Monday, April 22, 2019

Scribegrrrl Reports: Gentleman Jack

Special Report: Well, kittens, you are in for quite the treat. We have a very special report from my new Surrenders East Coast Correspondent, Scribegrrrl. Yes, you remember Scribe. She of the definitive "The L Word" recaps. She of just being the most awesomely Scribe to have ever scribed, period. Well I managed to lure her out of blogging retirement with a trip to the New York premiere of "Gentleman Jack." And this is the glorious result. So please enjoy.

Scribegrrrl Reports: Gentleman Jack

As this very blog has shown -- to thrilling, breathtaking, and staggering effect -- there's something about a woman in a suit. And as of tonight, there's a new deity in the suited pantheon: Suranne Jones, star of HBO's "Gentleman Jack."

"Gentleman Jack" tells the criminally untold story of Anne Lister, a 19th-century English landowner with a big brain and a hungry heart. If you haven't heard of Lister, that's because she's mostly been left out of the history books. “Gentleman Jack” creator Sally Wainwright (more on her later) has been trying to bring Lister's story to the screen for two decades, and I’m so glad she didn't give up.

The show draws from Lister's diaries, which comprise more than four million (!) words. They were partly written in a secret code and were never published, but Wainwright is helping to digitize them and has also helped produce a “Gentleman Jack” tie-in book. Not that you're likely to need supplemental reading material: in Suranne Jones's hands, Anne Lister is fully realized. Jones expertly conveys Lister's lust for life, as well as her impatience with the repression of her day. But Jones doesn’t paint Lister as a legend or an archetype; she keeps her human. Magnetic and dazzling, yes, but also human.

Jones is something of a muse for Wainwright. Their past projects include a little show called "Scott and Bailey." I expected to see some similarities between Rachel Bailey and Anne Lister, but Jones is a much better actor than that. She seems like a pretty great person as well: in interviews, she respects the magnitude of Lister's story and acknowledges the importance of getting it right.

I still haven't forgiven Wainwright for killing off Kate in "Last Tango in Halifax," but “Gentleman Jack” might start to heal the rift. Some aspects of the show feel kind of off, especially an addressing-the-camera thing that comes out of nowhere and then takes too long to come back. But overall the show is absorbing, romantic, and funny. And Jones has considerable chemistry with Sophie Rundle, who plays her love interest. It's the kind of chemistry that would bring forth fanfic if this were subtext rather than main text -- but it's not! The real Anne Lister would be gobsmacked.

The show includes other Wainwright favorites, including a scene-stealing Amelia Bullmore. (The pool of across-the-pond actors seems *so* tiny!) The generally excellent cast holds its own against the stunning landscapes and sets; a lot of filming took place at the actual Shibden Hall, Lister's family estate that dates back to the 15th century.

And of course the costumes are key. (Never mind Anne's weird hair -- it's historically accurate.) Suranne Jones in a top hat, carrying a walking stick... well, SWOON.

Friday, April 19, 2019

My Weekend Trailer

Well now, this seems fun. I am weathering a female friendship TV show drought right now. “Broad City” just ended. “Girls” and “Sex and the City” and “Rizzoli & Isles” are long gone. “Laverne & Shirley,” “Kate & Allie,” and “Ab Fab” are even longer gone. (Yes, I realize I probably should jump into “Grace & Frankie,” but I just haven’t had the time.) And I gave “2 Broke Girls” a fair and honest try, I really did. So now I pin my hopes on the animated “Tuca & Bertie.” It’s from one of the female minds behind “BoJack Horseman” (which I also didn’t watch) and stars Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as the voice talent and eponymous Tuca and Bertie, respectively. I’ve been getting into animated shows more (have you checked out Netflix’s animated short series “Love, Death & Robots” because it’s worth it for the trippy visuals alone.) So I am looking forward to what aviary feminist shenanigans/patriarchy smashing rage blackouts these two can get themselves into. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wine Us Away

Wine! Women! Lesbianism! Laughter! I mean, what’s not to love? Amy Poehler’s directorial debut brings together so, so many funny ladies. I was excited when I heard about this project and I’m excited now that I’ve seen the trailer. Plus, there’s a lesbian in the mix because – as we well know – everything is more fun with us gay gals. Fine, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer and Tina Fey also help.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Telling Tales

Nostalgia for beautiful things is natural. I was never a huge “Tales of the City” fan. It was a bit before my time and it always felt kind of sudsy to me. But there’s something sort of sleepily sweet about the nostalgia the new “Tales of the City” series is peddling. While I’m not necessarily personally invested in these characters, I welcome new LGBTQ stories. I welcome the beautiful diversity of our community and embrace all of our magnificent differences. More, better stories always. Now, isn’t that beautiful?

p.s. Also Ellen Page kissing the girl who talked really fast from “Girls” is pretty OK, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Our Beautiful Lady

No pop culture today, instead just a few words about the collective importance of beauty. Regardless your views on religion and religious organizations, Notre Dame was a thing of beauty. It’s soaring spire and elegant buttresses and breathtaking windows. You don’t have to know anything about architecture to see it was special. I have been lucky enough to visit it twice in my life. And when you see it you are reminded that while humans may be and do terrible, sad, angry, greedy, violent, simple, selfish, wasteful, frivolous, impatient and ignorant things, sometimes we can also make things that transcend even our own infinite sins. So when that something beautiful is destroyed – literally goes up on flames for us to watch on live television – we feel a collective helplessness. No, see, that’s one of the few things we can do, when we really try – build things that inspire. Create things that stand the test of time. Make our world more beautiful. This just reminds us of our impermanence. Still, moments like these challenge us to be our better selves again. To rebuild and remember. We can make beautiful things, if only we try.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Lesbian Heart Eyes Forever, Again

Well now, Kathryn Hahn staring lustily at Rachel Weisz is giving Kristen Stewart staring lustily at Cate Blanchett a run for her lusty lesbian money. Seriously, I could watch this on a loop all day. Wait, no, I would watch “Carol,” then this video again, then “Carol” again, then this video again. Well, you know the rest.

Friday, April 12, 2019

My Weekend Crush

Look, I’m neither a Baylor or Notre Dame fan. They’re both conservative Christian colleges. But being from Indiana, I had to root for the Fighting Irish. So I was dissapointed when they lost the Women’s NCAA basketball championships. But I was still thirlled about Muffet McGraw. The team’s head coach went viral last week after being asked about hiring practices in the sport. But what she was really talking about was hiring practices and women’s treatment in the wider world. It was great, really really great. She dissects traditional gender roles, the need for female leaders, workplace power dynamics and ye olde patriarchy all in just about two minutes with such passion and conviction there’s no wonder she’s a great coach. Because, damn, that was inspiring. Also her name is Muffet, so how could you not root for her? Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Gender Fuck Thursday: JT LeRoy Edition

The sorted story of JT LeRoy is one anyone who lived through the early 2000s will no doubt recall. You know, back in the good old says when our scandals were about fictional authors instead of deranged presidents. Kristen Stewart plays “JT,” the made-up avatar of real-life author Laura Albert who in turn is played by Laura Dern. Also did I mention Courtney Love and Diane Kruger and exactly zero famous men are also in this movie.

Can I just say this may very well be the role K-Stew was born to play. Instead of her perceived above-it-all, hipster ironic persona, her JT seems sweet and vulnerable and even endearingly awkward. Like, is this what Bella Swan would have actually been like in real life? Well, you know, minus the hat and sunglasses and pretending to be a man who had suffered a childhood filled with poverty, drug use and sexual abuse.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about K-Stew and Diana kissing yet. Diana plays a fictionalized version of Asia Argento, here called Eva Avelin. She’s a charming manipulator who wants the rights to JT's work to make a film. In real life (I know, so much back-and-forth), Asia made JT's second book, “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” into a movie in 2004.

Just another movie about dressing in male drag, kissing ladies and pulling off a huge literary coup. No bigs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Killing It

I have, ever so impatiently, given you enough time to watch the “Killing Eve” season two premiere. I mean, you’ve watched it by now – right, kittens? Like, at least twice. Naturally. Because if you haven’t I have to seriously question your commitment to assassin motion.

I’m happy to report that so far “Killing Eve” is as good as ever in its sophomore season. Smart, taught, funny, unexpected, stylish, smart some more. The show remains one of the most original stories on television – two women chasing each other for professional and personal reasons like we’ve never seen explored on a mainstream show before.

And, even better yet, the series has been renewed for a third season already. What’s interesting is it is following a new model for television with a new, female showrunner taking over each season. It is pretty much the polar opposite of the auteur model preferred by most prestige TV. Think “The Sopranos” and “Mad Men” where their male creators (David Chase and Matt Weiner) served as showrunner for the entire run of their respective series.

But here a show created by the exceedingly brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who served as showrunner the first season, is instead handed off to another female showrunner. This collective genius versus singular genius style of storytelling is in itself telling. “Killing Eve” is, indeed the creation of an amazing woman. But it was an amazing woman who was confident enough in the concepts and characters she created to let share them other deserving women. And then they take the unbelievably talented cast of women, and create even more magic.

Running the show this season is Emerald Fennell, who previously had primarily been known as an actress on shows like “The Crown” and “Call the Midwife” and films like “The Danish Girl” and “Albert Nobbs.” Helming the third season will be “Fear the Walking Dead” writer Suzanne Heathcote.

See, that’s how a whole new class of female showrunners gets created. One woman’s story is now several women’s stories. And we’re all richer for it.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The One With the Banana

Hello. It’s your id. Normally, your superego keeps me in check. But not today. Whooo double doggie, not today. Why? Because today I have brought you pictures of Cate Blanchett wear a strap-on banana. Yes, indeed, you read every part of that last sentence right. Cate Blachett. Strap-on. Banana. It was for a cover story for Beauty Pages magazine. I’ve never heard of it either. Did I mention there’s also pictures of her eating the banana? Because she does.

Anyway, all of this is just a warning to say that today I am going to make you hump your screen. I’ll try to do it in a discrete, non-public place. But, this is Cate Blanchett wearing a strap-on, after all. So. You know. Id’s gotta id. I mean, how can I not?

p.s. I have also brought you a picture of Cate Blanchett wearing white makeup and drawing on her face. Look, it is totally possible to be confused and turned on at the same time.

p.p.s. See. Like, I said, turned-on confusion. You are welcome, back to you superego.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Music Monday: Brandi Edition

So last month Brandi Carlile was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. The news show called her “The most popular musician you’ve never heard of. The one all the cool kids already adore.”

And by “cool kids,” they should have just said “lesbians.” Well, lesbians and Barack Obama and Bradley Cooper (some of her highest profile fans). But, as a quick scan of her audiences will tell you, it’s us queer gals who have loved her from the start. And we will continue to love her. And we’ll even let the rest of the world in on the secret.

p.s. Sorry for the weird video, it is the only one I could find.

Friday, April 05, 2019

My Weekend Kill

[Click to Embiggen the Wow]

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more deadly and more obsessive. It’s hard to quantify how much I love “Killing Eve.” But I simply cannot wait for its rough winds to shake the darling buds of April. There simply isn’t anything else quite like this on television right now. The chemistry between these two women is not just electric – it is nuclear. And, best of all, it remains positively unpredictable – and super, duper queer.

I particularly like how much they’ve leaned into the romantic confusion. Like they’re a pair of lethal romantic foils, which is exactly what they are. So long as women can breathe, or eyes can see, so long lives my love for this show. Happy “Killing Eve” Is Back Weekend, all.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Gender Fuck Thursday: Krashlyn Edition

Well, Krashlyn has made it official. Last month soccer stars Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris announced their engagement in People magazine, which was also their de facto joint coming out statement for anyone who hasn’t been paying or attention and/or does not have eyes. The couple plan to get married this year after being together since 2010. The women both play on the United States Women's National Team and for the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League – so it’s another case of workplace romance. Now, one might quibble with the nine whole years it took for these ladies to make it official while past and present teammates like Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach have been out for years. But, you know, better late then never.

But what I really care about, what truly matters, is what suit Ashlyn plans to wear to the wedding. The two soccer stars haven’t been shy about stepping out together looking…good. They look good. It’s all good. The suits are good. The dresses are good. The suits and dresses together are good. In short, we expect next-level suit game at these nuptials.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Party Like It's 1999

I realize I’ve spent a lot of time trying to pit Cate Blanchett and Gillian Anderson against each other for our gay lady affections. And, well, I now realize that was wrong. So very, very wrong. I should not have been making these women compete against one another. I should have been trying to get them (back) together. More specifically, I want to get Cate and Gillian partying together like it’s 1999 again.

Because, goodness, how these ladies enjoy each other’s company in 1999.

They enjoyed being in “The Vagina Monologue” together in 1999.

They enjoyed hanging out in black jackets and alternative lifestyle haircuts together in 1999.

And they definitely enjoyed hamming it up for the camera together in 1999.

Oh, Cate and Gill (or is it Sandy?), please bring some 1999 into our 2019. I mean, you were right near other on stage in London already and everything.