By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Every year there's one movie that buzzes through my system to the point where, even if it's not necessarily the greatest auteur work since the Godfather trilogy, it's so up my alley that I end up ordering it, eating it, breathing it, and choking on it till I almost die. This year that movie isyes, I'm a gay stereotypeDreamgirls, and as a result I've been finding myself slipping and saying stuff in public like, "Pass the Dreamgirls, please," "I'll have coffee with milk and three Dreamgirls," or just plain "Dreamgirls to you too!"
Sorry to have to indulge you in my private obsession, but it'll just be for one night only and then it shall pass like a glittery bowel movement. We'll start at the premiere, where I ran around acting as if the moviethat sweeping musical melodrama about six glamorous armpitswas a total documentary. Affecting my best deadpan, I asked director BILL CONDON if DIANA ROSS ever starred in a biopic about Cleopatra like BEYONCÉ's character does. No, he said, laughingly adding, "This movie has nothing to do with Diana Ross!" (I feel Diana should relax her extensions and take the same tack. In fact, if Diana had half a brain, she'd have done an ANNA WINTOUR and jumped right into the Dreamgirls hoopla. Like I said, if.)
Having a bite in a corner was the already fabled JENNIFER HUDSON , whose Effie character is loosely based on the feisty Supreme, Florence Ballard, but with a happier ending pinned on her bodacious butt. Grabbing J-Hud by the aura, I asked her if Gordy ever really impregnated Ballard, then gave her the dump, like in the movie (which ends up working out, as it gives her a cue for that showstopping number). "I don't know about that!" Hudson said, smiling. I'll take that as a yes. Feigning seriousness, I asked Hudson where her reserves of on-screen pain were dredged fromwas it from getting bumped in favor of FANTASIA? "Reading Florence's story," she said, soberly, "I felt so bad for Flo, I got angry for her. I felt that Effie was Flo's voice and she could live through her." And what a voice. As I left, The Drowsy Chaperone's EDWARD HIBBERT told me he loved the movie and "I've never wanted to be a black woman more in my life!" Well, I'm halfway there; I'm a complete woman.
The next nightbear with me; I'll keep your fantasies aliveDENISE RICH's LIFEbeat benefit gala for the movie brought a whole other chance to pester Hudson while the HX gays lined up outside for a later showing. In between the hoopla, Rich exclaimed, "I loved the movie!" and "I know Diana Ross and she's really nice!" which are apparently not mutually exclusive statements after all.
Not having had my fillit's hard to say goodbye, my loveI harassed publicists and got Hudson on the phone a few days later, completing my journey into total girl-group groupie. The most natural new query was: Who's she going to thank in all those inevitable acceptance speeches? "God is always first on my list," Hudson replied, majestically. Fine, I can handle second billing. And my own reward will be One Night Only, the December 30 Saint at Large party at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where Hudson will belt for 40 minutes"and I'm gonna bring some Effie-ness to it!" she exclaimed. And some truthiness too! But since it's a gay party, I had to bring up Hudson's supposed remarks about how the Bible says it's a sin to like Judy Garland (I'm paraphrasing). That's not really the case, is it? "Oh no, not at all," she said. "I don't know where that came from." "Oh good," I cooed, "because I'd really rather not go to hell, OK?" "You won't," she assured me. "If you go, I'm going too!"
Good Will Smith hunting
While we're still earthbound, there are some other movies at the cineplexlike The Good German and The Good Shepherd, if not The Good German Shepherd. And there's Notes on a Scandal, which is being hailed as a searing character study, though it's actually just fun, high-class trashBaby Janemeets Sister Georgewith jailbait and pets. One might complain that JUDI DENCH plays a crazed, manipulative dyke, but the straights don't get very good representation either; CATE BLANCHETT is an adulterous pedophile!
More feel-good, The Pursuit of Happyness impossibly has you rooting for a decent person to become an investment broker! "Yeah! Make that deal! Handle that rich pig's portfolio!" you yell at the screen, unsure of where that capitalist cry came from. Not since you pulled for CHARLIZE THERON to kill more horrible men has there been such carefully crafted Oscar bait.
But The Holiday just made me scream, period. It's filled with clean-scrubbed cutouts playing air guitar with pillows and sipping hot cocoa while cute kids and an adorable dog look on in approval. No blacks or homos for milesand no need for the cast to start preparing any public thank-yous to God either.
At least JULIA ROBERTS has moved over to the dark side, though this year, bizarrely enough, she's played both an ant and a spider. What nextKafka's Metamorphosis? She should probably instruct her agent, "No more arthropods"though I loved her in Charlotte's Web and cried when the rat saved her spider babies. (That's even sicker than rooting for a broker.)