Film Review: Foxcatcher, John du Pont, Gay Angle

Film Review: Foxcatcher, John du Pont, Gay Angle

I disliked this film…Foxcatcher…so much I’m making this review a stand alone post so I can just get it out of the way. This is just for me to vent. I truly don’t like reviewing anything with this tone, but in this case I just couldn’t do anything else. And I think that’s because there’s a passive aggressive homophobia hidden very deeply, one I can’t even comment on because it was done in such a clever, obtuse way. 

When I first heard about the film, Foxcatcher, I posted about it here. I added links to that post with information about John du Pont allegedly being gay, and I talked about how I remembered the murder of David Schultz from a local POV because I live in Bucks County, PA. You can go back and read all that. I’m not going to repeat it again in this post.

First, Foxcatcher is one reason why I hate to waste my time going to theaters anymore. I wouldn’t have been thrilled seeing this in a hot cramped theater, and frankly, I’m not too thrilled about wasting five dollars on the rental. E-books can be returned for up to five days on Amazon, but I can’t get a refund on a film I thought was a waste of time. There’s something ironic and unfair about that and I’d like to know who in the film industry made up those no-refund rules and how they are allowed to get away with it when book publishers can’t.

I want my money back.

In any event, in spite of all the gay allegations that surrounded the unusual life of John du Pont, none of it was mentioned in Foxcatcher. There were hints, but if you blink you’ll miss them. So if you think you might even get a little speculation on the gay angle, you’re in for a huge disappointment. Instead, they portrayed John du Pont as weird, quirky, and absolutely obsessed with the game of wrestling. They insinuated he had issues with his mother, with respect to his own inadequacies, and that he carried baggage that dated back to childhood (all speculation). However, even these aspects of the film were toned down so they could concentrate mostly on long, elaborated wrestling scenes that added nothing significant to the characters or the film…unless you happen to be a huge wrestling fan and want those details. And I had to wonder why, in the name of all that is good, was any part of this film nominated for an Oscar.

As for characterization, think Mommie Dearest and the exaggerated way they portrayed Joan Crawford, which is how that film went on to be become campy cult classic. Although I don’t think that will happen with Foxcatcher, even the nose they gave John du Pont made me want to smile at certain points in the film. And trust me, there’s not much to smile about with this film.  

I know the film was set in Newtown Square, PA because that’s what it said, and that’s where John du Pont lived. However, I didn’t get a feel for the setting even slightly and for all it mattered it could have been anywhere else in the USA. But I think the oddest part for me was that John du Pont allegedly had no one close to him, which is why he befriended Mark Schultz in the first place. And yet we have du Pont flying to huge events to give speeches as if he didn’t have one single insecurity in the world. Now I know that could happen, but at least give a slight explanation and a hint of the kind of man he was. After watching this film, I know nothing more about him from what I read and heard about in the news at the time of the murder.

I’m not going to drag this out for long. There were a few scenes where du Pont actually did roll around on the mat with a few of the wrestlers, but nothing that would indicate he felt anything sexual toward them. And I found that hard to believe then, and I still find it hard to believe now. If there was a cover up this film only perpetuates it even more. If there wasn’t, I’m not sure there was a need to make a film at all. That’s the biggest flaw of the entire thing for me. Why bother? It was a tragic event that took one life and ruined others. But I’m not sure it warranted being retold all over again. So that critics who knew so little about the back story could give this film such stellar reviews?

Here’s a link to an article that mentions 11 things about Foxcatcher that were not accurate. Most were new to me when I first read them, so I’m still learning things about this story…even if I learned nothing from the film.

There’s this:

In reality, this never happened. In fact, Mrs du Pont was dead before John ever started Foxcatcher. She died in 1988 and only then did John act to redevelop the 440-acre Liseter Hall Farm in Newtown Square as an elite level wrestling facility. He called this new camp “Foxcatcher” after his father’s old racing stable.

And here’s the gay part…that was never mentioned:

The film never looks properly at rumours of John du Pont being gay. It does imply that Mark and John may have had a homosexual relationship, but that’s so ridiculous that it’s almost laughable.

The film is very misleading in this portrayal. Mark was not gay and barely had any sort of relationship with du Pont. However, Dave Metlzer does write in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that “The belief is that there was a homosexual relationship with Du Pont and a wrestler, but not Mark.”

The film therefore covers up what could have been an interesting narrative with a wholly unbelievable story about Mark Schultz.

I don’t believe for a moment Mark was gay or that he had any intimate relationship with du Pont. I do believe there was more cover up and the story goes much deeper than we’ll ever know. But once again, why bother making a movie about a cover up unless something new is going to be disclosed? Or, center the film on the cover up. Now that would have been interesting. 

And I want my money back. 

Small Town Romance Writer
113,000 Word Gay Romance 



So Now Matt Bomer’s Too Old for Fifty Shades of Grey Film

This is entertaining: more Fifty Shades of Grey drama. And, Hollywoodfail at its best some might say. The latest talk about openly gay actor Matt Bomer playing Christian in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey has nothing to do with him being gay, so they say. Now they are claiming he’s too old…or will be by the time they film the last in the FS trilogy.

According to Fifty Shades Casting, Matt Bomer “is honestly,…too old. He’s 35 and will be 40 by the 3rd movie. The films producers might feel the same way since the suave sadistic Christian is supposed to be only twenty-seven years old when the trilogy begins. Of course, what makes all this problematic is that Ian Somerhalder is only two years younger than Bomer.”
 
I love the way they say “honestly.” Never trust anyone who says that…grandma taught me that one. For those who don’t know Ian Somerhalder is another possible choice for Christian.
 

I’m a fan of Somerhalder’s. I’ve loved him in almost everything he’s done. And I think if he were to get the part of Christian he’d do a great job. I think he’d do a great job at anything he did.

But I’m still pulling for Matt Bomer to be Christian, and for a variety of reasons. One, I just see Bomer as Christian. I know that makes no sense, but that’s what I see. Two, I want to see an openly gay man play a hugely popular straight role just like I’ve seen straight actors play gay roles all my life in films like “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s one of the reasons I’ve parodied so many mainstream straight romance films in erotic romance books. Three, I think he would be a bigger draw at the box office just to see how he plays the part. Four, from what I’ve heard women want to see Bomer play Christian and that’s going to be the target audience for this film.

I’m sorry, but this asshatery about Bomer being too old to play Christian doesn’t even make sense. Especially when you consider that Ian Somerhalder is only two years younger than Bomer. So how can that be justified? They allegedly say that Bomer will be too old to play Christian in the last film. According to the piece I linked to above, he’s 35 now and he’ll be 40 in the final film, which means that Somerhalder is 33 now and he’ll be 38. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t find a two year age difference all that significant. Hell, at various times in my life I’ve exaggerated my age when I felt like doing it. Usually shaving about five years. And I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. My grandmother also taught me that years ago and she gave me permission to do it with a smile.

Not to mention that Bomer actually looks more like 28 than 35 right now. If you compare the photos of Bomer and Somerhalder, they look like twins. I actually forget Christian’s exact age, but as I recall he’s in his late twenties in the book. I’m sure that when Bomer is 40 he’ll look more like he’s in his early 30’s. But more than that, Hollywood has been notorious for older actors and actresses playing younger parts for years. Mary Tyler Moore claimed she was 30 in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when in reality she was much older. She pulled it off, and damn well. Lucille ball was actually in her early forties when I Love Lucy aired and her character was only in her early thirties. And though I love Merle Streep, I’ve seen her play more than a few parts where she really stretched the age thing a little more than she should have. But, all in all, she was great in each film in spite of this.

So “casting” can just keep that excuse about Matt Bomer being too old to play the part of Christian. Hell, even the President of the US is around 50 and he looks more like he’s around 40. So this age deal is not working for me. And I think whoever “casting” is with FSoG needs to come up with something more creative if they don’t want Bomer to play Christian than claming he’s too old.

A lot of people don’t know about the history behind FSoG. I like/love the book, and I thought it was written well. But there’s been a lot of controversy. The fact remains that FSoG is based on Twilight fanfic, and I never thought I’d see the day fanfic of any kind would become this popular, make this much money, and cause such mixed reactions. So the book is not without controversy. You don’t read about this in the mainstream because most don’t even know it. And I would hate to see the film add yet another layer of controversy by making lame excuses that openly gay actor Matt Bomer is too old. “Honestly.” Because I don’t think anyone’s going to believe that one. And, what they are really doing here is setting a standard for all other actors and actresses if this is what they are claiming. I think Brad Pitt is just turning 50 this year. I don’t think he’d have a problem playing a 40 year old. And the same goes for hundreds of other actors and actresses.

Let’s at least give Matt Bomer a little credit, casting. And give us a little credit, too. Because we just don’t buy it.

 

The "New Normal Thanksgivingfail;" A Real Gay Thanksgiving

Last summer I wrote a review for a non-fiction book written by indie author and well known blog author of “No More Harvard Debt,” Joe Mihalic, titled “Destroy Student Debt.” In that book Joe talks about how Hollywood distorts our concept of finances…and money in general…in a chapter I found more than interesting because it related so much to how I see Hollywood distorting the LGBT community all the time.

I’ve posted about the TV show “The New Normal” as few times here. At first, I had a good feeling about it. I really liked it. I now think that’s because I really wanted to like it so much because there’s so little to watch on TV that gay people can actually relate to. Logo turned out to be a huge bust; Glee is so sticky sweet it makes my teeth hurt. Modern Family is marginal, but not all that accurate. So there wasn’t much for gays. I thought we’d finally found a decent TV show. But boy was I wrong. “The New Normal” just took gay characters right back to the 1940’s in their Thanksgiving episode last night, to a time where Hollywood used objectify people of African descent as maids, porters, and handymen.

“The New Normal” was created by Ryan Murphy, who also created “Glee.” As I said, I had high hopes for this show because the characters seemed likable in the beginning. I also remember feeling that way about Glee, too. But I stopped watching Glee after the first season because the storyline with the gay characters just left me wondering how far anyone in Hollywood will actually go to make a buck. And we are talking about people who are making millions of dollars creating and writing gay content, so I don’t feel a hint of guilt expressing my own personal opinions now.

The biggest problem with “The New Normal” Thanksgiving for me was I just couldn’t relate to it as a gay man who has been in a twenty year relationship with his partner/husband and has hosted more than a few huge Thanksgivings with family and friends. I’m not sure if the “gay” outfits they wore on that show were more offensive than the political commentary, but I can tell you this: that’s not how it works in all gay households. In fact, far from it. First, we don’t talk about politics on Thanksgiving. And the main reason why we don’t is because there are as many gay Republicans in my circle of gay friends and family as there are Democrats. If there is a “new normal” I think this is a big part of it. Not all gay people are Democrats. Some are liberal Republicans who care about the same issues Democrats care about, but they are fiscal conservatives. And that’s just a small part of how it works. But you don’t see that on TNN. I don’t want this to become a political post about gay people. I’m just giving an example from my own personal experience that I know as many gay Republicans as I do Democrats. And politics is not discussed in our home on Thanksgiving Day. Period.

But to watch “The New Normal” you’d think we’re all wearing polka dot shirts, we all have an alter set up for President Obama, and we can’t do a simple basic task like picking out a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. That was the scene where I stopped watching “The New Normal” last night. (Actually, Tony said if I didn’t change the channel he would throw the TV out the window, and then kick it down the street.) I go to a turkey farm every year, and I usually bring along a nephew or a niece and we pick out a turkey. It’s a live turkey just like the one on TNN last night. They chop off it’s head, prepare it, and we take it home and eat it on Thanksgiving Day. We don’t take a half a dozen live turkeys back home and keep them as pets…not unless I name them Lunch and Dinner. My nieces and nephews never have a problem with this. And that’s because I don’t make it an issue.

I understand that TV, like fiction, should be larger than life, and exaggerations are necessary in any storyline. But there are so many excellent Thanksgiving storylines out there that range from turkey disasters to family arguments, I have to wonder what the writers at TNN are thinking when they portray gay men as helpless donkeys who can’t even pick out a turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. And WTF ever happened to objectivity? Archie Bunker was a racist, a Republican, and basically ignorant, but he wasn’t a beast, and the creator of that show always wrote his lines to show that he was more a victim of his upbringing than an actual racist.

Tomorrow we’re having about twenty guests for Thanksgiving. They are all family and we’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for the past ten years. I have one brother who is recently married for the second time after going through a bitter divorce and it’s the first time his new wife is spending Thanksgiving with us. Unfortunately, I won’t get to see his kids because they’ll be with my ex-sister-in-law for the day. My brother has 50% custody and they alternate holidays. I have a gay brother in New York who will be here, and he couldn’t care less about politics. I have a gay nephew in med school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who is flying in today. He can get political, but he won’t be wearing it on his sleeve. Tony’s sister and brother-in-law are Republicans who believe in gay marriage, women’s rights, and all kinds of liberal things. Shock of shocks! How could that be? I’m a liar, you say! I’ve lost my mind, you say! Well, I wouldn’t be writing about it if it weren’t true. Tony has a family of seven, and we all get along well, but they all can’t be here for various reasons and we understand that. They have in-laws, too, so we’ll see them at Tony’s sister’s house on Christmas. Basically, we’ll be spending Thanksgiving just like millions of other Americans. The only one who won’t be here is Tony’s dad. Tony’s mom passed away ten years ago with pancreatic cancer and his dad remarried. The new wife is interesting (smile).

But the ultimate point of this post is that there is no “gay” Thanksgiving. We all spend the day in different ways just like everyone else. I have two lesbian friends in Brooklyn who will get together with two other lesbians and they have a Thanksgiving most people dream about. They put on their most casual comfortable clothes, roast turkey legs and thighs because they hate the dry white meat, and sit around watching old movies all day eating pumpkin pie. Before Tony and I started hosting Thanksgiving, we would go to family early and then meet a group of good friends at a more formal Thanksgiving dinner that started at nine o’clock Thanksgiving night. Those friends, Stephen and Charles, were older and together for forty years at that time. They are both gone now, but they never did anything casual. Lunch was a black tie affair with them. And Thanksgiving dinner was a well planned event that lasted into the early morning hours of the following day.

When I write posts like this it’s because I like to balance some of the douchebaggery I see on TV shows like “The New Normal.” I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Joe Mihalic, a Harvard grad and the straighest guy I know, feels the same way, too. Hollywood screws around with people all the time. They did it to African Americans for too many years to count. They did to Asian Americans as well. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for gay characters, but if “The New Normal” doesn’t last all that long, it’s not because the characters were gay. It’s because the show didn’t resonate with the people they were supposed to be targeting. Oh, I’m sure it will be up for Emmys and Goofeys and whatever other obsolete Hollywood awards are still left, but I don’t think that’s going to get me to watch it again.