Steven Soderbergh, director of this month’s movie, Behind the Candelabra (2013), can boast an impressive resume. He has spun out movie-making magic with Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Traffic (2000), the Ocean’s Eleven series (2001), and Magic Mike (2012). His movie Erin Brockovich (2000) won him a much-deserved Oscar.
Entertainers, musicians, movies, and all popular cultural items come and go, but some manage to keep their profiles high across multiple generations: Elvis, The Beatles, Star Wars are examples among many. It is a safe bet that our great-great grandchildren will be reading books on a certain boy wizard named Harry.
On June, 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, and the world erupted in joy to celebrate gay rights. Rainbow flags flew with pride, the White House lit up in rainbow colors, and millions of Facebook users commemorated the occasion by adding a rainbow to their profile pictures. However, in the midst of the euphoria, there was not one mention of Vito Russo that I remember. That is akin to Americans forgetting Martin Luther King, Jr. while appreciating what the Civil Rights Movement has achieved for African-Americans. Continue reading The Celluloid Closet: Viva Vito’s Gay Rights Legacy!→
Many have mourned the loss of Robin Williams and his comic genius. In revisiting The Birdcage and his other films, we can consider aspects of his work that may have changed us all without realizing it.
[W]hat makes the film interesting is that [Robin Williams] must play against type, toning down his manic persona in the face of Lane’s hilarious over-the-top turn.
—Chuck Koplinski, The News-Gazette
You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or, Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or, Madonna, Madonna, Madonna! … but, you keep it all inside.
—Armand, The Birdcage
A comedian has been described as a person who seeks to entertain audiences, primarily by making them laugh. Filmmakers employ comedy in the same way, seeking to make their targeted audiences laugh. How do they do this? We have learned from our series on comedy that they do this in a number of ways—using social satire, slapstick, etc. Might they do this also as a way to dispel prejudice against certain groups or against certain characteristics? Alternatively, might screenwriters focus so totally on what to them seems funny that the result is irresponsibly mean? Continue reading The Birdcage: Can We Learn from Our Films?→
Insight for film groups, critics, scholars, and fans