Tag Archives: Terrence Stamp

Superman and Nostalgia

10 Jul
Message of Hope or Greed?

Message of Hope or Greed?

Last night, my husband and I went to the movies, something very rare indeed, but the cinema not far from us has a deal of $6 tickets on Tuesdays — great deal.  We decided to see Man of Steel, primarily because we both loved the Christopher Reeve movie Superman (1978) and we both liked Henry Cavill in Stardust.

Sadly, I was exceedingly disappointed. Cavill does a good job, as does Amy Adams as Lois Lane, but the whole movie lacked a sense of humanity. It missed the opportunity to demonstrate how we are all called upon to work for the greater good — a conversation that seems to be in desperate need of life support in the 21st Century.

Man of Steel made me quite nostalgic for the Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. The 1978 version presents a picture of humanity and develops characters that I feel invested in and want to watch. The movie also had a richness of pathos and wit.  Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor was nothing less than brilliant, and Ned Beatty just adds to that brilliance. I would also argue that the 1978 version is very family friendly — there is not a lot of gratuitous violence. Finally, I’m just not convinced that anyone but our Terrence Stamp (Bernadette from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) can play General Zod.

Henry Cavill does a good job of playing Superman and he is certainly easy on the eyes, but his character lacks the humanity that Superman had with Christopher Reeve. Amy Adams starts off as a wonderfully strong and independent woman, but the character loses all credibility as a strong independent woman with the awful awful line: “What if I have to tinkle?”  Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-El is a bit over the top and certainly lacks all of the humanity that Marlon Brando delivered. Alas, I think the worst crime of this movie was the 35 minutes of non-stop gratuitous violence that does nothing to move the story along, nor does it make us feel more invested in any of the characters.  Rather than watching a movie about the plight and hope for humanity, I felt as though I was watching a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

When I watch the 1978 version of Superman, I leave the movie inspired and hopeful that humans are capable of a transformative experience and that we are dedicated to the greater good for the greater cause.  I left Man of Steel feeling grateful I only paid $10 for my husband and me to see an enormous amount of violence and a rather nasty nationalistic, almost jingoistic message of patriotism.

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Oscar’s Gay History: A Mixed Bag

27 Feb

How will LGBT themes fare this year?

As we gear up for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, let’s take a look back at Oscar’s history. Hollywood is reputed to be a progressive beacon and a promoter of gay rights and issues. While there is some merit to that claim, when it comes time for the big awards, the closet door often slams shut.

Certainly a movie or a performance does not deserve an Oscar just because it is gay-themed, nor to actors deserve awards just because they are out. It is interesting, however, to note the number of surprises and upsets over the past eighty years that have resulted in a gay theme or actor being snubbed.

Researching this topic is a bit tricky, since many people are not out during their whole careers or live as “open secrets” within Hollywood society. Several lists of gay and lesbian winners include Jodie Foster, who won both of her awards before her very vague coming out and Kevin Spacey, who has actively denied being gay. George Cukor was known as the principle host of gay Hollywood society but was not known to be gay to most people when he won his directing award.

Sir John Gielgud probably counts as the earliest (mostly) out performer to be nominated (1963 for Beckett) and to win (1981 for Arthur), both Supporting Actor nods. He was involved in a minor gay solicitation scandal in Great Britain in 1953 and, while circumspect about his personal life, never lied about himself nor hid his partners. Another early winner was John Schlesinger, who won as Best Director in 1969 for Midnight Cowboy.

Over the past twenty years, as being out has become somewhat easier, certainly more out contributors to movies have been nominated and have won awards.

  • Sir Elton John and Melissa Etheridge have both won best song or soundtrack awards
  • Dustin Lance Black, Bill Condon, and Alan Ball have all won screenwriting awards
  • Scott Rudin won as the producer of Best Picture No Country for Old Men

Most of the well-known gay-themed awards, however, have gone to straight actors who were played gay. Some are richly deserved, like Hilary Swank’s powerful turn in Boys Don’t Cry or Sean Penn’s brilliant performance as Harvey Milk. Others are interesting and worth watching: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote and William Hurt’s performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman spring to mind. Then there are others, like Tom Hanks’ tepid performance in Philadelphia which had a very strong “wasn’t he brave” feel to it.

A number of gay-themed movies and performances have been upset. Certainly we can argue the specific merits of the winner and loser, but these stand out as odd moments of possible voting homophobia in Oscarland.

  • The champ in this category is Brokeback Mountain. Clearly a stronger film than the messy, let’s feel good about diversity Crash, it lost Best Picture in a shocking result. Neither of the starring actors won either (although Heath Ledger lost to Hoffman’s performance as Truman Capote.)
  • Another case of Oscar robbery was Transamerica. Felicity Huffman turned in the performance of a lifetime and lost to the fine but unremarkable Reese Witherspoon. Dolly Parton’s wonderful theme song Travelin’ Thru also lost best song.
  • One of the rare nominations of a gay actor playing a gay role was Ian McKellen’s brilliant turn as James Whale in Gods and Monsters, which lost to Roberto Benigni in Life Is Beautiful. (I seem to be the only person who found Benigni irritating and the movie cloying, so I may be alone in feeling this was an upset.)
  • Colin Firth’s brilliant performance in A Single Man lost to Jeff Bridges. Firth should make up for that loss this year with his equally strong performance in The King’s Speech.
  • One other performance that failed to even earn a nomination was Terence Stamp’s amazing role as Bernadette in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

This year’s best LGBT hopeful is the strong film The Kids Are All Right. Up for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor, the film should bring home at least one award. Annette Bening deservedly won a Golden Globe already for her performance.

The Academy Awards have a very mixed history in terms of LGBT content. Let’s hope that the gradual increase in acceptance and the greater number of out performers will create a steadier stream of nominees and winners in the years to come.

** POST OSCARS UPDATE: That was underwhleming! Other than Tim Gunn on the red carpet and James Franco in Marilyn drag, that was the least gay Adademy Awards I can remember in years. Kids got shut out – very sad.

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