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.”

Sep 28

“Keep the Lights On”: Illuminating Codependency in a Gay Couple

I’ve been reading some generally great reviews for a new movie, Keep the Lights OnDan Heching, e.g., of NEXT Magazine: “Forget Brokeback Mountain; Keep the Lights On is the grittiest and most heartbreaking gay love story of our times.”

Keep the Lights On is based on the true story of the past relationship between New York literary agent Bill Clegg, who has written a couple books about his serious drug addictions, and the film’s director, Ira Sachs. The website indicates that characters Erik (Thure Lindhardt), a filmmaker, and Paul (Zachary Booth), a closeted lawyer, “meet through a casual encounter, but soon find a deeper connection and become a couple. Individually and together, they are risk takers – compulsive, and fueled by drugs and sex. In an almost decade-long relationship defined by highs, lows, and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries and dignity while being true to himself.”

Watch the trailer below:

Andrew O’HehirSalon, acknowledges: “…(T)his movie may test how far the gay community has come on issues of self-representation. While it seems unlikely that bigots and homophobes would actively seek this film out (except, you know, on the sly and stuff), any who do see it could certainly cherry-pick details to support the thesis that Erik’s entire cadre of humanity are degenerates.”

David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, on the codependent relationship of Erik and Paul: “It’s a volatile combination for a couple: One man is addicted to love, the other to crack cocaine.”

Ed Gonzalez, Slant, offers an interesting example of the addiction dynamics: “…(T)his is a naked confession about addiction—not so much about the using, but using as a weapon and how the user exploits the love and guilt of others to not get better. And the essence of this study of addiction is distilled into one detail: Erik’s obsession with the photograph of a woman who appears haunted in the face, almost as if she’s seen a ghost, though really her agonized reaction resulted from just having missed a train.”

How does this play out? “Paul will strike some two-faced poses throughout Keep the Lights On, one during a dinner in which Erik, in front of a roomful of people, applauds Paul for seeking help for his drug problem. Paul smiles, though you sense he’s more embarrassed than charmed and may use this moment against his lover. Erik doesn’t see the truth behind the mask, not because he’s naïve, but for the same reason the photograph of the woman transfixes him: Like Paul, it tells a beautiful lie.”

See it if you can—and then let me know what you think.