Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Original LGBT visions


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Most of this fall's releases of LGBT DVDs are movies released late last year or this year. Their maturity in theme and execution is striking; they often delve into the complexities of relationships that defy labels. There has never been a better time to appreciate LGBT movie artistry and originality than now.

I'm a Porn Star (TLA, Sept.)
is a documentary by Charlie David following the lives of four Internet gay pornographic stars who might seem like ordinary guys the rest of the time. We are given behind-the-camera insight into this $13 billion business, as well as several scenes of graphic sexuality. So if you have ever wondered what the real life of an adult entertainer might be, the ins and outs, the ups and downs, this might be that rare opportunity to take a look.

Sordid Lives (Wolfe, Oct.)
The 2001 cult classic comedy, written and directed by Del Shores, starring Olivia Newton-John, Beau Bridges, and the incomparable Leslie Jordan, is back in print in a combo pack: a DVD and, for the first time, Blu-ray version. A gay West Hollywood actor returns to his small Texas town for his grandmother's funeral. We are introduced to his colorful, dysfunctional family, including Jordan's Tammy Wynette-obsessed, institutionalized gay uncle, Brother Boy. Features a killer country soundtrack. Among the bonus materials is a fresh interview with Shores and most of the original cast members.

You and the Night (Strand, Oct.)
is a French sex comedy written and directed by Yonn Gonzalez, with music by the band M83. At Midnight, a young couple and their transvestite maid prepare for an orgy. Their guests will be The Bitch, The Star, The Stud, and The Teen. As each guest arrives, they tell their story. Then their hosts tell their story of immortality and a love that transcends death. The orgy begins intermingling fantasy and reality so the characters both watch and participate at the same time. With its monologues about sex, life, and death, as well as its surreal atmosphere, the film has drawn comparisons with Fassbender's Querelle, as experimental filmmaking pushing boundaries.

Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption (Breaking Glass Pictures, Oct.)
is a candid documentary focusing on Terrence McNally's controversial Broadway play Corpus Christi, which imagines Jesus as a gay man living in Corpus Christi, Texas. The film follows the troupe, playwright, and audience around the world on a five-year journey complete with protests, as well as supporters.

Floating Skyscrapers (TLA, Oct.)
A breakthrough gay film from Poland, this is the story of Kuba, who lives at home with his mother and his girlfriend, Sylwia. He is also an aspiring champion swimmer who trains every day. At an art-gallery opening, he meets Michal, and begins experiencing feelings that are totally intoxicating to him. What will be the consequences of his relationship on his family and Sylwia? How will the rampant homophobia of Polish society impact the romance?

Tru Love (Wolfe, Nov.) Canadian filmmakers Kate Johnston and Shauna MacDonald have fashioned a bittersweet lesbian love story, a big hit at this year's Frameline. Fast-lane, commitment-shy Tina, helping her friend Suzanne, agrees to entertain, for one night, her mother Alice, an attractive and recent widow trying to rebuild her life following her husband's death. What type of connection will develop between these women?

Snails in the Rain (TLA, Nov.)
This intelligent Israeli film, set in 1989 Tel Aviv, was a breakout hit at this year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Boaz (sexy male model Yoav Reuveni) is a linguistic graduate student set on marrying his longtime girlfriend Noa. But soon he starts receiving intimate love letters, from a secret male admirer, that raise disturbing questions. Haunted by guilt and internalized homophobia, he both dreads and anticipates his daily trip to the post office to pick up his letter, while Noa begins to suspect what is happening.

The Circle (Wolfe, Dec.)
A critical and audience smash at this year's Frameline, this docudrama by Stefan Haupt details Zurich's era of gay freedom in the 1950s, when a band of writers published the groundbreaking gay magazine Der Kreis (The Circle). This group became a social network hosting sumptuous balls. At one such occasion in 1958, a closeted schoolteacher meets a local out drag celebrity, and a love affair commences. A dramatic re-creation of this period (which ends after a gay prostitute murders a prominent client of Der Kreis) alternates seamlessly with poignant testimonies of surviving participants. The ending will leave you on a high for days.

Matterhorn (TLA, Dec.)
A Dutch comedy about Fred, a middle-aged widower, leading a solitary existence in a pious Protestant town, and how his life is turned upside down when Theo, a mentally impaired adult newcomer, is taken in by Fred. Fred grows to appreciate Theo's company, defending him against bullies, until the town suspects they may be lovers and decides to intervene. The interweaving of loneliness and sexuality, rarely addressed in LGBT films, makes this a fascinating exploration.

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