Newport Beach High School and my new addiction.

To understand the depth of my addiction to said reality show, you must first understand that it’s the one and only show (well, besides Kathy Griffin’s “My Life on the D List”) that I watch. I will literally not turn my TV for a week at a time, but when Wednesday night rolls around I’m primed or at least my TiVo is.

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Variety mag called Newport’s reality TV-twin (“The Hills”) “an exercise in unrelenting vacuity…that’s like ‘The Simple Life’…but with less substance”…and I agree. The Hills is pure ridiculousness. Blonde girls in Benzes in Beverly Hills working fake jobs at Teen Vogue. Who can relate. Newport Harbor is different! At least the high school kids of Newport Harbor are only driving Bimmers and are not pretending to have jobs. They surf and play tennis and throw fabulous parties in their fabulous town and let their parents foot the bill without hiding it.

Last week’s prom episode almost made me cry. (Of course, “Pretty Woman” kills me every time I see it, too, so clearly I’m a sap.) But anyway, the prom featured an amazing Maroon 5 song that I’ve now been playing on loop for days: “Not Falling Apart…download it! Gotta go…episode six is on at 10:30 tonight!

Related: Heidi from “The Hills” gets called out for her bitchy ways

The Passion of the Cowboy

Globe columnist Alex Beam takes a whack at Brokeback Mountain in his latest column. He criticizes the film’s “pretentious, useless soundtrack,” and says moviegoers should be prepared to “endure the heavy-handed morality play; just don’t plan on having a good time.” Though I’m not necessarily in the business of defending the super-hyped film, I disagree with his assessment of the film.

Others do as well. A well-crafted letter to the editor today said, “Alex Beam is free and welcome to state his negative opinion of the film ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ but he makes distorted and misleading assertions about the film and its reception by the public that seem to indicate an effort to cast the film in a negative light.”

• Brokeback pulled from Salt Lake theatre

Randomness

It takes a lot to get me excited about celebrity, but last night I flew from Vancouver to Los Angeles on an Alaska Airlines flight that was carrying some precious cargo: tape of the show “The L Word,” which is filmed in Vancouver but set in L.A. It doesn’t take much to amuse me!

Ex prime-ministers to judge reality show

As if people weren’t tired of seeing Ben Mulroney’s face on billboards across Canada, now we’ll have to look at his dad’s mug, too. It seems the terrifically unpopular ex-prime minister does not want to be outdone by his son Ben, the host of “Canadian Idol.” Brian Mulroney will join three other former Canadian leaders as judges on the new CTV reality show, “The Next Great Prime Minister.”

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The show’s winner won’t become prime minister, but will rather win a cash award by proving his or her political aptitude through the use debate. But as the New York Times so wryly puts it, “The audience may have a better sense than the panelists of who is likely to succeed in politics. Mr. Mulroney is the only judge who spent any sustained time – almost nine years – in power. All told, Mr. Clark, Mr. Turner and Ms. Campbell only spent about 16 months at the top.”

PFLAG

I was fortunate to be able to spend tonight at PFLAG’s annual awards dinner in the company of the very hot Brenda Strong from “Desperate Housewives” (if only you could see her legs in this shot). She is super-tall, stunning, and incredibly charming. Her voice, which shapes so much of the tone of the show, was auctioned off: the lucky winner gets to have her voice on his voicemail.

One of the best quotes from the night came from star of stage and (little screen), Barbara Cook. The honoree, who was featured in PFLAG’s “Stay Close” ad campaign with her gay son, said, “It seems strange to be up here getting an award for loving my son. It’s almost impossible for me to believe that’s not true for every parent.”

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Watch this!

If you only watch one thing I recommend, let it be this.

Please check out what is probably the most stunning interview that has ever appeared on television news. Julie Banderas from Fox News was talking with Shirley Phelps-Roper of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, when things got out of hand. As the Pen15 Club notes, “You have not lived until you’ve seen one of Rupert Murdoch’s Playmates – I mean, lady anchors – get into a scripture quote war with a straw-haired, Bible-thumping wingnut. And you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven when the wingnut calls the anchor a ‘bimbo.’ It’s like watching an argument between Ann Coulter’s id and superego.”

Hate crime in Paradise

The story of the gay-bashing of CBS News producer Dick Jefferson and two of his friends as they vacationed in St Maarten is finally picking up some steam in the press. Today, Good Morning America featured an interview by Jeffrey Kofman with two of the victims.

Dick was knocked unconscious with a four-pronged tire wrench; one of his friends, Ryan Smith, is in a Miami hospital with a crushed skull. Ryan’s boyfriend jumped onto the hood of their assailant’s speeding car to avoid being run over by it. The story is awful enough, but the gravity of the situation really is compounded when you know the person; though I can’t say that Dick is a friend of mine, we have met on numerous occasions through mutual friends at CBS and he has always seemed charming and kind.

• From Kenneth in the 212: My Dick Gets Gay-Bashed

Work for a stallion in New York

Thanks to my friend John who just sent over the gay boy’s dream job: production assistant for Anderson Cooper.

Comedy shows told not to use debate footage

mercer_stronach_0116Canadians are famous for their political satire. But with the federal election just one week away, the country’s popular television news parodies (think “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) have beenordered not to use footage from political debates in their broadcasts following an agreement made between the major political parties and the major networks.

The outlandish Rick Mercer, Canada’s most famous political satirist (pictured here getting a ride from Liberal Party bigwig Belinda Stronach), was angered by the move to disallow use of debate clips in his show, “The Rick Mercer Report,” but as he told the New York Times, he did not use any debate clips in his show, not because of the ban, but because “It’s so pathetic I won’t use it,” he said. “The whole idea of calling it a debate is contemptible. They may as well have just run the parties’ infomercials.”

The producer of “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” another political satire said, “Part of me thought we should put up a big fight, but we’ve had no problem making them look silly without the debate footage.”

I’m headed to Rick’s show in two weeks, just in time to catch the fallout from the election, and can’t wait. He is the funniest guy ever, and cute too (for an old dork).

CNN gives to the gays

CNN today announced a $100,000 donation to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association to endow a new scholarship fund for LGBT college students who plan a career in journalism.

The lobbying that dare not speak its name…

The latest blockbuster: “Kickback Mountain” (thanks David).

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Rosie O’Donnell offers cash to Canadian candidate

America’s lesbian comic-turned-activist Rosie O’Donnell has offered cash support to the campaign of lesbian candidate Peg Norman, who is running for Parliament to represent the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Too bad Rosie’s not Canadian; she can’t contribute to the campaign as an American citizen.

Brokeback

brokebackI walked away from “Brokeback Mountain” last night feeling conflicted. The nearly 2 1/2 hour film flew by, but it left me wanting more. While the movie is clearly catering to a mainstream audience, with only a few dimly-lit grabs and grunts counting for gay intimacy, I can appreciate that it is a revelation for the American film industry because it offers a heartbreaking and not uncommon tale that has never been told on-screen before.

But beyond its novelty, its staggeringly beautiful cinematography (shot in Alberta) and its beautiful soundtrack (which I downloaded as soon as I got home), I thought the script was flat and often times unbelievable, and I thought that the connection between Jack and Ennis was not always there. But the reality is that the pair was not allowed to have the sort of relationship or intimacy that we would like to have seen, and that is the point. The film is as much about society as it is about Jack and Ennis. Brokeback casts light on a subject that has for too long been taboo, and the lack of resolution I felt leaving the theatre is a reflection of the film’s time and place, in which the characters are simply not permitted to flourish in their desire for each other.

I found this interesting summation of the film’s legacy: “It’s impossible to say, but I can imagine twenty years from now, a film class watching Brokeback Mountain and not being able to get what the big deal was. The idea that gay people exist and fall in love and have sex is not foreign in America — the middle has gotten used to that. The real challenge is the concept that gays should be treated with equal civil rights under the law, and that the stereotypes that are so pervasive throughout the mass culture are as unacceptable as stereotypes about any other ethnic group. Brokeback Mountain does little to change the status quo, and will probably be remembered as a popular, but ultimately ineffectual, entertainment.”

To be sure, there were many extraordinary moments, I’ll admit, especially as Heath Ledger’s character, Ennis, breaks down and says, “It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this — nothing, and nobody.” That moment tugged at me. And the character of Jake stirred me, as did the darkness and subtleties of those few minutes Ennis spent with Jack’s mother, which I thought were masterfully done.

• Know before you go: Read the original Annie Proulx short story from the New Yorker. It is a near flawless adaptation; the film often follows the story word-for-word

Canada takes a hit or two

tuckercarlson_1222On his MSNBC program last week, bow tie-wearing pundit Tucker Carlson said Canada is “like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving…He’s nice, but you don’t take him seriously.”

Fox News host Neil Cavuto also commented on the Great White North last week, wondering, “So have the Canadians gotten a little too big for their britches?…Could our neighbours to the north soon be our enemies?”

Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican from Montana,said in a news conference this week, “We have people who farm both sides of the border. So it’s very porous…We’ve got to remember that the people who first hit us in 9/11 entered this country through Canada.”



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