Oh, the Horror!

You know how somethings improve with age? Well, Exorcist II: The Heretic (Scream Factory), now available in a collector’s edition Blu-ray, isn’t one of them. An incoherent mess when it was first released, the catastrophic 1977 sequel to The Exorcist, directed by John Boorman (Deliverance and Hope and Glory), features an intoxicated Richard Burton at his scenery-chomping worst. Even the few returning cast members, including Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, and Max Von Sydow, couldn’t give this doomed production the credibility that it needed. Father Lamont (a bumbling Burton) calls on the spirit of the late Father Merrin (Von Sydow) to […]

What’s So Funny?

Great comedians make you laugh and think. Great comedy stays with you long after the laughs have subsided. If you’ve seen Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special “Nanette,” you’ll understand what this means. Gadsby singlehandedly raises the bar for comedy, putting it out of reach for many other stand-up comics. “Out On Stage” (Fathom Events / Comedy Dynamics), which is being shown in theaters for one night only on July 24th, shortly after “Nanette” began airing, will suffer by comparison. True, it features a multitude of comics, not just one. But the main similarity is that “Out On Stage” touches on […]

Not So Simple Simon

At first glance, you might not think that gay director Greg Berlanti’s 2018 gay rom-com(ing out movie) Love, Simon (Fox 2000) has much in common with the Oscar-nominated 2017 gay rom-dram Call Me By Your Name, but you’d be wrong. First of all, both films are based on novels. Love, Simon is based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda while Call Me By Your Name is based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman. Additionally, both novelists are, as it turns out, straight. Just wait, there’s more. Simon and Elio, the lead characters in […]

Hello Again and Again

Filmmaker Tom Gustafson and his frequent screenwriting collaborator Cory Krueckeberg (2008’s Were the World Mine and others) definitely had their work cut out for them with their ambitious, but flawed, film adaptation of John Michael LaChiusa’s non-traditional off-Broadway musical Hello Again (The Orchard / Speak), now available on DVD. Based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play La Ronde, LaChiusa is not the first playwright to have his way, so to speak, with the original play’s overt themes of uninhibited sexuality. Opening in what looks like the near future, Hello Again begins with Ruth (Martha Plimpton) in a cozy peepshow setting where […]

Swipe Out

Living, as we do, in a post-Love, Simon (and post-Call Me By Your Name) world, gay movies with younger male lead characters may forever be judged differently. That can be both good and bad. In the case of writer/director Mike Roma’s Dating My Mother (Gravitas Ventures), it falls squarely in the middle. Twenty-three-year-old Danny (Patrick Reilly, making his feature film debut), who has ambitions of being a screenwriter, has returned to New Jersey after living in California after graduation. He’s temporarily moved in with his widowed, hairdresser mother Joan (Steppenwolf and Law & Order actress Kathryn Erbe) while supposedly working […]

Getting Read

Have you ever started reading a book and within the first few pages you figured out everything you need to know about the characters as well as how it will end? That’s a fair description of the predictable and mildly amusing Book Club (Paramount). It’s the kind of “women of a certain age” flick that Nancy Meyers writes and direct (It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give) with some degree of success. In this case, writer and co-director Bill Holderman is out of his league. Four friends – Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen), Carol (Mary Steenburgen), and Vivian (Jane Fonda) […]

A Real Wonder Woman

Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (the acclaimed 2013 movie “Gloria”) is having quite a run. His latest film, the lesbian-themed Disobedience is now playing in theaters, just as his Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-winner A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) is being released on Blu-ray. Notable for the way it depicts a few days in the life of a trans woman in Santiago, A Fantastic Woman is at turns fabulous and heartbreaking. Marina (trans actress Daniela Vega) is a waitress at a restaurant in an amusement park and arcade in Santiago. Her real ambition is to be a singer and when […]

The ‘Boys of Fairy Town’

In the 1920s, gay men became visible – not just in gay clubs. but in the best nightspots of the time. Then in the 1930s, they disappeared. Think about Historic Chicago. Images of the Great Fire, the World’s Fair (and its lunatic serial killer), Al Capone, and the setting of a fabulous Fosse musical come to mind. These stories are part of the mainstream cultural narrative of Chicago, but there are more stories to be uncovered and subcultures to understand. Author Jim Elledge explores the lives of the queer men who lived in Chicago during the 1930s and 40s in […]

(Un)planned Parenthood

There are some movies that, if possible, need to be seen within the first week of opening. Often, they are movies with unexpected twists and surprises that are difficult to keep secret. The Crying Game, from 1992, was one of the best examples of that. Tully (Focus), which reunites Juno’s director Jason Reitman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody with their “Young Adult” star Charlize Theron, is another such movie. Pregnant Marlo (Theron) is nearing the end of her rope. Days away from her due date, she looks like her belly could burst at any moment. A mother of two school-aged […]