The House


Homophobia

1. "Hollywood's Homophobia Is Even Worse than You Think." GLAAD's "Studio Responsibility Index" finds Hollywood fails at LGBT representation.

"One of the best features of the GLAAD study is that they not only point out what's wrong with Hollywood and the current studio approach, they give advice as to how the situation can be improved in future years. This year's study asks studios to make a real effort to include L.G.B.T. characters in genre films, specifically the hugely popular superhero film franchises. Diversity in the comics world has, of late, been growing by leaps and bounds, but it's fairly scathing indictment that the only L.G.B.T. Marvel movie character in 2013 was a cameo from real-life MSNBC anchorman Thomas Roberts in Iron Man 3. Genre Y.A.-book franchises are often a great source for L.B.G.T. diversity which is why, believe it or not, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, receives some of the highest praise from GLAAD for it's inclusion of not one, but two fully fleshed out gay fan favorites."

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: a master builder, cameron diaz, fifty shades of grey, galaxy quest, glaad, hollywood, homophobia, jordan hoffman, sex tape, stephen follows, wallace shawn


The TruthKeith Mabbut, the protagonist of Michael Palin's second novel, The Truth, represents, in this age of climate change and rampant capitalism, an updated version of the failed academic: the failed environmentalist. Like Michael Beard from Ian McEwan's Solar and Walter Bergland from Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Mabbut is middle-aged and full of compromise. He, too, has relationship problems, and his career has failed to measure up to early potential.

One of the advantages, it seems, of the failed-environmentalist protagonist is the way an author gets to confront the character with something much larger than themselves, which both makes them feel small in comparison and forces them to accept their own limitations. In The Truth, Mabbut's foil is manifold: the destruction and ransacking of nutrient-rich geographies of India, a business of publishing, and a seemingly perfect figure whose life it is Mabbut's job to chronicle. Once a promising, award-winning environmental journalist, Mabbut now earns money by writing puff books for oil companies, like Triumph in Adversity: The Official History of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal. He and his wife have separated, his daughter Jay has taken up with an Iranian refugee, and his son, who lives with the mother, takes a guarded approach to his father. Sickened with his hackwork, Mabbut decides to finally get serious about his planned trilogy of novels, only to get interrupted by an offer he can't refuse: the biography of Hamish Melville, a famously reclusive environmental activist. Though suspicious of the publisher's intentions (the outfit, after all, is ominously called Urgent Books), Mabbut sets off to India to find the renowned crusader.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: freedom, ian mcewan, jonathan franzen, Michael Palin, monty python, solar, steve martin, the truth


The Judge

1. "Toronto Film Festival Lineup Announced." The festival has unveiled a first round of titles for its 2014 edition.

"The 39th Toronto International Film Festival has announced its initial slate of galas and special presentations, which includes 37 world premieres and several films with Oscar ambitions. The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as a big-city lawyer who reluctantly returns home and ends up defending his revered father (Robert Duvall) against criminal charges, will have its world premiere in Toronto. His Avengers pal, Chris Evans, will unveil his own directorial debut in Toronto, titled Before We Go. Also noteworthy: James Gandolfini's final film, The Drop, which also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace; another Jason Reitman Toronto world premiere, Men, Women and Children, starring Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler; the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything; and films directed by Jon Stewart and Chris Rock. Toronto made some changes this year, motivated by the increasing competition for world premieres from rival fall festivals. Since films like Foxcatcher and David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars debuted in Cannes, they won't be slotted during the fest's first four days, which are being reserved strictly for world premieres. In recent years, the Telluride, Venice, and New York festivals had poached some big titles from Toronto, and TIFF is now making an effort to reward films that hold their premieres for the trip north. The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14."

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: bechdel test, david ehrlich, george lucas, israel, kevin b. lee, mallory andrew, palestine, radiohead, sound on sight, star wars, the dissolve, toronto international film festival


Annie Hall

Forty-four features over 48 years. That's a lot of cinema to emerge from the mind of one man, however tireless and prolific. Woody Allen's approach to filmmaking shares more in common with the routine, unfussy diligence of the classical studio era than modern auteurism, which is to say that Allen treats his vocation less like a tortuous calling than, well, a job, something to sit down and do every day. His latest feature, Magic in the Moonlight, arrives in theaters this week, maintaining a release streak that has brought us nearly a film a year for going on five decades. Allen has a reputation for discarding each film as it passes him by, not bothering to reflect on their importance or worry about their legacies; his attentions are drawn to what's next so quickly that he hardly has time to bother with his own history. It's safe to say that Allen wouldn't have much time for a list such as this. Still, the canon cries out for rejuvenation, and so we size up another annual Allen tradition: the commemoration of his greatest hits.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: annie hall, bananas, crimes and misdemeanors, diane keaton, gordon willis, hannah and her sisters, love and death, magic in the moonlight, manhattan, manhattan murder mystery, sleeper, the purple rose of cairo, woody allen, zelig


James Garner

1. "James Garner Dead at 86." Gene Seymour remember the film and television legend.

"He was the logical synthesis of John Wayne and Jack Benny. Interlace the Duke's measured drawl and virile swagger with Benny's comic timing and shrewd use of wordless exasperation, and you have James Garner, who died Saturday night in Los Angeles at 86. His persona: Laid-back pragmatist...or, if you needed to be a tad more provocative about it, coolly principled coward. It endeared him to generations of moviegoers and television viewers. Garner's most cherished roles shared, to varying degrees, a bent gallantry that saw little need to advertise or flaunt itself before others. In his entry on The Rockford Files—the 1974-80 TV series in which Garner played a perennially, often unjustly besieged private detective living in a trailer—Gene Sculatti's The Catalog of Cool summed up 'Gentleman Jim's beat message: Very few expenditures of energy are worth the effort. Like Zen, man.'"

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: anthony michael d'agostino, benedict cumberbatch, bernardo bertolucci, bilge ebiri, david lynch, Elaine Stritch, gene seymour, James Garner, last tango in paris, louis c.k., magic in the moonlight, me and you, sierra mannie, the imitation game, twin peaks, twin peaks: fire walk with me, woody allen


The Leftovers

If you, like me, were cautiously optimistic that "B.J. and the A.C." would replicate the focused structure and rich characterization of last week's "Two Boats and a Helicopter," a celebration of sorts is in order. "B.J.," eccentric and tersely expressive, may not yet signal a trend, but for the first time since The Leftovers premiered, I'm not simply enamored of its potential, I'm excited by its proficiency with an unorthodox brand of suburban drama, part Left Behind and part Leave It to Beaver.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: amanda warren, Amy Brenneman, ann dowd, annie q, b.j. and the a.c., Carl Franklin, carrie coon, chris zylka, damon lindelof, elizabeth peterson, Justin Theroux, lesli linka glatter, liv tyler, recap, the leftovers


Cherry Jones

Cherry Jones loves company, so it's fitting that she plays the proprietor of a bed and breakfast in When We Were Young and Unafraid. You won't find the actress demanding her own dressing room, starring in a one-woman show, or refusing to talk to someone who recognizes her. She's motivated most by a desire for connection, deep and true, with her role, the other actors, and the audience. Jones balances this yearning for communion with a sense of loneliness—yet none of it seems neurotic. She's from Tennessee, with an old-fashioned forthrightness that distinguishes her work and conversation. After all, when she won the Tony Award for The Heiress, she became the first Best Actress to out herself by thanking her then-partner, Mary O'Connor. Jones did so simply, treating it not as a landmark, but the easiest, most natural thing to do. In similar no-nonsense fashion, she exposes her characters' desires and shortcomings with neither elaborate techniques to distance herself from them nor self-congratulation.

The open-faced actor currently has her work cut out for her playing the emotionally shut-off Agnes. Playwright Sarah Treem, a writer and co-executive producer on House of Cards, endows Jones's character, who's forced to deal with other people every waking moment, with limited social skills. As a result, the actress not only has to master a steady stream of rituals as if they're second nature; she has to alter her own essential transparency. This frisson adds a layer of tension to an already fraught work, which ambitiously maps out the personal and political crosscurrents navigated by American women in 1972. Agnes's B&B serves as a clandestine shelter for abused women, and while trying to protect her young ward, Penny (Homeland's Morgan Saylor), from the everyday predations of high school boys, she takes in a savagely beaten young wife, Mary Anne, (Zoe Kazan). Soon Agnes attracts the attention of Hannah an African-American lesbian separatist, made charismatically believable by Cherise Boothe.

Agnes is in her 50s. The three other women in When We Were Young are in their teens, 20s, and 30s. Before a performance of the play, I spoke with Jones about going through each of those stages in her own life and work.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: 24, Cherise Boothe, Cherry Jones, doubt, doug hughes, john patrick shanley, Morgan Saylor, our country's good, pam mackinnon, pandora's box, Sarah Treem, sisterhood is powerful, the baltimore waltz, the glass menagerie, the heiress, tony awards, when we were young and unafraid, zachary quinto, zoe kazan


Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an ActorArt-making is too often discussed in terms that implicitly liken it to magic, thusly neglecting the truth that it involves work that resembles the day-by-day toils of many other ostensibly plainer occupations. With Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor, film critic Glenn Kenny quietly pushes against that mythology. A compassionate, pragmatic anti-sentimentality, or an attempt at one, serves as the through line for his examination of one the most mythologized of all screen actors. In his introduction, Kenny writes of "De Niro's reluctance to do interviews, and his seeming stumbling while doing them, his famous taciturnity in contrast to his preternaturally vivid presence on screen, created a mythology that itself spawned a counter-mythology. It made De Niro as famous for being an enigma, a code that a journalist or critic with just the right amount of persistence and perspicacity could crack. But what if the answer is right in front of our faces, and always has been?" The author follows that with a quote in which director Elia Kazan (who worked with De Niro on The Last Tycoon) claims that the actor is among the hardest working that he's collaborated with, and the only one who asked to rehearse on Sundays.

In other words, Kenny brings De Niro down to earth as a working artist, which serves to somewhat ironically reawaken your awe for the actor and the profound emotional nakedness that he once achieved reliably in one performance after another. Reading this, one wonders, not why De Niro drifted toward less immersive a-job's-a-job roles, but how he plumbed himself as deeply as long as he did. The author emphasizes detail, connecting physical gestures from one role, sometimes mercilessly, to their repetition in another film (such as the reappearance of a "shoo" motion from Goodfellas in Awakenings.) He paints De Niro unsurprisingly as a master craftsman who's intensely devoted to analysis and rehearsal, which he, somewhat, ineffably fuses with his personality and his soul. (I'm indulging my own mythology.) Following the familiar Cahiers du Cinema "Anatomy of an Actor" template, Kenny discusses 10 "iconic roles" in De Niro's canon that serve to shape the actor's career as he evolved from galvanic acting titan to controversial "sell-out" to an inevitably mellower character actor who's still capable, nevertheless, of imbuing a questionable project or under-respected performer with a bit of prestige by association.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: awakenings, bang the drum slowly, elia kazan, glenn kenny, goodfellas, jerry lewis, jodie foster, manny farber, martin scorsese, mean streets, midnight run, paul schrader, raging bull, robert de niro, robert de niro: anatomy of an actor, Some Came Running, stone, taxi driver, the godfather: part ii, the last tycoon, the wolf of wall street


Summer of '89: Shag

ShagHaving grown up in Bloomington, Indiana and graduated from high school in 1959, George Lucas's American Graffiti, a nostalgic view of teenagers living in a small town, naturally struck a chord with me when it came out in 1973. Eight years later, so did Bob Clark's 1954-set Porky's, a more accurate depiction of the horniness of the American teenage male. Then came 1989's Shag, and what with its story looking back to 1963 and focusing on the experience of a group of teenage girls, it felt like a delightful corrective, not least of which because these characters were allowed to be horny too. At one point the girls talk about boners and one of them, Pudge (Annabeth Gish), says this of her friend Mary Pat: "This cousin of hers dated a Clemson Tiger who sprained his in a game, and she had to massage it every night when it got hard because he was in so much pain." Another girl, Melaina (Bridget Fonda), replies, "Mary Pat told you that?" Clearly we were at the beginning of the long, curvy road to Sex and the City and beyond.

I wasn't the only person to see the connection to Porky's. Robin Swicord, who wrote the final drafts of the script, was working from an earlier draft by the team of Lanier Laney and Terry Sweeney. Their script was about a group of girls on vacation at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Swicord—in an interview for the 1995 edition of the Film Writers Guide—described it as "a little bit more like Porky's (1981), it was about finding moonshine liquor. That was the plot; 'Can we get drunk?'" Swicord said her "version of it was like a summer weekend that I spent with my girlfriends in a town very much like Myrtle Beach." She felt she "accomplished making Southern girls who were not ridiculous and simpering. We knew that they were comic characters, but we also knew that they were real." The characters aren't deep, but they're very sharply drawn and imminently playable. I liked them when I first met them in 1989, and liked them still when I encountered them again in preparation for this piece.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: american graffiti, Annabeth Gish, bob clark, Bridget Fonda, george lucas, lanier laney, page hannah, Phoebe Cates, porky's, Robin Swicord, Scott Coffey, shag, summer of 89, terry sweeney, tyrone power jr.


Elaine Stritch

1. "Elaine Stritch R.I.P." The tart-tongued Brodway actress and singer is dead at 89.

"Plain-spoken, egalitarian, impatient with fools and foolishness, and admittedly fond of cigarettes, alcohol and late nights--she finally gave up smoking and drinking in her 60s, after learning she had diabetes, though she returned to alcohol in her 80s--Ms. Stritch might be the only actor ever to work as a bartender after starring in a Broadway show, and she was completely unabashed about her good-time-girl attitude. 'I'm not a bit opposed to your mentioning in this article that Frieda Fun here has had a reputation in the theater, for the past five or six years, for drinking,' she said to a reporter for The New York Times in 1968. 'I drink, and I love to drink, and it's part of my life."

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: conan o'brien, dave franco, dawn of the planet of the apes, Elaine Stritch, kyle buchanan, larry smith, louis c.k., Matt Reeves, orange is the new black, tinder






The HouseCategories



The HouseThe Attic

More »



Site by  Docent Solutions