Tag Archives: trudie styler

Friday, July 20, 2018

Vote for the best drama movies of 2018; Currently Bette Midler’s “Freak Show” is #5 out of 60

Mister D: So far only about 500 people have voted on this list and Freak Show is starting out in great shape. Let’s keep her in the spotlight. Make sure to go to Ranker and sign up. It’s easy. Then head on over and Click Here to vote. Freak Show Poster Ranker Vote for the best drama movies of 2018… July 14, 2018

Vote for the best drama movies of 2018.

Whether they’re about historical events or fictional stories of romance, tension, and love, the best drama movies of 2018 left viewers inspired and emotional. What were the best drama movies this year? Help decide below. Featuring romantic dramas, coming-of-age movies, biopics, and comedy-dramas, this list of good 2018 shows includes 12 StrongChappaquiddickLean on Pete, and Permission. Good drama films usually feature compelling characters and intriguing storylines, avoiding melodrama in favor of more realistic plot lines and complicated protagonists. Which drama movies of 2018 fit such a description? Vote on this list of 2018 drama movies. Give an up vote to the best drama movies of 2018 and down vote anything you feel is overrated or downright bad.

1

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12 Strong Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña12 Strong (also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers) is a 2018 American war drama film directed by Nicolai Fuglsig. Following the September 11 attacks, Task…more

2

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Forever My Girl Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe, John Benjamin Hickey Forever My Girl is a 2018 romantic drama film directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf. After being gone for a decade, a country star (Alex Roe) returns home to the love (Jessica Rothe) he left behind.

3

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Thoroughbreds Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin Thoroughbreds is a 2018 American drama thriller film directed by Cory Finley. After years of growing apart, upper-class teenagers Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) rekindle their …more

4

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Final Portrait Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Clémence Poésy Final Portrait is a 2017 British-American drama film directed by Stanley Tucci. In Paris 1964, famed painter Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) asks James Lord (Armie Hammer), the American…more

5

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Freak Show Alex Lawther, Abigail Breslin, Bette Midler Freak Show is a 2018 American drama film directed by Trudie Styler, based on the novel by James St. James. Despite attending an ultra-conservative high school, Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) decides…more

6

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The Strange Ones Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus Strange Ones is a 2017 American drama film directed by Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein. Mysterious events surround two travelers as they make their way across a remote American …more

7

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Nostalgia Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Amber Tamblyn Nostalgia is a 2018 American drama film directed by Mark Pellington. A group of people is connected through a loss.

8

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The 15:17 to Paris Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone The 15:17 to Paris is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, based on the 2015 Thalys train attack. Three Americans (Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek …more

9

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First Reformed Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer First Reformed is a 2017 American drama thriller film directed by Paul Schrader. Grieving over the death of his son, an ex-military chaplain (Ethan Hawke) is further challenged when a young …more

10

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Leave No Trace Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober Leave No Trace is a 2018 American film directed by Debra Granik, based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock. A father (Ben Foster) and his 13-year-old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) are living …more

11

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Every Day Angourie Rice, Maria Bello, Debby Ryan Every Day is a 2018 American romantic-drama directed by Michael Sucsy, based on the novel by David Levithan. 16-year-old Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) falls in love with a spirit named A, a traveling…more

12

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Disobedience Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola Disobedience is a 2017 British-Irish-American drama film directed by Sebastián Lelio, based on the novel by Noami Alderman. A woman (Rachel Weisz) returns to her Orthodox Jewish home …more

13

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Eighth Grade Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson Eighth Grade is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bo Burnham. An eighth grader (Elsie Fisher) struggles to finish her last week of classes before embarking for high school.

14

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The Rider Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau The Rider is a 2017 American drama film directed by Chloé Zhao. After suffering a near-fatal head injury, a young cowboy (Brady Jandreau) undertakes a search for a new identity and what it …more

15

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Breath Simon Baker, Elizabeth Debicki, Samson CoulterBreath is a 2018 drama film directed by Simon Baker, based on the novel by Tim Winton. Two teenage boys form an unlikely connection with an older surfer (Simon Baker).

16

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Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a 2018 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, based on the memoir by John Callahan. After nearly losing his life in a car accident, a slacker…more

17

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Shock and Awe Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, James Marsden Shock, and Awe is a 2017 American drama film directed by Rob Reiner. Journalists investigate the assertions by the Bush Administration concerning Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of …more

18

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A Fantastic Woman Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco A Fantastic Woman is a 2017 Chilean drama film directed by Sebastián Lelio. Marina (Daniela Vega), a waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, is bowled over by the death of her …more

19

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Lean on Pete Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Travis Fimmel Lean on Pete is a 2017 British drama film directed by Andrew Haigh, based on the novel by Willy Vlautin. A teenager (Charlie Plummer) gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends…more

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The Catcher Was a Spy  ...  Read More

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Shout! Factory Releasing ‘Freak Show’ on DVD June 5

Media Play News Shout! Factory Releasing ‘Freak Show’ on Disc June 5 JOHN LATCHER May 7, 2018 Freak Show, DVD Shout! Factory and IFC Films will release the coming-of-age drama Freak Show on Blu-ray and DVD June 5. The directorial debut of actress and producer Trudie Styler, Freak Show stars Alex Lawther, Bette Midler, Larry Pine, Abigail Breslin, Laverne Cox and AnnaSophia Robb. Lawther plays Billy Bloom, a gender-bending teenager who feels like a fish out of water at a conservative high school.

Blu-Ray DVD:

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trudie Styler’s Freak Show starring Alex Lawther & Bette Midler gets a UK release date

Entertainment Focus Trudie Styler’s Freak Show starring Alex Lawther & Bette Midler gets a UK release date JASON PALMER August 29, 2018 Trudie Styler’s directorial debut Freak Show, starring Alex Lawther, AnnaSophia Robb, Abigail Breslin and Bette Midler gets a UK release date set. Based on the award-winning cult novel by James St James and rumoured to be in the same vein as Clueless and Napoleon Dynamite, Freak Show tells the moving, heart-breaking and hilarious story of Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther). Billy is a boldly confident and eccentric teenager who faces intolerance and persecution at his ultra conservative high school, and decides to fight back on behalf of all the misunderstood freaks of the world. Trudie Styler’s directorial bow Freak Show stars Alex Lawther (Ghost Stories) alongside Abigail Breslin, Bette Midler, Larry Pine, John McEnroe (Borg v McEnroe), AnnaSophia Robb and Laverne Cox and comes to cinemas across the UK and on demand on 22nd June through Maven Pictures. Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), once lived a fabulous life in Connecticut, with his equally fabulous mother, MUV (Bette Midler). But when he is suddenly shipped off to his father’s (Larry Pine) Southern mansion, he finds himself a fish out of water. With his closet of extravagant and flamboyant attire, Billy is completely different from the cheerleaders, bible belles and beefy quarterbacks at his new high school. Yet despite the well-meant advice of his father and his housekeeper Florence (Celia Weston) that he should just throw on some blue jeans, Billy is determined to be himself – even if that does mean wearing face glitter to school. A rising British star, Alex Lawther won the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for “Young British Performer of the Year” for his role as the young Alan Turing in the Oscar-Winning film The Imitation Game (2014). Most recently, he was seen in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (2016), alongside Domnall Gleeson in Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017), and is currently the lead on the wildly popular Netflix Original show The End of the F***ing World (2017). Trudie Styler is an actress, film producer and director. She is married to music legend Sting. In 2011, she formed Maven Pictures with Celine Rattray. The company’s production credits include the award-winning Filth (2013) and Still Alice (2014); American Honey (2016) which won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival; and The Kindergarten Teacher (2018), which won the Directing Award for Sara Colangelo at Sundance 2018. Freak Show is her feature directorial debut, premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival and receiving its UK premiere at BFI Flare earlier this year.  
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Thursday, February 1, 2018

‘Freak Show’ movie review: If John Hughes were alive today …

Times Picayune ‘Freak Show’ movie review: If John Hughes were alive today … Updated Jan 30, 9:41 AM; Posted Jan 30, 9:41 AM Ask anyone who was a teenager in the 1980s, and they’ll tell you that if one filmmaker more than any other seemed to be speaking directly to them, it was John Hughes. The maker of such films as “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” — while perhaps not a technical master of the filmmaking arts — knew a whole lot about how to talk to kids. His movies were often-silly comedies, but beneath the jokes they were grounded in reality and compassion, honestly capturing the angst of growing up (not to mention the absurdity of adulthood) without ever condescending to their pimply faced target audiences. Hughes died in 2009, but if he were alive today and still making movies, one has to think he would probably be making movies like “Freak Show.” A look a movie, TV projects shooting or preparing to shoot in town. An indie teen comedy, it’s a touch rough around the edges from a technical standpoint, and its characters are, for the most part, fairly one-dimensional. But director Trudie Styler’s film manages to zoom in on the trials and tribulations of the American teenage experience in a way that feels reminiscent of Hughes’ work. Even the film’s setup sounds Hughesian: Thanks to a decision by his beloved but troubled mother (played in a small role by Bette Midler), a teenage misfit named Billy Bloom is forced to go to a new school in a small town where almost no one appreciates his off-the-charts level of fabulousness. “I’ve been hated before,” the vamp-prone Billy says in a voiceover, “but I’ve never been hated by everyone before.” His mother, however, has a saying: When they kick you, you just kick higher. So, to teach his classmates a bit about tolerance, acceptance and the value of originality, he decides to run for homecoming queen. Granted, you’ll probably be able to predict many of the film’s major plot points before they happen, but Styler’s film — while indulging in its share of teenage cliches — never feels stale. Part of that is the film’s message, which is very much a part of the current zeitgeist. Even more, though, is the lead performance of Alex Lawther, who is nothing short of a revelation in “Freak Show.” If you recognize Lawther, it’s probably from “Goodbye Christopher Robin” (in which he played the older Christopher Robin), “The Imitation Game” (in which he played the young Alan Turing) or “Black Mirror” (in which he plays a blackmailed teen). After “Freak Show,” however, you won’t just recognize Lawther. You’ll remember his name. He is that good, filling not just the role but every square inch of the movie screen as the film’s flamboyant, bedazzled and unapologetic teen queen. The best part is that Lawther, smartly, does it all without a trace of irony or meanness. We’re not meant to laugh at Billy. We’re meant to appreciate him and his daring sense of originality — and to pump our fist in solidarity for him when the time comes. Simply, Lawther nails it. He’s also the best reason to go see “Freak Show.” It might not be a John Hughes movie, but Styler makes it feel like it could be one — and Lawther makes Billy Bloom feel as if he’d be right at home alongside Ferris Bueller, Farmer Ted, Duckie Dale and other denizens of the Hughes universe. _____________ FREAK SHOW 3 stars, out of 5 Snapshot: A teen comedy about an unapologetically flamboyant boy who decides to teach his classmates a lesson in tolerance by running for homecoming queen. What works: The young Alex Lawther is tremendous in the lead role, with a tour de force performance that announces him as a talent to watch. What doesn’t: The story has its familiar elements, and its characters tend to be one-dimensional. Cast: Lawther, Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb, Ian Nelson, Willa Fitzgerald, Bette Midler. Director: Trudie Styler. Rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Where: Opens Friday (Feb. 2) at the Chalmette Movies.
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Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Powerful Film Is Putting The Struggles Of A Genderfluid Teen Front And Center

Huffington Post A Powerful Film Is Putting The Struggles Of A Genderfluid Teen Front And Center By James Michael Nichols 01/26/2018 04:35 pm ET A new film from director Trudie Styler is placing the story of a genderfluid teen in the limelight and humanizing the struggles of young people living outside of binary notions of gender. “Freakshow” tells the fictional story of Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther). Billy is a young, queer teen who suddenly has to deal with the painful realities of a quintessential American high school after his mother (Bette Midler) pushes the responsibility for his well-being onto her husband (Larry Pine) years after their divorce. Bloom, who enjoys dressing up and presenting his gender nontraditionally, is forced to find a way to live at his new ultra-conservative high school ? and ultimately decides to run for homecoming queen against one of his biggest bullies, Lynette (Abigal Breslin). “Freakshow” is based on a book of the same name by James St. James, of “Party Monster” and Club Kid culture fame. St. James told HuffPost he hopes the film contributes to a larger conversation about the bullying that queer and genderfluid kids face every day in schools all across America. “The book was written almost 10 years ago, long before the subject of LGBTQ bullying was a national dialogue, and long before LGTBTQ teens were actually running for ? and becoming! ? prom queens and homecoming queens,” St. James told HuffPost. “In that way, it’s ahead of its time. And, in a way, I’m glad that it took so long to make. The themes of bullying feel more relevant now in Trump’s America than they did back then. I hope the movie furthers the discussion of bullying and the acceptance of the genderqueer and genderfluid kids out there who are defiantly making an impact and getting their voices heard.”
FREAKSHOW
Alex Lawther as Billy Bloom.
The film also tackles another important topic: the bonds between queer youth and their straight peers, and how precious these relationships can feel. The central relationship in the film is the one between Bloom and his best friend Flip ? a straight jock whose kindness and compassion literally save Bloom’s life at one point. “The characters of Billy and Flip could not be more different, and yet they find a commonality,” St. James said. “They bond and form a friendship that they both learn from and both grow because of it … This story feels modern in that it focuses on two boys, one gay one straight, and how they form a powerful lifelong bond based on mutual respect. I hope kids can learn from that.” “Freakshow” is now playing in select cities and through video on demand.
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

“Freak Show” – the tale of a boy who would be queen; Midler provides a strong presence

Los Angeles Blade “Freak Show” – the tale of a boy who would be queen January 22, 2018 at 7:28 pm PST | by John Paul King Not so long ago, there was a tremendous need for movies that told the stories of LGBTQ young people. The need is still there, of course; but in recent years, as queer moviemakers have emerged from the shadows of a cultural landscape that had long suppressed them, we have seen a bountiful crop of such films. The latest is “Freak Show,” the directorial feature debut of Trudie Styler. Adapted by screenwriters Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio, from the book of the same name by James St. James, it’s the story of a fabulously non-conforming teen-ager named Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther). Raised under the sheltering wing of his glamorous and supportive mother (Bette Midler), Billy has grown up comfortable in his own gender-bending skin; but when she sends him to stay with his no-nonsense father (Larry Pine), he finds himself thrust into the deeply oppressive world of an ultra-conservative high school where his confrontationally androgynous fashion sense and ever-ready Oscar Wilde quips are not only out-of-place, but dangerously unwelcome. Though he’s not without allies (including, surprisingly, “Flip,” the popular quarterback of the football team) – he finds himself the target of relentless ridicule and bullying. Making a stand against the school’s power elite, he declares his candidacy for the coveted title of homecoming queen – drawing the ire of head cheerleader and “queen bee,” Lynette. It’s a story ripped right out of the pages of any number of small town newspapers; there have been countless real-life iterations of this tale, and in our current era of emboldened homophobia there will doubtless be many more. Despite its relevance to modern times, though, “Freak Show” comes across as oddly dated, even a bit nostalgic. It may be the movie’s tone; reminiscent of a John Hughes-esque teen adventure from the eighties, in which the painful politics of high school life provide the backdrop for a heart-tugging saga of youthful self-actualization, it feels like the product of a bygone era. It might also be that, in the still-churning wake of the 2016 election, the premise of the film – that proud self-expression is enough to overcome ignorance and bigotry within a culture where it thrives – feels a little naïve, like a painful reminder of a dream that, while perhaps not crushed, has certainly been deferred. It may also simply be a function of the script; though Clifton and Rigazio hit all their marks, the execution is a bit clunky and more than a little slavish to formula. Revelations are too predictable, reconciliations too easy, resolutions too perfunctory – it all seems to be taken by rote, and consequently it feels like something we’ve seen before. Likewise, Styles direction, polished as it may be, does little to inject freshness. She provides a safe, standard cinematic structure for the story; and when flights of fancy are called for, though she delivers them with style and flash, they never quite connect us with the kind of visceral human experience that would make them truly relatable. One standout exception comes with the harrowing sequence – brilliantly accompanied by the defiantly brash Perfume Genius song, “Queen” — in which Billy, dressed like a ghost bride at a midnight wedding, is savagely attacked by a gang of masked bullies. It’s suitable that this moment should be delivered with such potency – but one can’t help but wish the rest of the film vibrated with more of that same creative vision. That doesn’t mean there is nothing here to surprise or delight us – indeed, St. James’ original story has a powerful voice and a lot of heart, both of which come through in the little moments that pave the way between the “big events” of the story – and especially through its charismatic hero. Billy is bigger than life and twice as fierce, a character that demands an actor up to the task of bringing him to life. Lawther is a perfect match for the part; he exudes the blend of confidence and fragility needed to make his journey believable, embraces the high theatricality of his personality, and infuses him with the humanity that allows us to love him. It’s a performance that would shine in any film; in “Freak Show,” it positively glows. There are some nice turns from the rest of the cast, too, though they have less to work with. Midler, in what amounts to little more than a cameo, is an appropriately strong presence as Billy’s mother; it’s hard to imagine a less on-the-nose choice of actress for the role. Also notable is the less showy Celia Weston, who, as dad’s longtime housekeeper, provides a more down-to-earth kind of nurturing presence for Billy. Nelson is likable but unremarkable as Flip, and Breslin delivers a sly caricature of toxic femininity as Lynette. Lastly, there is a much-appreciated appearance by Lavern Cox as a news reporter who comes to interview the candidates in the controversial homecoming campaign. It’s obvious that “Freak Show” is a project undertaken with a strong sense of purpose. Its message of empowerment – not just for queer young people, but for all those who are marginalized by the cookie-cutter ideal of conformity that pervades our society – is presented with sincerity and conviction, no matter how clumsily it may sometimes be delivered. It addresses the issue of bullying with unflinching honesty. It promotes the ideal of a diverse and inclusive society, while still extending compassion – mostly – to those who have not yet evolved enough to embrace it. With such good intentions behind it, one can’t help but wonder how great a film this might have been with a more expert set of hands to guide it to the screen. That, of course, will be a moot point to the movie’s target audience; LGBTQ teens, thirsty for a story and characters that reflect their own experiences, will be unburdened by comparisons to older material or quibbles about cinematic structure. For them, the story of Billy Bloom is likely to be a wonderful thing, and rightly so. “Freak Show” may not be a great film, but it’s a good movie; and for a world badly in need of its message of acceptance, that’s good enough.
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Trudie Styler and James St. James Shine Light on Teen Bullying In The New Movie “Freak Show”

Mister D: This is also playing on DirecTV and Amazon Prime The Advocate Trudie Styler and James St. James Shine Light on Teen Bullying BY DAVID ARTAVIA JANUARY 10 2018 5:25 AM EST A new hero has risen in the form of eccentric teenager Billy Bloom, the character at the center of Freak Show, a film based on the award-winning cult novel by James St. James and the directorial debut of actor and activist Trudie Styler. The film, which can be seen across most digital platforms on Friday, follows Billy (Alex J. Lawther), who once lived a fabulous life in Connecticut with his equally eccentric mother, Muv (Bette Midler). After he is shipped off to his father (Larry Pine)’s Southern mansion, his integrity is put to the test when he chooses to fight back against intolerance at an ultraconservative high school. Produced by Styler’s production company, Maven Pictures, and Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films, Freak Show is a compelling — sometimes ironic and raw — spotlight on high school bullying. Styler exposes the trauma inflicted on those who suffer at the hands of bullies, while bringing to light the consequences both teachers and parents face as a result. Styler was deeply connected to the story from the beginning, having been bullied in school herself due to a facial scar she received as a toddler after being hit by a truck. “[The kids] called me ‘Scarface,’” she tells The Advocate. “I felt myself as a loser as a child and teenager. And the corridors of school were shaming. You had to get from one class to another, traversing a hallway, and the students would be lined up left and right, watching everyone walk by, scrutinizing. It was like a catwalk.” It was destiny, Styler explains, that she became attached to direct this film. Originally her role was as producer — that is, until they lost their original director due to unforeseen circumstances. After meeting with James St. James several times to discuss the vision, it became clear this was a story she was meant to tell. And it’s evident onscreen. “He is such an extraordinary man — so talented. And a really good writer. I was thrilled it came to me,” she says of St. James, whom she first met in the early 2000s when she was shortlisted to play Macaulay Culkin’s mother in Party Monster, another film adapted from a St. James book. “The wonderful thing about Freak Show is that everyone pitched in. The writers didn’t leave my side. We were working on it constantly.” Styler used her own high school experience in the corridors as a springboard to shoot one of the film’s most poetic scenes: when Billy gets beaten up. While she wanted the scene to be heart wrenching and aggressive, Styler says she did not want it to be violent but rather to have a visual “almost like a danse macabre” and for it to be full of “kinetic energy,” with the corridors to seemingly have their own personalities. With his closet of extravagant and flamboyant attire, Billy is completely different from the cheerleaders, Bible belles, and beefy quarterbacks at his new high school. Yet despite the well-meant advice of his father and his housekeeper, Florence (Celia Weston), for him to just “throw on some blue jeans,” Billy is determined to be himself — even if that means wearing face glitter to school. Styler has been married to legendary singer, Sting, for 25 years. Together, they have been staunch advocates for environmental legislation and have continued to champion the rights of indigenous people. Freak Show acts as a lighthouse for parents, and Styler hopes it will be a call for action to bring forth serious change in the world. “I think adults — no matter what gender, creed, or race — can all learn,” the mother of four says. “We’re given a life where all people should be born free to be themselves, to be able to express themselves as the people they are. We’re at a point in our evolution where we have everything to do everything good — to do good work, to be inclusive, to be compassionate, to be tolerant — and yet the world seems to be pushing against all those things we have at our fingertips. We seem to be intent on destruction and pushing to the right, in wanting people to have less, and not sharing.” Styler also points to the Trump administration as an example of a bully’s impact. “Look at this administration,” she says. “It’s repealing all the things Obama has put in place. We have to ask ourselves, ‘What is it that we’ve done that’s created this world? How can we go on? What can we teach our kids, and how can we do things better?’ I think the only way is that we all have to stand together, be together, and come together. Treat each other better.” “These examples have to begin, surely, in our places of education,” she adds. “If schools take a strong stance on inclusivity and really deal with bullying in a very substantial way, that’s the only way we can go forward into the workplace and know that bullying is not civilized human behavior. It’s unacceptable.”
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Trudie Styler’s ‘Freak Show’ Is a Laudable Plea for Tolerance; Midler Gives Rich Performance

The Observer Trudie Styler’s ‘Freak Show’ Is a Laudable Plea for Tolerance By Rex Reed • 01/12/18 12:45pm The hot-button topic of gender transfer, not always neatly accomplished by anything as simple as surgery, is addressed, re-dressed and undressed in Freak Show, about an unconventional teenager who has no interest in being a boy, or in acting out any of the socially accepted behavior connected with being normal, whatever that is. He would rather wear zombie mascara, bridal veils and pomegranate lipstick than baseball caps and Wrangler jeans, and the movie follows him through episodes both harrowing and hilarious to declare his independence. The results are a mixed bag of charm and calamity, marking the feature-length directorial debut of Trudie Styler who, in real life, is the wife of singing star Sting. She’s a talent worth watching. Encouraged in adolescence by his bosomy, vodka-swigging, self-indulgent mother (a small but rich performance by Bette Midler), Billy quotes Oscar Wilde and drifts easily into the kind of swishy son for whom his disillusioned father slowly abandons hope. Delighted when his parents split, Billy and his mom become soul mates for seven glorious years, but when she disappears one day into rehab hell, the boy confiscates her gowns, shoes and gaudy makeup, and moves with his father (Larry Pine) from Darien to a fresh hell of his own in a hostile red state where he shows up on the first day of high school dressed like Marilyn Monroe. The girls pepper him with spitballs and the boys beat the crap out of him, landing Billy in the hospital. He is, to put politely, not only unconventional but freaky enough to make Boy George look like a heavyweight boxing champion at Madison Square Garden. Played with a brave blend of wide-eyed sweetness and uncompromising conviction, Alex Lawther makes a sympathetic, self-proclaimed sissy. I mean, you gotta shake your head and laugh at the same time when, in the hospital, covered with abrasions and suffering from contusions, concussions and internal hemorrhaging, Billy comes out of a coma and asks for lip gloss. When the doctors tell him what happened, he says “I guess they didn’t like the dress.”

FREAK SHOW ??? (3/4 stars) Directed by: Trudie Styler Written by: Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio Starring: Alex Lawther, Bette Midler, Ian Nelson, Abigail Breslin, John McEnroe, Celia Weston and AnnaSophia Robb Running time: 95 mins.
The movie coasts along on the clever attempts by screenwriters Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio to make Billy as outrageous as possible. Then things change, and a plot begins to form, when—and this is the heart-shaped lump-in-the-throat part—poor Billy is rescued from his misery by Flip (Ian Nelson), the school football hero. He doesn’t understand Billy either, but he’s a decent, non-judgmental chap with a sympathetic nature, naïve enough to think he can turn the school freak into a guy’s guy. He’s a perfect friend, because he’s not exactly a clichéd jock, either. Enamored of art, with a secret desire to be a painter, he once even told his father he was going to New York for an exhibition at the Met—his dad thought he meant a Mets game. Hanging out together raises eyebrows, but the friendship eventually curdles when Billy announces his candidacy for Homecoming Queen, announcing to the student body, “I didn’t choose to be fabulous. Fabulous chose me!” His policy? To put an end to bigotry and hate and promote “glamour, pageantry and good hair.” The election gives other students who are “different” the power to find their own voices. “Vote for me and you’re voting for the freak in all of us” is Billy’s motto, while his mean-spirited opponent for the school’s homecoming tiara is snobby bigot Lynette (a grown-up Abigail Breslin) who stands for “decency vs. depravity.” No spoilers about how it all turns out when the ballots are counted, but director Styler’s parallels to a recent U.S. election are not exactly subtle. The cast is sublime, including John McEnroe as the demanding school coach who tortures Billy in gym class, and Celia Weston as the housekeeper who plays more of a mother role in Bill’s life than the real mom in whom his adoration turns out to be a life-altering mistake. Freak Show peters out in the end, leaving many issues unresolved, but it is never boring, and its plea for inclusion, acceptance and tolerance over bullying in the confusing fabric of a changing society is laudable.
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Film Review: Freak Show – Movie delivers nicely on both entertainment and emotional fronts

Film Journal Film Review: Freak Show Although it has its serious, even harrowing moments, this quirky, glitteringly gussied-up treatise on teen bullying keeps things likeably frothy and delivers nicely on both entertainment and emotional fronts. By David Noh Jan 12, 2018   The hallways of high school in the Deep South constitute something like the Stations of the Cross for young, flamboyantly cross-dressing Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), who has been taken from his alcoholic Connecticut mother, Muv (Bette Midler), by his far more conventional and less fun dad (Larry Pine). In a sharp departure from the East Coast (“where,” in our hero’s words, “Chloë Sevigny is from”), the teenage yahoos at Billy’s new home as a senior hate anything unusual or even vaguely transgender. The daily bullying—amidst barrages of spitballs—is pretty ferocious. Despite the shameful indifference of the faculty, this Bloom refuses to be some suicidal shrinking violet and repeatedly pays a terrible price as he seeks the self-destructive spotlight for himself, impersonating Zelda Fitzgerald as a convulsing, immolated flapper-victim for a book report and even running for homecoming queen against his loathed Queen Mean Girl rival (Abigail Breslin, brimming with Dixie spitefulness). Trudie Styler, the gifted actress, producer, philanthropist and wife of rock god Sting, makes her feature directorial debut here, adapting her story from a memoir penned by former notorious New York City club kid James St. James. It’s a winsome and quite winning take on the now almost ubiquitous topic of teen bullying. I, for one, far prefer it to the overpraised, no doubt soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture Broadway hit musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Instead of saturating itself in the excessively maudlin, like that show, Freak Show positively basks in the restorative qualities of outsider glamour, which many a queer kid (this writer included) embraces as an escape from all the teasing and torment. Given his handy way with a needle and thread, as well as Daddy’s deep pockets and Mommy’s status as an unapologetic fashionista, Billy is able to wow with more costume changes than a Cher concert, paying witty homage to mermaids, Goth brides, David Bowie, Boy George and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Dante Spinotti’s luminous cinematography and the terrific costumes by Colleen Atwood magically transform the gifted and chameleonic Lawter, who can look Hedy Lamarr-gorgeous one second and Black Lagoon Creature-grotesque the next. Also extremely efficacious is one of the best-curated music scores I’ve ever heard, with the 1977 French hit “Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand getting an especially rousing workout. That last song accompanies an exhilarating romp with Billy and Mark (Ian Nelson), the school’s football star who, a closeted artist himself, becomes one of Billy’s only two friends. Nelson is, if anything, even more winning than Lawther. He’s a true star in the making, boasting perfect James Dean features and an irresistibly adorable personality that goes a long way to making credible this unlikely buddy pairing. Styler has cast her movie impeccably, with charming chatterbox AnnaSophia Robb as Billy’s other friend, the aptly named Blah Blah Blah (because Billy never quite catches her real one), and wonderful character actress Celia Weston, who as Billy’s housekeeper lends a whole lot of heart to the proceedings. Pine, one of New York’s finest stage actors, brings welcome and quite touching gravity. Midler, whose appearance is relatively brief, makes the very most of her scenes as a mom who seems like but is not exactly your perfect Auntie Mame for a troubled, fey youth. Click here for cast and crew information.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

How Bette Midler single-handedly saved ‘Freak Show’

Metro How Bette Midler single-handedly saved ‘Freak Show’ Director Trudie Styler also discusses its rather chaotic journey to the big-screen By Gregory Wakeman Published : January 11, 2018 Trudie Styler wasn’t supposed to direct Freak Show. But when its original director dropped out at the last minute Styler, who has previously produced the likes of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Filth,” and “Moon,” decided to step up from producer to director. “Celine [Rattray] and I were always onboard as ‘Freak Show’s’ producers,” Styler told me earlier this week. “We had a director onboard who had to excuse himself at the 11th hour. Happily for me, the producers took me on as replacement director. That’s how I came to be directing it.” But another problem soon arose because of the extremely short window of time between the original director’s departure and the start of production. “There was no time. I became the movie’s director and everything was in place to start shooting in September, 2015, and our director went off in July, then everyone is away in August.” This provoked some of the financial backers for “Freak Show” to become a little nervous. But Styler had an ace up her sleeve to qualm these concerns. A certain Bette Midler, who she soon offered the role of Muv, the extravagant mother of bullied Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), to. “I called Bette Midler, we share the same agent, and I said, ‘Can I send you this script? I think it will speak to you. It’s a small role and a vital role. Also, by the way, if you say yes then it will trigger a large part of the finance for it’.” Even though she had been absent from the big-screen for 4 years, Midler found herself attracted to the part and soon agreed to join production. “She read it and said, ‘I am in.’ From that moment my summer holiday stopped and we jumped into pre-production. We had 4 weeks to prep. And 22 days to shoot. We just got it done.” You can see the results from Friday, when”Freak Show” is available on VOD and screening at the IFC Center in New York. Trudie Styler will be participating in post-screening Q&A’s at the IFC’s 7:15 screening on Friday January 12, and the 4:55 and 7:15 screenings on Saturday January 13, too.
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