Tag Archive | Magnolia Pictures

Recommended Viewing: Author: The JT LeRoy Story

JT Leroy Story Movie Poster
All Images Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

If you enjoy the slow reveal of a real-life mystery that unfolds with greater intrigue and a higher ‘WTF’ factor than the most oblique, multi-layered David Fincher script, then Author: The JT LeRoy Story is your wet dream of a documentary film. Author is the true story of wunderkind picaresque novelist JT LeRoy and the elaborate machinations behind the facade that disguised the Literary Hoax of the Century. Because, despite being one of the most popular and critically lauded writers of an entire decade (1996 to 2006), JT LeRoy never existed: he was merely an elaborate persona created by author Laura Albert  to take credit for stories she wrote from the perspective of an emotionally and psychologically traumatize teenage boy. When the JT LeRoy books reached a level of mega-success that required LeRoy to do press and make personal appearances, Albert got to work on fabricating one of the most brilliant and convoluted schemes ever conceived in the mind of someone who was hiding behind a pretty hefty stack of neuroses.

JT and Laura
Savannah Knoop as JT LeRoy, with Laura Albert as Speedy

Backed into a corner, Albert, with assistance from her husband Greg Knoop and sister-in-law Savannah Knoop, created a physical world that JT LeRoy could move around in, with Savannah portraying JT in public (Albert had already been impersonating him on the phone for years)  and Greg playing the part of JT’s lover/roommate, Asher. Albert took on the role of JT’s handler/sidekick, the British-accented ‘Speedy‘ (Albert is American). Together, the trio fooled everyone.

JT and Bono
JT and Bono

What makes Author: The JT LeRoy story such a complete success is that you don’t need to know anything about the backstory coming into it, to become thoroughly transported into the world of Laura Albert’s dual realities, and to stay engaged and outraged as those world’s fall apart over the course of two hours.  This film is just amazing on so many levels. There’s no doubt that Albert is, well, crazy; but that doesn’t make her any less of a creative genius. The lengths that Albert and her family went to to keep the JT LeRoy ruse alive, and the degree to which dozens — if not hundreds — of huge celebrities were either authentically duped, or, like Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan, were just playing along is nothing short of mind blowing.

JT Michael Pitt Gus Van Sant
Actor Michael Pitt, JT and Film Director Gus Van Sant

Currently, Author: The JT LeRoy Story is tied with Wiener as the best documentary I’ve seen so far this year.

The Worley Gig Gives Author: The JT LeRoy Story Five out of Five Stars!

Author: The JT LeRoy Story Hits Theaters on September 9th, 2016 and will be Showing in NYC at both the Landmark Sunshine Cinema and Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Theatre. Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, the Film has a Running Time of 110 Minutes. Watch the Trailer Below!

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Robert Pattinson Goes from Undead to Unwashed for Bel Ami

Christina Ricci and Robert Pattinson in Bel Ami
Christina Ricci and Robert Pattinson Star in Bel Ami (Images Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

If you loved Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon – the epic period drama about a beguiling rogue who manipulates (read: boinks) his way to the top of 18th century European society – but would prefer to skip all of those gory battle scenes and have the run time cut down from three hours to an economical 100 minutes, you might enjoy a new film called Bel Ami.

Based on the 1885 French eponymous novel by Guy de Maupassant (with a screenplay by Rachel Bennette) Bel Ami is directed by the team of Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. Robert Pattinson (best known for his roles as vampire Edward Cullen from the Twilight film franchise) stars as Georges Duroy, a young, impoverished former soldier who moves to Paris in the 1890s to, literally, seek his fortune. Living in squalor and unemployed, Georges has a chance reunion with Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), an acquaintance from his time in the military, and sufficiently charms his way not only into a job as a journalist but also into Forestier’s inner social /political circle. Forestier’s beautiful and well-educated wife, Madeleine (Uma Thurman), introduces Georges to her good friends Clotilde (Christina Ricci) and Virginie (Kristin Scott Thomas), both married, but ripe for distraction. Georges wastes no time in taking full advantage of Clotilde’s obvious attraction to him. The two embark on a a smoldering affair, which is the Georges’ first major seduction – his preferred method for bringing about the cooperation/ruination of anyone who would stand in the way of his quest for fame, riches and glory.

Robert Pattinson and Uma Thurman in Bel Ami
Robert Pattinson and Uma Thurman in Bel Ami

As the strong willed but appropriately vulnerable Madeleine (who eventually becomes Georges’ first wife), Uma Thurman steals every scene she is in. Her character’s insistence on maintaining her social and financial equality with the duplicitous Georges (who is unlikeable in almost every way and looks like he needs a bath in nearly every scene) also makes her the film’s most admirable / sympathetic character. What I found so engaging about Bel Ami was observing the manner in which Georges’ single-minded ambition becomes increasingly ruthless while remaining largely surreptitious.

To give up much more of the plot here would mean revealing “spoilers,” and this film is one that needs to unfold for the viewer on its own. Costumes, art direction and the original classical soundtrack (composed by Rachel Portman) are all first-rate and add authenticity to the film’s setting. The acting is excellent by all female leads and while the jury is still out on R Patz, he successfully portrays Georges as a vacuous but hard-hearted individual who is able to successfully use people as his means to an end because they are so easily able to project their emotions and desires onto his conscienceless, blank canvas of a persona. If I said I’d never met an individual like Georges in my own life, I’d be lying.

Bel Ami (Rated R for Sex and Nudity) opens Friday, June 8th 2012 at Sunshine Cinema 5, located at 143 East Houston Street, New York, NY.