Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween Costumes 2017

Whether you’ll be out looking for tricks or treats (or both) this All Hallow’s Eve, Movie Dearest has got you covered with the latest creepy and kooky pop culture-inspired costume ideas:

For those who wait to the last minute:

The Ghost from A Ghost Story

For the uninspired (a.k.a. those who will see themselves over and over again all night long):

Wonder Woman

Pennywise from It

For those who like to travel in packs:

The Handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale

All of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s personalities from Split

For “Girls Night Out”:

The La La Land Party Girls

The Ladies of Big Little Lies (in Audrey Hepburn drag of course)

For mult-taskers/those who can’t make up their mind:

Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as 
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as 
Baby Jane and Blanche Hudson from Feud: Bette and Joan

For a flashback to the 70’s:

Billie Jean King from Battle of the Sexes

… or 80’s:

Yorkie and Kelly from Black Mirror: “San Junipero”

… or 90’s:

Tonya Harding from I, Tonya

For those with a big family:

The Pearson Clan from This Is Us

For those who like to say “Oh hi Mark”:

Tommy Wiseau from The Disaster Artist

For those who are always a few years behind:

A Litchfield Penitentiary Inmate from Orange is the New Black

For minimalists/exhibitionists:

A Westworld Host

For the politically incorrect:

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump from Saturday Night Live

For the politically correct:

Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton from Saturday Night Live

For the inexplicable meme fanatic:

Gay Babadook

For those who want to relive their youth:

The Stranger Things Kids

For those who can’t wait till next year:

A Porg from Star Wars: The Last Jedi

And finally, for the “ripped from the headlines” afficiando:

(Think about it.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dearest Review: This is Halloween, Part 1

With trick or treat time looming at the end of the month, October is always a good time to catch up on all the latest fright flicks and this year is no different, with a bumper crop of spook fests so far, enough in fact to merit this two-part review… 

M. Night Shyamalan acquits himself quite well from the likes of his The Happening and Lady in the Water with this taut thriller as tightly wound as its protagonist, a man inflicted with a horde of multiple personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls in a plot that is gradually revealed to be a lot more insidious than one at first expects. Shyamalan is famous (infamous?) for his twists, and Split has its fair share but here they serve the story instead of supplanting it. James McAvoy is simply mesmerizing in a career best role that has him switching from persona to persona, such as a lisping preadolescent boy to a stern English matron and back again; in a just world he would be seriously considered for Best Actor accolades in the impending award season (along with Betty Buckley, in strong support as his psychiatrist), but the film’s genre trappings may hamper that possibility. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

"Nope. Not gonna happen."

Imagine that the answer to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was “The Stepford Wives and you’ll have a good idea about the plot of Get Out, TV funnyman Jordan Peele’s twisted directorial debut that was equally embraced by both critics and audiences alike earlier this year. Daniel Kaluuya stars as the boyfriend of a white woman (Allison Williams) who takes him home to meet her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) only to find himself in a nightmarish situation where the only thing creepier than the black people he meets are the even creepier white people. Race plays a significant role in Get Out, which prompted pundits to fall over themselves to pile praise on Peele for his modern take on horror movie tropes. Yet don’t let all that hype set your expectations too high; at the end of the day, this is simply a smart and stylish scary movie. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

...not creepy at all...

If you ever wondered how The Omen would play as a comedy, has Netflix got the movie for you. Adam Scott plays Gary, the lucky guy newly married to Evangeline Lilly… and the unlucky guy to be the new stepfather to Lucas, a pasty young tyke dressed all in black with a penchant for leaving disaster in his wake, such as impaled science teachers and charbroiled party clowns. As a horror film its light on scares and it often feels like a slightly off-brand Halloween-themed Hallmark Channel movie. What sets Little Evil apart and makes it watchable is the unconventional character Al, Gary’s co-worker and fellow stepdad played by… actress Bridget Everett. How’s that for progress? Not only do we have a gender nonconforming character that is a non-issue, they also help save the world from a satanic cult led by Clancy Brown and Sally Field (in the Ruth Gordon role). (6/10) Now streamingon Netflix.

Just one of the guys.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Following some kind of apocalyptic event, a small group of survivors hunker down in an isolated location where they must defend themselves from their new mortal enemy: their fellow man. Bleak nihilism saturates every frame of It Comes at Night, which relentlessly teases some sort of… paranormal?... extraterrestrial?... hillbilly??? threat that never appears, at night or otherwise. If that weren’t enough to send writer/director Trey Edward Shults to horror movie jail, than the multiple “oh wait, that was only a dream” fake-outs will. With its overly-familiar premise, incredibly unlikeable characters and especially its “fuck you, audience” ending, It Comes at Night can just go away. (2/10) Now available onDVD and Blu-ray.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reverend's Preview: TransNation Film Fest Embraces All


One could argue that the last thing Los Angeles needs is another film festival. However, last year's inaugural TransNation Film Festival succeeded as a more in-depth exploration of our trans community than even most LGBTQ events provide. The fest returns October 13th-15th at the Silent Movie Theater in West Hollywood.

Presented by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a community health center in LA that serves one of the largest populations of transgender patients in the country, the festival’s mission is to "honor our history and nurture emerging voices while celebrating and showcasing trans culture’s cinematic achievements and social impact throughout the world." Hosted by Zackary Drucker (filmmaker, artist and producer of Transparent), the TransNation Film Festival is a three-day event featuring an unique program of works by emerging and established filmmakers, as well as rare and under-seen repertory gems and classics that reflect the trans experience.

“I can’t imagine a more dynamic, challenging, and crucial time for us to build community around art and storytelling,” said Drucker. “We programmed this year’s festival to highlight filmmakers and subjects that keep us critical, galvanized and empowered. Moving through time and around the world, we’re featuring vintage and cult films alongside subversive and groundbreaking narratives of today."

Festival highlights will include an October 14th tribute to The Cockettes, the legendary San Francisco theatrical troupe, featuring photographs, an art exhibition, and screenings of three rare Cockettes-made films: Tricia's Wedding, Elevator Girls in Bondage and Palace. The screening of Palace will be accompanied by a live score by Kristian Hoffman. This exhibition of original Cockettes costumes and photographs will be shown for the first time in Los Angeles. Founding Cockette and photographer Fayette Hauser will be in attendance. Also, The Starbooty Trilogy, a cult classic from RuPaul’s early public access days, will screen with a midnight dress-up party. All those who dress up will be photographed on the red carpet and are invited to attend a pre-party contest on the patio.

Two new and acclaimed social justice documentaries that explore issues at the core of the mission of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center will screen. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, directed by Academy Award-nominated David France (How to Survive a Plague) will open the festival on October 13th. One of the film’s subjects, trans activist Victoria Cruz, will be present in conversation with St. John's CEO Jim Mangia, who knew Johnson. Also screening is Strong Island, the Sundance 2017 Special Jury Award winner for Storytelling. Yance Ford, the film’s director and subject, will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.

The festival’s ground-breaking shorts program features world premieres and new works by emerging and acclaimed trans filmmakers as well as those working with trans themes, including Rhys Ernst, Luis De Filippis, Rosie Haber, Rain Valdez, Harriet Fleuriot, Sarah Cockings, Wes Hurley and Nathan M. Mille.

Also screening will be the West Coast premiere of Trans Youth, a nuanced verité documentary following the lives of trans millennials in Austin, Texas, as well as a sneak peek of the forthcoming HBO documentary short film 15: A Quinceañera Story. The short will air in 2018 and follows transgender teen Zoe Luna getting ready for her quinceañera in Los Angeles. Luna and filmmaker Matthew O’Neill will be in attendance.

Not to be missed is a rare big-screen presentation of 1970's Myra Breckinridge. The first depiction of a trans character financed by a major Hollywood studio (Twentieth Century Fox), this gender-bending comedy written by Gore Vidal is equally loved and loathed. Its eclectic cast includes Raquel Welch, John Huston, film critic Rex Reed, the great Mae West, and pre-stardom Farrah Fawcett and Tom Selleck. It will screen October 14th at midnight.

TransNation Film Festival is but one element of the TransNation Festival 2017, a week-long celebration of the trans community that also includes ELEGANZA, the official closing gala. It will be held the night of Saturday, October 21st at the Cicada Club in downtown LA. ELEGANZA will honor trailblazers in the trans community including Jazzmun Crayton, an actor and advocate for the trans community for more than 30 years who will be the recipient of the “Marsha P. Johnson Trailblazer Award.” Performers at the event include the evening’s emcees, Candis Cayne and Laith Ashley, DJ JD Samson, along with Peppermint, Shea Diamond, and Gia Banks.

Proceeds from the film festival and ELEGANZA will benefit the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center’s Transgender Health Program. Visit their website to purchase tickets or for more information.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.
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