By Romeo San Vicente
Casting and recasting: Mara in for Mia in ‘Carol’
Things change. Rooney Mara (“Her”) will now be playing the lead in “Carol,” the adaptation of lesbian author Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt.” Mia Wasikowska was originally cast in the main role as a young woman named Therese who falls for an older married woman (to be played by Cate Blanchett, probably perfectly), but she’s dropped out. Enter Mara, whose arty lesbian fanbase was solidified by “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “Side Effects,” and who can seemingly do no wrong; she’s a wise choice when you want to cool-up your cast list. Furthermore, with Todd Haynes as director, an adapted screenplay by Phyllis Nagy, Christine Vachon as producer and lesbian actress Sarah Paulson (“12 Years A Slave”), this is the kind of project that would make for an avalanche of points if there such a thing as gay filmmaking fantasy leagues. Actually, who knows, maybe there are.
‘Brokeback Mountain’ opera opening in Madrid
The most memorable operas, the ones that inspire long-term devotion, are the tragedies. And “Brokeback Mountain,” the Annie Proulx novella turned into a film and gay cultural touchstone, is nothing if not tragic. The story of two closeted ranch workers in the gay forbidden zone of 1960s Wyoming, “Brokeback” has crossed over into the world of music with a brand new opera. Composed by gay 75-year-old Charles Wuorinen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer whose challenging work has earned him a career filled with both the admiration of his peers as well as approval from audiences in search of new “classical” music, “Brokeback Mountain” stars Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch and U.S. tenor Tom Randle with a libretto by Proulx herself. The English-language production is being staged at Madrid’s Teatro Real right now, so you can either hop on a plane or wish, hope and pray for an adventurous opera company in the United States to mount the production. Nah, better just hop on that plane.
‘Skeleton’ and ‘Strange Sell’ at Sundance
Ira Sachs, writer-director of the acclaimed gay indie “Keep The Lights On,” is on a career roll. His latest feature, “Love Is Strange,” just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will now be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. Starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as a gay couple in New York who’ve been together for decades, the film revolves around what happens when they lose their home and are forced to rely on friends and family. It co-stars Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson and will now see the kind of release other indie filmmakers dream about. Meanwhile, filmmaker Craig Johnson’s latest dark comedy-drama, “The Skeleton Twins” – which also played at Sundance – will find its own way into theaters later this year. It stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in dramatic roles as estranged, depressed siblings (Hader’s character is gay) who try to piece their lives back together after failed mutual suicide attempts. It co-stars Luke Wilson as Wiig’s husband and Ty Burrell as Hader’s ex. And just go ahead and decide right now to check your “Stefon” expectations at the door.
Effie Gray with a bit of gay
Euphemia “Effie” Gray was the teenage bride of the Victorian art critic John Ruskin, yet she refused to consummate that unhappy union. Instead she had it annulled before running off with Ruskin’s protege, the painter John Everett Millais. It was quite the scandal, you see, a proper aristocratic love triangle. And now, for lucky fans of corsets, tea and big hats, it’s going to be a film from director John Laxton, written by Emma Thompson. Dakota Fanning (all grown up now) will play Miss Gray, and the supporting cast is populated by at least two cool gay character actors, “Being Human”‘s Russell Tovey (also featured on this season of “Looking”) and acclaimed veteran stage and screen presence Derek Jacobi (“The King’s Speech”). But gay cast members aside, the real draws here for queer audiences are going to be the costumes, the fancy setting and that champion of sipping martinis on stage at the Golden Globes, Emma Thompson. We’ll follow her anywhere, even to that weird “Saving Mr. Banks” fluff.