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    The Gay Comedians Who Showed the Way Even if They Weren’t Exactly Out

    Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly and Rip Taylor get a cursory mention in a new documentary about queer stand-up, but they were groundbreaking.In 1987, David Letterman was taping his late-night show in Las Vegas before rowdy audiences of mostly young men in preppy pullovers and muscle shirts — prototypical bros raised on “Porky’s.”On one episode, Letterman introduces a “very funny and strange, peculiar man who first played Las Vegas way back in 1963.” The sea of seemingly straight guys parts, and to a cartoonishly accelerated rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the comedian Rip Taylor speed-walks through, ferociously hurling heaps of confetti, his signature entrance shtick.I’ve had this clip on repeat since watching “Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution,” a new Netflix documentary about the history of queer stand-up comedy. Not because Taylor plays a big role in the film, but because he and two other groundbreaking gay comics — Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly — do not.“Outstanding” does briefly single out the three men as renowned comedy elders, even though they weren’t primarily known for stand-up. The documentary also does right by underappreciated comedians like Robin Tyler and Bob Smith and household names like Rosie O’Donnell and Margaret Cho.But why just the cursory mention of Lynde, Reilly and Taylor? It’s as if we couldn’t possibly glean anything meaningful from old-school comedians who were apolitical and effeminate, steppingstones for contemporary comedians, like Hannah Gadsby and Jerrod Carmichael, who are willing to wait for a room to quiet down so they can talk about difficult childhoods.Lynde, Reilly and Taylor didn’t sit in their trauma. They kept it light and never talked about their biography in a serious way, because doing so would have led to questions they weren’t prepared to engage with. Maybe that’s why the documentary made me race to YouTube to see these Stonewall-generation funnymen with dippy but dark-edged sensibilities that were shaped by decades of self-hatred and fear the likes of which a 20-year-old today cannot fathom.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    The Careful Crafting of Austin Butler

    There’s a scene early on in the new film “The Bikeriders” that functions like a stress test for stardom.While drinking at a 1960s pool hall, a woman named Kathy (Jodie Comer) is unnerved by the menacing bikers in the room and grabs her purse to go. She’s only stopped dead in her tracks when she catches sight of Benny, another biker, alone. The young man’s muscles are rippling, his hair artfully mussed, his gaze troubled but beguiling. As Kathy stares at him from across the crowded room, the jukebox music and biker chatter fade away, and all you can hear is her stunned gasp as she realizes she’s fallen in love.No visual effects are required for this scene, just a man who can hold the screen and make a woman hold her breath. It’s the sort of role you might have filled in past decades with the likes of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman or Brad Pitt. But who from today’s cohort of young stars has their presence?That’s what worried the director Jeff Nichols two years ago as he embarked on casting the character. He had written Benny as someone who feels mythic even to his fellow bikers, but no contemporary actor was even close to coming to mind. So Nichols wasn’t expecting much when he met with Austin Butler, whose breakthrough film “Elvis” was, at that point, still months from release.What he found, even as Butler walked up, was someone who looked and felt exactly like the character he had written, someone with beauty, gravitas and easy masculinity.Or, as Nichols put it, “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m talking to a movie star.’”Jodie Comer and Austin Butler in “The Bikeriders.”Kyle Kaplan/Focus FeaturesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Anouk Aimée’s Subtle Seductiveness in ‘A Man and a Woman’ and ‘La Dolce Vita’

    The French star created characters who could be fantasies or enigmas, but they always intrigued, even when she was miscast in Hollywood.These days it’s dicey to refer to a female performer as “a thinking man’s sex symbol,” but back in the ’60s and ’70s, when such phrases were dispensed profligately, the French actress Anouk Aimée, who died on Tuesday in Paris at 92, fit the category most beautifully. A willowy brunette with high sculpted cheekbones and penetrating eyes that seemed capable of looking right through you, she was a screen goddess who wielded a thoughtfulness that held the world at arm’s length, or farther.“I didn’t want to be an actress, I wanted to be a dancer,” an effusive Aimée, then 80 and looking back on a career that began when she was a teen, told the interviewer Charlie Rose in 2012. Born in 1932, she studied both dance and theater in England during World War II, and by the time she met the Italian director Federico Fellini in the late 1950s, she had worked with old-school French cinema luminaries like Alexandre Astruc and Julien Duvivier. At that stage in her life, she was more reconciled to acting than in love with it. It was Fellini, she told Rose, whose attitude made her understand that one could be serious in one’s work while still enjoying life.The two characters she created for him were not infused with joie du vivre, however. In “La Dolce Vita” (1960, streaming on Plex), she plays the ennui-besieged socialite Maddalena, who makes a sexual plaything of her ostensible friend and confidante Marcello, the tabloid journalist played by Marcello Mastroianni and based on Fellini’s days as a magazine writer. Contemplating escaping Rome, she talks of buying an island; Marcello chides her: “Your problem is you have too much money.”“And yours is you don’t have enough,” she replies flatly. Then she looks up and gives him a sly, closed-mouth smile. You can see why Marcello might swallow the insult.Three years later, in “8½” (streaming on Max, Criterion and Kanopy), Fellini once again cast Mastroianni as his stand-in, this time in director mode. In the role of Guido, Mastroianni is vexed not just by a crisis of creativity but also by the galaxy of women in his life. Sandra Milo is the indolent seductress, Claudia Cardinale is Guido’s ideal voluptuous virgin, Barbara Steele is a mod muse. Aimée plays Guido’s estranged wife, Luisa, the good thing he can’t hang onto. And while her place in his life is such that she doesn’t even show up until an hour into the movie, she’s the most luminous star in his cosmos — even if Fellini often hides her light under the bushel of what seem to be a deliberately clunky pair of black-rimmed glasses.Her performance in the title role of 1961’s “Lola” (Criterion), the first feature by the French master of fanciful and melancholy romance, Jacques Demy, is perhaps her most extroverted. As a cabaret chanteuse in a quayside bar, she smiles when she sees a familiar face in her first scene — an American sailor who’s more than happy to give her cigarettes and vino upon their reunion — and lights up the saloon. She later attracts the attention of a beleaguered young salaryman out of her past. She’s glad to see him, too, but as is so often the case with cabaret chanteuses in quayside bars, she awaits her true love, the father of her young boy. Lola is a relative free spirit with an open heart but a sense of limits; Aimée’s performance emphasizes the essential innocence, or maybe insignificance, of her flirtations. The character is a male fantasy in her work, a devoted mother in her home and ultimately maybe a mystery even to herself.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    You Talkin’ Like Him? A Convention Lets De Niro Fans Get in on the Act

    Participants at De Niro Con in Tribeca could talk like Travis Bickle, shadowbox like Jake LaMotta or get a tattoo like Max Cady. Yes, a real tattoo.Amy Cakes has dozens of tattoos, but the one she got on Friday would stand out simply because the ink was applied amid a celebration of all things Robert De Niro.As Cakes, 32, an operations coordinator at the Tribeca Festival, rolled up her sleeve, the eerie glow of the actor’s face played on a loop in the background, a sequence of shots of Max Cady, the character with cryptic, ominous tattoos De Niro played in “Cape Fear.” Participants could choose from five tattoos he sported in that 1991 drama, including a panther and the phrase “Time the avenger.” Cakes selected a clown with a gun, as De Niro’s mien scowled on the screen above.This was the inaugural tattoo of De Niro Con, a three-day series of events honoring the 80-year-old actor and coinciding with the final days of the 2024 Tribeca Festival, which he co-founded. The convention, held in Spring Studios in Tribeca, drew more than 1,000 fans to displays of movie memorabilia; a re-creation of the dingy bedroom of Travis Bickle, his unhinged title character in “Taxi Driver” (1976); and that tattoo parlor. For passes that ranged from $150 each to $3,500 for two, participants could make videos of themselves reciting lines from “Taxi Driver,” shadowbox as Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” (1980), or sip complementary Starbucks energy drinks before emerging from the Rupert Pupkin Hall of Fan Experiences.Patrick McCartney administered (fake) lie-detector tests just as De Niro’s character did in “Meet the Parents.”Adam Powell for The New York TimesThe decorations included stills from “Goodfellas.”Adam Powell for The New York TimesThe Army jacket is a recreation of the one worn by Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.”Adam Powell for The New York TimesSome attendees arrived wearing De Niro shirts or bought them there. Others purchased $25 toddler onesies with “You talkin’ to me?” (Travis Bickle’s signature line) emblazoned on the front.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    ‘Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution’ Review: Beyond the Punchline

    A new Netflix documentary showcases comedy as a source of queer liberation, featuring Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, Joel Kim Booster and more.The director Page Hurwitz examines comedy’s place in the L.G.B.T.Q. movement in the new Netflix documentary “Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution,” creating a rich, century-long timeline full of archival footage, behind-the-scenes glimpses and candid interviews with comedians. A standout subject is the 82-year-old trailblazer Robin Tyler, the first out lesbian on national TV.Throughout the film, Hurwitz showcases comedy as more than just a source of laughter, but of healing, catharsis and as an agent for queer liberation, particularly during the Stonewall riots in 1969 and, later, the AIDS epidemic.L.G.B.T.Q. comedians were already on hand for “Outstanding” — in 2022, many of them, including Lily Tomlin, Wanda Sykes and Billy Eichner, performed on the same stage during “Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration,” a Netflix standup special hosted by Eichner. The backstage footage from that special captured something that feels revolutionary, echoing Margaret Cho’s assertion that “queer comedy was really a solace” when she achieved fame in the 1990s.Many of the best moments in “Outstanding” occur when it draws connections between idols and admirers. A simple moment between Joel Kim Booster and Cho is made powerful through thoughtful editing: Cho, in a voice-over, describes the joy that queer comedy can evoke as we see Booster experiencing it among his peers.The film also addresses transphobic jokes by comedians like Dave Chappelle and Bill Maher, and ends with an acknowledgment of the anti-transgender bills being passed nationwide.“There’s no such thing as just kidding,” Tyler, the pioneering comedian, says. “So if anybody does homophobic jokes, they mean it.” The fight is still no laughing matter.Outstanding: A Comedy RevolutionNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Watch on Netflix. More

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    Film Crew Veteran, Injured in an Accident, Faults Amazon for His Pain

    The visual effects supervisor, hurt in one of three recent accidents on Amazon film sets, has sued, but the company says it is not to blame.In March 2023, the producers of Amazon’s holiday movie “Candy Cane Lane,” starring Eddie Murphy, were determined to set a 15-foot fir aflame for a scene, according to court papers filed in a recent lawsuit.But the weather was not cooperating, the court documents say. Producers had already canceled the shoot on several occasions because of rain and winds.Yet, on this day, production would press forward amid winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour, the court papers say.One intense gust sent a tent on the set flying into Jon Farhat, a visual effects supervisor. In the lawsuit he filed last fall, Mr. Farhat said the tent speared him in the back and threw him into the air “as if he was caught in a tornado.” He landed on the ground, unconscious.A video animation created by Jon Farhat shows a simulation of how he says he was injured on the set of the film “Candy Cane Lane.”Jon FarhatCut to 15 months later, and Mr. Farhat, 66, is still primarily bedridden in his home, unable to sit, unable to stand for more than an hour. He broke five vertebrae and two ribs. An ambulance is required to transport him to medical appointments, he said. And his struggle to recover has been made all the more frustrating, he says, by what he describes as a jumble of workers’ compensation red tape that has left him dissatisfied with his doctors and his pain management plan.Share your experience on film and TV sets.If you have worked in film or TV production, we want to hear from you. We won’t publish any part of your response without following up with you first, verifying your information and hearing back from you. We won’t share your contact information outside our newsroom or use it for any reason other than to get in touch with you.

    We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    ‘The Promised Land,’ ‘Biosphere’ and More Streaming Gems

    Speculative science fiction, period drama and sly thrillers are among this month’s off-the-beaten-path recommendations from your subscription streamers.‘The Promised Land’ (2023)Stream it on Hulu.Mads Mikkelsen stars in this epic period drama as Capt. Ludvig Kahlen, described as “a presumptuous soldier in a flea-ridden uniform” — and that’s what they say to his face. The sneers and humiliation he is subjected to by the ruling class of mid-18th-century Denmark give the picture its juice; the potent narrative is as much a pointed class commentary as a historical drama, as the poor but dedicated Kahlen tries to build a workable manor out of a barren slab of heath, and discovers that his idealistic notions of honor and hard work won’t get him much of anywhere with these aristocrats. Chief among them is Simon Bennebjerg’s De Schinkel, the most loathsome movie villain in many a moon. And the director Nikolaj Arcel builds up a furious head of steam on the way to an utterly satisfying conclusion.‘A Simple Favor’ (2018)Stream it on Netflix.Paul Feig made his name directing such movies as “Bridesmaids” and “Spy,” uproarious comic gems that provided career-best showcases for their female stars. He shines a similarly flattering spotlight on Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively here, though with a surprising genre shift, eschewing the broad comedy of his earlier work for this stylish, semi-Sapphic neo-noir thriller. Kendrick is a typical suburban mom who finds herself dazzled by (and quietly attracted to) Lively’s sophisticated outlier; their children are schoolmates, but they may as well be from different planets. The twists and turns of Jessica Sharzer’s screenplay (from the Darcey Bell novel) are compelling, but Kendrick and Lively’s swoony relationship, and its spiky playfulness, are what make “A Simple Favor” sing.‘Dean’ (2017)Stream it on Amazon Prime Video.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Do You Recognize This Film (and Book) From a Movie Still?

    Can you identify a book title just by looking at a photo from its film adaptation? (Or maybe if you had just a little hint?) That’s the challenge in this week’s installment of Great Adaptations, the Book Review’s regular multiple-choice quiz about books and stories that have gone on to find new life in the form of movies, television shows, theatrical productions and other formats.Just tap or click your answers to the five questions below. And scroll down after you finish the last question for links to the books and their screen adaptations. More