Nathaniel Rogers Hub




Weekend Movies: The Fault in Our Stars (and a little Maleficent)

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Ubiquitous Shailene Woodley. This time with cancer. 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

MV5BMjA4NzkxNzc5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ3OTMxMTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Shailene Woodley is everywhere. Which... well, I hope you like looking at her face. Not content to be the face of the post-Hunger Games YA dystopia fever (Divergent), she's also continuing that other everygirl thread in her career. She reads more like a girl next door, someone you know, than a STAR!; pretty but not intimidatingly gorgeous, relatable not charismatically mysterious.  She's specalized in earnest portrayals of ordinary teens getting their first taste of the tough stuff in life: death and desertion (The Descendants), disease and disappointment (The Spectacular Now). Hazel Grace Lancaster, her character in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, doubles down and has to deal with all of it. 

Hazel is a 16 year old with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She needs an oxygen tank to breathe, which she drags behind her like a depressing carry-on she wishes she could check. Though she's outlived the initial prognosis she's acutely aware that she'll never grow old. Inbetween flashes of well earned self-pity and sarcasm, she worries about her parents and how they'll survive her death.

She attends a cancer support group for teenagers, at her mother's prodding (Laura Dern, reliably excellent). Mrs Lancaster hopes it will lift Hazel's depression and help her make friends.

Enter the Dreamboat Boyfriend...AFTER THE JUMP

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Weekend Movies (on TV): 'The Normal Heart'

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Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer find love in a hopeless place in "The Normal Heart"

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

It's time for that other most-famous AIDS play to have its moment in the television sun. Larry Kramer's "THE NORMAL HEART," arrived Off Broadway in 1985, a half decade or so before Tony Kushner's long since canonized "Angels in America," but it's taken a longer and more circuitous route to mainstream fame. It's HBO to the rescue again with a television adaptation, which, as with the fate of Angels, came on the heels of a long gestating but never-meant-to-be movie version. (Barbra Streisand tried for years to mount a film version of The Normal Heart giving herself the plum role of Emma Brookner a.k.a. 'Doctor Death')

Though it rarely does Kramer's 'Heart' any favors to compare it to the later masterwork, it's hard not to. They're linked in time structure, setting, historical record, and now in HBO incarnations. Think of The Normal Heart as Angels in America's angrier cruder earth-bound cousin. It doesn't bother with symbolism, poetry or spirituality - whether that's through lack of ability, desire, or bilious rejection of the escapist side of the fantastical who can say? Instead, it finds its power in fragile bodies and righteous rage in the face of mundane defeats and every day humiliations.

Which is why it's a little surprising at first to begin with the elemental: the open air, the sun and a glide over the water (supertitle: "1981") as we head to Fire Island.

More, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Weekend Movies: 'Godzilla', God Among Monsters

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Scientists. They're always discovering things that need to stay buried! 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

If Hollywood's goal is to infantilize all audiences into impressionable insatiable snot-nosed consumers of movie-product (remember how easy it was for a commercial to make you all "gimme!" as a kid) they’re doing a great job this year. Though movie studios churn out plenty of all-quadrant dross every year that's aimed at pleasing children of all advanced ages and genders, it rarely goes this well. The year began in the shadow of Disney's unexpectedly unstoppable Frozen and the critical and commercial smashes keep coming. The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the two biggest hits of the year (thus far) and not undeservedly. They're like joyful corporate filmmaking - cash grabs, sure, but no robbery is involved since they give you your money’s worth. And here comes the third home run: Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014).

[Insert prehistoric monstrous rawr here]

Can my review just be wild-eyed hyperactive childish pointing? "LOOK!!!"

No? Fine. A few slightly more coherent thoughts featuring hot soldiers, worried women, and monster smash-ups AFTER THE JUMP...

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Weekend Movies: 'Neighbors' Starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen

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Zac Efron won't agree to "keep it down" in Neighbors

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

The new frat boy comedy NEIGHBORS wastes no time with foreplay. The movie begins in the middle of a quickie between husband Mac (Seth Rogen) and wife Kelly (Rose Byrne, because all schlubby guys in movies deserve hot girls. It's, like, the rules of showbiz) who haven't had sex in too long. But soon it's coitus interruptus. Their daughter Stella, the worlds cutest baby (seriously. so gif'able), is staring right at them spoiling the mood.

The movie doesn't waste time with its story either, rushing right in. Mac and Kelly are first time homeowners and they think they're getting gay neighbors (yay, property values!) only to realize that a fraternity is moving in next door. Mac's response when he first sees Teddy, the alpha dog of the fraternity on the front lawn:

"That's the sexiest guy I've ever seen. It's like something a gay guy would create in a laboratory." 

Is that true? The movie tries to prove the point but let's crowdsource the answer before we continue...

Zac Efron and his dildo (no, really). And more shenanigans AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Films At the Tribeca Film Festival

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Psychosexual German Horror anyone?

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

The Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2002 at least in part to help revitalize the Tribeca neighborhood after 9/11, has migrated and grown over the years; in 2014 I saw almost everything in Chelsea. An apt location because there were a lot of gay movies. Tribeca shows so many movies that you can always curate your own mini-festival within theirs.

The best of the LGBT lot was surely LOVE IS STRANGE, which we reviewed in this space for its Sundance debut. I didn't see all the gay titles but that's a safe assumption since Ira Sach's drama about newly married seniors (John Lithgow & Alfred Molina) who lose their apartment is already feeling like a future classic. Among the documentaries I heard good things about MALA MALA which looks at Puerto Rico's sizeable drag community (some of whom are already names thanks to RuPaul's Drag Race's unofficial 'Puerto-Rican slot' each season).

Gay films usually make their way to DVD (built-in audience) if not always theatrical, so watch out for them if they sound interesting to you.

We'll look at four gay films (two with Hollywood stars) AFTER THE JUMP...

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Weekend Movie Review: Are You 'Divergent'?

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Shailene Woodley inches closer to Theo James in "Divergent". Wouldn't you?

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Erudite. Dauntless. Abnegation. Amity. Candor. Doesn't have quite the same ring as "Charisma. Uniqueness. Nerve and Talent" does it? But it's with the awkwardly titled five factions of DIVERGENT's world that we begin. In some future Utopia young citizens must choose their faction (a fancy word for tribe) on their 18th birthday after taking an aptitude test that reveals where they truly belong. They have the option of any faction but most, we are led to believe, choose either the tribe they grew up in or the tribe of their aptitude and these are often the same. Nature vs. Nurture and all that, you know.

Our heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) lives with her parents in Abnegation, the "selfless" tribe that runs the government -- your first clue that this is total science fiction! They also feed the homeless (aka the "factionless"), dress like monochromatic fashion-forward Amish and eschew mirrors. Beatrice is played by Shailene Woodley and her parents are Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn (Scandal) - our first clue that this is actually a Dystopia*; how long could any of them survive without mirrors?

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... (LITERALLY FOR TRIS, PICTURED BELOW)

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