Saturday, December 3, 2011
Although critics have been raving about the new flick "My Week with Marilyn" - and especially Michelle William's characterization of the troubled sex Goddess - the truth rings out crystal clear by the time the curtain falls on this little gem.
Marilyn Monroe possessed an indefinable quality - an "it" factor - that illuminated the screen.
In the slick just-released Weinstein production, it remains elusive however, for obvious reasons.
For starters, the screen siren's qualities (unique to her persona) can never be duplicated in spite of the fact many have tried over the years to accomplish that feat in Hollywood and abroad.
Ms. Williams can not hold a candle to Monroe's mystique (or allure) - so, talented as she is - it was inevitable that the starlet would stumble from the get-go.
Reenacted scenes (featuring impersonators in flashbacks) also lacked the magic of the original footage, too. So, a handful of the comments uttered up as raves in the screening-room scenes don't make any sense (or hold up) either.
There are intimate moments when Ms. Williams reveals a vulnerability that speaks volumes, but those fleeting glimpses are few-and-far between, sadly.
One has to surmise that the segments were simply flukes lifted from endless takes shot throughout the course of a long weary day on a sound stage.
The script was adapted from a published memoir of a stage hand who befriended (wooed?) Ms. Monroe during the shoot for "The Prince and the Showgirl" in which she starred opposite Sir Laurence Olivier (played gamely by English actor Kenneth Branagh).
Titillated producers tossed the glare of the spotlight on the behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt which focuses on Marilyn's difficulty arriving to work on time, her notorious insecurities, and alleged general lack of professionalism towards fellow cast members and the crew.
Weinstein and his team have also taken artistic license here, and sought to perpetuate their own myths and theories on the ill-fated Monroe/Olivier pairing.
According to the writers, Olivier orchestrated the project (and Monroe's casting) so he could elevate his own status into the realms of filmdom (until that time, the legendary Olivier was exalted as a great actor only on stage).
Did the conniving opportunist expect to suddenly ooze star charisma by virute of the process of osmosis alone?
In fact, the embarrassing stumbles at the start-up of the Pinewood Studio's production, caused the gifted actor to question - not only the project - but his own talents in the final analysis.
In contrast, Ms. Monroe sought to improve on her acting craft through "the method" and "technique" with the ultimate aim of achieving credibility in the industry-at-large as a serious actress (and not simply a piece of "ass" or sexy set dressing).
I am reminded of an old saying:
"The grass is always greener on the other side"
By the end of the classy well-produced feature (the cinematography is flawless), the orbiting stars come to accept their baggage and relax into their respective show-biz skins.
"My Week with Marilyn" is fast-paced, engrossing at times, and delightfully fun.
The cast of supporting players (Eddie Redmaybe does a star-turn here) are excellent, too.
Worth the price of admission, for sure.
Friday, December 2, 2011
The glitzy high-profile "Grammy Awards" show is in everyone sights in the music biz now that the nominees were announced with a lot of pomp-and-circumstance on a dazzling show-stopping special the other eve.
Adele, Bruno Mars and Foo Fighters each rustled up 6 nods!
Lady Gaga - proving she's no flash in the pan either - was blessed with 3.
But, there were a number of snubs and controversies in the wake of the envelope-opening ceremonies.
Surprisingly - although Taylor Swift was singled out in three categories - she was shut-out for Best Album (Speak Now) which was an eye-brow raiser to many!
Meanwhile, talented upstarts like "The Band Perry" - soaring in popularity in recent days - scored big with the ballad "If I die Young".
Kanye West had a lot to crow about, too.
The Pop Star Wonder not only racked up 7 noms, but got singled out for "song of the year" (by virtue of his hit "All of the Lights").
Curious, when you consider that the album is was coined on - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (which critics have raved about) - failed to make it into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
An infamous tune now, perhaps?
Meanwhile, Paul Simon must be licking his musical wounds.
His critically-acclaimed - "So Beautiful or so What" - got a big thumbs down, too.
Sometimes, the choices don't make any sense, or is it just the luck of the draw?
The Grammy Award Show will broadcast on February 12th live from downtown Los Angeles.
See 'ya there!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Rockefeller Center helpers crouched on the sidelines - at-the-ready - to ignite the tree lights in a blaze of joyous glory, Tony Bennett smiled that slightly macabre plastic smile as he waited to alight on the stage to perform one of his olden golden hits, and the Rockets dazzled the throngs once again with their spirited high kicks!
Amidst a lot of hoopla and fanfare, CBS and Rockefeller Center presented their annual Tree Lighting special - which for the most part - was a crowd-pleaser (and rocked!).
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to help light the majestic Christmas tree - a small-town spruce from Pennsylvania - and ring in the festive holiday season with New Yorkers.
The 74-foot-tall Norway spruce was illuminated by 30,000 lights in total (five miles lengthwise) which remain lit until January 7th.
Fans of the "Bieb" - and guests wrestling for perch's at key vantage points in the streets - were disappointed that their popular heart-throb failed to take the stage on person, though - and instead - relied on pre-recorded performances (broadcast on wide state-of-the-art monitors) to wow the holiday revellers shivering in the cold below.
As an opening act - taped or not - Mr. Bieber failed miserably as a performer.
Style, stage presence, punch - and top-notch vocal ability - is always a pre-requisite for such an endeavour (the Canadian musical artist lacked all qualities in spades last night for some inexplicable reason from the get-go).
If anything, the debacle just underscored how difficult it is to pull off a "Classic" Holiday tune without a smidgen of solid formal training or a seasoned body of work under the belt.
Hugging the mic was a big mistake, for starters, Justin.
The pop star's breathing, phrasing, and projection were hit hardest by the amateurish approach.
The segment finally came alive - at long last - when the Pop Star's mentor sauntered into the spotlight to boost his protege up.
The big buzz focused on a video - a World Premiere - featuring a duet by teen sensation Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey.
The upbeat tune was catchy, but not on par with Justin's previous hits.
Both Pop Icons nabbed the golden opportunity to mug for the cameras, act cute, and tease their die-hard fans.
For me it was all too slick, too formula, and - well - too forced!
The "Bieb" demonstrated a comedic flare, however, which I trust will trigger a big-budget feature in the near future (his handlers and God willing).
Michael Bouble - slated to appear, too - has been garnering quite a bit of attention for his own Christmas Album "Silver Bells", too (racking up gargantuan sales); however, I thought he was going to fall asleep on stage any moment last night.
Carole King and Neil Diamond - hit-makers from my generation - creaked into the limelight, too.
For folks in the family hour, the so-so performances probably triggered nostalgic pangs for simpler - more carefree - festive holidays like those which charmed 'em in the past.
Without one protester in sight (or was that due to some judicious editing on the part of CBS suits prior to broadcast?), I speculate there may be a bit of peace on Earth to the 1%, too, come Christmas morning (instead of a lynching, eh?).
Merry Christmas to one and all!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The IFC Center's Queer/Art/Film series - and generous sponsor Michael Musto - presented a dazzling World Premiere on Monday night:
PAY IT NO MIND: MARSHA P. JOHNSON
After the screening, a panel of Marsha's friends and colleagues sang her praises, according to my spies in the "Big Apple".
Marsha P. Johnson was a revolutionary trans activist, Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, prostitute, starving actress, and Saint (and all 'round downtown NYC fixture from the 1960’s through her demise in 1992).
As legend would have it, Johnson persevered through a life embodied by her middle initial P, which stood for “Pay It No Mind.”
And, eventually, a documentary was able to set the record - um - straight.
A message from Antony Hegarty about Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson, the namesake of my band, was a gay activist who started the seminal organization S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) in the early 70s with her friend Sylvia Rivera (sp?).
They founded the "STAR house"on the lower East side in an attempt to provide shelter for homeless gay youth; Marsha and Sylvia paid the rent with money they made as street prostitutes. Among the legends about Marsha is that she threw the first bottle at the Stonewall riots; she was certainly among the faces at the forefront of the gay civil rights movement for over 2 decades, representing the community's most marginalized contingent. "Saint Marsha," as she was widely known, was also the kind of person who would give the shirt off her back to a stranger in need, and was once sighted giving all the money she had panhandled that day to another homeless person.
Marsha starred in performances by The Hot Peaches, and she sometimes did impromptu quick changes on Christopher Street, whipping out wigs and feathers that she had hidden in the garbage cans along the stroll to the piers.
During Marsha's final years, she was taken in by lamp shop owner and activist Randy Wickers.
Her body was found in the Hudson River in the Summer of 1992; the cause of her death was never properly determined. She has been sorely missed since.
Tattler readers may recall that I reported on my early off-off-Broadway stint with the "Hot Peaches" in the production of "The Magic Hype".
It was during that outrageous period of my life that I struck up friendships with a handful of the notorious local characters in the lower east side - including, but not limited to - Jackie Curtis!
Is it almost that time again?
It seems that just yesterday I started up my first "10 Best & 10 Worst Dressed List" for Men & Women" as a tribute to that cheeky fashion legend Mr. Blackwell.
Just last year, in fact, I tossed together the 3rd Annual lists amidst a storm of hits, controversy, and "you betcha's"!
Come December 31st, fashionistras who made the grade this year, will be posted once again on The Tattler!
In the meantime, I will be scouring the red carpets, titillating TMZ broadcasts - even people magazine - for likely candidates for 2011.
Was Justine Bieber's recent peacock wonder at the MTV Video Awards worthy of the Best-Dressed or Worst-Dressed nod?
How 'bout Michelle Obama?
Will the 1st Lady make the fashion spotlight - in spite of the Target bargain specials she keeps turning out in (where's the fashion police?L) on quick jaunts out on the hill?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Though it was Thanksgiving - and a smattering of networks and ballsy cable outlets were slated to broadcast top-notch programming for the holiday weekend - sigh - I was doomed from the get-go
I fess up.
Since the lighthearted naughty comedy - Pretty Woman - was first released many moons ago, I have plunked myself down on the couch at least five-or-six times to catch the flick again-and-again.
For good reason!
The chemistry between the two lead actors is fascinating to screen throughout.
One-line zingers, splashy visuals, and fast-pacing have buttressed the flick up - enough so - that that it has also become a perennial holiday favorite.
Julia's quirky small-town persona works well here alongside the sexy one Gere rustled up of - a standoffish studly businessman slightly full of himself - out to make in the lofty climbs of high business and finance.
When the well-dressed out-of-towner cruises curbside to ask for directions from a pedestrian (Roberts) the fireworks erupt!
Before you can say "hand job", sexily-clad-character is firmly ensconced in a high-end auto, teaching the silver fox a thing or two.
Essentially, Roberts plays a hooker with a heart of gold (without any), without any indication she has plans to settle down into domestic bliss.
Meanwhile, Gere's shell of a soul is bent on tearing down the "Old Guard and Kingpins in the "Captains of Industry", to spite the memory of an overbearing father.
Roberts may just be the heady distraction lover-boy needs to bolster his ego during the tricky negotiations?
Ralph Bellamy shines in the role of a "Gentleman Businessman" (as usual) out to expose the corruption and ugly underbelly of a rapidly-expanding shipyard industry.
I met Mr. Bellamy once on a shoot for - "The Disorderlies" - at the old Beverly Hillbilly's Mansion in Beverly Hills.
I found the seasoned actor to be kind, down-to-earth, and an all 'round good fellow.
Gere (who personifies the notion that salt 'n pepper men get better with age) displays just enough cockiness to pull this role off.
The surprise star turn didn't hurt his longevity in the film industry (that's for sure) - and most certainly - cemented Julia Roberts' image as a good-time girl worth banking on!
Catch it if you can!
2 1/2 stars.