Short, sweet & somewhat subversive
by Roberto Friedman
There's no real suspense in the major categories of the Academy Awards this year, but the two slots which trip most people up in their office pools, Best Animated Short and Best Live-Action Short, are usually anybody's guess. For the past few years, Landmark Theatres has been showing programs of the Oscar-nominated shorts in the weeks before the awards, and Out There has found them worthwhile viewing. There are two separate programs: we caught the animated shorts before presstime this week, and will have seen the live-action shorts by awards time.
The animated shorts nominees span a wide range of subject matter and geography. French Roast, from France, concerns themes of homelessness and class division, set in a Parisian cafe. Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (Ireland) is an "elderly fairy's" rather demented take on the classic bedtime tale. La Dama y La Muerte (Spain) is an imaginative gloss on mortality and modern medicine, and Logorama (Argentina) is an intriguing parody of corporate overkill. But the Oscar will probably go to A Matter of Loaf and Death (UK), the latest installment in the series of Wallace and Gromit claymation wonders from Nick Park. It follows an overweight bakery model out for revenge, and proceeds at breakneck pace. Great fun.
The live-action shorts nominees (unscreened at presstime) are The Door (Ireland), Instead of Abracadabra (Sweden), Kavi (USA & India), Miracle Fish (Australia) and The New Tenants (Denmark & USA).
As for the feature-length nominees, our old friends the Irish bookmakers have apparently decided that most of the expected winners are a total lock. Online bookie Paddy Power offered 5/6 odds on The Hurt Locker for Best Picture after it snagged top honors at the BAFTA awards in London, while Avatar dropped back to 10/11 odds. "Obviously they are two very different films," said Paddy, "but punters seem to think that The Hurt Locker ticks more boxes for the Academy than Avatar."
At presstime, Locker director Kathryn Bigelow was on top for Best Director at 1/3, while Avatar's "king of the world" James Cameron was just behind at 2/1. Heavily favored for Best Actor and Actress were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (1/6) and Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (8/13), while Best Supporting Actor and Actress were widely expected to go to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (1/25) and Mo'Nique for Precious (1/16). We suppose the touted favorites all deserve to take home the golden emasculated fellas, but just to be perverse, we'll take the longest odds in the four top acting categories: juicy young Jeremy Renner for leading man in Hurt Locker (at 18/1), stately plump Helen Mirren for her star turn as the Countess Tolstoy in The Last Station (33/1!), fabulous gargoyle Christopher Plummer supporting her as the great Tolstoy himself (25/1), and sprightly Maggie Gyllenhaal as the dedicated entertainment journalist (a tough sell) in Crazy Heart (20/1). That last long-shot win would make her brother Jake so happy, and he's so cute when he unpacks his idiotic grin.
Tre Cool: tres chic
Drummer Tre Cool, who blasts the beats for the Bay Area-based band Green Day , was recently seen donating dozens of luxurious ready-to-wear designer duds to the Folsom St. branch of Out of the Closet thrift store. He also donated a bit of time to photojournalist Cornelius Washington for an impromptu interview.
Cornelius Washington: You have incredible taste! Why the lust for designer clothes?
Tre Cool: Because I'm a male supermodel!
This is your second day donating. Why did you choose Out of the Closet?
The services! I love what they do, the help is direct, it goes right to the people who need it. This particular store is my favorite, it's got such a cool vibe, with cool people working in it. I also like the free HIV testing at the Polk St. and Church St. stores.
Do you think Green Day will ever write and perform something gay-specific, like a song about someone gay?
Well, we're all pretty gay, so I don't think that's necessary!
Taking our musical American Idiot to Broadway.
Our pal Friskee First-Nighter went to the opening night of The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, and reported: "The lead local actress (talented with gorgeous red hair) reminded me a lot of Christina Hendricks, Joan from Mad Men. At the afterparty, yet another stunning redhead was smiley, eating grapes. With Hend
It's been a big week over at Davies Symphony Hall, as the San Francisco Symphony announced its upcoming 2010-11 season (which we'll get to in coming weeks; it's hard for us to think about the fall season just yet) and celebrated the fact that SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in Washington, DC. Speaker Nancy Pelosi , who nominated Thomas for the honor, had this to say:
"Michael Tilson Thomas has brought pride to all San Franciscans as President Obama honors him as a recipient of a National Medal of Arts. Thomas has been a remarkable mentor and supporter to many young artists, and he has educated millions about the joy of music. His tenure at the San Francisco Symphony has been marked by artistic excellence.
"President John F. Kennedy once said, 'The life of the arts – far from being an interruption in the life of a nation – is very close to the center of a nation's purpose.' As we recognize Michael Tilson Thomas and other artists, we honor them for enriching our lives, our country, and our world with their creativity."
Frame by frame
1. Frameline, dedicated to the distribution of LGBT media, and TLA Video , a pioneer of in-home on-demand entertainment, announced a new partnership that will provide affordable online access to independent LGBT films. More than 60 short films from Frameline's catalog are now available as streaming rentals on TLA's website, www.tlagay.com/frameline. The films are from 5 to 25 minutes long, range from serious to silly, and include both stories and documentaries. They touch on diverse themes such as falling in love, coming out, families, gender, race, and aging. The collection features queer films from around the world, including South Africa, China, Brazil, Switzerland, the Philippines, Australia, Norway, and the US.
Short-film rentals are $.99 each, or can be purchased in groups of five for $3.99. Once rented, films can be watched up to 72 hours after the order is completed. Films are streamed to a viewer's computer using an Adobe Flash player, compatible with both Mac and PC platforms.
2. More film news: While none of the films included in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' March 4-28 series Human Rights and Film explicitly focus on LGBT rights, a number of them deal with issues that have an impact on the gay community. The film program 8 (March 4) contains eight shorts by noted directors highlighting different human rights issues, including gender equality (Mira Nair) and HIV/AIDS (Gaspar Noe ). One of the shorts was shot by Gus Van Sant in San Francisco while working on Milk, and focuses on the reduction of child mortality.
Promised Lands by author Susan Sontag (March 25) is her only documentary, featuring rare footage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1973. Sontag had a number of long-term relationships with women, including photographer Annie Leibovitz , though she never came out in public. Human Rights and Film, six programs in all, will show in the YBCA Screening Room, 701 Mission St., SF. Ticket info: (415) 978-2787 or www.ybca.org.
It's been a while since we checked in with local treasure and gossipist's friend Strange de Jim, who collects the best of late-night quips and presents them for our delectation. Here are a few of his latest Strangies:
Jimmy Kimmel: "Another big snowstorm on the East Coast. I think it's pretty clear God is punishing them for Jersey Shore."
Craig Ferguson: "The Dalai Lama has opened a Twitter account. Probably to piss off China."
Kimmel again: "The Bipartisan Health Care Summit lasted over six hours, which is the average wait time when you go into an emergency room bleeding."