Sir Ian McKellen has been doing Pilates classes online during lockdown.
The 82-year-old actor was encouraged to start the light exercise classes in order to stay active during lockdown, and said he’s trying to stick with his workout regime because he doesn’t want to become “decrepit”.
He said: “On and off I’ve been aware that exercise is a good idea and I’ve done various disciplines. I’ve been doing Pilates online through lockdown. It just keeps me active. The trouble with a lot of people my age is that they are decrepit not simply because they are getting older but because they are not doing enough of what they always did do – walk, run, exercise. It’s all too easy to think, ‘Well, I’ll have a little sleep now. It’s 11 o’clock in the morning.’ ”
And now that people are beginning to come out of lockdown, Ian is finding himself taking on new forms of exercise, especially as he prepares to step into the “athletic” role of Hamlet in the eponymous Shakespeare play.
He added: “Of course Hamlet is quite athletic, a fencer and rather good at it. So I am doing a few lunges.”
Ian is returning to the famous role after an initial outing in 1971, and has said he never thought he would take on the part again.
He said: “It had never crossed my mind to play Hamlet again. I hadn’t much enjoyed doing it before. Nor had many people who saw it enjoyed it, as far as I can make out. I got some sniffy reviews. I thought it was enough to look romantic and tousle my hair and rattle the speeches off and I’d get by. I don’t think I could believe what was going on. Which I’ve attended to this time.”
And following the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian is keen to see more theatres re-open for productions, as he believes there’s “nothing to match” the feel of taking part in a play, especially for “young actors”.
Speaking to The Sunday Times newspaper’s Culture magazine, he said: “Certainly as a training ground for young actors there’s nothing to match it. The young actors I talk to about it almost cry because that’s what they most want but their agent is telling them they’ve got to do TV because that’s where the money and fame is. Well, they want to learn how to act, and the best way to do that is by acting.”
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It was around the 20-minute mark of my sustained sobbing during last night’s Pose that I realized I may not be able to objectively assess these final few episodes. Certain plot points? Ridiculous. Motivations? At times, nonsensical. Still, I’m so invested in these characters, I’m rooting for them on these journeys, no matter how wild the turns.
It’s a testament to the entire Pose team, but Janet Mock in particular deserves credit for writing and directing this episode and masterfully weaving in character histories that keep the emotions grounded even when the story flies so far off the rails its floating above Mario Kart‘s Rainbow Road.
The long-teased lavish wedding was every bit as over the top as you could imagine Elektra could cook up with unlimited funds. An absolute feast of fabulous, each entrance ratcheted up the ridiculous glamour until the whole affair culminated in a musical number, because, sure, why not?
But all the glitz and glamour was just super sumptuous set dressing for an episode devoted to Angel and Papi and a showcase for both Angel Bismark Curiel and Indya Moore. Both were more than up to the challenge.
Before we get to their much-hyped nuptials, let’s catch up with the rest of the Evangelistas and more in our recap.
After defying doctors’ original prognoses, this time is looking really like the end for Pray. His right eye is milky white, a sign the doctors tell him indicate this is it.
With nothing left to lose, Pray throws himself into sewing Blanca’s mother-of-the-bride dress. He confides in her about his condition and enlists her help creating a square in his honor for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. She creates a simple, but beautiful black square with the words “Live. Werk. Pose. Pray.” with a mirrorball.
The scenes are brief, but of course Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez wipe the floor with them. In an episode absolutely stuffed with gut-wrenching, emotional scenes, it’s a wonder these actors can make every single one pop.
Even Hailie Sahar’s Lulu got a chance to shine. In the mad dash to wrap up everyone’s stories, we see Lulu unpacking Elektra’s upgrade to her apartment when her boyfriend comes in jonesing for a fix. This allows Lulu to introduce Chekhov’s one-month sobriety chip (more on that later, of course), and she declares to him (and the audience) how she’s getting her life together so she doesn’t end up “laying next to Candy.”
Meanwhile, Angel is still torn about life with Papi and Beto. In a striking (but at times meandering) meeting with her father, she realizes she can’t abandon Papi the way her father abandoned her. It’s a bit of a logical leap (or at least a very conveniently timed a-ha moment), but if serving the plot is the cost for a juicy interaction like Angel has with her father (David Zayas), I’ll take it. It’s exactly the kind of messy, predictable, disappointing conversation so many queer people can relate to having with parental figures. The show doesn’t go out of the way to make him too sympathetic, but there’s room to understand what keeps Angel coming back. This is one of those moments where I most feel Mock’s touch; there’s a degree of nuance to this relationship that feels so authentic.
But, the important takeaway here is that Angel is driven back into Papi’s arms. He’s, of course, taking to fatherhood like a total natural. He’s almost comically good at parenting. He’s teaching Beto how to bake, he’s having a serious conversation about healthy masculinity. He’s getting locks for the windows! Angel comes home just as Papi is giving one of the best TedTalks I’ve ever heard about what it means to be a man. Obviously smitten (oh, you weren’t?), Angel enters and introduces herself to Beto, and then we’re off to the altar.
First stop: the marriage license. Angel has some anxiety about applying for a marriage license. Her birth certificate still has the incorrect gender, so she fears the clerk will reject their application. Elektra offers to get the mob’s help (hey, it’s worked for her other problems so far), but Blanca convinces Angel to start her marriage by standing her truth.
When it’s their time at the window, the tension is high. Papi hits it off with the clerk, discussing his Dominican heritage and their planned trip to the Dominican Republic. As he dazzles her with her charm, she shuffles papers, and you can see Angel sweat. The clerk does spot a problem … but it’s just a fake out, a missed signature. There is no twist. There is no catch. They did it.
Things may get a little spotty at this point in my recollection, because I essentially watched the remainder of the episode through non-stop tears.
Arriving for the wedding, Papi meets his groomsmen and officiant Pray Tell for a little cocktail. With everyone gathered, Papi explains how he learned about what it means to be a man from people like Pray Tell, Ricky and Lemar, men who were tough enough to love whomever they wanted, even when the world told them they couldn’t. They’re joined by the impeccably dressed ghost of Cubby as Papi toasts his brothers.
Up in the bridal suite, the lovefest continues. Lulu, Elektra and Blanca present Angel her traditional something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Blanca gave Angel something old: her family cookbook. It was a nice callback to a previous episode in which the cookbook played a central role. Family is everything to Blanca, and this tome can help feed a family. Now, Angel can use it to feed her family.
Elektra is next to gift Angel a “new” fur coat. She presents it with a story about how when she was flat broke, shivering, working the piers, she saved every dollar to buy a fur coat. It’s to remind Angel she is worthy of the best there is in the world.
Remember Lulu’s sobriety chip? It’s back again, for now, for Angel to “borrow.” It makes sense for Lulu to want to share this with Angel, here de facto ride or die in Candy’s absence. In the grander sense, it’s a symbol of hope and resilience.
Finally, they give her something blue: Candy’s hammer, wrapped in Tiffany’s blue. Candy’s spirit arrives to instruct Angel to use that hammer to protect her family … or to pop Papi when he gets too mouthy.
Taken together, these items tell the story of the series: Family, ambition, hope, strength. In an even grander sense, these are the qualities trans women of color have had to rely on to survive. For an episode that indulged in every rom-com wedding cliché, this felt like a uniquely queer spin on the old tradition.
We haven’t even gotten to the actual wedding ceremony yet, and I don’t blame you if you need a Kleenex refill. Of course everyone looks absolutely amazing, from Elektra and Lulu in their bridesmaids dresses, to Blanca wearing a raspberry brocade Pray Tell original, to the whole crowd of gals in full bridal gowns. Tens across the board!
And yet, Angel still manages to make a stunning entrance. The dress we saw her in at the bridal shop was nothing compared to the finished, detailed product.
Angel’s vows are sweet (though it did feel like she had already said everything she could possibly have to say about her and Papi in any number of preceding conversations, toasts and speeches), but it’s Papi who steals the whole damn show. First feigning a bit of cold feet, he slyly tucks his notes away and begins to sing “I Swear” by All-4-One, a song that some readers may recall was truly inescapable in 1994. The performance swells, adding Ricky on backing vocals, strings, the whole crowd starts singing, and, what? Are you not crying? What are you, a monster?
Considering all the roadblocks and potholes they’ve experienced on the way to the altar, maybe doing a little last-minute fake out isn’t the most sensitive romantic gesture, and, look, I HATE flashmobs, but that was just irresistible. (Or maybe that’s just Angel Bismark Curiel’s charm.)
We get one final glimpse of a euphoric Papi later on the beach as Angel and Beto play in the sand. He strikes up a casual conversation with another nearby dad, and their banal small talk takes on a new sense of wonder as Papi and Angel, not too long ago fighting to survive on the streets, are now vacationing with their son, legally married.
That leaves us with just one more episode before Pose shuts down the ballroom for good. Will every character get the happy ending Angel and Papi got?
Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Experiment: The Anniversary Party
Alan Cumming–still a relative novice to films at the time–co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh in this too-little-seen gem from 2001. The Anniversary Party follows a married couple, Sally & Joe (played by Leigh & Cumming), on the evening of their 6th anniversary. The uber-horny, bisexual Joe works as a novelist, transitioning into film direction while Sally has a successful acting career. The couple decides to celebrate the occasion with some of their best friends: Cal, an actor, his wife, Sophia and their kids (real-life couple Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates and their real-life kids Owen and Greta); Mac (John C. Riley), Sally’s latest director and his anxious wife Clair (Jane Adams); cutthroat Hollywood manager Jerry and his eccentric wife Judy (John Benjamin Hickey and Parker Posey); the neo-hippie Skye (Gwenyth Paltrow); Joe’s ex-girlfriend Gina (Jennifer Beals) and Joe’s ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey (Matt McGrath). It should go without saying, as the evening progresses, the booze flows, buried secrets surface, and the party descends into drama.
The Anniversary Party borrows heavily from all-in-one-night dramas such asWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woof in its mix of dark comedy and character conflict. Cumming & Leigh conceived the film as a sort of experiment to showcase actors at their best, and to work with a close group of friends with a semi-improvised script. The co-directors have longtime friendships with everyone involved. Bisexuality and queer identity are two of the themes explored here; in particular, the insecurity they can bring to longtime, hetero relationships. The film also features queer cast members, including Cumming, Hickey and McGrath–the latter two both actors too-little-seen in the movies. If nothing else, the movie earns a reason to watch for the return of Phoebe Cates, who had retired from acting some seven years before. Cates’ work here reminds audiences of her incredible beauty and natural charisma. It’s our loss she hasn’t made a movie in the 20 years since.
Cumming & Leigh opted to shoot The Anniversary Party on a tight, two-and-a-half-week schedule on digital video to help keep costs down–a technique that would foreshadow virtually every low-budget and indie film going before the cameras today. That alone makes it of note, though the real joy is watching a terrific cast bite into juicy (and often hilarious) material with performances so unaffected it recalls the semi-improvised work of Robert Altman at his best. Basic, but featuring an all-star cast at their best, The AnniversaryParty is a true cinematic labor of love. Maybe that’s why we loved watching it so much.
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A 14-year-old student at Defiance Middle School in Defiance, Ohio has opened up about a brutal attack he suffered for carrying a pride flag at school.
Video of the incident has gone viral on Snapchat and Facebook, which prompted Tristen Torrez, an openly gay student, to go public with his story.
“I was wearing it to state a message, and state just because one person is who they are, proud of who they are, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be proud of who they are,” Tristen told local station WOTL. “This was my official way of saying I was gay and not trying to hide it.”
The video in question shows Torrez sitting on the bleachers with the pride flag draped around his shoulders. Another student approaches from behind, grabs the flag off his back and slams him down against the bleachers. The student then poured water on Torrez and choked him.
“He hit me with the flag that I was wearing, after ripping it off my neck,” Torrez recalled.
Torrez further stated that he did not know his attacker well. He’s also not sure why the student chose to attack him.
“I’ve heard that it was a dare. Someone told me it was because I said a racial slur, which was completely false,” Torrez told WOTL, “some people said it was because I’m gay and just to do it anyway.”
Tristen’s mother Brianne, for her part, expressed her outrage.
“I wake up to my son coming home and telling me he was roughened up today,” Brianne Torrez told reporters. “He’s so used to the bullying it was kind of nothing to him, but to me, it was heartbreaking. Things like this are going to make students or people in general scared to come out.”
School officials have assured the community they know about the attack on Tristen Torrez, and will deal with his attacker. “We are aware of this situation and it was dealt with swiftly with school administration and local law enforcement,” Superintendent Bob Morton said in a statement. “Situations like this are taken seriously. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention.”
The attack on Tristen Torrez comes on the eve of pride month, and on the heels of several other incidents of homophobic bullying in the US. Earlier this month, a school in Missouri came under fire for pressuring teachers to identify gay students for potential expulsion. In Texas, students reported homophobic bullying by a teacher who scrawled homophobic graffiti on the sidewalk outside the school.