Friday, October 21, 2011

Britney’s Got a Gun

Bloody ’ell! Britney Spears’s brand-new video for “Criminal,” co-starring boyfriend Jason Trawick, has gotten politicians’ knickers in a twist across the pond. Seems that Spears did not reveal that she’d be packing heat in the mini-movie when she asked permission to, um, shoot in the working-class borough of Hackney, where not so long ago shops were being looted and cars going up in flames.

Spears says the song’s “cool concept”—I’m in love with a criminal, Mama! It’s physical, not rational!—was developed way before the London riots, though that doesn’t explain the choice of location, where council members have objected to her “rudeness” in glamorizing gangs and violence, sending youth the wrong message. Amid the literally steamy (in-the-shower) sex scenes, the armed robberies, and the oddly attractive loft-lair (new design idea: criminal chic—this neo–Bonnie and Clyde duo even have shelves of books, which get shot up too!), I didn’t notice any gang members, though a lot of tattoos (visual clue?) are on display. The gunplay is cartoonish, the real (-looking) violence occurring when Spears’s initially posh character and Trawick’s outlaw character kick and punch her abusive boyfriend with abandon, which is actually where the wrong message goes out. It’s kind of a Hollywood staple that it’s okay to hurt bad guys, but unless you’re defending yourself, no, it’s not.

Still, it would have been fun to see a skinhead Britney (miss her!), pierced tongue gleaming, tagging Britannia with red spray paint—“Fuck da police! I’m toxic!”—and maybe a Princess-of-Pop takedown of the Duchess of Cambridge. Or am I the one being rude now?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Cheyenne Jackson and Jason Butler Harner.

The Green
Directed by Steven Williford
Written by Paul Marcarelli
Starring Jason Butler Harner, Cheyenne Jackson, Julia Ormond, and Illeana Douglas

By Mary Lyn Maiscott

The story of a gay couple living in a leafy Connecticut harbor town (having left New York City a few years before), The Green, though an original story, has the somewhat stilted, somewhat static feel that films based on plays (see Spinning into Butter) often do. The script was written by Paul Marcarelli, best known as the Verizon spokesman constantly asking, “Can you hear me now?” in TV ads. Despite the tone of the movie (it’s as though it needs more air, eponymous greenery notwithstanding) we can hear, loud and clear, the themes of Marcarelli’s script: prejudice, judgment, and small-mindedness.

At the beginning of the movie, the men’s only real problem seems to be the extensive renovations they’re making on their house. But when Michael (Jason Butler Harner), a teacher in a private school, is mistakenly accused of molesting a student from a troubled home, the town begins to turn on the couple—their contractor begs off finishing the work; Daniel (Cheyenne Jackson), who owns a cafĂ©, loses a big catering job. Worse, their own relationship and their friendships (how nice to see Illeana Douglas again, here in the role of Michael’s cancer-stricken colleague) threaten to explode under the pressure.

The film has a rather melodramatic—though surprising—climax, and the eerie music that pops up every time things get particularly bad seems to belong to a different genre. But the movie has much to offer, especially in its cast, which includes the Broadway favorite Jackson as well as the lovely Julia Ormond, as a lesbian lawyer who knows that green can hide some very ugly colors.