Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Joshua Tree is a highly-stylized portrait of James Dean that is rife with wild notions about the actor's personal life before he was catapulted to fame in his first major role "Rebel Without a Cause".
There’s a lot of wishful thinking tossed in for good measure by the producers, too.
For years, it’s been whispered (and speculated behind closed-doors) that the sexy movie star was a bisexual who slept his way to the top.
For good reason, before the screening at the DGA commenced last night under the auspices of the Outfest umbrella, the director – Matthew Mishory – categorized his feature as a portrait (not a screen bio) to set the record straight.
The curious offering is nothing more than a splashy tabloid-rag expose on celluloid after all.
And, the producers have left no stone unturned when it comes to delivering up titillating bits of salacious gossip for the audience to feast on.
For example, the screenwriter not only tosses a searing spotlight on an unknown male lover Dean allegedly once shared an apartment with in the desert, but also, takes a foray into the underbelly of Hollywood where young studly males allegedly traded sexual favors with studio executives for quick cash, expensive dinners at fancy restaurants, and bit parts in feature films.
In his bid for stardom, the screenwriter infers that Dean was wise to the “game”, and played it to the hilt.
“I’m going to fuck those guys like they’ve never been fucked before,” he vows to a female confidante one day in a heart-to-heart.
At this point, the filmmakers go overboard exalting scandalous between-the-sheets adventures they allege hastened the legend's rise to fame in Hollywood.
It is also hinted that Dean was into kinky sex, bondage, and liked being treated like a human ashtray. For example, throughout the film there are intriguing shots of an unidentified male lover crushing lit cigarette butts into his muscular torso.
In another graphic scene, Dean is “taking it up the ass” against a wall in the hallway of his roommate's rental apartment.
I’ve heard all the rumors, but can attest to one thing.
Dean was definitely bisexual.
I actually had an acquaintance in England who once met and bedded the star.
Years ago, “X” holidayed in Los Angeles with his parents one summer.
One day, when he went out for a stroll, a young man standing in front of a bar invited him inside for a beer. Shortly thereafter, they trotted back to Dean’s apartment where they immediately hopped into bed and passionately made out with "gay" abandon.
According to my friend, he spent the weekend with the actor as his parents (in a tizzy) tried desperately to locate their son over that long debauched weekend.
I used to rent an apartment at Harper and Fountain Streets in West Hollywood where James Dean allegedly once resided (Katherine Hepburn apparently once lived in the apartment fronting the quiet peaceful street decades ago).
The units were known for their deep walk-in closets.
According to the gossip, Dean used to bring tricks home and engage in wild bouts of S & M in the – um – closet.
‘Nuff said on that issue.
By the way, although the cinematography in this film is spectacular (the mix of black and white shots with color is quite effective throughout) - at times - it is quite distracting too.
The scenes featuring gleaming pristine automobiles gliding by on the street ultimately capture the headiness of that glittering era when Hollywood was in its heyday.
The actor who portrays Dean (a former Abercrombie & Fitch model) is quite remarkable in the role in a few of the scenes, especially when you consider the challenges involved with pulling off such a difficult plum acting assignment.
At times, the actor is quite mesmerizing in scenes, especially in those where he truthfully speaks from the heart.
Unfortunately, a handful of the supporting players appear awkward in the “shells” they inhabit.
"Joshua Tree" tends to be stagy, stilted and forced.
The dialogue is often cliche and not terribly believable either.
The producers obviously tried to raise the bar here, but missed the mark.
In sum, the flick is a screen oddity that has to be taken with a grain of salt (where the facts are concerned at least).
For gay men, it is a heart-throbbing boner-rising sexual fantasy that will no doubt fill movie theatres in the LGBT community in the coming months once it is released.
2 ½ stars!