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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 20, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 34
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
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Patrik, Age 1.5 is a charmer
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Patrik, Age 1.5
Opening August 20


Queer parenting is all the rage of late. From Annette Bening and Julianne Moore on the silver screen to Rep. Jamie Pederson, his partner Eric, and their little four-man bobsled team Trygve, Leif, Erik, and Anders, Queer parents are out and proud and - according to the researchers behind the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study - doing fairly well.

With all the uproar, one might think it's a new phenomenon. But Queer folks have been raising children for a long, long time. These days we're just doing it officially (or trying to, anyway).

Writer/director Ella Lemhagen taps the zeitgeist with her film fest darling Patrik, Age 1.5, the story of Göran and Sven (Gustaf Skarsgård and Torkel Petersson), a Swedish married couple who set out to adopt a child. The boys run into a series of roadblocks before finally getting the letter they had hoped for, the letter telling them their son Patrik, age 1.5, was on the way.

Unfortunately, an errant decimal point can wreak massive havoc quite disproportionate to its size. Patrik (Thomas Ljungman) is, in fact, a 15-year-old homophobe with a history of violence. Let the games begin.

Patrik, Age 1.5 is a charming Swedish film, and I love charming Swedish films. The Swedes are lovely folks and a bit weird (I give you SAAB, ABBA, and caviar that comes in toothpaste tubes). Patrik, Age 1.5 is very Swedish and a bit weird. It's also wonderful.

The photography is gorgeous and constantly surprises with its clever composition and brash use of color. Keep an eye out for a Dolly Parton cameo and the zany cast of characters that fill the background spaces of Swedish suburbia.

I don't want to believe it, but apparently there is such a thing as Swedish suburbia, and it seems a little dangerous in a Lynchian sort of way. The neighbors wave politely while conveniently losing party invitations and assuming all Gay men are pedophiles. All the while, a Greek chorus of local brats vandalizes mailboxes while chanting homophobic nonsense. If that's not enough, a neighborhood dad goes careening down the picket fence-lined streets in a '50s-era Chevy (I think it's a Chevy).

Patrik, Age 1.5 is also funny. From uncomfortable party scenes and awkward introductions to seeing a 15-year-old delinquent getting comfy in a room with a bassinet and baby monitor, everything in the landscape seems slightly off-kilter. Who knew raising a 15-year-old delinquent and a 15-month-old baby had so much in common? Both will keep you up at night, and the monitor comes in handy either way.

Patrik, Age 1.5 is also a gut-wrenching family melodrama, like a Douglas Sirk film but with a dash of sarcasm (Sirk could have used a little sarcasm). The errant decimal sends a homophobic delinquent to live with a Queer couple sending the Queer couple into a marital crisis but creating new lines of communication within the extended family. Whew! I'm almost exhausted.

Lemhagen is also an expert at threading the story with clever little intersections that create provocative cinematic moments. The old Dolly Parton hit (covered here by Jessica Andersson) means different things to Göran, Sven, and Patrik as it plays over images of all three.

If there's a problem with Patrik, Age 1.5, it's that the flick never really commits to being a Lynchian suburban nightmare, a light-hearted comedy, a family melodrama, or a smart art-house film. I want to be a guy that likes this fact, but I still felt a tad untied as I watched. That said, this is a great little film that I highly recommend. I just pray they get Justin Bieber to play Patrik in the American version.


Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Opening August 13

How many 18-24-year-old dudes would trot out to the local MegaCinePlex to see Un Chien Andalou, a film with a tagline that read, 'A purely Surrealist cinematic experience that owes a great debt to André Breton, Luis Buñuel, and Salvador Dalí'? My estimate: seven.

In his seminal 1924 text, Breton defines Surrealism as 'a pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or mental preoccupations.'

In other words, Surrealism, despite the capricious bandying about of the term by the masses, seeks to render thought into art.

What the fuck does all this have to do with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Scott (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old garage-band slacker who's dating the safest girl in Toronto (Ellen Wong) while mourning the break-up with his ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams (Brie Larson), who has since become a huge rock star and dates her über-hot, slightly psychic bass player, bleached blonde vegetarian boy toy Todd (the smokin' hot Brandon Routh, aka Superman).

Just when Scott thinks he has a groove on dating a safe girl and drowning in self-indulgent grieving, in walks Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the mysterious new girl in town who oozes droll hipster boredom - which is apparently like pheromone-crack to 22-year-old garage-band slackers. Without breaking up with the safest girl in the world, Scott begins to pursue Ramona with all the intensity expected of a horny 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Just as he starts to make some serious headway with the object of his affections, enter one Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), Ramona's first ex. And thus Scott finds out he'll have to fight all seven of Ramona's previous lovers if he wants to date her.

So, what the fuck does this have to do with a bunch of dead Europeans who did weird stuff in the 1920s and '30s? The bottom line is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pure Surrealism as defined by Breton and practiced by Buñuel and Dalí. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) expertly moves us from a dingy apartment shared by a 22-year-old garage-band slacker and his Queer best friend (Kieran Culkin, stealing scenes like a Wall Street investment banker) into the mind of that 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Once there, we find a world filled with girls and bands and guys and cool clubs. There are guys that are cooler than Scott, guys better looking than Scott, guys who play guitar better than Scott, and guys who are more savvy than Scott. And Scott has to kick their asses one by one.

The psychic world of Scott Pilgrim is a place where fantastic fights end with no blood, no bruises, and only one man standing. It's a place where graphic hearts pop out of kisses and music emanates aurally, physically, and visually. It's a place where nice guys treat girls badly but still get to end up with them. It's Scott's mind cinematically turned inside-out in the digital age, and it looks a lot like a video game - a really fun video game.

Cera delivers another excellent take on his awkward guy shtick. He somehow manages to shake things up each time, and while Scott Pilgrim is a subtle departure to say the least, the character is its own thing. The Culkin in the flick (the only one I can spot for certain is Mack) offers up one of the coolest Queer characters to ever grace the silver screen in Wallace Wells, the quick-witted best buddy who delivers sage advice while lounging on a double mattress with his aimless straight friend.

Alison Pill (so, so good in Milk), Ellen Wong, and Anna Kendrick are gorgeous and turn in great performances. Brandon Routh and Chris Evans are over-the-top fun as the hot guys we all dreamed of either beating up or kissing (or both) in high school. Johnny Simmons is dreamy, so I don't know or care about his acting. And Jason Schwartzman proves once again that something magic runs in the blood of the Coppola family.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a stylish and original ride through the baffling 22-year-old male mind. It's also one of my favorite movies of the year.


The Expendables: take a straight dude
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Expendables
Opening August 13


From the first exploding torso, I knew The Expendables was going to be fun - I just wasn't sure if it was going to be good, clean, action flick fun, or another poorly written, low-budget groaner like the last Rambo movie from 2008. I'm happy to report Stallone's latest is a star-studded, ass-kicking good time, inspired as much by lucha libre and the WWF as the '80s era action flicks it's meant to recall. And it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Barney Ross (Stallone) heads a cadre of aging mercenaries. While conducting reconnaissance for a mission to overthrow a South American dictatorship rife with poverty, shady Americans, and cocaine (I know, I know), Ross and his sidekick Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) meet their beautiful contact Sandra (Giselle Itié).

When the reconnoitering goes awry, the boys make their escape (while offing a couple of hundred nefarious soldiers in a two-man blitzkrieg of blood and fireballs worthy of the legacy the movie seeks so desperately to claim) but the heroic girl stays behind to fight for her people. Once home, Ross finds out there's more to the mission than a simple overthrow of a corrupt general. He also can't get the valiant gesture (or the voluptuous breasts) of Sandra out of his mind.

If you're in this to be emotionally moved, socially edified, or spiritually enlightened, you're in for a huge disappointment and you're obviously not too bright. On the other hand, if you know the difference between a piledriver and a hammerlock, you'll be in action movie heaven.

Sure, some of the one-liners fall flat, but most don't. Yeah, the story doesn't have an ounce of originality, but the explosions are awesome. I know, the villains are predictable and obvious, but the WrestleMania-inspired fight scenes are infused with over-the-top choreography and they will cause involuntary noises of delight.

If you're also into the grotesque, there's enough cartoon limb lopping, face pummeling, and head exploding to keep you satisfied until Machete comes out in September. You'll also enjoy the unseemly specter of male eye surgery gone bad. Stallone's pinched temples and oddly arched eyebrows are frightening, and Mickey Rourke, God bless his underappreciated acting skills, is truly monstrous (but in a glamorous movie star sort of way). Cheers to Dolph Lundgren for aging au naturel, even if he's still gotten ugly as sin.

Jet Li steals scenes left and right as the tiniest member of the mercenary gang whose heart is as big as Statham's bald head. Statham himself reeks of manly sexiness so much I'd swear I was watching in Scratch 'n' Snifferama. And for all you folks who knew the difference between a piledriver and a hammerlock, you'll love the fight scene between Randy "The Natural" Courture and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

I saw The Expendables with my straight buddy, Tony, and we both began to channel our 14-year-old selves about five minutes in. I highly suggest taking one or two straight dudes to see Stallone's latest testosterone fest; they're fun to watch and their sophomoric energy becomes downright infectious. After the screening, I had the strange urge to pick up a couple of bitches and lay some pipe, but I didn't.


Where It's At: Lady GaGa has clearly earned her fame
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Lady GaGa
Tacoma Dome
August 21


Around this time two years ago, Lady GaGa was on stage in Vietnam performing to an international gathering of pageant enthusiasts, on-hand to witness the crowning of a new Miss Universe. Considering the lowbrow talent usually booked for a sash-and-tiara gala, it was a tacky marketing approach to sing snippets of a track during the swimsuit competition - however, it was the first of many smart moves by this pop icon because she knew it was the easiest and best way to expose her debut single "Just Dance" to a global Gay audience. The song quickly became a worldwide hit, and the rest is butter.

Lady GaGa wanted to be a star like every other artist who lands a recording contract - not just any star, but the biggest of them all: a mega superstar. And she'd work for it, touring nonstop in every major city in every big country on nearly every continent, something Mariah, Mary J or X-tina didn't do early in their careers. But Lady GaGa was willing to do more, like perform midnight shows at Gay clubs (Neighbours, anyone?), do a slew of media interviews with those who saw her potential (um, hello!), and she would even pay for her outlandish costumes and live theatrical elements from her own pocket when she opened a series of dates with the Backstreet Boys. Bottom line: She'd invest whatever it took for success.

Musically, the New York native is more hit-maker, less innovator - her songs are catchy and fun, but not brilliant like Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" or Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop." Image-wise, her performance art style takes a backseat to truer originals, such as Grace Jones, Bjork, or Nico. But when it comes to fashion steps forward (and back), no one comes close to Lady GaGa - the lobster headpiece was silly, her Armani Prive space diva outfit for the Grammys was a traffic-stopper, and her full-facial veil ensemble at last year's MTV VMAs ceremony was just bizarre. Yet it's this peculiarity of wardrobe choices, coupled with the exploration of fetish lifestyles, that gives her a bold edge over any other pop female artist today.

Why do we love Lady GaGa? Why is she relevant? Because she demands our attention, because she's actually rather interesting, because she tries to be different and makes an earnest attempt at doing so, because she values her Gay fans and puts her mouth where her heart is (remember that Equality speech in D.C.?), and because she's living proof that stardom is an ultimate reward for very, very, very hard work.

Lady GaGa brings her smash "Monster Ball Tour" to the Tacoma Dome this weekend, likely opening with "Dance in the Dark" and certainly including "Bad Romance," "Alejandro," "Poker Face," "Telephone," and "Just Dance." The entire main floor is standing room only, so arrive early if you've got GA tickets. Gay bar Silverstone (635 St. Helens Ave.) is a great place to pre-cocktail, although a lower-key and hipper spot is the Lobby Bar inside Hotel Murano, a terrific overnight option (www.hotelmurano.com) with free light rail service to the Dome just a block away.


Latin pop music star Fedro rocks Neighbours at Noche Latina
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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Margaret Cho gets Cho-Dependent
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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Patrik, Age 1.5 director Ella Lemhagen
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Gay City Vol. 3 brings pulp to life
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Clowning around at Ringling Brothers
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Blondie and B-52s bring the '80s to Woodinville
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A Dyke About Town: A month of delicious music
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Frankenocchio a visually stunning puppet production
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Energetic 2010 Festival of New Musicals brings theater to life
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Patrik, Age 1.5 is a charmer
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Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou
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The Expendables: take a straight dude
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Where It's At: Lady GaGa has clearly earned her fame
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Touring Rufus Wainwright not slowing down
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Northwest News
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Letters
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Vancouver B.C. trip is grand prize at Emmy Awards Party
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The Moondoggies interview next week in 'The Music Lounge'
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