Jun 18

Pride Films (LGBTQ) You May Have Missed 10+ Years Ago

For your viewing consideration, below are seven Pride films (LGBTQ) from more than a decade ago.

Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)

Romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein depicts themes regarding sexual fluidity. Neither Helen (Heather Juergensen) nor Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) have been in a same-sex relationship before. Helen, though, already identifies as bisexual and appears more comfortable, while previously “straight” Jessica faces such fears as telling her mom (Tovah Feldshuh). 

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Among the more mainstream Pride films is Lisa Cholodenko‘s comedy The Kids Are All Right. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore portray a lesbian couple, Nic and Jules. Their two teenagers were conceived with the aid of an anonymous sperm donor. The women’s relationship teeters on the edge when they actually meet the donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who’s been found by the kids.

Albert Nobbs (2011)

In a period long, long ago both Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) and newfound friend Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) are women pretending to be men in order to have work and income.

As stated by The Opinioness, “The tragic story of Albert Nobbs lingered in my memory long after I left the theatre. Its exploration of female friendship, lesbian love, class and poverty, gender roles and a woman’s self-discovery, truly make it a rare gem.”

Tomboy (2011)

In this French movie, directed by Céline Sciamma, a 10-year-old girl named Laure (Zoé Héran) moves with her family into a new neighborhood and, only among her peers, pretends to be a boy named Mikael. Laure’s younger sister and parents don’t know about this other identity.

Roger Ebert:Tomboy is tender and affectionate. It shows us Laure/Mikael in an adventure that may be forgotten in adulthood or may form her adulthood. There is no conscious agenda in view. There is just a tomboy. Not everyone needs to be slammed into a category and locked there.”

Pariah (2011)

Pariah features a 17-year-old girl, Alike (pronounced “ah-LEE-kay”), not easily accepted for who she is: a tomboy who’s a lesbian who’s black. Writer-director Dee Rees based this story on her own experiences coming out as gay.

Alike (Adepero Oduye) resides in Brooklyn with her conservative parents—a mom who’s devoutly Christian (Kim Wayans) and a dad (Charles Parnell) who’s a police detective.

Keep the Lights On (2012)

This realistic film is based on the past relationship between New York literary agent Bill Clegg and the film’s director, Ira Sachs.

David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, states about the codependent relationship of Erik (Thure Lindhardt) and Paul (Zachary Booth), “It’s a volatile combination for a couple: One man is addicted to love, the other to crack cocaine.”

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Differing from the aforementioned Pride films, this one’s lead character is a “vocally homophobic antihero” (Peter Debruge, Variety). Matthew McConaughey portrays Ron Woodroof, who gets diagnosed with AIDS. One individual who tries to help him is a transgender AIDS patient (Jared Leto).

Debruge believes viewers will likely “recognize Woodroof’s knee-jerk bigotry as uncool. And thus, the film manages to educate without ever feeling didactic, and to entertain in the face of what would, to any other character, seem like a grim life sentence.”

David EdelsteinNew York Magazine: “It’s difficult to talk about the beauty of Leto’s performance, because he just, well, is. The transformation is so complete—­physically and vocally—that it’s hard to believe he could ever be anything else. Rayon (née Raymond) is high on being Rayon, to the point where you sometimes forget that he’s dying, too.”

Feb 28

“Albert Nobbs” Raises Interesting Issues About Gender and Class

As the film Albert Nobbs only played in my area for about a minute before breezing merrily along, I haven’t yet had the chance to see it. So, for now, I’ll have to settle for reading about it.

Albert Nobbs has received two significant Women Film Critics Circle Awards. One is for the film itself, “for best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity.” Its material comes from a 1982 theatrical adaptation of a novella (1918) by George Moore, an Irish writer.

The other award is for the film’s main star, Glenn Close, who had also been involved in the play, and who fought long and hard to bring this story to the screen. She won “Courage in Acting,” which is for “taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen.”

In scanning the reviews, it sure wasn’t hard to find puns of a certain ilk. Keep in mind that we know early on that both Albert Nobbs and newfound friend Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) are women pretending to be men in order to have work and income. Peter Debruge, Variety:

Too bad the film is such a drag.

This frequent play on words speaks to both the women-wearing-men’s-clothing aspect and the idea that many viewers find the film to be slow and boring. Could that be due, at least in part, to what’s involved in having to characterize the effects of such lifelong repression? David Edelstein, New York Magazine, about Close’s Albert:

She’s the personification of fear—the fear of being seen through, seen for what she is.

Another frequent theme of Albert Nobbs: that the movie is ultimately unsatisfying in its answers—or lack thereof—to the big questions it raises. As stated by The Opinioness:

Albert Nobbs raises so many thought-provoking questions. Why is the male gender the more “desirable” gender in society? What does it say about a society where half its population has a mere two options for their lives? How can women take charge of their own lives amidst confining gender norms? And therein lies my problem with the film. It provides no conclusions, the answers remain elusive…

And, Dana Stevens, Slate:

Albert Nobbs is the portrait of a person with an inner life so inaccessible that even he or she no longer knows what’s going on in there…

the rare double drag king bill you could plausibly take your grandmother to. It’s genteel, well-crafted, mostly sexless and frequently dull—a movie that, like its title character, never quite dares to let itself discover what it really wants to be.

Well. I’m still hoping, despite its flaws, that I’ll actually get to see it in the theater someday. I’m also hoping that when I do, I’ll be able to echo the concluding views of The Opinioness:

The tragic story of Albert Nobbs lingered in my memory long after I left the theatre. Its exploration of female friendship, lesbian love, class and poverty, gender roles and a woman’s self-discovery, truly make it a rare gem.