Tab Hunter burst onto the Hollywood scene in the early 1950s, rising from his humble stable boy beginnings to become a bona fide heartthrob. Strategic studio executives in bed with industry culture rags carefully constructed this transition, creating a pristine all-American product to counteract the bad boy image of James Dean and his ilk.
Early in Tab Hunter Confidential, it's clear how much of a conflict this caused the closeted actor who spent decades hiding his sexuality from the public eye. French actress Etchika Choureau, who was romantically linked with Hunter, sums it up best in her brief interview: "Actors always have two faces."
While Jeffrey Schwartz's documentary covers all the bases of Hunter's life, it does so superfluously and with very little stylistic innovation. The actor's complicated relationship with Anthony Perkins is given rudimentary treatment, as is the ongoing struggle to retain some kind of connection with his mentally ill mother.
In looking at the story of Tab Hunter and 1950s Hollywood, one can already see the decline of the star system that had dominated the industry since the days of Florence Lawrence. Yet the film only glosses over this important paradigm shift with antiquated thoughts from the likes of Rex Reed and film historian Eddie Muller. There's also a subsection on the rise of live television in the 1960s that amounts to a minor remembrance.
All the while Hunter remains at the forefront, discussing the fascinating tangents of his life with the agreeable air of someone simply going through the motions. An occasionally intimate exploration of identity and celebrity, Tab Hunter Confidential, which opens Friday, Nov. 6, at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas, nevertheless feels like wiki-cinema that simplifies the complexity of an interesting historical figure. This seems like a major missed opportunity to get at something more.
16th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival: Screening more than 130 films at five venues across the county, this is the premiere showcase for Asian and Asian American film featuring 10 days of premieres, parties and panels. Runs from Thursday, Nov. 5, through Saturday, Nov. 14. For more information visit festival.sdaff.org/2015.
Miss You Already: Two longtime friends played by Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette must come to grips with the sudden changes in their lives.
Peace Officer: This documentary about the rise of militarized police operations and SWAT raids in the United States won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW.
Spectre: Daniel Craig is back as 007, shooting and crooning his way around the world in debonair fashion. Sam Mendes has returned to direct with Christoph Waltz taking the titular baddie role.
Suffragette: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep star in this historical drama about the rise of the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom at the turn of the century.
Tab Hunter Confidential: This documentary about closeted gay actor Tab Hunter doubles as a history of 1950s Hollywood and the decline of the star system. Opens Friday, Nov. 6, at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Time Out of Mind: Richard Gere stars as a homeless man trying to survive on the street in New York City in Oren Moverman’s moving drama. Screens through Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Peanuts Movie: Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang is back for another big screen foray. Linus isn’t too thrilled.
ONE TIME ONLY
The Hunt for Pancho Villa: Local filmmaker Paul Espinosa’s documentary looks at the moment in history when revolutionaries loyal to Pancho Villa crossed into the United States and attacked a small town in New Mexico, setting off a manhunt that would result in the largest U.S. troop deployment since The Civil War. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. FREE SCREENING. RSVP at digitalgym.org/hunt-for-pancho-villa.
Zoolander: Ben Stiller plays a clueless fashion model who is brainwashed into assassinating the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Gift: Joel Edgerton’s creepy directorial debut follows a family man who is terrorized by an old classmate with nefarious motivations. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6 and 7, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
I’ll See You in My Dreams: Brett Haley gives Blythe Danner the role of a lifetime as a widow and former songwriter whose comfortable life is upturned by a series of fortuitous events. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Pan’s Labyrinth: Enter the elaborate and horrifying world of Fascist Spain, where a young girl tries to reconcile fantasy and horror in Guillermo del Toro’s evocative coming of age film. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9 at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.
Delicacy: In this French comedy, Audrey Tautou stars as a workaholic manager whose zest for life is rekindled by an unlikely source. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Quinceañera: Two cousins try to navigate the tricky cultural and social dynamics of their Echo Park neighborhood in this indie drama from 2006. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.
Of Men and War: The Pathway Home, a PTSD therapy center, provides the central setting for this rigorous documentary about a dozen combat veterans attempting to overcome the traumas of war. Screens at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Deathgasm: Two metal head teenagers accidentally summon demons from the depths of hell. Screens at 10:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, and 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Starship Troopers: Paul Verhoven’s masterful satire envisions a future where humans are recruited by the government to fight the war on bugs. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.