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February 26 2009

Eliza Dushku secures rights to produce biopic on photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. She has full cooperation from Mapplethorpe's estate and has enlisted two-time Sundance grand jury prize winner Ondi Timoner ("DIG!") to direct the film, titled 'The Perfect Moment.'

Film "will chronicle Mapplethorpe's career from his rise to fame in the 1970s for his portraits of socialites and rock stars until his death in 1989 at age 42 from complications arising from AIDS."

They actually made the deal last month, but there might be details in this article that weren't around then.
Wow, I'm really impressed, this is an ambitious project. I wonder if there is a role in there somewhere for Eliza or if she will be sticking to the producer role?
Ondi Timoner's involvement is a new detail, as is the quote by the Mapplethorpe Foundation rep. And the title of the movie. And, all in all, it's a little more solid reporting than the previous "I heard from her" article.
Oddly, last month I was surpsied it had taken so long for the news to get here. It wasn't even the first time it had been reported, but somehow it never got posted here (and I kept forgetting, heh).
I'm impressed. I would like to see how this turns out. I'm not much for biopics, but this could be interesting. (I did really enjoy "Milk." It accomplished good things; Sean Penn was great; and it used the documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" in nice ways, too.) I liked "Dig!", as well.
Eliza could play Patti Smith. It's right up her tough chick alley.
They'll give anyone a biopic these days. Good for her to have another production credit, though.
I didn't care for his art so probably will skip this.
Worse, madmolly, Mapplethorpe remains a polarizing figure in American society. There's a segment of the population who will categorically reject anything Eliza does afterwards, if she goes forward with the biopic. It may be that none of them would have ever gone to see anything of hers anyways, but I'm concerned that it's not at all a smart move at this point in her career.
I think that if she's passionate about the project, more power to her. Based on the USA Today interview she just gave it seems as if she's not too worried about public opinion or becoming a "big star". I'm happy that she is able to get projects that she cares about off the ground and I hope the movie turns out well.
Good for Eliza and what a fantastic subject!
I agree Mapplethorpe is polarizing and I have not merely no interest in seeing this myself, but no understanding of why anyone else is, but obviously some people are and if Eliza likes the idea so much and there's some market for it, go y'know to it. And I have little patience with anybody who would reject her future work because of it.
He's too irrelevant to be that polarizing to broader society. Mapplethorpe to general society is sort of like Warren trying to get over in the demon bar. He's polarizing amongst art and cultural intelligentsia. But, the people who can affect Eliza's career are art and cultural intelligentsia. I don't think it would be worse for her long term than that whatever-movie with David Morse is going to be for Dakota Fanning.
He's too irrelevant to be that polarizing to broader society. Mapplethorpe to general society is sort of like Warren trying to get over in the demon bar.

Well...I'm sure that the average person on the street wouldn't know a Mapplethorpe from a Cindy Sherman, but Mapplethorpe is also the kind of guy that the right-wing culture warriors can whip people into a frenzy about when they want to. I don't know how old you are, but in the 1990's Mapplethorpe was briefly a household name due to the controversies over his The Perfect Moment exhibition (the infamous bullwhip-in-anus photo, the coprophagia photos etc...) and its funding from the NEA. The Corcoran gallery canceled an exhibition of his works, which lead to them having a big endowment revoked. Etc. etc.

It's conceivable that ED could become a lightning rod for "American Family Association"-type fatwas if this film really digs into the kinkier side of Mapplethorpe's oeuvre. Of course, there's lots of stuff in there that even the most conservative would consider aesthetically pleasing. Stylistically, Mapplethorpe was always something of a classicist.

You know, it's odd that it was just a couple of weeks ago on this very site that we were having a discussion about coprophagia. Looks like it might be time for Catherine to get back into her refrigerator.
Oh, so that's who he was. Snot monster from outer space, he wasn't a household name in the 1990s but the fact that the NEA funded work that was "obscene" was pretty publicized. Now that I know who you're talking about, I think it's a pretty important story to be told. I, personally, would like to know what drives a person to make such creations and how he (on a personal level) dealt with / reacted to some of the scandal.
he wasn't a household name in the 1990s

Well, I guess there's no universally accepted threshold for what constitutes "household name," but he was all over the newspapers, the TV shows, the cable "Two Hour Hate" sessions etc. You could walk up to most staunch conservatives and say "Mapplethorpe" and they'd snarl, even if they wouldn't have recognized a single image. Much as, even today, there's lots of people who know they hate Serrano's "Piss Christ" even if they wouldn't recognize it if they saw it, or hate Chris Ofili's "Holy Virgin Mary" (well--if you add in the utterly false descriptor "dung smeared") and so forth.

So, no, he wasn't anywhere near as famous as, say, Madonna. But he was a widely recognized name outside of the art world. Certainly far more famous than most of his art-world peers and contemporaries.
You're definitely correct that he is far more famous than most of his art-world peers and contemporaries. However, I argue that his fame isn't always associated with his name--it's more associated with his work. His WORK was extremely publicized. The National Endowment for the Art's funding of his work was most certainly publicized. However, in the South and even in the general arts world (I was in the performing arts at the time), his name didn't garner much notoriety. And you're absolutely correct that there's no universally accepted threshold for what constitutes "household name." My definition clearly means that most people of different ages from various backgrounds recognize the name. So, yeah, the definition is generally limited to major celebrities and politicians.

On another point you made, I agree that the film may be boycotted by some conservative groups, particularly those that protested the NEA. Despite the numerous protests from Cuban Americans, it didn't stop the makers of "Che." I think she'll be fine. In fact, she may gain more viewers because of protests. If conservatives say something's wrong, liberals (and the conservatives' children) want to see if it's right. :-)
Regardless if it's polarizing, Maplethorpe is very, very popular. Producing a biopic of him, regardless of how people feel about his art, is a pretty huge coup for a young producer.

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