Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Dude Looks Like a Lady!

So I'm watching Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee's charmer about Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), who inadvertently made the storied Festival happen, and in walks Vilma, a musclebound blonde in a candy-pink dress, resembling Mamie Van Doren with stubble. S/he speaks in a familiar voice, like honey mixed with molten asphalt. Holy cow! Liev Schreiber in drag?!?

Dude Looks Like a Lady!

Liev Schreiber as Vilma in "Taking Woodstock"
Liev Schreiber as Vilma in "Taking Woodstock"

So I'm watching Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee's charmer about Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), who inadvertently made the storied Festival happen, and in walks Vilma, a musclebound blonde in a candy-pink dress, resembling Mamie Van Doren with stubble. S/he speaks in a familiar voice, like honey mixed with molten asphalt. Holy cow! Liev Schreiber in drag?!?

And how does Schreiber compare with other movie cross-dressers? Very favorably. While the effect is largely due to the contrast of pink frock with Deep Purple voice, his steel-ribbed sensitivity made me think he'd make a great Blanche DuBois.

I'd nominate him for cinema's genderbender Hall of Fame. Already enshrined? Greta Garbo's Queen Christina, Katharine Hepburn's Sylvia Scarlett, Doris Day's Calamity Jane, Julie Andrews' Victor/Victoria, Gwyneth Paltrow's turn in Shakespeare in Love and  Hilary Swank's Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry.   (I also would pull for Joyce Hyser in Just One of the Guys and Amanda Bynes in She's the Man, teen movies that dance over the slippery issues of heterosexual boys suddenly attracted to boys, not knowing that the object of their affection is a girl in jeans.)  Also enshrined are Cary Grant in  I Was a Male War Bride,  Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot, Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie, Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, and Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage.

While I don't like all of these movies as much as I like the performances (many of which were Oscar-nominated and Oscar winning), the empathy engendered by a woman walking a mile in another man's loafers or a man walking a mile in another women's heels is contagious. Your favorite movie cross-dresser? Why?

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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