Dan Heching's Review Space

Archive for May, 2012

Oslo, August 31st

by on May.29, 2012, under Film, Review

Watching this Norwegian tale of a struggling former drug addict returning home is like staring into an abyss.


Anders Danielsen Lie in
Oslo, August 31st

Oslo, August 31st

Time Investment: 96 mins.
Return on Investment: 79 mins.

Being aware of life choices—and still making the wrong ones—offers a perverse and misleading sense of control for Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) in Oslo, August 31st (Strand Releasing), and therein lies this film’s sad appeal.

As unpleasant as it might be to watch Oslo at times, it is impossible to deny Mr. Lie’s considerable talents, as a recuperating drug addict almost done with a rehabilitation program who returns to his hometown of Oslo for a reckoning of sorts. There is a certain fatefulness to the film and to all of Anders’ actions, since his draw to self destruction is so potent, so ever-present, that it almost feels like the film ends about an hour before it does. We’re never quite able to forget the presence of the drugs in his pocket—like him, we are continually drawn to that weight, that pull—and it makes for a compelling and dark experience. This is a brutally drawn portrait of a depressed and damaged young man—effective sequences like a purposefully botched job interview or his slow withdrawal from the world around him right in the middle of a busy urban cafe are exceptionally well done in their unsettling nature.

Oslo shares some interesting parallels with two other films dealing with addicts returning home, namely Rachel Getting Married and The Fighter, but those are slightly superior only in how they convey even the faintest glimmer of hope, thereby showing more of a range of human experience. Of course, human experience is sometimes pretty much exclusively shitty, so the argument can be made that the American films show only half the struggle while this foreign take on addiction and self worth is more unapologetic in its honesty. Whatever the case may be, make sure to take some Vitamin D or get some sun pretty soon after watching.

Dan Heching

May 25, 2012
Comments Off :, more...

THE BIKRAM YOGA MIX TAPE!

by on May.23, 2012, under Culture, Gay, New York, Yoga

And now for a little Yoga interlude, ladies & gents!

It’s been a long while since I’ve contributed to this section (and checked the ‘Yoga’ tag in my categories), but not for lack of desire or interest. After a long hiatus that took me out of the neighborhood, I am ‘back on the mat’, and going to the studio has filled me with ideas and inspiration. This time I am going to do my utmost to actually HARNESS some of that and put it into writing – for an hour or so after class each day, I’m going to try (I hope to DO, and not try) to just pour some of whatever’s in my head onto the ‘page,’ ie, this here blog thing.

And today, I’d like to share some of the more musical thoughts that travel through my soggy mind at times when I’m in the Hot Room. When in class, there are equal parts solace and exhaustion which come up in the repetition of everything, and at key intervals my brain (like an old record player) pops on certain tunes, either choruses or specific lyrics, that reflect what we’re doing or how I’m feeling at a given moment in the sequence. I think it’s my brain’s way of distracting itself from the matter at hand, grasping at the straws of remembered music to hopefully transport itself away from the heat. At least that’s how it felt today. Yes, in Bikram you get so hot you actually sometimes start to think about your brain as this thing, this little joker inside your head that’s tempting you to lose focus and give in to all the discomfort. The strength of Yoga lies in overcoming that.

The below songs represent thoughts and associations I’ve been making forever as we move through the unchanging sequence of postures, and the mental note I make to myself each time to share this list with others has grown soggy too, so I thought it high time to actually get some of it down here.

Some of these songs will have clear associations that need little explanation, others are more out there and metaphorical. Most, if not all, are major-fabulous pop songs, that you very much:

Waking up/deciding whether/motivation myself to go to class: I Don’t Want to Wait, Paula Cole – specifically the lyrics “So open up your morning light, and say a little prayer for I” (…to be able to get to class)

Before/during pranayama: Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson

Moving to the back of the mat for Balancing Stick Pose: Sexyback, Justin Timberlake – “Come to the back”

Around the time of Triangle, I’m beginning to think about breeeeathing, so this comes to mind: Breathe, Télépopmusik or Breathe In, Frou Frou (Imogen Heap)

When we hit the mat (finally): Relax, Take it Easy, Mika

For Wind Removing Pose, when the teacher says to switch our grip and I use my right-handed grip on my left knee: Jump, Kriss Kross – “Kriss Kross’ll make ya jump, jump!” (although no one is jumping right now)

After the second Cobra, when we are instructed to put our heads “to the left, to the left”: Irreplaceable, Beyonce

If it’s hot (which is invariably is!), another Beyonce lyric comes to mind: Get Me Bodied, Beyonce – “Cool off, cool off”

During Camel Pose: Open Your Heart, Madonna

At the end of the class, any feel-good inspirational song will do: Ray of Light by Madonna is good – “And I feel, like I just got home…”

BONUS TRACKS: fellow Bikram yogis Pink and Lady Gaga deserve mentions here! Born This Way, Lady Gaga and Raise Your Glass, Pink

Some obvious ones may include Hot in Here by Nelly, but I try to avoid anything that reminds me how Hot it is In Here…

More to come, kids!

Comments Off more...

People can’t seem to stop remaking CARRIE

by on May.16, 2012, under Film

As published on Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered

by Dan Heching, May 16, 2012

“They’re all gonna laugh at…who?

There are some truly horrid things out there that just won’t die. One is the soon-to-be-remade (again!) CARRIE, Stephen King’s exceptionally underrated debut novel (if this were required reading in every American high school, there would probably be no ‘bullying crisis’) and the brilliant 1976 Brian de Palma screen adaptation with Sissy Spacek, masseur-loving John Travolta and Piper Laurie. Laurie, it’s worth noting, made the honorable mentions in our Top 10 Mothers In Legendary Films list for Mother’s Day—and come to think of it, she deserved her own maniacal place in the list itself for this Oscar-nominated role.

To read more on the casting for the new CARRIE, read on at SUNfiltered!

Comments Off :, , , , , , more...

When Will Women Have Their Day in Hollywood?

by on May.16, 2012, under Culture, Film

As published on wetpaint.com

When Will Women Have Their Day in Hollywood?

First, we discovered that Hollywood’s top actresses still make far less than their male counterparts. Now, it seems that even though 2011 was, statistically speaking, a good year for women in the movies, they still only represented one third of all the major characters in last year’s highest-grossing films, as a new study brought to light by The Wrap reveals. What gives?!

Thanks to the Kristen Stewart powerhouse that is the Twilight franchise and films like box office darling The Help, 2011, had more females playing principal roles in the top 100 films in the domestic box office. But as usual, most of those women were 40 and under, and playing relatively powerless roles (note how Bella basically spends all of Twilight being lovestruck or pregnant, and the ladies of The Help are…the help).

And the trend continues: even the mega-buster Avengers, currently dominating box offices across the universe, features only two female characters — ScarJo and Cobie Smulders — and neither of them can claim full superhero status. Granted, that is mainly due to the adolescent-boy-tendencies of the comic book world, but seriously — where, oh, where are our generation’s kickass females, like Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in the Terminator movies)?

Hopefully, things will change, at least slightly, with a badass Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games set to carry on with at least two sequels and KStew wreaking havoc as a heavily armored Snow White in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman, not to mention a red-eyed (but still perfectly put together and well-manicured) vampire in the upcoming Twi-finale, Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Source: The Wrap

Comments Off more...

Top 10 dictator movies

by on May.16, 2012, under Culture, Film, Review

Top 10 dictator movies!

Sacha Baron Cohen, aka the Baron of Questionable Taste, is releasing his third opus in far-flung tomfoolery this week. THE DICTATOR follows the USA-bound travels of a heavily-bearded, thoroughly misogynistic tyrant modeled after… take your pick. You most probably have heard about this by now – what with Cohen’s shenanigans at the Oscars and a trailer featuring Megan Fox in bed, it’s hard not to be aware of him even if you’d really, really like to be. The question, however, is this: is THE DICTATOR coming to us a few years too late? Remember – the downfall of both Hussein and Gaddafi are history, especially when we have things like [insert name of favorite reality TV show here] to care about. Or, is this movie going to be just plain awesome?

Dictators have always made great movie fodder: they tend not to go quietly into the night. So, whether or not SBC’s take on tyranny is your cup of peasant blood, there is sure to be a dictator movie out there for you. Here are ten of our favorites:

10. THE LAST EMPEROR

Bertolucci’s portrait of a monarch “dictator” – whose power is absolute but confined to a very elaborate prison – starts in early childhood. The first third of this film is pure magic, and the rest ain’t too bad either. The 1987 Oscars sweeper features still today one of the most evocative and breathtaking film scores, not to mention stunning photography.


Photo credit: IMDB

9. BANANAS

This is what we mean when we say, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Woody Allen’s hallmark of sheer irreverence introduces us to Fielding Mellish, a nebbish New Yorker (one of the first of many by Mr. Allen) who ends up becoming the leader of an unstable South American country to impress a girl (the lovely Louise Lasser, of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and HAPPINESS fame). The film, which was mostly improvised, still stands the test of time as a truly hilarious romp, ranking as number 69 on AFI’s list of 100 Years, 100 Laughs.

8. DOWNFALL

This 2004 German film going into Hitler’s bunker at the close of World War II was well received, and WINGS OF DESIRE’s Bruno Ganz was lauded for his portrayal of Adolf. No one expected, however, that the pivotal scene in which he realizes the war is lost would become such rich source material for countless Youtube spoofs. As Hitler rages at his generals, bored people across the internet have changed the subtitles of his German tirade to reflect fury at any number of injustices, from the large (the housing bubble crisis of 2008) to the very small (Dobby’s death in the end of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART I).

7. MAX

Speaking of Hitler – Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt creatively frustrated. Now, raise your hand if you’re…arguably the most reviled dictator of all time? The recounting of a frustrated young artist named Adolf Hitler, and the Jewish art dealer that attempts to steer him in the right direction (i.e., not towards world domination and widespread genocide), Max was a passion project for recent Hollywood Walk of Fame star recipient John Cusack, who took no salary for his portrayal of Max Rothman.

For more dictatorial goodness, check out the rest of the list on Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered!


Photo credit: Plymouth.ac.uk

Author: Dan Heching

Comments Off more...

Top 10 MILFs!

by on May.10, 2012, under Culture, Film, Review

As published on Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered, Thursday May 10th 2012

They mostly come at night…mostlyRipley and Newt in Aliens

Top 10 MILFs (Moms In Legendary Films)

Mother’s Day might be upon us, but no, we are not going the cheap route and talking about the MILFs you’re used to (although we do love Jennifer Coolidge in everything she does; even American Pie). This list is dedicated to a far more select—and somewhat more matronly—group, namely Moms In Legendary Films. With motherhood in unprecedented states of shameful disrepair (Octomom doing porn, anyone?), it’s high time we shake off our current malaise, get out our old blankie (or teddybear, or Pound Puppy) and get ready to cry on Mommy’s shoulder with these treats. Because the women here are pure maternal power, offering a cinematic Womb for the Soul.

10. Bree Osbourne – TRANSAMERICA

Photo credit: MoviesPad

As Bree Osbourne, Felicity Huffman took on a whole lot in this acclaimed role: a road-tripping male-to-female transsexual who unwittingly discovers along the way that she has a child. From oblivious father to an ultimately caring mother, Huffman handled an extraordinary double gender reversal with aplomb, teaching us a little something about parenting at the same time—uteruses (uteri?) and vaginas aside, real mothering is all about the heart.

9. Abileen Clark – THE HELP

Photo credit: Collider

Viola Davis and company also do a wonderful job reminding us that the one you call mommy doesn’t always end up being she who birthed you. As a devoted maid in 1960s Mississippi, Davis cares for her inept white boss’s child as her own (and she has those back home, too). When she is unjustly fired from her job later in the film, her heartbreak over losing the baby girl who has become her de facto daughter is palpable. 
It’s worth noting another mother nailed by Viola, in 2008′s DOUBT. In just one scene she steals the entire film, as the mother of a 1960s choirboy who is prepared to accept the possibility of something unspeakable in order to keep her son in a place where he won’t succumb to the racism and classism she knows all too well. A mother’s love may not always be logical, but boy, it can be fierce.

8. Kate McCallister – HOME ALONE

Photo credit: MovieMango

This family fun-for-all gains double-whammy status as both a great Christmas treat and Mother’s Day movie, since the storyline pretty much boils down to this: a harried mother must wend her way through various shenanigans (as only the late John Hughes, who actually wrote this film, can concoct) to redeem the love of her abandoned son. The always-brilliant Catherine O’Hara—who gave us one of the wackiest mothers of all time in BEETLEJUICE—expertly captures a defining moment on the plane toward the beginning of the film, when she finally realizes they forgot Kevin at home. She betrays an eternal truth: even parents can screw up, and royally.

For the rest of these MILFs, check out the list on SUNfiltered’s Top 10s!

Happy Mother’s Day!

—DH

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

by on May.10, 2012, under Film, Gay, Review

Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in the same film? ’Nuff said.

Oh, India…Judi Dench and Celia Imrie in Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Time Investment: 122 min.
Return on Investment: 100 min.

When it comes to your favorite elderly British actresses, most gays fall into two camps: Team Judi and Team Maggie. So what more could we ask for when these two Dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith to be exact, appear in the same bloody film? Not a whole lot! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a cheeky and small film planting several over-the-hill Englishmen and women at a lavish-seeming but rather decrepit and run-down hotel in India, all looking for the next chapter in their lives.

Recently, everyone on Team Maggie has had a lot to hem and haw about, since Dame Smith has been cutting everyone down so delightfully on the much-loved series Downton Abbey. But let us never forget the wonderfully dynamic actress that is Judi Dench, able to embody stately queen (her Oscar-winning turn as Elisabeth I in Shakespeare in Love), on-point government whiz (M in the Bond films), and, arguably her best work, as the lonely and seriously creepy old lesbian in Notes on a Scandal. Here, Dench turns in another magnificent performance, becoming young before our eyes as a recently widowed woman tasting independence for the first time. The filmmakers took a gamble here by casting someone ‘so old’ as the romantic lead, but it’s a gamble that pays off.

Pulling their weight on the men’s side are two more actors who rarely disappoint, namely Bill Nighy (also brilliant in Notes) and Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson creates a nostalgic and emotional story around a man who is coming back to India after a lifetime of denial, in search of the man he’s always loved. Marigold definitely doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it never sets out to do more than marvel at a unique and lush locale, and how perspectives can change when people truly open themselves up to their surroundings.

—DH

May 09, 2012
Comments Off :, , , , , , , , more...

Tribeca Film Festival 2012 Wrap-Up: Winners, Losers and More

by on May.02, 2012, under Culture, Film, Gay, New York, Review

Joss Whedon’s fanboy wet dream The Avengers closed a Tribeca Film Festival that had a fair share of highlights.

Lucy Mulloy, director of Una Noche, and actor Dariel Arrechada

Tribeca Film Festival 2012 Wrap-Up: Winners, Losers and…The Avengers?

The 11th Annual Tribeca Film Fest closed up shop last weekend with a very high-profile (and still sort of random) closing night showing of The Avengers. Action-hunks Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were in attendance, along with “everyday heroes from police agencies, fire departments, first responders, and various branches of the U.S. military…whose presence will honor the founding spirit of the Tribeca Film Festival.” Seems Tribeca will still do just about anything for some attention.

In terms of awards, the film on everyone’s shortlist was Una Noche, a film that takes place over one sweltering day in Havana and features two sweaty untrained actors as Raul and Elio, boys who dream of fleeing Cuba for the “paradise” of Miami, Florida. The pair, Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nuñez Florian, split the festival’s Best Actor honors, which were presented by the ever so lovely Patricia Clarkson. Una Noche also won for Best Director as well as Best Cinematography.

Other notable mentions included Stitches, an Israeli short film featuring a lesbian couple who decide to have a baby, which was presented the Student Visionary Award by Susan Sarandon. And lastly, the Audience Award for Best Narrative went to Any Day Now, which I didn’t love so much—apparently festival audiences didn’t mind Alan Cumming’s extremely showy song and dance. But it’s A-OK in my book, since the film does deal with a very important issue in a heartfelt (and heartbreaking) manner.

Notably absent from the awards was Keep the Lights On, Ira Sachs’ vivid and intense love story nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. A recap of the films I reviewed below:

Hysteria has fun showing period London’s brittle conventions as they crack and fall apart, but it is by no means hysterical. Click here for full review>>>

Although simplistic, Any Day Now does pack a powerful, timely and ultimately heartbreaking message. Click here for full review>>>

Keep the Light On is a vividly intense dual character study, like Brokeback Mountain with an extra dose of contemporary reality. Click here for full review>>>

Yossi could be regarded as an interesting portrait of an emerging gay man who doesn’t feel good about his body, but ultimately the film is hobbled by an incredibly loose, weak ending. Click here for full review>>>

Jack & Diane does revel in the simple joy of watching two young lesbians in love eating sushi with ketchup…If only the rest of the film weren’t so wishy-washy. Click here for full review>>>

May 01, 2012
Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , more...

Tribeca Film Festival: Hysteria

by on May.01, 2012, under Film, Review

Hugh Dancy is saddled with the dreadful job of fingering half the women in 1880s London, leading to the birth of the first vibrator.

Tribeca Film Festival: Hysteria

Time Investment: 95 min.

Return Investment: 69 min.

Hugh Dancy can simply do no wrong. After turning heads in 2009’s Adam and more recently on The Big C as gay melanoma sufferer Lee, Dancy (aka Mr. Claire Danes) has quickly risen to the top of the pack of sexy British imports. Here he returns to his proper roots, as it were, portraying a forward-thinking doctor who finds employment with a befuddled doctor (Jonathan Pryce) catering to women suffering from “hysteria”, a hazy term alluding to a far greater societal ailment of the time: the general inability to acknowledge women’s sexual vitality in the slightest. He becomes acquainted with his boss’s polar opposite daughters—the prim Emily (Felicity Jones from the brilliant Like Crazy) and brash Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal)—no relation to the Brontë sisters intended.

And this is where Hysteria runs ever so slightly aground. Through no fault of Ms. Gyllenhaal’s, the script paints Charlotte a bit one-dimensionally, as a whirlwind precursor to suffragists whose every second word has to do with women’s rights or society’s ills. The writers here forget that nobody is ever that explicitly ahead-of-their-time, and as a consequence, the unlikely but obvious love story between the leads (not for lack of chemistry between Dancy and Gyllenhaal, two very game actors) never has time to develop correctly.

On the flipside, the film has a jovial supporting cast, with Bridget Jones’ mum Gemma Jones and notably our very own Rupert Everett (who’s been gone for awhile <<cough, nip, tuck, cough>> and lets just say it’s better when he’s in the parlor where it’s dim), as a gadget-loving mad scientist of sorts who becomes instrumental in the vibrator’s, ahem, conception. His exceptionally hilarious banter, especially when yapping on the latest invention known as the telephone, could be likened to John Cleese.

Hysteria has fun showing period London’s brittle conventions as they crack and fall apart, and the film is based (in part) in the truth, but it is by no means hysterical. That word is reserved for the critically acclaimed play on the same subject, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play.

Visit TribecaFilmFestival.com for more info.
DH
April 30, 2012
Comments Off :, , , , more...