The cultural imperative of 2023 is recognizing the weird excellence of gay writer-director Julio Torres, a man whose name might still be new to you. If you missed both seasons of the otherworldly sitcom “Los Espookys,” which he co-created, then A24 is about to bring you his newest project, “Problemista.” Starring Torres and cinema’s reigning queen of eccentric artistic choices, Tilda Swinton, it’s the story of a surrealist toy designer and an art critic who find a mutual appreciation and attachment to each other in ways that aren’t explainable in a quick synopsis. In the chaotic mix are comedy upstarts Meg Stalter (“Hacks”), Greta Lee (“Russian Doll”), Isabella Rossellini as an omniscient narrator, and rapper RZA as Swinton’s deceased and cryogenically frozen husband. It caused a sensation at SXSW and now A24 is bringing it to your multiplex sometime later this year. In the meantime, go to YouTube and watch “Wells for Boys” — he wrote that one, too — and it should all start making sense.
How does one remake a horror movie like 1978’s legendary cult splatter fest “Faces of Death”? We’re not sure — it was an intensely bloody and mostly fake documentary that purported to show real footage of real human deaths and ’80s horror nerds passed around bootleg VHS copies like contraband — but “Cam” film Makers Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber (“How to Blow Up a Pipeline”) are going to take the plunge and reconfigure it for today. Meanwhile, the cast is turning into a who’s who of Gen Z Hollywood, with “Stranger Things” cast member Dacre Montgomery, Barbie Ferreira, queer former co-star of “Euphoria,” and trans actress Josie Totah (“Saved By the Bell”). It’s possible that this update will turn the original into something more resembling a straightforward narrative, but it’s anyone’s guess for now. Casting is still underway, but no production schedule is known. Stay tuned for the gore.
Murray Bartlett is on a roll. From “Looking” to “White Lotus” to “Physical” to a now-classic one-time visit to “The Last of Us,” the gay actor keeps showing up in hot media properties. Next he’ll co-star in “O’Dessa,” from “Patti Cake$” filmmaker Geremy Jasper. The rock opera, with original music from Jasper and Jason Binnick, follows the title character (Sadie Sink, “The Whale”) as she travels across a strange landscape to recover a family heirloom. She also meets her one true love, a person named Euri Dervish (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr., “Elvis”), described as a cross between Iggy Pop, Marlene Dietrich and Prince. We don’t know who Bartlett is playing, but he’s got a lot to compete with if there’s a character who’s a combination of those three icons. We’re hoping for an outlandish queer villain of some sort, because we always are. Filming begins in Croatia this spring. Look for it within the coming year.
“A Transparent Musical,” a stage musical based on the award-winning TV series, is about to hit the boards in Los Angeles. MJ Kaufman and creator of the original series, Joey Soloway, wrote the book, with music and lyrics by Faith Soloway, and Tina Landau will direct (she previously directed “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.” Thematically, the show will roughly mirror the action of the series, in which a parent in their 60s comes out to their Jewish family as a transgender woman. The limited run will hit the Mark Taper Forum in May, with performances through the end of June, with what we assume is an eye toward a Broadway run later. And with all the hideous anti-trans legislation and cultural fervor taking place in the world right now, art on the right side of humanity and justice is all the more important. This one couldn’t have come along at a more needed moment.
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