Re-fighting the Battle of the Sexes

DATELINE: Gay Lib, Not Gay Lob

Bobby & Billie Truly a Doubles Match!

Many viewers may not know the story of Bille Jean King and Bobby Riggs and their ridiculously hyped tennis match of the early 1970s.

The earlier TV movie was called When Billie Beat Bobby. This new version is the Battle of the Sexes, but it’s more of a coming-out story.

Many may not know that an earlier cable movie effectively told the story with all the limitations of small screen propriety. If you wonder about the differences, there was no hint of gayness in Billie or her marriage. She had no bedroom scenes with a female hairdresser.

She did not have a gay best friend (marvelous Alan Cumming as Ted). She did not have a cantankerous relationship with Margaret Court in the first movie who is always holding a baby in the remake.

You did not see Bobby Riggs’ nude layout. You did not see his marital problems, or his hilarious attendance at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

You had a greater sense that Bobby and Billie were, above all else, “good sports” and actually remained lifelong friends.

The big screen smash has magnificent performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carell, looking more like their real counterparts. Carell is making an industry out of playing peripheral sports characters (Dupont in Foxcatcher). There are some marvelous effects too, bringing Howard Cosell back to life to play himself.

This is a big budget film with a great music score, pictures of celebs of the times, and the Houston Astrodome itself.

We recall the match was a grand joke, only taken seriously by those who’d be willing to buy the Brooklyn Bridge from Bobby Riggs. How could anyone think that old man could beat a young athletic woman?

Well, as we recall, yes, there were men crushed by the defeat. This movie brings it all back to us.

Boston Hits a Low Spot: Trolley Cars Underground

DATELINE: Boston’s First Big Dig

dig down No-park Street Station

American Experience presents some interesting little films that collect amazing movie clips and photos. They then intersperse them into literate narratives.

This one is narrated by Michael Murphy and tells the fascinating history of how Boston became the first major subway system in the United States. The documentary is oddly titled The Race Underground, which is misleading and has unfortunate connotations outside the point.

Explaining how people associated the underground with dead bodies six feet under, there was a general belief that travel beneath the Earth was unnatural, if not demonic. The electric trolley ended man’s inhumanity to horse.

When big dig excavations down Commonwealth Avenue uncovered Revolutionary War graves, you might find the point being made as a warning.

Tracing the electrification of motors to Frank Sprague, an independent inventor who tried to shy away from that behemoth of American technology, Thomas Edison, he sold his electrified trolley systems. It didn’t matter much because Edison inevitably bought him out and took his name off the product.

Without Sprague, the underground subway would be a dark and dirty trip, filled with soot and fright.

We enjoyed seeing the old trolleys in turn of the century film with destinations to North Cambridge and Roxbury Crossing. And, the information was new to us: how Boston was in the 1890s one of the most congested cities in America, worse even than New York—a rivalry Bean Towne would prefer to lose.

You don’t have to be a local Bostonian to enjoy this little film, but having traveled on the rapid transit when Scollay Square was a stop, we found it a delightful trip back in time.

Kinky Puss’n Boots

DATELINE:  A Really Big Shoe

 kinky boots Kinky-Dinky!

Kinky Boots may kindly be called an old-fashioned character drama. The difference is that it’s about drama queens in men’s shoes. It was later turned into a smash stage show, but the 2006 version is one of those working class British angry young man movies (except the young man dresses like a woman).

The two characters in juxtaposition are, first, the son of a shoe factory heir facing bankruptcy for making traditional footwear for men when disposable sneakers are the rage.

The second young man likes to wear high-heels and becomes a cabaret star in drag shows.

Under normal circumstance, you almost would expect the two men to slip into each other’s loafers at some point. Thank heavens, Kinky Boots keeps us in our own lanes and avoids any moments with glass slippers.

Joel Edgerton is the scion of shoemakers who learns that market niche for men’s boots with stilettos is high end. He meets Chiwetel Ejiofor in a career-busting role as Lola, the giant man in glitter. They kick up the story. Chiwetel also sings us a torrid version of “Whatever Lola Wants.”

Unfortunately, to walk a mile in one man’s shoes, or high-heels, may be a stretch too far. The movie makes its points early and often but keeps on giving us more. The climax on the runways of Milan for shoe biz is too much glitz for our own good. Hero and audience fall flat.

Lessons in what defines masculinity and manhood are made a few times too many. It’s always hard to figure out British men anyhow since, to American eyes, they all look ready to put on a feathery boa and dancing shoes.

Science of Fasting? Forget Your Hunger Pangs

DATELINE: No Longo for Religious Fanatics

Dr. Valter Longo

A documentary from France delineates the heresy of American diet. Its title is rather bland: The Science of Fasting.

Doctors and researchers in the vanguard of American medicine have subscribed to a panacea that is as old as Yogi and prophets living in the Judean desert for forty days of deprivation. Stop eating, and you will force your body to cleanse itself and re-set all thermostats.

Twenty years ago, while playing chess online with a Russian med student, he told us to stop eating to regain health—and we laughed at the madness of the notion. Today, we are not laughing.

Yes, according to revolutionary science, the cure for diabetes and cancer may well be fasting: not eating your vegetables or nuts or anything else, for that matter.

The short documentary reveals that the old Soviet Union doctors in the 1970s stumbled upon the notion of deprivation from food as actually making the body stronger. They began clinics that featured the appalling notion of going without food (but plenty of water) for two weeks. It was done under close medical supervision. Don’t try this at home.

Apparently, burning up all your glucose in 24 hours leads to your body eating its own lipids (fat). People on fasting actually became stronger and had better attitudes:  survival has its benefits.

Most of the Russian studies have not yet been translated to English—and Big Pharma is in no hurry to cure patients and take them off medications.

At least one Italo-American researcher, Dr. Valter Longo, has found there are improvements in patients who undergo chemotherapy if they fast, in cycles, for several days prior to treatment.

Our own physician contends that fasting for two days per week over a month or so will cure diabetes. We are yearning to try it.

This film looked at patients in Russia, Germany, and now in the United States. If we can lock our refrigerator doors, we may find the secret gateway to health and longevity.

This film may be from starvation, but it’s one of the most revolutionary we have seen in years. We have hungered for a cure-all.

Post Toastie, Post Haste, Post Dated

 DATELINE: Movie Review

 post toastie  The Post

Back in the days of the Nixon Administration, journalism became elevated to the career and mission of national guardian, and you had movies like All the President’s Men about Woodward and Bernstein, starring Hoffman and Redford.

Today, with fake news all the buzz, you have an attempt to recreate the nostalgia of journalism in The Post-Watergate movie in the era of Stormy Daniels and James Comey.

Hence, you have The Post with two actors of note, exceptions as targets in the crosshairs of President Trump: Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

The Post is the name of the newspaper that is most maligned nowadays by Sarah Huckaboo Slanders in her daily briefings at the White House. It is also the name of a movie that tries to redeem journalism.

You’d have better luck collecting a nickel for your empty beer bottle.

This is a movie preaching to the people not sitting in the church pew. You will need to chain someone to a pillar to watch The Post.

Muckrakers no longer read newspapers or books and prefer ten seconds to hook their media audience with an image. By the same token, movies are not watched for messages nowadays, and not watched without a good car chase and explosion. You might as well hook your worm and go fishing.

But, we do have a movie here, not a video game. And we have to say something to that cult of movie watchers and the cult of message movie fans.

When documentaries are accused of being faked news, a docudrama is the ultimate fiction to the new breed of Trumpist news monks.

Oh, by the way, The Post is a prestige movie. That means no one is watching, which is a shame.

Wind River of No Return

 DATELINE:  The Usual Targets?

Graham Greene   Greene for Danger!

What can you say about a movie that shows the FBI as inept and callow, insensitive to Native American needs, and represented by a woman? It almost seems like it was directed by Donald Trump, but the culprit is Taylor Sheridan (a better director than writer).

Wind River is literally a chilling murder mystery set in frigid American Indian lands.

If there are women agents in the FBI, this film is not meant to give them any respect. On top of it all, the murder victim in this Wyoming Bureau of Indian Affairs story is a young girl, adding to the layer of “me tooism” topicality.

The FBI investigator could have been represented by a rookie male agent, but that might have sent shivers down the spine of the macho men in the movie.

Jeremy Renner plays a Fish & Wildlife government agent who must step outside his usual job to solve the crime and assist the FBI.  He does have added impetus as his own daughter appears to have met an untimely end too.

We give Renner credit for convincing us he is an outdoorsman and knowledgeable hunter of predators. We also want to commend Graham Greene as the sheriff of the Indian reservation who plays world-weary perfectly. He is always the best part in any film.

Elizabeth Olsen is so wide-eyed stupid that she shows up in a blizzard without gloves, boots and winter hat. Don’t blame her. Blame the ridiculously disrespectful script.

The cast of American natives are played by Native Americans, which is most refreshing. Every minority actor seems perfect in his role.

They present a world still misunderstood, patronized, and resigned to maltreatment by the United States government.

Movies about discrimination and physical abuse of women and Native Americans should not compound the problem. For all its good intentions and strong production values, there is something missing in the basic value of the script in an otherwise well-done movie.

Ancient Aliens Back Again, Season 13

 DATELINE:  And Howe!

 Howe does she do it? Linda Moulton Howe

Short, double seasons of the series put this magic number at the artificially inflated magical 13.

Ancient Aliens has not been on TV for thirteen years, but each “season” corresponds to a calendar season, and usually the show returns for two seasons each year. Talk about clever deceptions!

For the first 2018 episode, we have new information in old bottles. “The UFO Conspiracy” has now been vindicated by the release of videos and revelations since last season. A secret government agency has been revealed, named improbably, AATIP.

It’s one of those fantastical acronyms that defy nonfiction. What moron chose it? We will never know. What it stands for is also off the deep end and silly beyond capital letters.

The government has finally wised up. To stop snoopers and investigative shows like Ancient Aliens, the business of secrets has privatized. You have no “freedom of information” from a private company—and they can hide anything they want. Take that, conspiracy theorists!

The show also used new commentators, like Clinton aide John Podesta, who chides us that Hillary Clinton would have revealed the ancient secrets of alien visitors from strange planets. Instead, the deck was stacked in favor of a man who likely would be a member of MJ-12 if given half a chance (name of Trump).

The show continues to throw in fictional images not aptly labelled “recreations” when they show us dark corridors with highly stacked file cabinets (representing secrets hidden from Americans).

No one ever heard of a thumb drive in the US government.

We do commend the series for deciding to colorize all old photos and old newsreels, which become strikingly modern with excellent computer work.

Your old favorites like Linda Moulton Howe (looking younger than ever at 76) and man-tanned, hairy Giorgio are still around.

The revelations are still unsettling: an old, live TV interview with UFOlogist pioneer Donald Keyhoe in the 1950s was sabotaged by agents hiding in the control room. And, the Air Force reneged on showing footage of aliens coming out of a ship on an airbase. Yet, a few years later Steven Spielberg used the notion for his movie Close Encounters.

A stranger from a strange land named “The Caretaker” briefed President Ronald Reagan, and NASA regularly disconnected feeds from the Moon that revealed too much.

Ancient Aliens is back—and feistier than ever.

 

 

 

Bombshell Shocker: Hedy Lamarr

 DATELINE: Inventor & Movie Star

 Hedy Beauty & Brains

You might as well start with Mel Brooks making a joke of Headley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. It gave actress Hedy Lamarr notorious fame forever.

She didn’t need it. She needed recognition for being one of the foremost immigrant inventors in American history: giving us frequency hopping, used in wi-fi, Bluetooth, rocket science, and myriad other technology. Move over, Einstein.

Yes, the most beautiful Austrian actress in Hollywood history was a genius. Hedy Lamar found tabloid scandal easier to condemn her life than history to exonerate her achievement.

She paid a dear price in those decades for overstepping the bounds of glamour and wanting intellectual equality. Hedy Lamar had a half-dozen husbands, and probably lovers galore, but one of those men—Howard Hughes—was more intrigued with her brain. He put his raft of scientists at her disposal.

What actress movie star came home from playing Tondelayo in White Cargo and sat down at her chemists’ table to do inventing? She wanted to create a weapon to help in World War II torpedo technology. The US Navy just laughed at her creation. She never made a dime off it.

Hedy was Delilah for Cecil B. DeMille. She was Bob Hope’s foil in My Favorite Spy. How could she be something more? She was fired, replaced by Zsa Zsa Gabor in her last attempt at movie stardom in the 1960s.

The brilliant documentary, Bombshell, may stun you with revelations. It will sadden you about ignored genius and the sensitivity of a mistreated soul.

Hedy Lamarr deserved much, much more, but she was a fighter and would not let the world break her on its yoke of beauty and shallow talents.

This film Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story is heady stuff, one of the most stunning documentaries on Hollywood’s inner secret life of stars.

After the Prejudice and Before the Pride?

DATELINE: Jane Austen Goes Gay!

  chase conner    Chase Conner as Mr. Darcy.

To take the chaste Jane Austen’s comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice, and turn it into a gay story is an interesting twist. Director and writer Byrum Geisler has entered the brave, new world fearlessly. After gay pride comes the fall?

Before the Fall is tame gay entertainment for an audience with emotional reservations. It will offend gay activists and homophobes alike for being low-key and matter-of-fact.

Ben Bennett is so straight-laced that the only clue we have that he is gay are his professed feelings. He is attracted to a straight alcoholic man Mr. Lee Darcy (Chase Conner). Without overt sex acts and nudity, so often at the heart of gay movie drama, this film’s only sin is to have a couple of queeny friends of Mr. Bennett.

It’s like having Steppin Fetchit and Butterfly McQueen in a civil rights tale. It’s the only false step. Those characters are utterly offensive.

As for the rest of the cast and actors, they are buttoned up and long-suffering.

Indeed, you might think the central casting office found the usual good looking gay actors, but there is here something far more serious and sensitive. We have to laud any so-called gay film that flies in the face of the usual shenanigans.

Filmed in beautiful Virginia, a so-called place for lovers, Ben Bennett hardly puts an overt pick-up on Mr. Lee Darcy. They go hiking, and after some guilty gossip, Bennett works to remove a legal cloud over the other man, perhaps to help him with his alcoholism.

Billed as a comedy drama, which is Austen’s stock-in-trade, the label will confound modern audiences for whom social humor is tied into text messages and Facebook friendships.

If you stick around to the final romanticized happy ending, you may conclude that gay movies are growing up.

 

 

 

Noël Coward No Surprise in Surprise Package

DATELINE: Art Buchwald Satire

 Mitzi & Noel Mitzi & Noël sing and dance!

Sir Noël, showman and epitome of the English gentleman, made a plethora of movies from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. He only turned down playing Dr. No in the James Bond spy movie.

From Our Man in Havana to the Italian Job, he lent his delectable presence in costarring roles. In 1960 he went opposite Yul Brynner in the Stanley Donen comedy called Surprise Package.

The big surprise is that it was written by satirist Art Buchwald, though you would never know it. Our favorite humorist seems lost in this adapted script.

Apart from the delicious scenes between mobster Nico March (Yul) and the deposed and exiled King Pavel the Patient (Noël), the movie is not really funny or smart. However, every time you find Brynner and Coward in matchup mode, there is something extraordinary going on.

You almost have the sense that the film was meant for someone else: perhaps James Cagney, to shoot dialogue like a machine gun. Mitzi Gaynor seems to be playing Judy Holiday. Brynner is on top of it, impressive as always.

No one else in movies could have played the deadpan, throwaway lines like Noël Coward. He’s in his own movie world, like Mae West. The rest of the cast is along for the ride.

Coward steals every moment on camera, like the master showman he always was. He could depose Burton and Taylor in Boom, and so going up against Yul Brynner shortly before the Magnificent Seven might have amused Noël.

It’s a soufflé, for sure, and perhaps the success of Donen brought Coward in for the Greek isle locations shooting.

Yul had just finished another comedy with Donen, and likely enjoyed the change of pace from epical heroes and villains.

Surprise Package would be a bad TV movie nowadays with execrable actors. However, when the legends at the top of their game deign to appear in silly roles, you must pay attention.

 

 

 

 

Creepy Nazi Creatures: Documentary

DATELINE: Animals as Pawns of Nazi Germany

 Nazi creatures

Nazi Creatures, a recent documentary, may seem like a stretch on a topic of Nazi history—reaching the most banal and silly lengths. However, you would be foolish to ignore this examination of the psychology of those who believed in a “Master Race.” Its first application was breeding animals.

From the earliest Nazi actions, which included Hitler’s laws to protect horses and dogs, the brilliant propaganda moves of the Nazis brought together horse lovers and dog lovers to their side.

The United States even gave plaudits for this first Nazi law in 1933 to protect dumb animals. It was, however, a clever and snide way to attack Jews and their treatment of animals for “kosher” meats. Nothing was pure about vegetarian Hitler.

Dog parades might seem ridiculous as a means to create national spirit, but the Nazis were prolific breeders of the “German” shepherd: a dog that was aggressive and became a symbol of ferocious police action.

Indeed, Hitler felt to breed a better version of Doberman and sheepdog would be perfect to herd members of concentration camps whom he regarded as sub-human.

Hitler kidnapped all the pure-breed horses of Europe to his own reservations where they could be turned into a master race of animals; it was a precursor to breeding humans to a pure level.

Twisting the science of Darwin, the Nazis were proponents of animal hypocrisy: their Berlin zoo was a place to laud “Germanic” animals and create preserves and reservations for restoring the extinct species of aggressive cows as big as elephants.

Ultimately, you have more questions than the documentary raises about the twisted logic of Nazis (that wanted to save their pure-bred horses from the Russians who would use them for horse-meat to feed starving people). The Americans were more sympathetic to  animals and fell for the propaganda.

This documentary raises issues about whether Hitler would ever leave his beloved dog, Blondi, if he were to escape the bunker. Instead, he experimented by killing the dog with cyanide. That’s the ultimate consideration of Nazi creatures.

Emperor Norton’s Bridge: TV in 1956!

DATELINE:  Writer Jan Merlin as Writer Bret Harte

norton1

Edgar Stehli as Emperor Norton with actor Jan Merlin.

Recently we heard from the “Emperor’s Bridge Campaign” in San Francisco and its president, John Lumea. They are a historical group that has amassed a collection of memorabilia about Emperor Norton, a 19th century citizen who was considered pixilated, but clairvoyant about the future.

It seems my old collaborator and dear friend, Jan Merlin, appeared on a TV show in 1956 that detailed Emperor Norton’s life. Jan played another writer by the name of Bret Harte.

After his acting career, Jan had a prolific writing career, even winning an Emmy for television writing. We always thought he was Bret Harte’s equal.

So, when we received a pristine copy of an old Telephone Time TV show, we were eager to view it. We had seen it 30-odd years ago. We know that Jan Merlin never really had a chance to watch his performances on television in those days.

Merlin was too busy each week, preparing for the next role, as he was active in dozens of TV shows and feature films in far-flung places like Kenya with Ann Sheridan. He saw many shows only a few years ago. Some he has never seen. This appearance was a rare sympathetic role. Usually he was a baddie in TV westerns—and plugged at the last minute of the show–and showdown.

Sixty years later, Jan still looks much the same, still youthful, but is now in his retirement, probably the only survivor of that long-ago show on Norton with the exception of a child actress, Cheryl Callaway, who had a scene.

Edgar Stelhi played Emperor Norton. We almost didn’t recognize him with his Trump-style wig. He also was quite active on television in the 1950s. His best role in movies was opposite Audie Murphy as the old judge in No Name on the Bullet. Jan also did a couple of movies with Audie—and his TV show too as a guest.

A 25-minute teleplay was chock full of intriguing moments, including a scene in which Norton is mocked in a saloon with a fake crown and seated among his detractors; it reminded one of those Renaissance paintings on the mocking of Christ by his captors.

Owing to the vigilance of Jan’s character, Norton’s past is revealed—and he wins accolades for his ideas.

Now a San Francisco group has taken up Norton’s cause, to the point of hoping to rename a section of the Bay Bridge after the old emperor.

Old TV shows never die. They end up in media museums, awaiting re-discovery. 

Among their books, Jan Merlin and William Russo have written a memoir about Frankie Thomas, child star of the 1930s to TV star of the 1950s on Tom Corbett: Space Cadet. The biography is available on Amazon in paper and e-book, for smart readers. As a team, they have written four other non-fiction works and one novel, plus several chapters in biographical anthologies.

 

 

Queen Has Case of Munshis

DATELINE:  Raj & Victoria

 Queeen has munshis

When Judi Dench plays the grande dame of Victoria Regina, Queen of England for fifty years in her dotage, you have a treat, directed by great Stephen Frears.

Though the film begins with a “mostly” true advisory about the screenplay, we later learn most records were destroyed, leaving us wondering where the truth ends.  A Muslim in the royal court in aftermath of Gordon of Khartoum may be more than scandalous, but never discussed in this film.

Victoria & Abdul is definitely fascinating to behold. The tale revolves around the accidental meeting and attraction between the old monarch and a visiting servant whose chance encounter becomes a powerful connection. Ali Fazal more than appropriately is the charming Abdul Karim who like Thomas Becket rises and rises in the royal estimation, to the consternation of those with racist and class snobbery in Victorian England.

Also in the cast, in his last major role, is Tim Piggott-Smith, no stranger to India, as the star of the great series, Jewel in the Crown, some thirty years ago. Here, he is the exasperated Sir Henry who must put up with Her Majesty’s whims.

From a sluggish old woman bored with her long reign, Victoria shows the flashes of her brilliance in later years—facing an onslaught from her royal staff and son Prince Bertie (Eddie Izzard in fine fettle), threatening her with an insanity hearing.

Yet, the story is more often in its start, a comedy of manners, slight and amusing before the more tragic consequences overwhelm the principals. Victoria urges Karim to leave England because she cannot protect him after she dies—and she knows too well the dark forces in the royal household.

Epic tales of the Raj and the British Empire are always perfect material for movies and miniseries. Fans of that genre will not be disappointed with this delightful and moving film.

Ossurworld’s persnickety movie reviews have been collected in several volumes. You can find them on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats for smart readers. Look for titles like:

Movie Mashup

Worth Your Time?

Is It Real…or Just Another Movie? 

or

Movie Gold or Fool’s Gold.

 

American Frontier Builders, Episode 3

 Andrew Jackson (w/Trump hair no less)!

 Andrew Jackson with Trump hair

DATELINE: Live Free or Die

If this documentary is to be believed, Andrew Jackson had less hair than Donald Trump. It simply is untrue.

In this episode, future president William Henry Harrison parlayed his racist hatred of American Indians into a political career. He capped off his military life, allegedly saving the American frontier in Michigan and Ohio during the War of 1812.

History Channel’s brilliant series Men Who built America: Frontiersmen continued to impress with another episode.

Though massacres by native Americans of women and children came as a result of massacres of Native American women and children, the winners write history. In the southern territory, another homicidal racist leads the charge: Andrew Jackson.

What comes out of a new generation of American frontier heroes is a defining moment of national character. You can look far beyond the Last of the Mohicans and Fenimore Cooper’s early stance that typifies Boone and Crockett. The real development at this point was a brand of American hero that still resonates.

Rugged individualists, tough guys, hard-drinking, smooth talking trackers and rough-necks were the start of the Sam Spade/Mickey Spillane macho men of America. You could find two more emerging here:  Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett.

They met and worked on the military battle for New Orleans and Mississippi during the War of 1812.

Crockett became appalled at the genocidal racism of Jackson against Native Americans—and they became bitter opponents for the rest of their lives.

Using their brawling sense of Americanism to beat the British the latest subjects Jackson and Crockett become, like Lewis & Clark, men who had differing reactions to diverse populations that made up the burgeoning nation. Jackson wanted ethnic cleansing for his slave-owning friends in the cotton industry.

Jackson’s racism was far worse than that of Harrison, but they enabled that sort of destiny to thrive. Harrison wanted badly to eradicate Tecumseh as a step in his pure American road to the west coast. Pan-America meant there could be no Pan-Tribal Native world. Jackson wanted to remove all Indians.

Put aside your notion of Charlton Heston as Meriwether Clark and Andrew Jackson. Drop your memories of Fess Parker playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in our mythical Hollywood history stories. This series has re-enactors who are not stars, nor even close to titan size, but the stories are big.

That’s the difference between the 1950s movies and TV and today’s cable channel history documentaries. This time Andrew Jackson is missing his Trump hair-do, but viewers may recognize the typecast.

Call It a Name Oscar Wilde Dares Not Speak

DATELINE:  Calling Your Name

Chalamet Timothee Chalamet, aka Lolita!

If you’re wondering about the title of the movie Call Me by Your Name, it is a sign of gay regression.  In an age when women keep their own name upon marriage, gay men are prepared to give up theirs.

 

This is the movie that its young teenage star (Timothee Chalamet) earned an Oscar nomination. It’s not so much for performance, but for the fact that he plays the most intelligent teenager on film in almost a decade or perhaps longer.

 

Like Sue Lyon 50 years ago, Chalamet epitomizes a male Lolita, also earning an Oscar nomination as a supporting actor and symbol of loincake. The only things missing from his acting are heart-shaped sunglasses and a lollipop.

 

Elio is a bilingual, bisexual child prodigy at the piano. His father is an important professor who spends the summer in Italy and needs a long-in-the-tooth graduate student assistant to do nothing in particular. The characters seem to be on an endless vacation. Elio mostly cavorts around in his bathing suit.

 

The story is adapted from a novella by James Ivory which caught our eye. He wrote all those great Ivory-Merchant movie screenplays 30 years ago. As he approaches 90-years of age, he has come up with another one: stunning ennui on display.

 

Armie Hammer played Leonardo’s boyfriend in Hoover, and was Depp’s boyfriend in the Lone Ranger, and now has his sights on a teenager who is more winsome and more often unclothed than Frankie Avalon in his prime Beach Party get-up.

 

Pardon us, but teenagers are lacking experience and maturity—and Humbert Humberts of the world never seem to learn this.

 

Chalamet and Hammer insist they are not gay, but only play gay (for pay) on screen.