Posts Tagged ‘Alan Cumming’

The Virginia Slims

Battle of the Sexes

Directors: Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton

Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Elisabeth Shue, Alan Cumming, Bill Pullman, Eric Christian Olsen, Wallace Langham, Austin Stowell

Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks directing duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton take on the extremely pertinent subject of gender inequality in sports in their latest film, Battle of the Sexes, a highly entertaining cinematic recreation of a historic tennis match which took place between the brash egotist and compulsive gambler Bobby Riggs and tennis women’s superstar Billie Jean King at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas in 1973.

Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land) plays Billie Jean King a tennis champion at the top of her game who is married yet battling with her own sexuality as she meets the provocative Californian hairdresser Marilyn Barnett wonderfully played by Andrea Riseborough (Nocturnal Animals, Birdman).

Oscar nominee Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) plays the exuberant Bobby Riggs, the fiftyish tennis pro and self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig who is having a last gasp at his youth and decides to provoke Billie Jean King into a publicity tennis matched aptly named Battle of the Sexes. Riggs who is a sports hustler and whose lavish career is supported by his wealthy wife Priscilla Riggs superbly played against type by Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas).

Comedian Sarah Silverman stars as the outspoken Gladys Heldman who champions Billie Jean King and a collection of aspiring female tennis players to start their own female tennis match sponsored by Virginia slims cigarettes. This is in response to the chauvinism and unequal pay dispute between the women players and the exorbitant salaries that their male tennis players get which is almost ten times the amount.

The reason for this inequality, as sports commentator and organizer Jack Kramer played by Bill Pullman gives is that the tennis watching public love men’s tennis and that the male tennis players have ten times the stamina, strength and speed to sustain an exciting match unlike their less competitive female counterparts. Naturally this outdated mode of thinking has thankfully be reversed by the recent star power of such female tennis champions as Venus and Serena Williams.

Battle of the Sexes is a relevant film not only in terms of recent sexual harassment scandals which has rocked the Hollywood establishment but also in terms of LGTQ rights in sports, a controversial subject which has barely been explored in contemporary cinema.

As Billie Jean King’s husband Larry, played by Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies), says to her lover in one poignant scene, all that sponsorship of hotel rooms, flights and TV coverage would evaporate if King came out as a lesbian. Which she eventually did in the wake of the 1970’s queer rights campaign that activists like Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones fought for so vehemently, brilliantly illustrated in the Oscar winning Gus van Sant film Milk.

Battle of the Sexes is a thoroughly entertaining film about two tennis professionals who not only stake the reputations on a publicity tennis match. Battle of the Sexes is peppered with some flamboyant supporting roles including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming as Cuthbert Tinling whilst held together by exemplary performances by Stone and Carell.

Battle of the Sexes gets a film rating of 8 out of 10, featuring wonderful seventies tennis costumes by Costume Designer Mary Zophres capturing the zeitgeist of the decade, adding to a thoroughly slick and entertaining sports film.

Divas, Pearls and Persistence

***Burlesque***

The fabulous poster for Burlesque is divided between Cher and Christina Aguilera. So the question remains can two divas like Cher and Christina share the same stage without the pearls flying?

Stars are legendary

In their collaborative film, Burlesque, a perfect dance drama filled with enough vanity, glitter and eye candy all set in the city of Angels, shows that while Christina can sing and boy she can sing, Cher can still hold her own in the acting stakes. After all Cher did win an Oscar for Moonstruck, as did Liza Minelli for Cabaret.

Life is a Cabaret

Christina plays Alice who escapes a dreary Iowa town to fulfil her dream of becoming a dancer and stumbles upon the Burlesque nightclub on Sunset Boulevard, the strip in Hollywood. Cher is the no nonsense club owner Tess who controls the rowdy dancers, who are wanna-be Vegas showgirls and runs a raucous establishment  which seems to be forever beset by the approaching gloom of foreclosure and greedy real estate developers. Burlesque draws very much from Bob Fosse’s Cabaret and supplants Nazi Berlin, with a celebrity-obsessed 21st century Los Angeles, which was once the home of classic Hollywood of the 40s and 50s, a style that the filmBurlesque is aiming to eternalize.

Burlesque’s storyline is nothing new, but who cares? Audiences will be seeing this film for the fantastic costumes, the brilliant singing by Christina and Cher, the racy dancing, Cam Gigandet and of course the two main Diva’s if not sharing the spotlight, but rather making it sparkle deliciously.

Christina, miss poor Iowa girl soon becomes a Diva and eclipses the leading dancer, a sour yet vulnerable performance by Kristen Bell, and gives Cher a run for her money. Which is good. As dollars are what is needed for the Burlesque club to stay open. In the tradition of Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Moulin Rouge, Burlesque is as much about the dancing, the gorgeous costumes including a dress made entirely of pearls, the makeup, Louis Vuitton shoes which sparkle all adding to the best line in the film, said by Sean, played by the irrepressible Stanley Tucci, in a similar bitchy vein to The Devil Wears Prada supporting role, as stage manager when he says to Alice  “Welcome to Wonderland” after she becomes a Burlesque dancer.

If viewers love outlandish dance films, watch Burlesque, writer and director Steve Antin’s timing is impeccable in splicing the raunchy dance numbers with the characters dialogue, particularly an hilarious number performed by Alan Cumming as the Maitre’d Alexis with a Banana, cut with a flirting repartee between Alice and Marcus, played Grey’s Anatomy’s McSteamy, Eric Dane. Burlesque is about idealists fulfilling their dreams and Diva’s remaining persistent in holding onto that glitter-tinged dream right to the spectacular closing number, all set against the Boulevard of Dreams, Sunset Boulevard.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
January 2018
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
  • AIS Honors 13 Leading Women in Tech and Names 10 Winners of Its 2018 Technology Awards
    In a validation of the goals of #MeToo and #TimesUp, and with rhetoric demonstrating how far those movements still have to go, the 13 women who won the Advanced Imaging Society’s Distinguished Leadership Award made impassioned pleas for the inclusion of more women in science, technology, engineering and math. The women were honored in a […]
    Peter Caranicas
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Co-Star With Will Smith in Skydance’s ‘Gemini Man’
    Mary Elizabeth Winstead has landed the female lead opposite Will Smith in Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media’s “Gemini Man,” sources tell Variety. Variety first reported that Winstead was one of the finalists for the role, with Tatiana Maslany and Elizabeth Debicki also up for the part. Clive Owen is in talks to play the villain, […]
    Justin Kroll
  • ‘Shannara Chronciles’ Canceled After Two Seasons
    “The Shannara Chronicles” has been canceled after two seasons, Variety has confirmed. The show, based on the book series by Terry Brooks, aired its first season on MTV in early 2016 before moving to Spike ahead of its second season this past fall. The move came amid restructuring at MTV and Spike parent company Viacom. CEO Bob Bakish made […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Film News Roundup: Wide Release on Christian Bale’s ‘Hostiles’ Moved Back a Week
    In today’s film news roundup, the wide release of “Hostiles” moves back a week, “Birthright: A War Story” gets special screenings and EOS World Fund backs projects from Julie Dash and Nina Menkes. RELEASE STRATEGY Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures has moved back its wide release on “Hostiles,” starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, from Jan. […]
    Dave McNary
  • Dylan Farrow Gives First Interview About Woody Allen Allegations: ‘I Am Telling the Truth’
    In the wake of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, Dylan Farrow will sit down with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King to discuss her allegations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen. The interview will air on Thursday, CBS having released a preview on Wednesday. “I am credible and I am telling the truth and […]
    Kirsten Chuba