Nathaniel Rogers Hub




It's Oscar Weekend! Here are the Predictions. What Are Yours?

  Neil-patrick-harris
Oscar & Neil. They're always in demand.

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Hollywood's High Holy Night is nearly upon us. We're just two away from all the gold, glamour, grins, grimaces (hidden under aforementioned grins) and gowns. Neil Patrick Harris, who's been steadily ascending the awards show mountain will finally reach its peak to host the 87th Academy Awards this Sunday. To make sure you're prepared for your office pool and your parties, here is a quick rundown of what to expect.

PERFORMANCES
Because NPH is a triple threat and because the producers of the ceremony are also partially to blame for the resurgence of the modern movie musical, expect lots of song & dance. The Best Original Song contenders will be performed by Adam Levine ("Lost Stars" from Begin Again), Rita Ora ("Grateful" from Beyond the Lights), Common and John Legend ("Glory" from Selma), Tim McGraw ("Not Going to Miss You" from Glenn Campbell: I'll Be Me) and Tegan and Sara ("Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie).

Other performers scheduled are Jack Black, Anna Kendrick, and Jennifer Hudson though we don't know what they'll be performing. They always try to keep some secrets but one prevailing rumor is that there will be a tribute to The Sound of Music (1965) which hits its 50th anniversary the week after the Oscars. Presenters include last year's acting quartet Blanchett, Leto, McConaughey, and Nyong'o as well as "sorry we didn't nominate you and we realize you had a good year" people like Chris Pratt and Jennifer Aniston.

PREDICTIONS, AFTER THE JUMP...

Oscarback.0.0-1
do you think Oscar wishes he had more of a bubble butt?

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Sundance Double Review: 'I Am Michael' and 'The D Train'

7_michael

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

One of the most interesting trends of this year's Sundance Film Festival is confrontational stories about people being pushed out of or willfully stepping away from their sexual comfort zones. THE DIARY OF A TEENAGER GIRL has earned the best reviews and the most press but let's discuss two films with more LGBT appeal.  I AM MICHAEL, a drama about religion and homosexuality, and THE D TRAIN, a comedy about a high school reunion, feature grown men whose lives spiral out of control when they stray from their true selves. 

How many gay kids growing up confused about what they were feeling within religious environments used this Bible verse in ways that would horrify fundamentalists?

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
-Matthew 7:7 

It's a lovely sentiment whether you're religious or not. Everyone needs to know themselves and find their own way. Those who've come before us lay down tracks for us to follow but we all still have to choose which to take or construct our own. But Matthew's promise won't work for everyone. What if you don't know what to ask, don't know what you're looking for or, like the protagonists of these movies, are totally unsatisfied with the knowledge you already have about your true character?

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Zachary_Quinto_James_Franco_I_Am_Michael.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

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Holiday Must-See Movie: 'Into the Woods'

  Intothewoods-merylpoints
"Go to the wood!" is Streep's wish your command? 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic INTO THE WOODS. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Itw_CinderellaWhen it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review.

No, of course what really matters is the blame
Somebody to blame.
Fine, if that's the thing you enjoy, Placing the blame,
If that's the aim, Give me the blame-

So back to Into the Woods . Does it survive the transfer? With so much baggage brought into the movie theater I’ll admit that a traditional review has been tough to write. So herewith a ranked list of the musical numbers (in their current form) as a sneaky way to coax out all those thorny blinding feelings.

Intowoods-redenters

The list, from worst to best, is AFTER THE JUMP...

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Interview: Cheyenne Jackson 'Gets On With It' in Two Memorable Gay Films

  Cheyenne-gena
Cheyenne with his legendary co-star at a recent Academy screening of "Six Dance Lessons..."

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Cheyenne Jackson's gone Hollywood. Though the 39 year old actor and self proclaimed "Broadway Baby" came to fame via musicals like "All Shook Up" (Theater World Award, 2005) and "Xanadu" (Drama Desk nomination 2008) and promises to return, TV and film came calling soon thereafter and appear to have stuck. His most notable early filmed roles were as a heroic passenger in the Oscar-nominated true story United 93 (2006) and a recurring gig on Emmy favorite 30 Rock as Danny Baker, a singing actor with a voice so beautiful he gave Jenna Maroney "rage strokes."

Loveisstrange-policemen

That first flush of mainstream success seemed to have been briefly eclipsed in the media by upheavals in his personal life, a divorce from his first husband and sobering up. But Cheyenne is eager to move on from that topic which he feels was overblown by the media. "Definitely with the gay press, it was rough there for a bit. Things were never not together; I think that's the misconception," he explains. Was it a rough patch? "I guess other people can think of it that way but to me it was just the next chapter. Time to clean up." 

And the next chapter is moving along well. After his brief note-perfect cameo in the Liberace movie Behind the Candelabra (2013) he's filmed several more roles including a small part as half of a gay cop couple affectionately referred to as 'The Policewomen' in one of this year's very best films LOVE IS STRANGE (2014, reviewed here). Ira Sachs moving drama recently won a handful of Spirit Award nominations.

As a longtime fan of Cheyenne Jackson, I confess to an atypical case of the nerves during our phone interview from separate coasts. Cheyenne helpfully tells me to imagine him in his underwear, and we both laugh immediately realizing that is not going to help. 'No wait. Maybe not. Maybe not'.

 

NR: Things seems to be on a real uptick in terms of your movie career!

CHEYENNE JACKSON: I’ve really kind of thrown myself into film and it’s been great. Some make their way to theaters, some go video on demand, some get nominated for things. I live out here now so it’s easier.

NR: Your new film SIX DANCES IN SIX WEEKS just opened this weekend. We don't see Gena Rowlands in lead roles much these days but she's one of the most influential actors of all time. How did your casting happen and how nerve wracking was is to work with her?

   Sixdance-tango

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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Interview: Daniel Ribeiro on His International Hit Film 'The Way He Looks'

  Wayhelooks-dance
New student Gabriel (Fabio Audi) and his blind classmate Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) in "The Way He Looks"

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Nine months after its debut at the Berlinale festival, the gay Brazilian hit THE WAY HE LOOKS (reviewed earlier at Towleroad) is still collecting the hearts of audiences everywhere it shows. And that's a lot of places now. After theatrical runs in France and Brazil it's currently playing in multiple US cities, in the UK and Hong Kong and soon expands to Taiwan and Sweden. This super charming coming-of-age movie charts the slow blooming romance between Leo, a blind student, and Gabriel, the new kid in town. Leo's best girl friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) doesn't react well. If you haven't seen it yet, seek it out. You'll have a new favorite to add to your Best Gay Movies list.

Daniel+Ribeiro+Film+Maker+Afternoon+Tea+bbFC0__pR3ClThose who've already fallen for its assured storytelling and sensitive acting might be surprised to hear that it's the debut feature of not only its young writer/director but also its principle trio of actors. 

I spoke with the 32 year old director Daniel Ribeiro this week about his breakout film which has been selected by Brazil to represent them at the Oscars. 

NR: You’ve been getting great reviews, awards, and audience response since the premiere. Is this the best year of your life or what?

DANIEL RIBEIRO: Probably, yeah! [Laughter] It’s been really exciting.

How did you feel when your film was selected to compete for the Foreign Language Film Oscar?

It was surprising. It's a very political choice for our country. Even if we don’t get selected, it is the film that is talked about now.  

Brazil -- we’re in an interesting place. We have a lot of visibility. People are talking about the issues. Young kids are more comfortable about being out. But we have a lot of problems with LGBT rights. We have a very conservative congress and we have a lot of homophobe congressmen staying stupid things.

That sounds familiar! 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

  Wayhelooks-bike

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Weekend Movies: Jake Gyllenhaal is Brilliant in 'Nightcrawler'

  Nightcrawler-firstsale
Jake Gyllenhaal's got something to sell - "I think you'll want to see this"  

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

It would be disingenuous to claim that Jake Gyllenhaal is unrecognizable in NIGHTCRAWLER. It's hard not to commit Gyllenhaal to memory once you've seen him. But it would be true to say that he is less recognizable in Nightcrawler. The effect is not unlike the rubberneck squinting at the new Renée Zellweger, trying to place the differences that unsettle you. The actor dropped 30 lbs to play his new character and lived on the night shift to prepare and it wasn't for the strenuously faux-noble reason of biographic fidelity. It must be method madness that led him to burrow into this altogether terrific star turn as Lou Bloom, a gaunt sleepless thief turned "journalist". The big difference with this Gyllenhaal is in the eyes. Those big impossibly romantic orbs have lost all their soft blueness. They're suddenly bulging from their skull, like they want to escape it. Or like they're planning to hypnotize you while the mouth delivers its mechanical sales pitch.

And with Lou Bloom, the sales pitch never stop. The night owl approaches each conversation like it's a job interview, checking off catchphrases and talking points from his mental checklist. This is all well and good for the film's first reel when Lou is trying to find a job. But when he chances upon an accident one night and sees nightcrawling freelancers filming it, the search is over; he makes it his mission to join this profession. It's here where his can-do "I'm a hard worker" salesmanship begins to ferment and spook.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Nightcrawler-jakepoints

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