Posts Tagged ‘Matt Bomer’

Bitchy Repartee

The Boys in the Band

Director: Joe Mantello

Cast: Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchinson, Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington

This film is only available on the streaming service NETFLIX

The original 1970 film directed by William Friedkin

Based upon the Tony Award winning play by Mart Crawley, The Boys in the Band was originally made into a film in 1970 by the Oscar winning director of The French Connection William Friedkin. Screenwriter and playwright Mart Crawley died in March 2020.

50 years later, director Joe Mantello remade the film for Netflix and assembling an all gay cast to basically play bitchy versions of themselves in the 2020 version of The Boys in the Band.

Set in Greenwich Village, New York in 1968, this film is about 6 gay men who gather for a fabulous birthday party and one heterosexual man who accidentally gets invited. The cast includes The Normal Heart co-stars Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer who offers some genuine eye candy; Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Margin Call) as Harold, Andrew Rannells (The Intern, Sex and the City 2) as the flirtatious Larry; Tuc Watkins as the straight acting Hank; Charlie Carver as the Cowboy and Robin de Jesus as the quick-tongued Emory along with Michael Benjamin Washington (Love and Other Drugs) as Bernard.

It’s really the Golden Globe winning star of the TV comedy series The Big Bang Theory Jim Parsons who steals the show in a masterful performance as Michael, the twisted and conflicted host of the party whose razor sharp tongue gets released during the second half of the evening as he viciously takes to the Vodka bottle and starts verbally annihilating his closest friends forcing them all to reveal their dark secrets.

Jim Parsons is brilliant in this film and he actually deserves an Oscar nomination in 2021. Parson’s portrayal of Michael is brittle and cruel, unleashing a verbal tirade of bitchy repartee on his unsuspecting guests only to be intellectually challenged by the equally vicious Jewish gay man Harold, another superb performance by Zachary Quinto.

Director Joe Mantello gives each of the characters in the film especially Bernard’s a perceptive flashback into their first crush.

The Boys in the Band has to be contextualized in contemporary queer history as its set the year before the infamous Stonewall riots that happened in Greenwich Village in July 1969, which was the initiation of the gay rights movement in America and a decade and a half before the devastating effects of the AIDS crisis which ripped through New York’s gay community in the mid 1980’s.

Viewers must watch this film as a play being performed. The Boys in the Band is a vicious portrayal of 30 year old gay men projecting the bullying the conventional heterosexual world put onto them while growing up onto each other, a dark and bitter self-loathing wrapped in vodka, chardonnay and forbidden desire.

The Boys in the Band is brilliant, a bitter and fabulous evening filled with bitchy one-liners held together by a superb performance by Jim Parsons, who is the glitter that holds the group together.

The Boys in the Band gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is available on Netflix.

Reclaiming the West

The Magnificent Seven

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Director:  Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Martin Sensmeier, Cam Gigandet

Antoine Fuqua gathers his favourite actors into his latest impressive film.

In Fuqua’s bespoke remake of John Sturgeon’s 1960 classic film The Magnificent Seven, as an African American film director he reclaims the Western genre in a bold step towards reimagining American Western mythology which will surely shape how cinema goers view the Western film genre.

Gone are the days of Western films primarily being made up of morally dubious cowboys mostly played by dashing European actors fighting savage Red Indians or each other in high noon stand offs.

Director Fuqua’s superb The Magnificent Seven is as diverse as Westerns come, showing that while perceptions of the American West have largely been Eurocentric, the real history of the American West was far more complex.

The setting is Rose Creek, California in 1879. A small dusty town a three day ride away from the Californian state capital Sacramento, at the height of the Gold Rush.

Rose Creek is being tormented by a malicious industrialist Bartholomew Bogue wonderfully played against type by character actor Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine), who not only burns down the moral centre of the town, the church, but casually kills some its town folk, much to the horror of the remaining witnesses.

Rose Creek’s town representative, a feisty widow Emma Cullen, played by rising star Haley Bennett enlists the help of sharp shooter Chisolm, expertly played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory).

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Chisolm gathers a motley crew of cowboys and one red Indian, consisting of the heavy drinking Irishman Josh Faraday, comically played by Chris Pratt, sharp shooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise), lonesome tracker Jack Horne played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Rocks played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee, Vasquez, played by rising Mexican star Manual Garcia-Rulfo last seen in Cake opposite Jennifer Aniston and finally Native American actor Martin Sensmeier who plays Comanche Indian Red Harvest.

With the gang in tow and the town folk galvanized for action, audiences should expect the final gun battle of Rose creek to be thrilling. Fortunately this is where The Magnificent Seven delivers as the final act of the film is truly brilliant, with superb sound editing and haunting production design, Fuqua pays homage to the original version and to the genre as a whole while deftly reimagining Westerns as a more diverse and multi-cultural affair.

Not since the Coen brothers reworking of the Oscar nominated True Grit, have I enjoyed a Western as much. The Magnificent Seven does justice to its genre assisted by superb performances by Washington and Sarsgaard as opponents with a vicious score to settle.

Audiences that enjoyed James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers True Grit, will love Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven as he reclaims the Western genre and hopefully opens the doors for this much loved film genre to be bravely re-explored in the 21st century. This is a genre which desperately needs a Hollywood resurgence.

Now if only a director could tackle a film version of Cormac McCarthy’s brutal tale of the Mexican frontier wars in his gripping Western novel, Blood Meridian, then that would be a film worth seeing.

Misty Mountains

The Nice Guys

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Director: Shane Black

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Beau Knapp

Russell Crowe reunites with his L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Basinger along with Ryan Gosling in the Buddy action film The Nice Guys set in Los Angeles in 1977, amidst a sleazy world of fading porn stars, smog and gas restrictions.

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Actually, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black sums up The Nice Guys in the opening sequence of the film, with a young boy stealing a porn magazine from under his parents bed, only to narrowly escape a sports car driving through the house whereby he discovers the curvaceous body of the porn star Misty Mountains, bloodied and trapped in a wrecked car asking “How do you like my car?”

Sex and driving are equated multiple times in this seventies L. A. crime caper romp.

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Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Drive) teams up with Oscar winner Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) for a seventies buddy movie in the vein of Starsky and Hutch although slightly more X-rated and definitely more violent. If the plot appears slightly convoluted that’s because it’s meant to be and possibly points to one of the structural weaknesses of the film.

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But the on-screen bromance between Gosling and Crowe is perfect and central to what makes The Nice Guys such a humourous and quirky film. That and Gosling’s character, Holland March, a sleazy hard drinking and hapless private eye who is trying to keep his life together while raising a teenage daughter Holly superbly played by Angourie Rice. The disorganized March’s relationship with his daughter is what makes this film work as it is the central motivating factor forcing him to get his act together, acting as the emotional core of an otherwise macho buddy film.

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The action sequences are wild and spectacular including a bizarre sequence at a studio 54 inspired party in a Bellair mansion as well as the dazzling finale at the Bonaventura Hotel in downtown Los Angeles at the 1978 California car show which goes haywire when JohnnyBoy a Detroit assassin wonderfully played against type by Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart, Magic Mike) attempts to retrieve an important porn film which implicates highranking officials in the American auto industry as well as a ruthless and cold California Chief Justice Judith Kuttner played by Oscar winner Kim Basinger.

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Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is not a perfect film, but rather a homage to the late 1970’s California, a society obsessed with fame, cars and fading porn stars as well as a hedonistic desire to escape the worst of the post-Nixon Watergate scandal.

Highly recommended viewing if audiences enjoy a quirky seventies tale with off the wall action, lots of retro style and peppered with witty dialogue which will keep them guessing. It’s also a chance to see two brilliant Hollywood actors take a turn at physical comedy especially Gosling who is hilarious in the smoking on the toilet with a gun in his hand bathroom scene.

Audiences should also look out for Val Kilmer’s son Jack Kilmer as the impressionable projectionist Chet who unwillingly gets caught up in the whole investigation initiated by The Nice Guys while searching for the mysterious girl in the yellow dress named Amelia.

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Swamp Country Debauchery

Magic Mike XXL

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Director: Gregory Jacobs

Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Adam Rodriguez, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks

The much anticipated sequel to the sleeper hit Magic Mike about male entertainers in Tampa, Florida does not disappoint.

Magic Mike XXL assembles the same cast as the original minus Matthew McConnaughey and Alex Pettyfer but cleverly casts some new stars including Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex, Lies and Videotape) as the original Southern Belle, Nancy and more significantly a vibrant Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral) as Rome, the notorious and zany new MC.

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Audiences should not expect much storyline in XXL but who cares the dancing is phenomenal and Channing Tatum really takes the main role of Magic Mike to extremes with superb dance moves and a wit to match. Tatum has really grown as an actor after being cast opposite Mark Ruffalo in the underrated yet bizarre male wrestling saga Foxcatcher and with the help of director Steven Soderbergh has matured as an onscreen performer after roles in Haywire, Magic Mike and Side Effects.

The crazy male entertainer troupe make their way from Tampa in Southern Florida all the way up through Savannah, Georgia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in a journey described by one drag performer resembling Divine as Swamp Country Debauchery.

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In Magic Mike, the emphasis was more on the drug lifestyle associated with male stripping, but in Magic Mike XXL, Oceans Twelve and Oceans Thirteen director Gregory Jacobs cleverly lightens the tone and shifts focus to the actual art and performance of Male entertainment as the team including a gorgeous Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) and Joe Manganiello compete at the illustrious Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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The end sequence is brilliant with some superb dance moves along with sufficient eye candy to keep all the females happy, both on and off screen.

Magic Mike XXL is more in the tradition of Step Up, with strippers and should not be viewed to seriously but enjoyed like a fine sojourn below the Mason-Dixon line. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a brash, sexy and diverse film with lots of magical moments.

Watch out for an unrecognizable Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) as Zoe who befriends Magic Mike at a beach party in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Death of Fire Island

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The Normal Heart

NB: This is a made for TV film

Director: Ryan Murphy

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Stephen Spinella, Alfred Molina, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons

HBO’s The Normal Heart directed by Glee and Eat, Pray, Love director Ryan Murphy is a startling and heart wrenching tale of the outbreak of AIDS in New York’s gay community in the early 1980’s. Mark Ruffalo plays a middle aged openly gay man, Ned Weeks who gives one of the best performances of his career as he becomes the outspoken champion of gay rights and one who urges the American government to do more to fight the stigmatisation of AIDS as it ravaged the homosexual community in the mid 1980’s.

This film is set at a similar time as Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, but unlike this Oscar winning film, is a made for Television, bravely done by HBO featuring some exceptional performances besides Ruffalo that includes Matt Bomer as his lover, Felix Turner, a young, handsome New York society journalist dying of AIDS related illnesses along with Julia Roberts as Dr Emma Brockner a wheel-chaired bound no nonsense doctor who is adamant that the American gay community need to be sufficiently educated about this disease. She goes onto advocate that the New York gay community need to immediately curb their promiscuous lifestyle, so lavishly explored in the film’s opening scenes on Fire Island, in upstate New York, the gay resort famous in the 1980’s for White Parties, wild sex and unabashed homosexual hedonism.

Audiences watching The Normal Heart should be warned this is a sad, graphic and dramatic tale of a community ravaged by an illness which they were not equipped to handle, both physically and emotionally. Remember that this is set at least 30 years ago before all the medical advances in ARV treatment globally and when AIDS research was in its infancy. Without the sufficient funding from the American government, those that suffered at the forefront of the epidemic, was an already marginalized community known only for their lascivious and risky sexual behaviour.

What director Ryan Murphy does so brilliantly is remind the audience that despite all the stigma and the prejudice, these were real professional people dying of a yet unquantified illness with a virtually non-existent health care regime and support structure.

At the core of The Normal Heart based upon a play by Larry Kramer is the remarkable performance by Mark Ruffalo who certainly has proved his worth as a serious actor in recent years especially after his recent Oscar nomination for The Kids Are Alright.

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The Normal Heart as a mainstream film, like Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra would have a fairly limited appeal, but it is comforting that HBO takes a bold leading in making these films and even attracting such A list talent like Julia Roberts, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

Watch out for an unrecognizable Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Lone Survivor) as Bruce Niles a young, arrogant and gorgeous gay man who appears to be immune to all the community activism and terrible threat affecting his friends along with The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parson’s in a brilliant and touching performance as Tommy Boatwright who counts the dead on his Rolladex.

This drama is brutal, heart wrenching and truly inspiring film making even if it only was made as a TV film, but really should be seen by everyone gay or straight especially in the wake of the recent commercialization of gay culture in Western mainstream media along with the associated rights and civil liberties which the gay and lesbian community have been granted in Europe and America recently, viewed within the 21st century progress made in transforming HIV into a manageable disease through a strict regime of medication controls.

The Normal Heart is highly recommended viewing, boosted by superb performances all round which should go a long way in deconstructing the stigma surrounding marginalized communities especially at the outbreak of an initially incomprehensible disease.

 

 

Stripping for Tantalizing Tampa

MAGIC MIKE

This ain’t the village people

Before anyone reads this review, there is a confession to be made… I am a huge Steven Soderbergh fan!

As a film director he can do little wrong. Who else could turn a seemingly sordid tale of male stripping in Southern Florida into a thought-provoking work of decent cinema despite the subject matter? Steven Soderbergh can and it appears he has found his new muse in rising star, dancer turned actor Channing Tatum, in which this story of struggling male stripper turned actor is apparently based on. Magic Mike is far from amusing but tantalizing, provocative and superbly directed.

Soderbergh does for the almost closeted world of male stripping what Darren Aronofsky did for Wrestling and Ballet in his acclaimed films, The Wrestler and Black Swan. After all Soderbergh directed the Oscar winning multitextured portrayal of drug running on the US-Mexican border in Traffic and made a social political thriller in 2011’s excellent film Contagion.

With brilliant direction and solid performances by Channing Tatum in the title role along with Alex Pettyfer as novice young stripper Adam, along with Cody Horn as Adam’s responsible and disapproving sister Brooke and a charismatic and memorable performance by Matthew McConnaughey as sleazy and vain nightclub owner Dallas, Magic Mike follows the trials and stripteases of Mike and Adam in the raunchy and drugfuelled world of male stripping where the cash is easy but the credibility is often unattainable.

Magic Mike is no comedy and although there are loads of hot male bodies, both butts and torsos for female viewers to titiliate over, the film brilliantly overshadows the British comedy on the same subject The Full Monty in both flesh and substance. Its a sort of indictment of how far ordinary people will go to survive in an economically constrained era whilst also highlighting the pitfalls of being drawn into a morally dubious and nefarious glitzy world of strip clubs which is both addictive and difficult to escape from without one’s dignity completely unscathed.

Soderbergh does not sugar coat the world of male stripping nor glamorize its virtues for ultimately the cheap thrills that women receive always takes an emotional toll on the men being objectified. Stripping whether by men or women is ultimately always about sexual objectification and erotic tantalization with the ever elusive promise of forbidden fulfillment. Magic Mike has some light moments and lots of great eye-candy, but the film’s success belongs to Soderbergh’s expert direction and two surprisingly well balanced performances by Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer. Well worth the cinematic experience and not just for the gorgeous male cast! There is dancing too! Besides the film’s tagline says everything Work all Day, Work it all Night!

 

Darwinian Capitalism Out of Time

IN TIME

Amanda Seyfreid and Justin Timberlake star in the futuristic thriller In Time, written and directed by Andrew Niccol. While the concept is fresh and the look is retro-futurism, In Time does not fully develop into maturity and that is not just because all the characters most of whom are beautiful are not older then 25 years. It is set in mythical Los Angeles which is transformed into the opposing worlds of the downtrodden industrial Dayton and the chic and affluent New Greenwich whereby no one ages older than 25 years.

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After the characters reach 25 years they live on time credit and everything is paid for in time, not money. While the story is largely allegorical about how the present generation is struggling to survive in a global culture of Darwinian Capitalism, whereby it surely is the survival of the fittest or in this case the richest, Timberlake and Seyfreid play Will Salas and Sylvia Weiss a Bonnie and Clyde duo who go about robbing time banks and redistributing centuries back to the poorer classes. In Time is a unique, yet under explored concept lacking depth but making up in style. As sci-fi films go In Time is no match for any of the retro-futuristic classics like Minority Report or Blade Runner or even The Adjustment Bureau, but still fun to watch.

The best part of the film besides the suave looking cast is the film noir feel of the movie, with Nichols creating a retro yet stylish futuristic world with cool cars, stylish wardrobe and a storyline which resembles more a Raymond Chandler novel than a 21st century sci-fi thriller. Seyfried and Timberlake make a fine couple, although their on screen chemistry wanes towards the climax of the narrative. Watch out for a balanced performance by Cilllian Murphy playing the timekeeper trying to maintain the system and Alex Pettyfer as the local gangster Fortis.

In Time ‘s best line which rings true as we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century – “Its about Darwinian Capitalism”. See the thriller and make sure you not with anyone over 45, they will feel ancient!

 

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