Playing it straight

James Sweeney’s queer rom-com Straight Up (Strand), now available on DVD, has more in common with Woody Allen’s Annie Hall than you might expect. Like Allen did for Annie Hall, Sweeney wrote, directed and stars in Straight Up. Like Allen’s Annie Hall character Alvy, Sweeney’s Todd is a nerdy, obsessive compulsive, in therapy, who is in search of companionship. Similarities between the two probably end there. In Straight Up, gay millennial Todd is undergoing a severe sexual identity crisis, or so he tells friends Ryder (James Scully) and Meg (Dana Drori) in an L.A. diner. He believes he could statistically […]

The Aggie and the ecstasy: an interview with filmmaker Catherine Gund

Lesbian documentary filmmaker Catherine Gund has an exceptional eye for subject matter when it comes to her movie projects. Of course, it helps that she was already familiar with the people, including gay performance artist Ron Athey, the late lesbian Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, and choreographer Elizabeth Streb, who is also a lesbian. However, she probably wasn’t as well acquainted with them as she is with the subject of her new doc Aggie (Strand Releasing/Aubin Pictures), which is about her mother; art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund. Agnes’ name may be familiar to some readers from her tenure as president […]

The end of innocence

The late gay filmmaker Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice, The Damned) went out with a bang, so to speak, with his over-the-top final feature, 1976’s L’Innocente (Film Movement), now available on Blu-ray. Based on the 1892 novel by Gabriele D’Annunzio, L’Innocente gave Visconti plenty of opportunity to exercise his operatic excesses. Tullio (Giancarlo Giannini), a despicable chauvinist and charmer, is the kind of unfaithful husband who shows up at a piano recital with his devoted wife Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) and is openly flirtatious with his mistress, the widowed Teresa (Jennifer O’Neil). If that’s not bad enough, Tullia basically insults Giuliana […]

The present is female (and queer)

As horrible as 2020 has been on so many fronts, at least we’ve had amazing music by queer female artists to help us get through it all. Where would we be without Becca Mancari’s The Greatest Part, Jamie Wyatt’s Neon Cross, Indigo Girls’ Look Long, Gordi’s Our Two Skins, Katie Pruitt’s Expectations, and the 35th anniversary deluxe reissue of Whitney Houston’s eponymous debut album (somebody had to say it!)? Singer/songwriter Caroline Rose’s 2018 album Loner was one of the best albums of that year, and any year, for that matter. The concept LP follow-up Superstar (New West) delivers on the […]

Talking About a REVOLUTION

Scott Free’s impressive and admirable list of professional accomplishments keeps growing all the time. Homolatte, his Chicago-based LGBT live performance series, is in its 20th year. He has had two theatrical musicals produced. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2005 and 2009 he was named by the OUTMusic Awards as “Out Musician of the Year.” He runs Alt Q Radio, an indie queer radio station on Live365. Since 1996, Free has released five studio albums under his own name with 2020’s The Last Revolution (Leather / Western Records) being the latest. […]

Queens of the Quarantine

Read every book on the bookshelf and your Kindle? Caught up on all the shows on your DVR? Looking for good music to pass the quarantine hours? Here are some suggestions. Forget Britney! Forget Christina! Mandy Moore is the ’90s teen pop diva with the most fascinating story, something she sings about in the song “Fifteen” on her excellent new album Silver Landings (Verve). Moore not only has the pipes, but she can write songwriting circles around Brit and Xtina. Additionally, Moore can act! Fans of This is Us know that’s true. And did you see her in Saved? Plus, […]

Two to Avoid

If we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that time is precious. There isn’t that much of it and as the numbers of the dead increase at an alarming rate, we are reminded of how important it is not to waste what little we have. One recommended way of not being wasteful is by avoiding movies that don’t deserve to sap your hours and minutes. Kevin Bacon, still hot to the touch in his early 60s, has a longstanding relationship with the horror genre. From his memorable appearance in a Speedo in the first Friday the 13th (1980) to […]

Pandemic pals

Looking for musical friends with whom you can pass the time while the country shuts down (again!) as the pandemic continues to rage? The following albums are worth hearing while being in lockdown. I’ve always thought of Steve Earle as the Bruce Springsteen of modern country. With his similar vocal style and his songs about the common man, Earle makes music that could be described as Springstwang. This has never been truer than on Ghosts of West Virginia (New West) by Steve Earle and the Dukes. The songs are intended to be a musical companion piece for playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s […]

Latest and Greatest: an interview with Becca Mancari

It’s only July, but rest assured that The Greatest Part (Captured Tracks), the breathtaking second album by out singer/songwriter Becca Mancari will not be forgotten when folks assemble their end-of-the-year, best of 2020 albums lists. The Greatest Part, available in a limited edition clear pink vinyl LP version, is a sonic departure from her Americana-laced 2017 debut Good Woman. Working with musician/producer Zac Farro (of Paramore fame), Mancari has created a forward-thinking audio landscape for her deeply personal lyrics, some of which deal with being raised in and surviving a strict religious background. Songs such as “Hunter”, “Stay With Me”, “First Time”, “Like This” and “Tear […]

House music

Let’s face it, things are getting ugly and scary out there. As this is being written, confirmed COVID-19 cases have reached more than 10 million worldwide, with more than half a million deaths and counting. Self-quarantining is the hottest (and healthiest) trend in years. For those unable to get to their workouts at the gym or favorite dance club because they’ve been shut down again after reopening too soon, here are some new releases sure to get your heart rate up and your body moving. Play them loud and if the neighbors complain, dance harder.   Suddenly (Merge) by Caribou (aka musician and […]