Movie Review: “The Danish Girl”

Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Adrian Schiller
Tom Hooper

Last year, he won an Academy Award for playing Stephen Hawking. This year, he’s playing a pioneer in the transgender community. You’ll understand why people who haven’t yet seen “The Danish Girl” (this writer included, until now) have been quick to predict that Eddie Redmayne might be the first person to win back-to-back Oscars for Best Actor since Tom Hanks did it in 1994 (“Philadelphia”) and 1995 (“Forrest Gump”). This talk will change once more people see the film. This is not to say Redmayne is awful. He’s not, at all, but he’s not convincing, either. It doesn’t help matters that his co-star, Alicia Vikander, blows him off the screen in nearly every scene. There is an Oscar-worthy performance in this film; it just isn’t Redmayne’s.

It is the year 1926, and Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is a successful painter. His wife Gerda (Vikander) is also a painter, but struggling to find an audience. Einar agrees to help Gerda finish an overdue painting by posing as a woman, wearing panty hose and holding the dress up over his body, and the experience awakens something long-dormant in him. He starts to dress as a woman around the house (going by the name Lili), and even poses for Gerda for paintings, and those paintings change Gerda’s fortunes in the art world. This cross-dressing thing is no joke for Einar, though; he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, and he is desperate to experience life as the woman he sees himself to be. The medical experts he visits want to have him committed, but luckily for him, Gerda has got his/her back.

There are several things to admire about “The Danish Girl.” First and foremost is the courage that it must have taken Einar to take the steps to bring Lili to life, as it were, especially considering the medical profession’s then-understandable but still-barbaric position on the idea of transgenderism. Immediately behind that is Gerda, for supporting her husband through an unthinkable ordeal, considering the time period and knowing that ultimately, it would end them. (When Gerda realizes that she’s never getting her husband back, Vikander cries what is quite possibly the saddest tear in movie history.) Third, back to Einar, for going out in public as Lili, and fooling men into thinking he was a woman. That’s career suicide if he’s outed. Who would risk that? Einar would, because it matters that much to him, and that is damned impressive.

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Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Oscar Recap: Anne Hathaway of making us tingly

We love the Oscars. We just wish that they loved us back. Every year we get excited about the big show, and every year we feel a little sad when they’re over, and not because the show is over, but because they just can’t surprise us anymore. The major categories are all decided weeks before the show, and the non-award pieces, save the brilliant Auto-Tune bit, were pretty flat. At least there weren’t any dancers this year.

Ah, but the show did have its good points, along with some less than good points. Here’s the Bullz-Eye breakdown of the 2011 Academy Awards.

The Good

The show was short

It was over in three hours and 15 minutes, making it the shortest broadcast since 2005. And had Kirk Douglas not done that “You know…” bit over and over, it would have been five minutes shorter. But it’s hard to fault Douglas for that since it was one of the better improv moments of the evening.

Anne Hathaway

Did we mention that she’s hot, as in ‘would look good in a suit of armor’ hot? And the bit where she poked fun at her own movie by saying, “You know, it used to be that you get naked, you get an Oscar. Not anymore.” Then, one more time, wistfully, “Not anymore.” Gold. And that last dress she wore…wow. We found it extremely difficult to take our eyes off of her breasts, which was surely the point.

Inception” won more Oscars than we were expecting

We knew the technical awards were a lock, but stealing the Cinematography Oscar from the Deke (that would be Roger Deakins, who shot “True Grit“) was a shocker. And yet, despite winning four Oscars and being nominated for Best Picture and Original Screenplay, the Academy didn’t see fit to nominate Christopher Nolan for Best Director. Ugh.

They weren’t afraid to make fun of Charlie Sheen

Though, as one of our Popdose colleagues observed, the show probably would have been a lot more entertaining had he hosted.

Randy Newman

God love him. Even he knows the score that if you’re on screen, you damn well better be entertaining. “I want to be good television!” The sad thing is that, as we watched him win his second Oscar – in 20 attempts – we had a horrible thought: if he came along today, no major label would even think of signing him.

Trent Reznor is an Oscar winner

And rightfully so, though in a perfect world, he and Atticus Ross would have been dueling it out with Daft Punk (“TRON: Legacy“) for Best Score. The Frenchies was robbed, we tells ya.

The Bad

James Franco

We love James Franco. He turned in our favorite performance of the year in “127 Hours.” But he was, um, off last night, leading some to speculate that he was high. Personally, we think Franco is way too smart to do something so boneheaded; just because he played a friendly stoner in “Pineapple Express” doesn’t mean he is one. Dude’s too busy to get high. But it seemed as though he was playing his character in “Freaks and Geeks,” as if that was at all a good idea.

Everything else about Cate was stunning. Cute hair, lovely figure, wry smile, ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom. But that dress…what the hell? It looked like a tablecloth, one that had lemon cream pie spilled at the shoulders.

Tom Hooper winning Best Director

There is an argument that there is no bad acting, only bad direction, and by that standard, Tom Hooper did an outstanding job directing “The King’s Speech.” And truth be told, he did do an outstanding job directing that movie. But look at what David Fincher had to put together, the number of moving pieces, and the dialogue that his actors had to get just right. He should have won, plain and simple.

Christian Bale plugging a web site in his acceptance speech

Tacky, and the crowd let him know it.

Celine Dion singing during the “In Memoriam” piece

There wasn’t anyone else you could have found to sing that song? Really? Anne Hathaway is sitting right backstage. She can sing. And she doesn’t look like an alien.

Susanne Bier

The Danish filmmaker just won her first Academy Award for her film “In a Better World,” and here was the reaction from one of our party guests: “She has pit stains!” Ow.