YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Happy Bastille Day! If you didn't watch the Tour de France this morning (if only movie-watching gave you glutes like that!) may I suggest another more cinematic way to celebrate our friends the French today? The French were instrumental in the birth of cinema so it's mandatory to pay homage once in awhile.
You can't go wrong with: Francois Ozon's POTICHE a very funny 70s kitsch-fest with Catherine Deneuve; last year's acclaimed transgendered drama Tomboy; Andre Techine's THE WITNESSES about the early days of the AIDS crisis; Jaques Demy's musical THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT with Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac (Deneuve's late sister) and the one and only Gene Kelly who is currently getting the Centennial treatment here in NYC; the original LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (which begat the stage musical which begat The Birdcage which begat many farcical 'gays pretending to be straight' scenes in lesser movies); or Christophe Honore's polysexual musical LOVE SONGS (pictured) with a super hot cast including the dishevelled ubiquitous Louis Garrell, always welcome sex kitten Ludivine Sagnier and infinitely crush-worthy Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet; and that's just a handful of movie-watching options.
But above all else if you're a Francophile, run out to see Benoît Jacquot's FAREWELL MY QUEEN, a starry sapphic retelling of the Marie Antoinette story which has just opened in select cities.
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) was really into the pastries but this queen is hungrier for a certain Duchess. MORE AFTER THE JUMPDiane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) plays the troubled big-spending queen, Léa Seydoux (Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol), the film's actual lead, is her bosomy devoted servant Madame Laborde, and Virginia Ledoyen (8 Women) is the Queen's Object of Affection, the Duchess de Polignac. The French people were so unhappy with this rumored affair that the ostensibly powerless Duchess was fairly high on the list of the 286 heads demanded for the guillotine! Jacquot clues you in early that he means to tell the famous story differently. For one, it's told "backstage" through the stressful lives of the servants. Consider it the French Revolution: Downton Abbey Edition... without Maggie Smith or the jokes.
It begins on July 14th, 1789 on the fatefully violent day that will become "Bastille Day" though the Royal Court and their massive entourage of servants won't understand what's happening until the news trickles over to them in the country. This Revoluton will not be televised; Jacquot wisely never jumps over to Paris for history lessons but keeps the focus tight on Lamborde's journey as she's drawn closer and closer into the Duchess & Queen's tragic orbit. The movie is immediately unglamourous and alarmingly modern (without the gorgeously stylized anachronisms of Coppola's version). In the very first moments Laborde wakes with an itchy arm from mosquito bites, is taunted by a fellow servant with a dead rat, and scolded by her superior for arriving to see the Queen with a dirty dress. In brief, this is not your typically fussy costume drama. The 100 minute running time, the shortest of any Marie Antoinette feature that I've personally seen, is another example of the film's bracing immediacy.
Farewell my Queen takes place over a few short days and each morning Lamborde is awakened more violently as the threats from Paris escalate. Late in the film, after an innocuous fade to black she jolts suddenly awake gasping and grasping her neck as if she's just lost her own head to the blade. She has possibly lost her head, albeit not literally. And she may have also lost her heart, too. It's a credit to Seydoux that she manages to keep you guessing and interested in what the mysteriously solitary Lamborde is feeling even though her character is a self described "no one". Is her devotion to the Queen your garden variety Stockholm Syndrome or is there something deeper at work? The psychologically knotty climax is both unthinkably heartless and suffused with an elegant gallows romanticism as the three central women become inextricably fused together even as they're scattering away from their home.
There are numerous reasons why the Marie Antoinette story has fascinated artists and storytellers for centuries now. From the Court's commitment to theatrical flamboyance with a blind eye to the consequent suffering of the masses (modern pop culture echos were seen as recently as The Hunger Games this spring), to the complexity of the Queen's lonely gilded cage tragedy played against the backdrop of epic messy violent history. One could argue that the now mythic story is super relevant all over again in this era of rampant socioeconomic injustice and the angry gap between the 1 and 99%.
P.S. if you have no time for the movies this weekend, do something to celebrate the French. The least you could do is watch the haunting Les Miserables trailer again! Anne Hathaway's choked up musicality is thrilling and a reminder that theatrically galvanizing French suffering didn't end with Marie Antoinette's head in a basket. If Hathaway is crying this hard in early 2013 it'll be from Oscar night joy.
Yikes. Have you seen Obama's newest campaign ad? Simple and brutal. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP ...
Michele Bachmann goes Muslim hunting:
The Minnesota Republican ... sent letters to the inspectors general of five government agencies responsible for national security to demand they investigate infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest reaches of the federal government. In particular, Bachmann singled out Huma Abedin, the [Muslim] wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner and a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In case Abedin hasn’t already been through enough already, Bachmann is now questioning her loyalty to the U.S. ...
Another letter targets the Department of Defense ...
A third letter went to the Department of Homeland Security, alleging the department is covering up the Muslim Brotherhood threat ...
"The Muslim Brotherhood has been found to be an unindicted co-conspirator on terrorism cases and yet it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency."
The lesbian sex scene in Black Swan generated more complaints to the British Board of Film Classification last year than any scene in any other movie. (So far, this year's winner is the Daniel Radcliffe vehicle The Woman In Black.)
Mariah might take J-Lo's place on American Idol. No telling who's gonna replace Steven. (My own proposed panel -- of some combination of Lou Reed, Nina Hagen, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones, and the ghost of Klaus Nomi -- has yet to mentioned in the media as a viable possibility. What's up, Simon Fuller?)
"How lesbian couples choose a birth mother."
Straight girl attempts lesbianism:
It was inevitable that at some point, I would attempt to dive a muff. It happened when I was 25. After a series of romantic flops, I was frustrated with boys so I decided to switch over to ladies. Because that's how sexuality works: you choose one when another becomes slightly inconvenient.
This probably wasn't the best week for Daniel Tosh to unveil his new show, but it seems to have gone over well.
Elizabeth Taylor: beautiful mutant.
Wall Street -- kind of like Penn State.
On the origins of disease:
If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of these systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics — AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades — don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature ...
Posted Jul. 14,2012 at 4:56 PM EST by Brandon K. Thorp in 2012 Election, Advertising, American Idol, Barack Obama, Daniel Radcliffe, Gay Parents, Health, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Bachmann, Penn State, Science, Steven Tyler, Video | Permalink | Comments (42)
Indian Village Council Issues 'Diktat' For Women: No Cell Phones, Love Marriages, Or Uncovered Heads
No one, to my knowledge, has polled the inhabitants of the village of Asara, in the Uttar Pradesh state of the world's largest democracy, for their thoughts on marriage equality. If their feelings on women's rights are a hint, it's a way off.
Raw Story reported yesterday that the "predominantly Muslim" village's "panchayat" -- a kind of coucil of elders -- has decreed that women under 40 may no longer use cell phones, lest they use them to pursue unwholesome relationships with young men. Nor may women enter into "love marriages" -- that is, marriages not arranged by their parents. And they must cover their heads in public.
Asara's panchayat has no actual legal authority, but that doesn't mean it's toothless. From Raw Story:
Although their rulings carry no legal weight, they can be highly influential and have been blamed for numerous abuses, such as sanctioning “honour killings” of women whose actions are deemed to have brought shame on their family.
Asara's inhabitants are apparently largely pleased with the panchayat "diktats" on women's behavior ...
... saying they would help prevent young women being misled and forming unsuitable relationships.
“Mobile phones are a curse, especially for girls. I would have been more happy if the panchayat had completely banned girls from using mobile phones,” villager Tarun Chaudhary told the Mail Today.
Police in Uttar Pradesh are already investigating the new panchayat diktats, and hope to make arrests should anyone try to enforce them. But even now, without a single arrest warrant signed, law enforcement's in trouble. From DNAIndia:
Police yesterday questioned Mokim and Mujahid, residents of Asara village, in connection with the diktat.
"Protesting the police action, a mob gathered in front of the Asara sugar mill demanding the duo's release. They beat up two policemen, who had gone there to clear the traffic jam, and torched their motorcycle," IG (law and order) BP Singh said here today.
"I'm From Driftwood," the archivist project devoted to collecting the stories of LGBT folk from absolutely everywhere (and spearheaded by Nathan Manske, who's written for Towleroad), has just put this lovely story on the web. It's about the day Dean Ostrum's wife and kids realized he was gay, and everything that came after. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
Omnipresent anti-gay noisemaker Gary Bauer explained this week on his podcast exactly why there's so much violent crime in Chicago's poorer African American communities. The culprits? Poverty, hopelessness, and ineffective public education.
Just kidding. The culprits are Democrats and gays. RightWingWatch has helpfully transcribed the relevant bits (while kindly tidying up Mr. Bauer's grammar):
I'd like to go to Chicago for a second. I about fell out of my chair watching a recent CBS interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He was lamenting the values, or lack of values, of Chicago's gang culture, as nearly three hundred people have been killed in Chicago this year, many of them little kids. That's higher casualties than we're suffering in Afghanistan. Here's what Mayor Rahm Emanuel said:
"It is about values. As I said then [referring to when a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed last month], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don't buy this case where people say they don't have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don't come near the kids -- don't touch them."
Well, thanks for speaking up Mr. Mayor, you're asking the right questions, but sadly you can't come up with the right answers. Certainly these kids aren't getting their values from their fathers because they don't have fathers in their households. For the past fifty years, Rahm Emanuel's party, the Democratic Party, has made it comfortable for many women to not have husbands in the home. Now Obama and the Democrats have embraced the radical idea of men marrying other men! How is that going to help the black family?
(It could help many black families -- LGBT ones -- by publicly honoring their commitments. And it might make black mothers and fathers less worried about their LGBT kids. And it might make black kids less worried about their LGBT parents. And so on. But never mind.)
Mr. Bauer also took the opportunity to ridicule Mayor Rahm Emanuel for serving in the Clinton White House during the Lewinsky affair -- and so, although it is old news, it may be worth remembering that Mr. Bauer's own presidential campaign, in 1999, was partially derailed by the departure from Mr. Bauer's service of several staffers disgusted over their (married) candidate's apparent improprieties with a young, blond female staffer.
Yesterday, Andy reported on the testimony of Dorian Moragne, one of the three young men accused of beating up 20-year-old gay man Brandon White last February in Atlanta. Moragne insisted that he wasn't in a gang, that he "barely" hit Mr. White, and that he certainly didn't hit Mr. White because he's gay:
“This ain’t what y’all portraying it to be. This ain’t California. We don’t have a history of beating up gay people. All of this stuff you are putting on the media to say we beat gay people so you can pass a law,” he added.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford didn't buy it. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
"Y'all are the ultimate bullies, and you bullied somebody and you hurt him," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford told the defendants. "To me there is no question you did it because of his sexual orientation."
With White looking on in the courtroom, the three defendants offered apologies for their actions.
"I am disappointed in myself because I know better and know right from wrong," Dareal Demare Williams said.
White's beating was captured on video -- the cameraman, Javaris Bradford, has his own upcoming date with Georgian justice; for the moment he remains at large -- and if you must, you may view that video here. The vid's audio certainly makes it sound as though White was beaten for his sexual orientation. Nevertheless, Mr. Moragne maintains that his cohort, Mr. Cain, was verbally provoked.