Friday, October 3, 2014

More PRIDE and other Movie Talk

A longtime friend invited me along to the Chelsea Cinemas last night to see a special pre-Halloween showing of Beetlejuice.  I got there before he did and waited for him in the lobby.  Next to me was a young man.  He was probably born the year I landed my first TV job here in New York City.  We both stood in front of the huge lobby billboard promoting Pride.  I reviewed this new movie recently on cable's Arise TV.
Another young a showed up, approached the guy standing next to me and gave him a sweet kiss.  I'm sure they were on a date.  They briefly chatted about the Pride billboard and one wondered aloud if they should see it.  The other fellow said, "It looks like The Full Monty."

I, of course, broke in like a character in a TV commercial.  I said, "I reviewed it on TV and thought the same thing before I saw it.  Trust me, it's not The Full Monty."

The one who'd been waiting next to me said, "But the trailer looks like it's The Full Monty."  I replied, "I thought the same thing.  But, trust me, it's not.  It's based on a true political story and it's wonderful. A very good date movie."

They replied, "Wow.  We'll have to see it."

My work there was done.                                                                                                                    

On Mike Sargent's Arise On Screen, his weekend film review and interview show on Arise TV, he and I both enthusiastically said the same thing -- why didn't America hear big news reports about gays supporting the striking union mineworkers in Margaret Thatcher's Britain when this historical event happened back in the 1980s?  Pride was a fascinating story about lost causes and unexpected support from unlikely sources when you think there's no support to be had.  Keep in mind that this union of two underdog groups occurred when gay acceptance was not where it is today.  In Great Britain or America. There was resistance and friction from many of the straight mineworkers and their family members at the beginning.  There were arguments within the group of lesbians and gay men.

Eventually, they all formed a stronger union that got results.

If Imelda Staunton got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as the small town Welsh woman who embraces diversity, I would not be surprised.  I'd be proud to give Imelda Staunton an Oscar nomination for Pride.

Billy Nighy and Dominic West also give shining performances.  Pride is a winner.  The three of us movie critics on last week's Arise On Screen loved it.  We gave it three black thumbs up.

If you're a gay man with a straight male friend, take him to see Pride.  Especially if he's the kind of good straight man the dimple-chinned Paddy Considine plays.  He stars as the appreciative Welsh miners strike representative who humbly, gladly accepts the support of the gays and warmly invites them into his home and life.  It's another beautiful performance.
You look at a classic film like John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1941.  We see the plight of Welsh miners at the turn of the century in that film.  In the mid 1980s, Welsh miners were still economically downtrodden.  Pride is a fine cinematic bookend to How Green Was My Valley.

Tonight, Friday, critics get to see the new film from director Abel Ferrara.

Pasolini, starring Willem Dafoe, screens at the New York Film Festival.
In the world of independent filmmakers, Abel Ferrara is as independent as they come.  Did you know he did a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1993?  His Body Snatchers was set on a military base in Alabama.  Abel and I used to go to the same gym.  We had regular chats in the Greenwich Village of the late 80s and early 90s.  When I was one of the original contributors on a new WNBC news program called Weekend Today in New York, I booked Abel to come on live so I could interview him in the studio about his new film, 1992's Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel.  Abel came to WNBC with one of the actresses from the movie.

In the make-up room ten minutes before we were scheduled to go onto the set, Abel Ferrara broke out in a flop sweat that made the one Albert Brooks had in Broadcast News look like a light mist.  I had never seen a man sweat so heavily and so suddenly while just standing still.  Abel was that nervous.  He sincerely and repeatedly apologized, but couldn't go on.  He was too nervous.  I interviewed the actress  solo instead.  I felt for the poor guy.  I didn't know whether to hug him or sponge him off before he abruptly left the building.

Willem Dafoe.  I've been acquainted with his talent since my Milwaukee FM radio days in the late 1970s.  He was a member of the city's avante garde stage company, Theatre X.  Those were some bold and rebellious actors in very original and provocative productions.  Theatre X was a welcomed jolt of adrenalin on the Milwaukee stage scene. Dafoe went to New York City and made a great name for himself in films.  He's played a soldier fighting in the Vietnam War (Platoon), he's played a famous silent film vampire (Shadow of the Vampire) and he's played Jesus (The Last Temptation of  Christ).  He was Green Goblin in a Spider-Man movie.  I want to see him as the controversial Italian filmmaker, Pasolini.

Willem could've played the part the Dennis Hopper got in Blue Velvet.  But Willem's agent turned the script down.

When Willem found out about that, he got a new agent.

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 I grew in Los Angeles, specifically South Central L.A. which was way more racially diverse than portrayed in local media at the time. Our f...