Archive for the ‘Hollywood’ Tag

Phantom Thread’s Hidden Gay

David Ehrenstein’s take on the new movie Phantom Threads focuses on the near certainty that the character Day-Lewis plays was a gay man. However, the movie presents him as straight. The “confirmed bachelor” as the character Reynolds Woodcock describes himself was coded language for gay man during the era. Several of the stylists I describe in my book Hollywood Bohemians such as Warner Brothers’ stylist Orry-Kelly, were also gay men who did not view women as sex objects but still saw them as muses that inspired them to make their great creations.

My favorite gay designer that I discuss in the book is excited about dressing a woman in a full-length gown while she runs around in the jungle.

Here’s Ehrenstein’s review of the movie

Terry Bradshaw: New Books Network Podcast

I discussed my book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality with Bob D’Angleo, a sports reporter, on the New Book Network a few days ago. The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

Here is the link:


Actors Carry Beginners

Last night, Washington D.C.’s Reel Affirmations group held a screening of the new Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer movie Beginners. A great turnout filled the entire theater and everyone walked away pleased.

McGregor and Plummer played to their strengths giving emotion and depth to their parts.

Most striking was French actress Melanie Laurent. She is both breathtaking and moving as a woman who has similar relationships troubles to McGregor’s cahracter.

The movie is based on the life of its director. I respect the ability to make a somewhat compelling movie of a personal story, and thought it had an intriguing theme of how people attempt to cover their feelings, and personal situations.

There were things about the movie that did not work for me.

The script had too many montages of images from a particular year or decade, that combined with McGregor’s narration, created didactic moments.

We can understand each of the characters sadness, but combined with the relatively good life they are leading, their moping around made you wonder what these people would be like if they didn’t have cars, a nice home, friends who cared about them, good jobs, food to eat.

The comedy came from one of my favorite sources, the pet.

Why does the dog think and why does he whine whenever McGregor’s character leaves?

Movies, History, Critics

Did you grow up watching Siskel and Ebert? Ever wonder about the power of critics to make or break a movie?

Go see For the Love of Movies an excellent documentary about the world of film criticism from the beginnings of the silent movie to today’s multiplex.

The movie informs you about the people and the scope of the opinions that they wrote in the major newspapers, magazines, fanzines and finally in emags and on blogs.

It is particularly fun seeing clips from movies and learning more about Hollywood publicity. Would have liked to know more about how much money, time and resources is spent on wooing “critics” to come see movies before they are even released to the regular movie critics?

Hollywood has always had its publicity hoopla and its Hollywood bohemians who were promoted in order to sell movies and the movie industry.

Critics lose their mojo and their audiences and new approaches to reviewing movies rise up. This happened in the late 1960s and again in the 1990s. Beside editing like music videos what else changed in the style of movies in the early 1990s that led to a new way of reviewing movies?

Gervais at the Golden Globes

I don’t watch The Office. Nor am I a big fan of awards shows but I thought Ricky Gervais was very funny at the Golden Globes.

Clearly, he has an irreverent attitude toward Hollywood. He is not fawning and he is not particularly respectful. The Washington Post’s Hank Steuver complained that Gervais told lame jokes. His Scientology joke about the sexual orientation of two actors was spot on as the Brits would say, particularly since people I know have first hand experience with one of those actors. I and others are over these actors hiding their behaviors!!!

Another informal reviewer like myself agrees.

The article says Robert Downey Jr. summed up the attitude so well. Give me a break. Downey’s introduction of the five nominees in the category of best actress by saying that they would have given better performances if they slept with him was Creepy. Oh, the women laughed–except for the much younger Emma Stone, who probably felt the same creepiness that this smarmy man indulged in the old-time male heterosexual pig behavior of viewing her as his sexual play toy that I did.

The Post reviewer agrees Downey’s view of Hollywood. Please let us go on and on about our indulgences. If you dare make biting remarks about us or call us on our indulgences then we’ll snarl at you.

Bruce Willis effectively responded to a funny Gervais. Gervais referred to the actor as Ashton Kutcher’s Dad. Humorous given the Demi Moore tie in. Willis said,”Sometimes Hollywood does provide you with outrageous fortune.”

My respect for Willis shot up immensely. He acknowledged the humor and showed that he knows the world in which he works. In addition, he slyly commented on another part of that world, having to attend award ceremonies and accept jokes about one self!

The Post also included a Hank Steuver review of a teenage television show that is airing on MTV. Whether I agree with the review or not, I think having two articles by the same person in the same section of the newspaper is both too much and lazy on the part of the newspaper and its editorial staff.  This Washington metropolitan area must have many other individuals qualified to write about entertainment that could have written one of these articles, no? Particularly since the review is a teen show and the reviewer admits that his teen years came in the era of the late John Hughes.

Anywhere But Somewhere

Sophia Coppola is at it again. Her new movie, Somewhere, gives viewers lyrical art design and mood with a vision of Hollywood and celebrity’s ennui. Despite this ennui, the people I watched with said, it was better than their lives. They could have made his life more fabulous given his money and attention.

Oh, and all the women want to sleep with poor Johnny (Stephen Dorff). He obliges, sometimes poorly, sometimes he drops off to sleep. How come I never saw the attraction.

Whatever work goes into being an actor, the most we see his having a mask made to look like an old man. One wonders when he reads his lines. When does this guy go to the gym?

The most entertaining aspect of the movie is wondering what parts of the scenes that Johnny’s daughter Cleo experiences with her father resonate with the parts of Sophia’s life as a Hollywood daughter.

Whomever doesn’t know Hollywood can be boring and celebrity has its pitfalls must have missed most movies about Hollywood made since the great Sunset Boulevard and all the celebrity rehab shows on Bravo and VH1.

While all critics rated a 77% liked on Rotten Tomatoes, the top critics rated a 65% and the audiences a 50%.

Martin, Paquan Declare

Who’s surprised with the declarations of sexuality by Ricky Martin and Anna Paquan? We saw the news and a few blogs but does anyone really care?

Did people know already? Certainly, one article seems to claim that both members of the gay and lesbian community and also straights in great numbers had a good sense of the sexual interests of many stars.

I think many people could read between the lines in the 1920s and 1930s if stereotypical behaviors and coded words were used as I argue in my book Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream.

Two one-time big stars express their gay and bisexual interests and inclinations and activities. Gossip column mentions but little stirring among the chattering classes. While the standards appear different between gay men and women with gay interests, it appears that Paquan will still be in True Blood and has a few movies opening.

Martin will certainly release new songs to presumably his faithful following.

Celebrity and Athletes

After weeks of running Tiger Woods stories on its front pages, the media has realized the gold mine of revealing the sex lives of athletes. Here comes TMZ.

As Tony Kornheiser said on ESPN Pardon The Interruption (PTI), athletes are physical people. It’s likely that there are many stories to be told that will rivet audiences. If people want to know about actors and actresses and they find out about politicians then of course they would want to hear about sports stars.

When Mets Manager Bobby Valentine said that Major League Baseball would be ready for a gay player, speculation ran rampant for days. Mike Piazza announced that he was not gay. Years later, the media ran the story of the accusation that Roberto Alomar had AIDS and the media recalled the Valentine statement and wondered if the Met he might have been talking about was Alomar.

Will this exposure hurt all athletes. As Sally Jenkins reminds us in her Tiger Woods piece, athletes are often spoiled and thought that they are invisible. A true recipie for exposure of their foibles.

There have been athletes that have relished exposure of their private lives. My top dog is Joe Namith, who enjoyed bachelorhood in New York City during his time with the New York Jets football team in the late 1960s. While it helped that Namith was a bachelor, the positive exposure might have also been because of the heyday of free love.

Titillation and scandal has always sold. There are more outlets for displaying this now. Gossip comes to sports on a regular basis—watch out everyone!

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Attitudes about Lesbian & Gay Hollywood

A trio of teen journalists wrote a piece for Y-Press about their thoughts on Hollywood’s current images of gays and lesbians. Here’s the article on teen attitudes.

They asked me about the history of gays and lesbians in movies. The piece they wrote is here.

Hollywood Bohemians Brazilian Take

A columnist in the Gay Brazilian magazine ISTOE wrote the following:

Quando Hollywood era gay
Na época de ouro do cinema americano, os estúdios faziam vista grossa à homossexualidade de alguns astros e usavam os boatos para atrair o público

Ivan Claudio

foto: John Engstead/ Paramount

A primeira vez que a palavra gay foi ouvida no cinema como sinônimo de homossexual aconteceu no filme “Levada da Breca”, há 70 anos. Foi dita numa das cenas mais engraçadas dessa comédia de Howard Hawks pelo ator americano Cary Grant – e foi por isso que não passou despercebida. Grant (1904 -1986) era para a Hollywood dos anos dourados o que Tom Cruise é para a indústria do cinema nos dias de hoje. Um dos atores preferidos de Alfred Hitchcock, com quem fez clássicos como “Ladrão de Casaca” e “Intriga Internacional”, ele serviu de modelo para Ian Fleming criar o agente secreto 007.

O casal feliz

Os atores Randolph Scott e Cary Grant na casa em que moraram juntos por 12 anos, numa praia da Califórnia. A residência ficou conhecida como a “mansão dos solteirões”

Devido à sua popularidade se dava ao luxo da autogozação. Era esse, com certeza, o seu propósito nessa famosa cena, quando o personagem que interpretava, obrigado a sair do banho vestido no extravagante “peignoir” de uma garota, vai atender a porta da casa. Ao vê-lo enfiado num traje feminino, a velhinha que tocara a campainha pergunta-lhe o que significava aquela palhaçada. “É porque, subitamente, me transformei em um gay”, diz Grant.

O diálogo é um óbvio comentário ao que circulava nas revistas de fofoca da época: o ator, solteiro e um dos mais cobiçados da época, seria homossexual. E isso porque ele vivia numa mansão em Santa Monica, em Los Angeles, com o amigo Randolph Scott, estrela dos faroestes. Trata-se de uma situação emblemática do ambiente “simpatizante” da Hollywood daquele período, que não apenas tolerava a diferença sexual como a usava para vender a imagem de que a meca do cinema era um lugar cosmopolita, exótico e excitante.

Terno e Gravata
Marlene dietrich na época de seu romance com uma roteirista. Seu estilo de vestir virou letra de música

Algo como a Paris do fim do século XIX. Essa tese controversa é defendida pelo historiador americano Brett Abrams, que acaba de lançar nos EUA o livro “Hollywood Bohemians – Trangressive Sexuality and The Selling of the Movieland Dream” (Os Boêmios de Hollywood – Sexualidade Transgressiva e a Venda do Sonho da Terra do Cinema). “Nos anos 1920 e 1930 a publicidade, os filmes e os livros de ficção sobre o ambiente hollywoodiano mostravam uma complexa e geralmente positiva imagem dos gays, lésbicas e heterossexuais que viviam um casamento aberto”, disse Abrams à ISTOÉ.

“A indústria do cinema usava o exemplo desses artistas para excitar o público e fazer Hollywood parecer única e especial. E o público entendia o recado.” Arquivista do National Archives and Records Administration, em Washington, ele pesquisou revistas de celebridades, colunas de fofoca e edições inteiras dos jornais de Los Angeles.

Como bolsista da divisão de cinema da Livraria do Congresso, viu filmes esquecidos que tratavam do cotidiano nos estúdios e leu 70 livros de ficção sobre o mesmo tema, escritos entre 1915 e 1950. Num dia de pesquisas na livraria da Academy of Motion Pictures, em Beverly Hills, ele encontrou o álbum de 30 fotos esquecidas que os estúdios Paramount fizeram em 1932 para divulgar o charme da vida de solteiro de Cary Grant e Randolph Scott. Era a prova cabal do lado “gay friendly” da Hollywood nos anos 30. “A descoberta desse material me desconcertou”, diz.

As imagens de Grant e Scott, tratados pela imprensa como “o casal feliz”, os mostram na piscina, levantando pesos, fazendo cooper, jogando dama ou jantando à luz de velas. Num flagrante bem íntimo, Scott aparece sentado à mesa olhando um documento, como se estivesse fazendo contas, enquanto Grant o observa de pé, a mão apoiada no ombro do amigo. “Aqui estamos, vivendo da forma que achamos melhor como solteiros, numa ótima casa e a um preço relativamente barato”, disse Grant a uma revista de fãs da época. Bela economia: essa mesma casa, com praia particular no litoral californiano e que ficou conhecida como a “mansão dos solteirões”, foi leiloada há três anos com um lance mínimo de US$ 4 milhões.

Dessa série, a foto que mais intrigou Abrams foi aquela que mostra a silhueta dos dois amigos no clima romântico de um fim de tarde, diante do mar. “A imagem de dois homens fumando juntos aparecia com frequência em filmes da época. No entanto, essas cenas aconteciam em bares e outros lugares “masculinos” e não em ambientes tidos como românticos.

A interação entre eles não dava a entender que formavam um par, sem qualquer pessoa a sua volta”, escreve o historiador. “Um homem nunca acendia o cigarro de outro homem se um deles já estivesse com o cigarro na boca.”

Quando Hollywood era gay
Na época de ouro do cinema americano, os estúdios faziam vista grossa à homossexualidade de alguns astros e usavam os boatos para atrair o público

Ivan Claudio

Intimidade Fotos de grant e Scott foram feitas pelo próprio estúdio Paramount

Grant viveu 12 anos com Scott e se casou com cinco mulheres em intervalos diferentes. Mas nunca assumiu publicamente nem mesmo uma suposta bissexualidade. Em 1980, aos 76 anos, processou o comediante Chevy Chase, que teria assim se referido a ele na tevê: “What a gal!” (“que garota”). Gay assumido, o cineasta George Cuckor, que o dirigiu em “Núpcias de Escândalo”, comentou a postura do colega: “Ele nunca falaria sobre isso. No máximo, diria que os dois fizeram belas fotos juntos. Scott talvez admitisse – mas para um amigo.” Desde que não fosse tão alcoviteiro como ele, Cuckor.

Diante do frisson provocado por essa ambiguidade sexual, os estúdios Paramount procuravam tirar proveito do suposto romance. E os filmes de Grant, como as comédias feitas com Katherine Hepburn, arrebentavam na bilheteria. Verdade ou mentira, tudo se passava entre quatro paredes. Para a grande legião de boêmios (que além de atores e diretores incluía roteiristas, figurinistas e diretores de arte), a agitada vida noturna de Beverly Hills era o espaço de convivência e badalação por excelência. “Nessa época, Hollywood tinha mais néons que a Broadway”, diz Abrams.

Os bares, boates e restaurantes chiques borbulhavam num dos metros quadrados mais caros do planeta: “Os mais disputados ficavam nas redondezas de Sunset Boulevard e tinham uma decoração fantasiosa, imitando o exotismo marroquino ou o Carnaval veneziano.” Nesses anos loucos surgiu até um guia turístico chamado “How to Sin in Hollywood” (Como Pecar em Hollywood), que listava os lugares onde encontrar os “transgressores” de que trata o livro de Abrams. O restaurante Brown Derby, por exemplo, era o local preferido da atriz alemã Marlene Dietrich. Causava sensação a sua chegada, sempre vestida de terno, gravata, chapéu e sapatos de amarrar. A estrela de “O Expresso de Xangai” vivia um romance com a roteirista Mercedes de Acosta e adotou o look masculino a contragosto do estúdio.

A reação dos executivos foi prática: “Vamos então transformar isso em moda e explorar a imagem de Marlene em trajes masculinos.” E a moda pegou. Dupla das mais requisitadas para a trilha de musicais, Rodgers and Hart, autores dos clássicos “My Funny Valentine” (gravada por Chet Baker) e “The Lady is a Tramp” (sucesso de Frank Sinatra), compuseram para o filme “Hollywood Party” a engraçadíssima canção “I’m one of the Boys”. Sua letra diz: “Prefiro o alfaiate de Marlene. Nenhum vestido francês é tão moderno quanto suas calças.”

foto: John EngstEad/ Paramount “Um homem nunca acendia o cigarro de outro homem se um deles já estivesse com o cigarro na boca. Esse tipo de gentileza, no entanto, era bastante comum entre um homem e uma mulher como demonstração de cavalheirismo. Essa cena frequentava a publicidades de meados dos anos 20. Eram imagens que associavam o fumo ao glamour, ao romantismo e à sedução.”

Trecho do livro “Hollywood Bohemians”

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