By Romeo San Vicente
Billy Eichner. Photo: KathClick
Paul Verhoeven and a lesbian nun walk into a bar…
If you saw Isabelle Huppert’s Academy Award-nominated performance in last year’s “Elle,” then you know that director Paul Verhoeven is no stranger to tough material featuring extremely complicated women in often harrowing circumstances. His next film will be no different. “Blessed Virgin,” starring French actress Virginie Efira (who had a supporting role in “Elle”) is about the troubled life of Sister Benedetta Carlini, a 17th-century nun who was celebrated as a visionary, but was later imprisoned for 35 years on charges of fake miracles and lesbianism. The movie is based on the book “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” by historian Judith C. Brown, and begins shooting this summer. The production announcement features a breast-baring model wearing a nun’s habit, which is so Verhoeven we thought it might be a parody ad. But it’s not. So we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the man who gave us “Showgirls” for his ongoing contributions to cinema, and for staying on-brand. We’ll be waiting excitedly for this one.
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner are “The Lion King”‘s new Timon and Pumbaa
In case you weren’t already aware that Disney is taking all its old animated features and remaking them as live-action films (OK, not “Song of The South,” for obvious reasons), then you are probably living in some kind of cave where your only friends are bats. But for the rest of you, here comes Jon Favreau’s live-action version of “The Lion King.” And for fans of “Billy on The Street” (that “should” be all of you, please), the good news is that Billy Eichner will be taking on a character. He and Seth Rogen will team up as Timon and Pumbaa (no second chances on guessing which actor is the meerkat and which one is the warthog) and, presumably, sing their own version of “Hakuna Matata.” Unless they can’t sing, and then they’ll probably just sing anyway. Also, we don’t know if this one’s going to look more like Broadway’s Julie Taymor incarnation or like the latest “Beauty and The Beast “where Ewan McGregor was simply the voice of a candlestick, but we’re still on board for this casting news.
Revisiting the bad old days of ‘1985’
Cory Michael Smith (“Gotham”), Michael Chiklis and Virginia Madsen are set to star in “1985,” the latest indie from director Yen Tan, whose film “Pit Stop” was successful on the LGBT film festival circuit. Expanded from his short film of the same name, a project that won the special jury prize at 2016’s SXSW, it will also star Noah Schnapp (“Stranger Things”) and Jamie Chung (“Big Hero Six”), and begins shooting this summer in Texas. The film focuses on a young man living with AIDS in 1985 (Smith). He returns home to his estranged family to explain it all, but his visit is complicated by a reconnection with his young brother and ex-girlfriend. With popular culture’s narrative always eager to view the ’80s through a cheerful lens, one where everybody was dancing to Wang Chung and drinking wine coolers, it’s important that stories like this get told. So cheers to younger filmmakers tackling this subject matter and preserving the brutal history of AIDS during the horrifying Reagan years, whether through documentaries like “How To Survive a Plague” or with narrative work such as this. Never forget.
Why can’t there just be two Madonna movies?
Madonna is reportedly furious about the Madonna movie (for reference: see all news stories about “Blonde Ambition,” just set up at Universal, all about her young, hungry, early days). That’s because Madonna will not be in control of the Madonna movie. Here’s why: other people wrote a lot of her early hits. If they consent to have them used in an unauthorized biopic, there’s nothing to be done about it. But we have a solution. Let’s have dueling Madonna movies. It happens all the time. There were two Truman Capote films. The next “Jungle Book” adaptation is due in theaters sooner or later. There’s plenty of room for two Madonna movies, especially if she directs and produces it. Total control. She can get experimental and cast six different actors, like when Todd Haynes made the Bob Dylan film. She can use most of her own song catalog. She can rip on the other movie “in her own movie.” This makes perfect sense to us. Don’t get mad, Madge; get even.