Editor | Peter Bowen
Sean Penn's Milk Suit Being Auctioned for Charity
Posted February 27, 2009
If you liked what Sean Penn wore in Milk, you can’t buy it in a store but you can bid on it. Clothes off our Back, an Los Angeles-based foundantion that parlays celebrity fashion into charity bucks for children’s causes, worked with Focus Features to auction off Milk’s suit. The suit itself was especially created by Oscar-nominated costume designer Danny Glicker. If you are interested, the suit size is about 40R, and includes the lovely shirt, a sharp pin-strip suit, and custom necktie.
As of Friday morning the bidding was at $12,500, and will continue until February 28 at 12 noon (PST). The proceeds from the auction will equally benefit Variety – the children’s charity and the Hetrick-Martin Institute (which runs the Harvey Milk High School).
This is not the first collaboration between Focus and Clothes Off Our Back. In 2006, they auctioned off the two shirts (famously hanging together in the last scene) from Brokeback Mountain, and in 2008 the green dress that Keira Knightly so seductively wore in Atonement went on the auction block
After the Oscars, Milk resonates
Posted February 27, 2009
After Milk won two Oscars––Sean Penn for Best Actor, Dustin Lance Black for Best Original Screenplay––the blogosphere was all a twitter. Actually it was pretty much twittering the whole time. As reported by the New Media Strategies blog, a report of twittering on Oscar night revealed that the two most tweeted items were Slumdog Millionaire and Sean Penn. Why? NMS blog suggests, “the former mostly due to the number of nominations and wins, the latter, having a lot to do with the political nature of his acceptance speech.”
Indeed both Milk speeches ignited strong passions across the blogosphere. On the one hand, right wing pundits immediately jumped on the band wagon to condemn Sean Penn’s call for equality rights. In his article “Religious Right Watch: ‘Oscars turn into blatant homosex-fest’,” Andy Birkey writing for the Minnesota Independent chronicles the online conservative backlash from Focus On the Family to the Catholic blogger Minnesota Mom, all with venom at hearing Penn and Black accepting their awards. Some were simply cruel (as, for example, on the Free Republic.com) where one post suggested that “At least this movie has a happy ending!” Others were shocked that anyone might advocate for gay rights. Joe Kovacs, an executive news editor for WorldNetDaily.com, wrote that Penn had “promoted the homosexual agenda during his own acceptance speech for best actor, saying, ‘We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.’”
But far outweighing such negative reactions was the sense of hope and pride felt throughout the gay community. Reuters’ Bob Tourtellotte wrote in “Milk loses best film, but sparks new activism,” that “members of the gay community say Milk has been like a tonic that has renewed a sense of activism among younger gay men and lesbians, which is expected to last long into the future.” Across the spectrum, gay organizations felt rejuvenated by the film. But none more so than younger lesbians and gay men. Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, told Reuters that the film has been “a reminder of a call to action" that is "still reaching some of our young adults."
In Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Simon Houpt, in his “Will Oscar win mean political gain for gays?” considers the global impact of both speeches. Houpt points out that the “high-profile Oscar ceremony, seen by more than 40 million viewers across North America and tens of millions more across the globe, was the most visible event in years to highlight gay rights.” Already the attempt to censor out the words “gay” from Asia television has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy. But there is also the long view. Paul Boneberg, the executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society, tells the Globe and Mail, “"In California, the sodomy laws were repealed in 1975….If you look at the progress made in the last 30 years, I think it's completely fair to say in the next 30 years we will have full equality in marriage."
25 Most Conservative Films
Posted February 18, 2009
It's Oscar time and the right wing, still smarting from their election woes, doesn't want to miss out on the fun. So the recent issue of the conservative bible National Review came up with a list of the 25 films that called "The Best Conservative Movies." The article makes for a fascniating read, not just becasue of the movies on the list, but also becuase of what makes a movie conservative. The Incredibles? It "celebrates marriage, courage, responsibility, and high achievement." Nevermind the hot, sweaty, near-naked guys, 300 made the list because "During the Bush years, Hollywood neglected the heroism of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — but it did release this action film about martial honor, unflinching courage, and the oft-ignored truth that freedom isn’t free." Of course, some choices seemed like no brainers. Red Dawn, a yarn of a group of kids fighting off invading commies, of course, made the list, even though "a commie" is more likely now something found in a museum than on a battlefield. But National Review blurts back––"invading Commies! Laugh if you want — many do — but Red Dawn has survived countless more acclaimed films because Father Time has always been our most reliable film critic." Perhaps the most interestng note of the 25 films, and the 25 also-rans is that preppy mastermind Whit Stillman makes the list three times. His ode to the upper class of the Upper East Side, Metropolitan, is in the top 25, and two of his other films, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco show up as also-rans. For conservatives, Stillman "brings us to see what is admirable and necessary in the customs and conventions of America’s upper class" Somewhere irony got lost in the translation.
Need help with your Oscar speech?
Posted February 18, 2009
Vanity Fair, NY Times Profile Penn
Posted February 09, 2009
As the Oscars near, magazines prepare their various Oscar editions, producing beautiful photographs and thoughtful pieces about the various contenders. Among the most famous is the yearly photo spread in Vanity Fair. This year Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn show up in a gorgeous photo ny Annie Leibovitz The theme for this year is collaboration and partnership. Of Penn and Van Sant, Krista Smith writes: “Together, Penn and Van Sant have pulled off a neat trick. They’ve taken on two very tired genres—the biopic and the triumphant tale of a ragtag band of outsiders—and gently subverted them, with fantastic results.”
The New York Times Magazine has added a gorgeous profile on Sean Penn. Paolo Pellegrin shoots Sean Penn at his home. (In addition, there is a series of slide shows, including on on Penn.) Novelist Jane Smiley delivers a tender remembrance of her experience of the actor. For Milk, she writes:
I think the key to Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk is his comic timing. If dying is hard and comedy is harder, then Penn gives Harvey the energy and quickness of a comic performance. His pacing is superb, and his movements — walking, running, talking — have buoyancy, even effervescence, that contrasts with the dramatic gravity of everyone else in the movie.
Sean Penn opens up to PBS's host Tavis Smiley
Posted February 05, 2009
On Wednesday night, Sean Penn appeared on PBS’s “The Tavis Smiley Show” to talk about his career and his participation in the making of Milk. Smiley asked Penn if he saw the film as a “story about a gay man who made history or about humanity?” Penn’s answer provides a fascinating take on the film and the story. Below is a short clip. The full interview can be seen at Tavis Smiley’s website.
Exclusive Sin Nombre Trailers
Posted February 03, 2009
Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre was the film on everyone's lips at Sundance this year. Cinematical called it "One of the more fascinating and gut-wrenching films at this year's festival." Todd McCarthy at Variety wrote: "A big new talent arrives on the scene with Sin Nombre. Writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s enthralling feature debut takes viewers into a shadow world inhabited by many but noticed by very few -- that of Central American migrants making the perilous trip through Mexico to get to the United States border.” The film's trailer just debuted exclusively on two sites, MSN Movies and MSN Latino. Check it out.
Dustin Lance Black Wins WGA Paul Selvin Award
Posted February 03, 2009
Photo: Tom Keller
Dustin Lance Black, the writer behind Milk, was awarded the Writers Guild of America West’s 2009 Paul Selvin Award. This special award is presented to writers whose work "embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties." There harldy seems an award more fitting for a story about slain gay politician Harvey Milk, a man lived the ideal of standing up for your rights. WGAW President Patric M. Verrone commented, "At a time when history seems to be made daily, Lance Black's script reminds us that all it takes is a single spark to light the fuse of an entire movement." The awards ceremony will be on Saturday, February 7. Black has also been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Coraline stories on the web
Posted February 03, 2009
As Coraline gets ready to hit theaters this week, stories abound on the web about the film, the filmmaker, and its stop-motion animation. For ToonZone, Alex Weitzman’s “On Set with Coraline: A Tour Through Laika Animation” is a great little primer on the film’s production. For example, he smartly outlines the two types of stop motion that went into Coraline:
Coraline is a combination of two different stop-motion techniques: replacement and mechanical. The former is the hallmark of films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, where replacement heads are used for all the characters to simulate their shifting emotions and different mouth shapes, allowing the characters to both act and talk. Mechanical animation was used in Corpse Bride, where the puppets themselves were very complicated technical achievements with a series of joints and gears within the bodies and faces of the characters, allowing the animators to simply push the body parts and facial expressions into whatever form they wanted without a lot of replacement supplies to keep track of. Mechanical puppetry allows for greater detail and complexity in the puppet's design, but replacement puppetry allows for a far greater range of possible emotion from the puppet in performance. Coraline's crew has artists that worked on either or both films, and so Coraline is using both techniques. The main characters are replacement-based, as they do the bulk of the acting; the more colorful and curious side characters are mechanical, allowing their standalone features to be especially interesting.
Since Laika, the studio behind Coraline, is situated in Portland, there are several local angle stories. For example, Kristi Turnquist and Mike Rogoway writing for The Oregonian talk about how “Animators hope for a stop-motion revival with Laika's Coraline.” Focusing on a few local folk, the article looks at how the film’s success will affect Portland as a whole. Teresa Drilling, the animator at the center of the story, tells the paper, "If this film does well, that bodes well for Laika, which means they'll be doing more projects. Which means we'll be getting more of the same sort of work, I hope. And whatever work I can do in Portland is great -- this is where I live and this is my favorite place to be."