By Romeo San Vicente
Anne Hathaway ‘Wanted’ by Dee Rees
While director Dee Rees didn’t get an Oscar nomination for her acclaimed film “Mudbound,” the movie nonetheless made a big splash, with cinematographer Rachel Morrison becoming the first woman nominated in that category and Mary J. Blige breaking records as the first performer to snag acting and songwriting nods in the same year. So what’s next for the lesbian filmmaker behind “Pariah” and “Bessie”? An adaptation of Joan Didion’s political thriller, “The Last Thing He Wanted,” with Anne Hathaway currently in negotiations for the lead. Presuming contracts are signed, she’ll be playing a real-life Washington Post reporter covering the 1984 presidential elections who finds herself embroiled in the Iran arms-dealing conspiracy. The talented Rees’s career is going great guns (sorry, pun) and it’s a pleasure to see queer women of color taking their share in Hollywood. Meanwhile, even during that weird try-hard backlash we were solidly Team Hathaway, so we’ll be extremely happy if she takes this gig and keeps proving the naysayers wrong over and over again.
‘1985’ gets its shot
Sometimes we report on the production of a little LGBT indie movie by an up-and-coming filmmaker and we just hope that it gets finished and makes its mark somewhere, anywhere. Well, last year when we reported on just such a film, “1985,” its director Yen Tan – a gay Malaysian-born filmmaker based in Texas – was mostly known for the lovely “Pit Stop,” a drama that made queer film fest rounds. But now “1985” has a slot at this year’s South by Southwest, and that higher profile placement is great news for the film starring Cory Michael Smith (“Gotham”), Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis. Smith stars as a young man living with AIDS who returns home to his estranged family, with all the complications that are now part of the all too familiar legacy of the time. After SXSW, look for this one in arthouses soon enough. With “Call Me By Your Name” already having returned to the early ’80s to explore a love story on the cusp (and outside) of the AIDS crisis, the time is right for films that can contextualize the epidemic and its role in queer history during that harrowing decade.
Emily Dickinson: Girl Gone ‘Wild’
If you saw Cynthia Nixon in 2017’s “A Quiet Passion” you came to know American poet Emily Dickinson as a solitary woman devoted to her work and yearning for human connection that often eluded her. Well, there’s a comedy flipside to this, and filmmaker Madeleine Olnek is going to shake up what you learned in high school English Lit with her take on the reclusive Dickinson in “Wild Nights with Emily.” Starring Molly Shannon (“SNL”) as Dickinson, supported by people like Amy Seimetz (“Alien: Covenant”), Brett Gelman (“Lemon”) and even former MTV VJ Kevin Seal, it’s the story of E.D.’s more robust and overtly lesbian side, as well as her lifelong romantic relationship with a woman. Premiering at this year’s South by Southwest Festival, look for it to take the stuffy air out of the official story. We will expect liberties to be taken with fact – it’s from the director of “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same,” after all. And frankly we don’t care what’s true and what’s not. We’re just here to party with Emily.
Isabelle Huppert takes a ‘Vacation’ with Ira Sachs
Acclaimed gay filmmaker Ira Sachs is on his way back into theaters after the success of “Love is Strange” and “Little Men,” and this time he’s bringing Isabelle Huppert along. The much-lauded French actress (“Elle”) will star in “A Family Vacation” alongside Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei, in a story written by Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zacharias (who also co-wrote “Strange” and “Men”). It’s about three generations of the same family on holiday in Portugal and a “life-changing experience” they deal with while far away from home. That’s all the detail we have right now, but it’s no stretch or spoiler to say that Sachs has turned into an astute observer and chronicler of the anxiety of living in sophisticated urban environments, as well as the ways in which people in those spaces strive and often fail to exercise their moral duties to one another. In other words, he makes serious and thought-provoking cinema about real people and we are here for it. This one’s just getting started, so expect it sometime in 2019.
Romeo San Vicente vacations usually resemble the National Lampoon variety.