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.”

Mar 26

“Kissing Jessica Stein”: A Film That Depicts Sexual Fluidity

One film I can recommend that depicts themes regarding sexual fluidity (see yesterday’s post on this topic) is romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein (2001). As aptly described by IMDB: “A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman.”

Although neither has been sexually involved with a woman previously, Helen (Heather Juergensen) identifies as bisexual and is the more adventurous one, while the previously “straight” Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) faces more challenges as their relationship progresses.

You might think therapy would help Jessica—but here’s a salient and telling snippet related to her use of it:

Helen: What does your therapist say about all of this?

Jessica: Oh, I could never tell my therapist.

Helen: Why not?

Jessica: Because it’s private.

Watch the Kissing Jessica Stein trailer below:

A significant snag along the way for Jessica is her fear of telling her mom (Tovah Feldshuh) whom it is that she’s dating. One of the highlights of the movie, actually, is the kind of surprising way her mom does deal with it.

One of the lowlights (in terms of emotional response) for many is the realization by Helen that the relationship comes to mean different things to each of the two women. After Ellen reviewer Sarah Warn posits that viewers who accept sexual fluidity as a valid phenomenon will perceive this turning point differently than others.

From Wikipedia: “In the book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and DesireLisa M. Diamond cites the film as a notable example of female sexual fluidity in popular culture, writing that it “depicts a lesbian becoming involved with a man, contrary to the more widespread depictions of heterosexual women becoming involved in same-sex relationships’.”

On the other hand, not everyone can tolerate the fluidity. As one of the film’s creators, Heather Juergensen, has stated (Women’s ENews), “On the extreme right and the extreme left there seems to be kind of a ‘gay means this and straight means this,’” Juergensen says. “There’s less of an acceptance of fluidity certainly and even just exploring. It might be that the questioning aspect of that community is the ‘new gay,’ if you will–the new oppressed sub-segment.”