Directed by David Lewis
Starring: Brendan Bradley, Matthew Mongomery
Both original and incredibly romantic, Redwoods tells the story of an already-partnered man whose love is tested when a mysterious drifter passes through his small Northern California town. Everett (Brendan Bradley) and Miles (Tad Coughenour) are in a comfortably platonic relationship, which is held together by raising their son. While his family travels out of town, introverted Everett finally has time to himself that is until Chase (Matthew Montgomery), a striking writer, pulls up in front of his house. Shot amidst ancient Redwoods, David Lewis (Rock Haven) film is a stunning ode to the power of love. (Funnyboy Films)
Dim Sum Funeral 2008
Directed by Anna Chi
Starring: Ling Bai, Steph song
An Irish funeral has whats called a wake; a Jewish funeral has whats called sitting shiva; and a traditional Chinese funeral is something else entirely -- which is what the estranged siblings of a Westernized Chinese-American family discover as they try to fulfill their mothers last wish. Starring Steph Song (Dragon Boys, Everythings Gone Green), Kelly Hu (X-Men 2), Bai Ling, Talia Shire (Rocky), Russell Wong (The Joy Luck Club, Romeo Must Die), Julia Nickson, Chang Tseng and Lisa Lu. (Movie Central)
Sibling rivalry stands in the way of a young man's dreams in this coming of age drama from Australia. Jesse (Lachlan Buchanan) is seventeen years old and he's not interested in much besides surfing. Jesse's constant desire to hit the beach is fueled in part by an unhappy home life; his older half-brother Victor (Reshad Strik) used to be a local surfing champ until an injury forced him to put away his board, and now he's spends his days wallowing in cynicism and alcohol, while Jesse's younger brother Fergus (Xavier Samuel) is a punk rocker who has recently embraced his homosexuality, something Jesse hasn't become comfortable with. Jesse dreams of joining the local surfing team, and when a group of his friends and fellow surfers make plans for an all-night party on the beach, Jesse is determined to attend, even if it means lying to his parents. After a day on the surf, Jesse and his pals kick back with plenty of booze and marijuana while urging some local beach bunnies to join them for the evening, but things take an uncomfortable turn when Victor shows up and senses that his younger brother is poised to take his place as one of the stars of the local surfing scene. Newcastle was the first feature film from writer and director Dan Castle. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
"A Sweeping Romantic Story."
Latter Days 2003
Directed by C. Jay Cox
Starring: Steve Sandvoss, Wes Ramsey
Christian (Wes Ramsey of the washboard abs) is a waiter, party boy, and first-class man magnet. Elder Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss of the goofy grin) is a straight-laced Mormon missionary. When he and three elders, including the uptight Ryder (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mysterious Skin), move into Christian's Hollywood apartment complex, it's clear something's got to give. Christian tries to make his new neighbors feel welcome, but they're put off by his flamboyance--the short-shorts, the rainbow flag in his yard, etc. When Christian's trash-talking pals at Lila's restaurant, including the cynical Traci (Amber Benson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), bet that he can't seduce one of these clean-cut young men, he takes them up on it and sets his sights on cute, soft-spoken Aaron. As a pretense, he asks to learn more about his Church, but where they really connect is over their love of old movies, everything from Psycho to Tommy. When Aaron accuses him of being shallow, however, Christian starts to wonder if the bet wasn't such a good idea--plus he's starting to fall for the guy. Turns out the closeted Aaron feels the same way about him, but when his roommates find out, he's shipped back to Pocatello where he faces excommunication. Written and directed by C. Jay Cox (Sweet Home Alabama), a former Mormon missionary, Latter Days features Mary Kay Place as Aaron's disapproving mother and Jacqueline Bisset as the acerbic, yet supportive Lila. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
"Sweet Natured and Free of Spirit"
Arizona Sky 2008
Directed by Jeff London
Starring: Eric Dean, Patrick Place
Twenty one years after parting ways to go on life's great adventure, two grown men who were reluctant to proclaim their love for one another as teenagers get a second shot at love under the sprawling Arizona Sky. Kyle and Jack were only kids when they spent that wonderful night together in the desert. And though their feelings of love were genuine, expressing your true self in such a small town can sometimes have devastating repercussions. Two decades later, Jake leads a joyless life as a stressed out movie producer and Kyle remains at home caring for his ailing mother and tending to the horses. After suffering a particularly disturbing panic attack, Jake makes the decision to travel back to his hometown and reconnect with his first love Kyle. Upon reuniting the two men are both surprised to discover that the spark they once shared still glows as bright as it ever did. Perhaps with a little time and some much needed tenderness both men can finally find the happiness that has eluded them all these years. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
Check out Our LGBT Non Fiction Collection
Our House: Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents 2000
Produced and Directed by Meema Spadola
What is it like to grow up with Gay or Lesbian parents? Today, there are millions of children in the United States who fit that description. These families are at the heart of debates in courtrooms, schools and places of worship around the country as Americans struggle to define family values. Our House is a groundbreaking documentary that explores what it's like to grow up with gay or lesbian parents. Traveling to urban, rural and suburban communities in Arizona, Arkansas, New Jersey and New York, director Meema Spadola (the daughter of a lesbian mom and the director of Breasts: A Documentary) profiles the sons and daughters of five families - African American, Latino and white; Mormon, Christian and Jewish - who illustrate some of the diversity of America's gay and lesbian families. Icarus Films
Fish Can't Fly 2005
Produced and Directed by Tom Murray
Tom Murray's new docu, helpfully subtitled "Conversations about GOD and struggling to be gay," tracks several churchgoing gays in their efforts to reconcile their spirituality and sexuality. It soon becomes clear that pic's focus actually is men and women who have gone through the "ex-gay" conversion movement -- an intensive process designed to turn homosexuals straight -- only to become what one lesbian priest characterizes as "Dos Equis," ex-ex-gay. A well-constructed expose that slowly discloses its subject with clarity and candor, pic adds an important chapter to the gay docu canon and should be a popular item at gay fests. Like Murray's previous "Farm Family," docu zeroes in on people living outside gay-friendly urban centers. The mainly young men and women who recount their experiences all arrived at the ex-gay movement after exhausting attempts to forge an acceptable sexual identity within a restrictive society and, most particularly, a religious community that expressly excluded gays' gayness. Many of Murray's witnesses had not yet fully embraced their homosexuality and others felt that if they had to choose between sex and God, they really had no choice. All of them sacrificed years of their lives to the program, some even becoming spokespersons for the "conversion" cause on TV talkshows and point/counterpoint-type public debates. Murray freely cuts back and forth among his cinematic flock as they trace the parallel stages of their journey, from early struggles to live in harmony with their denominational brethren to well-meaning endeavors by parents, pastors and counselors to "cure" them of their homosexuality, to their final shared experience of suicidal depression when exorcism or Bible-spouting deprogramming failed to transform them into "normal" people. Indeed, one of pic's most fascinating figures is a white-haired, churchgoing conservative woman whose inability to accept her daughter's sexual difference contributed to her offspring's suicide. All of Murray's interviewees are marked by past ordeals with ex-gay groups like Live in Action or Exodus including traumatic years within cults where gay behavior was demonized, Calvin Klein clothes were confiscated as promoting "false image" and surveillance was constant. --Variety -
Girl Inside 2007
Produced and Directed by Maya Gallus
Photo Cylla Von Tiedemann
Twenty-six-year-old Madison, a male to female transsexual, is in the process of becoming a girl and Vivien, her apple-martini-drinking 80-year-old glamorous grandmother, has taken on the job of advising her on all things feminine. While Vivien's attempts to school Madison in the mysterious codes of fashion and behaviour are often hilarious, her straight-up questions raise profound issues about the nature of gender and sexuality. Filmed over three years, Madison's gender metamorphosis unfolds as an emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey of self-discovery that is as important as the physical journey of hormones and surgery. Love trumps discomfort as her family in rural New Brunswick struggles to accept that they now have a daughter instead of a son, a sister instead of a brother. And a year into her transition, she and her best male friend Cameron fall in love. He now sees Madison as completely female and accompanies her through the final stages of surgery and recovery. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful, this sweet coming of age story is both a portrait and an exploration of what it means to be a woman. NOTE: Some language and some scenes of throat surgery. --- Red Queen
Paris is Burning 2005
Produced and Directed by Jennie Livingston
Paris Is Burning closes with two neon-lit boys holding each other on the streets of Harlem. One looks into the camera and asks, "So this is New York City and what the gay lifestyle is all about--right?" This documentary takes an honest, humorous, and surprisingly poignant peek into one of America's overlooked subcultures: the world of the urban drag queen. It's a parallel dimension of bizarre beauty, where "houses" vie like gangs for turf and reputation ... only instead of street-fighting, they vogue their way down makeshift catwalks in competitive "balls." The only rule of the ballroom: be real.
In surprisingly candid interviews, you discover the grace, strength, and humor it takes to be gay, black, and poor in a straight, rich, white world. You'll meet young transsexual "cover girls," street hustlers saving up for the big operation, and aging drag divas reminiscing about the bygone days of sequins, feathers, and Marilyn Monroe.
Made in the late 1980s, this fashion-conscious film shows its age less than you'd expect. It's still a great watch for anyone interested in the whole range of humanity, or anyone who's ever been an outsider, desperately wanting something the world hides out of reach. --Grant Balfour
100 % Woman 2004
Writer and Director: Karen Duthie
100% Woman begins as Michelle Dumaresq's mountain-bike riding career did, careening down a rocky path to be met with controversy. From some critics comes cautious concern, from others, complete attack. At the centre of it all is the past of this extreme athlete—in particular, the first 20-odd years of life that Michelle spent as Michael.
In 2002, Dumaresq became the first openly transgendered woman in the world to be named to a national team in any sport. Beginning with her days on the BC race circuit, to the Canada Cup, the national title and finally, a berth at the World Championships, her progress is dogged by constant scrutiny, both from fellow competitors and the media. Dumaresq insists she doesn't race to make a stand, but doesn't shy from being a trailblazer. She grew up in turmoil over her identity and struggled to come to terms with herself as an adult, even with her parents' whole-hearted support. She takes on the mantle of role model because she understands how isolated others like her feel. Dr. Jerrilyn Prior, the pioneer of sex-hormone use in gender re-assignment therapy, backs up Dumaresq's quest to compete and explains how hormonal changes drastically reduce musculature.
This compelling documentary raises timely questions about what it means to be a "real" woman in the world of competitive sports and beyond.
Before Stonewall 1985
Directed by Greta Schiller et al.
Before Stonewall is a documentary about evolution, namely the evolution of gay culture in the U.S. from the early 1920s to the Stonewall riot of 1969. Embellished with archival footage and photography from five decades, the film most prominently features the gay underground of the '20s and '30s, the rise of gay service in the military and workforce during WWII, the persecution of gays as "subversives" and "sexual perverts" in the state department by Senator McCarthy, the growth of the first grassroots political organizations for gay men and lesbians in the '50s, and of course, the civil rights movement. Commentary is provided by the gay men and lesbians who came of age in the years leading up to Stonewall.
Overall, Before Stonewall does an admirable job of illustrating the rise of American gay culture and pinpointing the various social and political issues that were most instrumental. Perhaps the film's only weakness lies in the vast ground it tries to cover in such a short amount of time, leaving certain themes without much in-depth coverage. However, as a snapshot of the years leading up to Stonewall, it succeeds remarkably well. --Katy Ankenman
Directed by Nigel Finch
Starring: Doug barron, Cerry Becker
The fictional story line of Stonewall is framed by a piece of re-created gay history that has been chronicled before, primarily in such documentaries as Before Stonewall and After Stonewall. But here director Nigel Finch constructs a multilayered entertainment set in and around the Stonewall riots of June 1969 (in New York) that marked the start of gay rights and activism. Stonewall is engaging and sympathetic to the plight of gays everywhere, who survived a world where homosexuality was a fate worse than death (and often resulted in it). This is a movie about survival, oppression, and the self-loathing that is inflicted by a world that refuses to understand anything different from mainstream morality. Within that dynamic is a familiar subplot about a young rube, Matty (Fred Weller), who comes from the Midwest to the big city in order to find himself and falls for a drag queen named La Miranda (Guillermo Díaz) in the process. Finch, who died prior to the film's completion (it was finished by producer Christine Vachon), uncovers something joyous in the angst of his characters and in the factual context of material that might have seemed overworked in less committed hands. --Paula Nechak
After Stonewall 1999
Written and Produced by John Scagliotti
The companion film to Before Stonewall, After Stonewall, narrated by Melissa Etheridge, explores gay history in the U.S. from the 1970s through the 1990s. Like its predecessor, After Stonewall attempts to cover much ground in a short amount of time; however, with only three decades to span, the assignment is more manageable.
The film covers the predictable highs and lows of the last 30 years of the 20th century. On the side of triumph, it explores the declassification of homosexuality as a disease; the growth of gay presses and writers; gay wins in political office (notably Harvey Milk and Elaine Noble); and the formation of a national gay lobbying presence in the Human Rights Fund. On the flip side, we witness the antigay hysteria evoked by Anita Bryant; the rise of AIDS, the blind eye of the federal government; and the growth of the Christian Coalition. Perhaps the most significant contribution of this film is its mapping of a gay presence within popular media. Through TV shows such as South Park and covers of Newsweek and Time, as well as "out" popular performers like k.d. lang and Ellen DeGeneres, the case is made that gay culture has "arrived" in America--a huge leap from the days before Stonewall when the common idea of a gay person was someone to snicker at or otherwise dismiss as a lunatic. --Katy Ankenman
Regina Public Library Presents Gay Pride Week
Check out our LGBT films
In & Out 1997
Directed by Frank Oz
Starring: Kevin Kline, John Cusack
When a Hollywood heartthrob (Matt Dillon, playing a Brad Pitt look-alike) "outs" his small-town high-school drama teacher Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) during the Oscar telecast, the entire (fictional) town of Greenleaf, Indiana, wonders if Howard's really gay. More to the point, Howard wonders, too--quite a dilemma considering his pending marriage to Emily (Joan Cusack), who's patiently tolerated a three-year engagement. While a TV reporter (Tom Selleck) covers the ensuing furor, screenwriter Paul Rudnick and director Frank Oz make good-natured humor their highest priority, turning the "crisis" of coming out into a laugh-out-loud spin on conventional romantic comedy. The result is a film that delivers constant laughs and a golden opportunity for its fine cast to show off their considerable comedic talents--especially Cusack, who deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for her hilarious performance as the bride who's almost as confused as her would-be husband. That Rudnick and Oz have made a great comedy that's both old-fashioned and relevant to the late 20th century is no small feat, but In & Out has no hidden agenda apart from its triumphant desire to entertain. --Jeff Shannon
Kiss of the Spider Woman 1985
Directed by Hector Babenco
Starring: William Hurt, Raul Julia
Kiss of the Spider Woman starts out simply enough, hemmed in by the narrow walls of a Latin American prison cell. Molina (William Hurt) is telling his new cellmate, Valentin (Raul Julia), his favorite story. Molina is a delicate homosexual imprisoned for seducing a minor; Valentin is a bearded revolutionary still bleeding from his interrogation. If their film unfolded into the typical prison buddy plot, it'd still be a good movie. But this is a great movie. There are stories twisting within stories, each drawing a new, surprising level of difference between the two heroes: escapism versus realism, romance versus politics, gay versus straight, hero versus coward. As their unstable friendship grows more real, their stories become more vivid--whether Molina's fondly remembered Nazi propaganda noir, Valentin's tortured romantic history, or a tropical island fable told merely to pass the time. (Each substory stars Sonia Braga, a neat bit of casting that further blurs the line between fantasy and reality.) By the end, each man has changed just enough to taste the other's tragedy--a transformation that gives each the strength to define freedom on his own terms, despite the brutality of the prison and the bleak world beyond its walls. --Grant Balfour
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring: Brad Davis, Franco Nero
Like the Jean Genet novel from which it was faithfully adapted, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's swan song is a mannered, sometimes maddening affair whose complex symbolism and inflated rhetoric fly in the face of conventional storytelling. A mixture of guttersnipe philosophy, masculine ritual, and choreographed violence, the film oozes sexual tension and decadent glamour. But from the endless scenes of Jeanne Moreau singing a shrill cabaret ditty to the obtrusive narration and intertitle quotations, the film is often uncinematic in its translation of Genet's paean to self-actualization through treachery. Peer Raben's ominous electronic score is absolutely killer, as is the production design; the port town of Brest is brought to life on a stylized sound stage full of opulent interiors, cartoonish exteriors, and phallic set pieces. Yet the action moves so slowly, and the script is so talky, that the intricate wit and violent force of Genet's intellect often get lost. Brad Davis gives a granite-faced lead performance, his hard beauty ripe for the projected fantasies of the other characters (and the audience), while Moreau endures the considerable weight of Genet's unapologetic misogyny in a brave but ultimately masochistic turn. Supporting players such as Gunther Kaufmann, Hanno Poschl, and Franco Nero (the latter as Querelle's besotted lieutenant) also turn in compelling performances. Ultimately, though, this isn't an actors' film. It's a schematic amoral treatise dressed up in Tom of Finland drag -- a concept that works better on the written page than on celluloid. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide
Boys in the Band 1970
Directed by William Friedkin
Starring: Freerick Combs, Leonard Frey
A sensitive yet humorous adaptation of the stage play, this 1970 film directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) is one of the first films to openly address gay issues in a matter-of-fact style that largely avoids stereotyping. Shot on one set and featuring a birthday party as the festive setting, a group of friends assemble to celebrate, reminisce, and discuss their lives and the travails of being gay, even as one friend insists he's straight. The night turns from a light celebration to a sometimes-vindictive ordeal of revelation and betrayal, as each man in turn must confess his true feelings. Performed by the original cast of the stage production, the film may feel dated to some, but it still manages to be truthful and entertaining as it explores a subject that to this day is not often addressed. --Robert Lane
My Beautiful Laundrette 1985
Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring: Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Set
My Beautiful Laundrette, Stephen Frears's low-budget realization of Hanif Kureishi's subversively critical play, captures the contradictions of mid-'80s Thatcherism in a way that's as fresh today as when it was new. Wheeler-dealer Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey) sums it up when he says, "In this damn country, which we hate and love, you can get anything you want." He sets up his nephew Omar (Gordon Warnecke) with a rundown laundrette and the instruction to make it a success, which Omar temporarily does, with the help of his childhood friend Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). When the film was first released, it was the gay content that dominated the conversation, whereas now it seems a sensitive and multifaceted summation of its decade, exploring social, ethnic, and sexual issues and contradictions. Bringing together two such different characters as Omar--Asian, ambitious, for whom success is defined by wealth--and former childhood friend Johnny--white trash, ex-National Front--was inspired. Watching their friendship develop into love, and the ensuing bitterness and misunderstanding that they suffer from friends and family, is very poignant. All the lead roles are well taken, the contradictory character of Nasser in particular. By turns, funny, touching and anger-inducing, My Beautiful Laundrette wears its age lightly and its era proudly. --Harriet Smith
Desert Hearts 1985
Directed by Donna Deitch
Starring: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau
When college professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno in 1959 to get a quickie divorce, the last thing on her mind is romance. A prim intellectual, crippled by a sterile marriage ("We're a professional couple") and hiding behind her education, she moves into a ranch belonging to Frances Parker (Audra Lindley) and tries to keep to herself. But Parker's beautiful, sassy tomboy of a stepdaughter proves to be quite a distraction, and a love affair slowly blossoms. Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) refuses to be bound by convention or by expectations of how a nice girl should behave, and her devil-may-care attitude both attracts and terrifies the nervous professor.
Shaver is terrific as Vivian, and the slow thawing of her character is beautifully paced--you can feel the tension break when she finally lets down her guard. Another strong performance comes from Audra Lindley as Frances. She's a tough old bird with a drinking problem, but Lindley keeps the character from descending into stereotype, and she gives full rein to the tragic side of this lonely woman, especially as she struggles with her reaction to the developing relationship between Cay and Vivian.
There are scenes in Desert Hearts that would be painfully clichéd if they appeared in a heterosexual romance, and even here they only just escape that fate--relying a little too much on significant glances and lines that just don't sound like real conversation. Nevertheless, first-time director Deitch breathes new life into a standard straight-arrow-meets-free-spirit plot, and steadfastly refuses to turn this love story into an "issues movie." Add to that a strong feel for the period and a soundtrack filled with the likes of Patsy Cline and Gene Vincent, and the result is a warm, well-acted film that packs a real emotional punch. --Simon Leak
Fox and His Friends 1971
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring: Harry Baer, Marquard Bohm
The original German title, Faustrecht der Freiheit, which roughly translates as "Might Makes Right," describes rather bluntly the crux of this compelling drama, one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most acclaimed films. Fassbinder takes a rare starring role as Franz--"Fox" to his friends--a gay carny thrown out of work when the cops close a fairground sideshow. Introduced to a group of cultivated homosexuals by an antique and art dealer (Karlheinz Böhm of Peeping Tom fame), he becomes involved with high-class dandy Eugen (Peter Chatel), who finds the naive, uneducated innocent easy prey when he unexpectedly wins 500 thousand marks in the lottery. Eugen alternately flatters and humiliates Fox, ridiculing his working-class manners and tastes while sponging off his fast-disappearing fortune. The story is partially autobiographical, inspired by Fassbinder's own relationship with an illiterate butcher, but the director casts himself as the victim in the cinematic incarnation and turns his tormentor into a veritable vampire. Biographical considerations aside, it remains one of Fassbinder's most affecting, accomplished, and personal films, and he delivers a sweet, wounded performance as the proletariat Fox in a den of cultured, upper-class hounds. His evocation of the affluent gay community is catty and brittle, but ultimately this powerful drama is less about sexual orientation than class, power, and sexual control. --Sean Axmaker
Before Night Falls 2000
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Starring: Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp
Based on the posthumously published memoir by Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls is artist-director Julian Schnabel's second exercise in artist biography, but where Schnabel's earlier film Basquiat was relatively conventional, this film is bolder in both style and execution. Schnabel is perhaps too enamored of his subject as a noble martyr, lending the film a somewhat inflated sense of importance. Still, it's rare to see an artist's life and work so elegantly interwoven, and Before Night Falls uses all of Arenas's life as its canvas, from impoverished youth to lively gay freedom in mid-1950's Cuba; imprisonment during Castro's antigay regime; and to New York City in 1980, followed by Arenas's battle with AIDS and subsequent suicide (depicted here as assisted) in 1990.
Through these extreme rises and falls, Arenas is always writing, his typewriter his most faithful lover and weapon (by way of smuggled manuscripts) against the dark forces that surround him. As Time magazine's Richard Corliss wrote, Arenas is "a serious actor's dream role: to be a gay Jesus in a modern Passion Play," and Javier Bardem--the first Spanish actor to receive an Oscar nomination--inhabits the role with subtle ferocity, charting this emotional odyssey with outer reserve but blazing infernos of internal passion. And while Schnabel suffers from a hyperactive camera, there's poetry here--visual, dramatic, and literal--and vibrant humor to temper the deep tragedy of Arenas's life. Schnabel also uses his actor friends to good advantage: a nearly unrecognizable Sean Penn adds an ironic touch to his brief appearance as a peasant, and Johnny Depp is both funny and fearsome in dual roles as a drag queen and vicious army interrogator. --Jeff Shannon
Better Than Chocolate 1999
Directed by Anne Wheeler
Starring: Wendy Crewson, Karyn Dwyer
Many lesbian movies are long on charm and short on production values; Better Than Chocolate has a solid dose of both and steamy sex scenes to boot. Our heroine Maggie (Karyn Dwyer), a clerk at a lesbian bookstore, meets footloose butch Kim (Christina Cox) and, after Kim's van is towed away, they move in together. Unfortunately for their romantic bliss, Maggie's mother, Lila (Wendy Crewson), and teenage brother move in that very evening thanks to Lila's impending divorce. But what really complicates matters is that Maggie can't bring herself to come out to her mother; even when she tries, Lila steamrolls through the conversation, like she knows what's coming and doesn't want to hear it. Interwoven with this is the struggle of Judy (Peter Outerbridge), a male-to-female transsexual who's in love with the bookstore's owner, Frances (Ann-Marie MacDonald), who's freaking out because customs officers are holding a list of books at the border that they claim are obscene. The overlapping plots are deftly juggled, the personal and political are compellingly interwoven, and, most satisfying of all, the characters have problems that aren't going to be easily resolved. A handful of candy-colored lip-synching musical numbers give the movie some flash and the sex scenes give the movie some heat, but it's the elements of sorrow and ambiguity that really make the joy in Better Than Chocolate something to savor. --Bret Fetzer
Directed by the Warchowski Brothers
Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon
Destined for cult status, this provocative thriller offers a grab bag of genres (gangster movie, comedy, sexy romance, crime caper) and tops it all off with steamy passion between lesbian ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) and a not-so-ditzy gun moll named Violet (Jennifer Tilly), who meets Corky and immediately tires of her mobster boyfriend (Joe Pantoliano). Desperate to break away from the Mob's influence and live happily ever after, the daring dames hatch a plot to steal $2 million of Mafia money. Their scheme runs into a series of escalating complications, until their very survival depends on split-second timing and criminal ingenuity. Simultaneously violent, funny, and suspenseful, Bound is sure to test your tolerance for bloodshed, but the film is crafted with such undeniable skill that several critics (including Roger Ebert) placed it on their top-ten lists for 1996. --Jeff Shannon
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994
Directed by Stephen Elliott
Starring: Trevor Barrie, June Marie Bennett
A surprise hit in America, this 1994 Australian comedy is anchored by Terence Stamp as a transsexual who, in the company of two drag queens, travels to a remote desert location to put on a lip- synch performance--to the amazement of the locals. Getting there on a pink bus named Priscilla, the trio stop and play for people all over the Outback, getting the same homophobic, bewildered responses. The weak link in the film is dialogue that seems to have been pulled from "Queer Movie Banter for Dummies," all bitchy and cliché-ridden but fortunately salvaged by strong acting. The most fun comes whenever the three are performing; fans of Abba will be particularly pleased. --Tom Keogh
Director: Chip Hale
Starring: Thea Gill, Dan Paybe
This well-meaning Canadian indie opens with the explanation that a "mulligan" in golf parlance means "a second chance to perform a certain move or action." Golf enthusiast Nathan Davidson (Watchmen's Dan Payne) seems to have it all--good looks, a beautiful wife, a big house by the beach--until a chance encounter forces him to face the truth (oddly, the screenplay fails to identify the source of his financial largesse). When Nathan's college-aged son, Tyler (Derek Baynham), arrives for a summer stay with his best friend, Chase (writer/producer Charlie David), an aspiring artist, Nathan bonds more easily with the friend than the son. From the start, it's clear that Chase has no interest in girls, but the self-obsessed Tyler fails to notice. While he cavorts with his girlfriend, stay-at-home mom Stacy (Thea Gill, Queer as Folk) looks after his younger sister, and Chase and Nathan enter into a secret affair. Naturally, it won't stay secret forever. Mulligans tackles a sensitive subject in a tasteful, if unadventurous manner, i.e. the actors have a certain chiseled soap-star look and convey inner turmoil by staring into space as piano music plays in the background. For those who find the omni-sexual films of, say, Todd Haynes unsettling (especially Far from Heaven), such unthreatening moves may help the medicine go down easier, but there's no rule that a coming-out film can't take a few chances. Even so, certain moments will surely hit home with anyone who's ever tumbled into a family secret or two. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
"His life changed history!"
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch
When a famous person, like the nation's first openly gay male city supervisor, inspires an acclaimed book (The Mayor of Castro Street) and Oscar-winning documentary (The Times of Harvey Milk), a biopic can seem superfluous at best. Taking over from Oliver Stone and Bryan Singer, Gus Van Sant, whose previous picture was the more experimental Paranoid Park, directs with such grace, he renders the concern moot. Unlike Randy Shilts' biography, which begins at the beginning, Dustin Lance Black's script starts in 1972, just as Milk (Sean Penn, in a finely-wrought performance) and his boyfriend, Scott (James Franco, equally good), move from New York to San Francisco. Milk opens a camera shop on the Castro that becomes a safe haven for victims of discrimination, convincing him to enter politics. With each race he runs, Harvey's relationship with Scott unravels further. Finally, he wins, and the real battle begins as Milk takes on Proposition 6, which denies equal rights to homosexuals. He does what he can to rally politicians, like George Moscone (Victor Garber) and Dan White (Josh Brolin). While the mayor is willing, the conservative board member has reservations, and after Milk fails to back one of White’s pet projects, the die is cast, leading to the murder of two beloved figures. If Van Sant’s film captures Harvey in all his complexities (he was, for instance, a very funny man), Milk also serves as an enticement to grass-roots activism, showing how one regular guy elevated everyone around him, notably Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), the ex-street hustler who created the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial. Released in the wake of Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage amendment, Milk is inspirational in the best way: one person can and did make a difference, but the struggle is far from over. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
The Road to Love 2003
Directed by Remi Lange
Starring: Karim Tarek, Riyad Echahi
This romantic drama follows a young and apparently straight French-Algerian student, Karim, on a sociological quest to find gay Muslims. Through is investigations, the likable and handsome Karim meets a number of gay Arabs, from self focused Youssef to sexually aggressive Mustapha. It is handsome flight attendant Farid who leaves a lasting impression. While the friendship between Karim and Farid slowly intesifies, Karim is forced to confront the fact that his investigations will not only reveal the fascinating history and culture of gay Muslims, but also his own homosexuality. Water Bearer Films
French dialogue with English subtitles
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