5 Questions: Whit Stillman on Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman, director of “Love & Friendship,” with star Kate Beckinsale.

Whit Stillman, director of “Love & Friendship,” with star Kate Beckinsale.

Whit Stillman has been making films since his sparkling debut, Metropolitan, back in 1990, but it has taken until now for him to find the perfect literary muse for his brand of hyper-verbose, witty ruminations. Critics who first questioned the pairing of the modernist filmmaker and the writing of Jane Austen didn’t see how deeply connected their work was. Both are droll and keen observers of human nuance, but they also share a love of characters who use their loquaciousness either to mask their true feelings or to reveal far too much of them. His new film, Love & Friendship, based on a very early Austen novella that was never published in her lifetime, stars Kate Beckinsale as the wily, conniving widow Lady Susan, who hatches a plan to marry her daughter off to someone of wealth, while reserving a second rich husband for herself, in the form of the doofy, brilliantly confused Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett, in a command performance). Based in New York, Stillman trekked the short distance down to Philly and spoke with us about his Austen connection, casting an anti-heroine, and the joy of watching Tom Bennett at work. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Isaiah Solomon Freeman

Photo of Isaiah Solomon Freeman.

Isaiah Solomon Freeman

White|Wash, directed by Philly native Isaiah Solomon Freeman, is an experimental horror film — set in an imaginary world where marginalized images are the standard — about an aspiring actress and single mother who experiments with bleaching when she realizes there are roles for women of a darker complexion.

What inspired you to do this film?
Growing up, I had self-confidence issues. I realized that I hated my features that didn’t represent European features. I hated my nose, my complexion, and my lips. I talked to friends who felt the same way about themselves. When it came to writing my senior thesis film, I wanted to do a horror film, but I also wanted a film that dealt with race. I was reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, when I realized that dealing with colorism would be a perfect topic to get a conversation started as well as incorporate a horror feel. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: GLADD Study Shows Major Drop in LGBT Diversity in Films

Transgender biopic The Danish Girl.

Transgender biopic “The Danish Girl.”

Only 25.5 percent of the LGBT characters portrayed in films from seven major studios this year are of color.

While Hollywood’s racial diversity issues have become a major topic of discussion, the problems appear to be even deeper when it comes to LGBTQ diversity. According to a new report released on Monday by GLADD, the racial diversity of LGBT characters has fallen noticeably. Overall, 17.5 percent of last year’s films from the seven major Hollywood studios contained characters who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. However, only 25.5 percent of those characters were of color; the previous year’s percentage was 32.1 percent. “Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” GLADD president and CEO Sarah Ellis said in the report. “The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.” The organization says the industry “must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to plot and which reflect the wide diversity of our community, including people of color, those living with disabilities, and a variety of geographical and ideological backgrounds.” Read more »

Five Questions: Jeremy Saulnier on Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier, director of Green Room.

Jeremy Saulnier, director of Green Room.

Considering the bloody, jarring material he often works with, Jeremy Saulnier is an almost absurdly normal and unassuming seeming man. His new film, Green Room, follows the violent travails of a callow, dead broke punk band who get a gig booked at a mysterious club outside of Portland that turns out to be a white supremacist stronghold, lead by the terrifyingly calm Darcy (Patrick Stewart). When a body suddenly turns up in their dressing room, things go from bad to worse in a hurry. Soon, the band is fighting for their lives just to survive the night.

Despite the distinctly B-movie set up, Saulnier, who showed a penchant for such violent meditation in his previous film, Blue Ruin, never lets the material move into slick silliness or flamboyant gore. Instead, it’s a dark, gritty, scarily realistic account of survival. The director spoke with us on the topics of violence, visual storytelling, and finding an audience. Read more »

EDITOR’S PICKS: My Top 10 LGBTQ Movies on Netflix

Oscar winner Michael Douglas won an Emmy award for his role as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

Michael Douglas won an Emmy for his turn as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

1. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

This Oscar-nominated comedy/drama stars acting heavyweights Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as they navigate lesbian parenting and love in one of the most reflective gay films of the decade.

2. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Hillary Swank won her first Oscar for this emotional biopic on the troubled life of Brandon Teena, a transgender lover who lost his life due to a hate crime in a Midwestern town. Read more »

REVIEW: Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Photo from Magnolia Pictures.

Photo from Magnolia Pictures.

Why is it that when the world learned of Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, complete strangers who never even knew him were overcome with tears?

This is the question director Alex Gibney poses to the audience at the beginning of Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, amidst shots of people leaving flowers at Apple stores, holding up virtual candles on their iPads, and mourning the loss of a man who seemed, before his cancer, invincible. Read more »

Pavarotti Coming to Prince Theater … Sort Of

Luciano Pavarotti, via Shutterstock

Luciano Pavarotti, via Shutterstock

Some of the biggest names in classical music—the late Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Sondra Radvanovsky, Ekaterina Gubanova—are coming to Philly this fall, at least in digital spirit, as the Prince Theater launches yet another innovative series of programming that will feature big-screen broadcasts of performing arts. Read more »

Screening of The Maestro at Curtis Institute

THE-SCENE-THE-MAESTRO-HEADER-940X540

Friends, supporters and patrons of the arts gathered at the Curtis Institute of Music on Saturday night for the screening of Maestro, an intimate, unprecedented glimpse into the life of a renowned conductor and a vibrant, contemporary portrait of the world of classical music. For two years a film crew followed Grammy award-winning conductor and Curtis alum Paavo Jarvi, violinists Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn, as well as an array of other musicians to show the importance of classical music and music education.

More photos from the Curtis screening of The Maestro after the jump »

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