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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in LGBT (304)

Wednesday
Jun102015

HBO’s LGBT History: And the Band Played On (1993)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions... 

Last week we looked at a biopic of one of the most reviled political figures in twentieth century American history in Citizen Cohn. This week we continue our collection of HBO AIDS films (notice that every single film we’ve discussed so far has been centered on the epidemic: from the Harvey Fierstein chamber piece, Tidy Endings, to Epstein & Friedman’s Oscar winning doc, Common Threads and even that James Woods’-led biopic which structured itself around Cohn’s own battle with the disease) by looking at And the Band Played On, a film you should all watch if for no other reason than to see the eclectic cast Aaron Spelling (yes, he produced it!) assembled.

Lily, Sir Ian, and a troubled production history after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jun032015

HBO’s LGBT History: Citizen Cohn (1992)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed films & miniseries produced and distributed by HBO.

Last week we looked at one of the greatest documentaries on the AIDS crisis ever committed to film, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1988), and discussed HBO’s remarkably solid Oscar track record. This week, we enter the 1990s, a time when HBO’s clout when it came to made-for-TV movies was on the rise and when its stronghold on the respective Emmy category would begin: did you know that HBO has won the Emmy for Best TV Movie all but two times since 1993? It’s clearly poised to keep the streak going with yet another LGBT property, Bessie (reviewed).

Citizen Cohn (1992) [Watch here]
Directed by: Frank Pierson
Written by: David Franzoni
Starring: James Woods, Joe Don Baker, Joseph Bologna, Ed Flanders and Lee Grant

If you look at the early HBO TV movies you notice they favored (much like Lifetime does nowadays) real-life stories that were provocative in subject matter yet packaged in rather unremarkably-shot films. While the sophistication of historical retellings like John Addams, Recount and Game Change have become banner examples of what HBO Films can produce, its earlier iterations looked more like Citizen Cohn. The film does its homework and relentlessly shows Roy Cohn for the petty, petulant bully he was, both as a member of the McCarthy committee on investigations on Communist activity and as a divorce lawyer in New York. [More...]

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Monday
Jun012015

Links

Vanity Fair "Introducing Caitlyn Jenner" Annie Liebovitz's great photo of Caitlyn (née Bruce) is all the rage on the internet today. Vanity Fair's cover story will be 22 pages in print form
VF Tumblr also has behind the photoshoot footage
Awards Daily wonders what the Academy's documentary branch will do about the new New York Times policy -- previously their policy was to review every single movie that opened in New York City
In Contention the screenwrite of Grace of Monaco live tweets it to "correct" the record
You Must Remember This I'm so behind on this podcast which is typically great and educational about Old Hollywood -- the latest episode is about the Manson Murders in Hollywood but don't let a ton of "Star Wars" titled episodes fool you. It's not Lucas's space opera but 40s-era stories about stars during wartime
The Film Stage looks at the 10 favorite films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder which include Johnny Guitar and Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom; sounds about right! The prolific gay auteur would have  been 70 this week

The AV Club with some funny news: E.L. James will basically rewrite 50 Shades of Grey to make more money oh and to tell things from Christian's perspective.
Variety bummer news: Sofia Coppola stepping off the director's chair for The Little Mermaid
The Stake urges you to remember that Point Break (1991) is "tremendous" before you see the inevitably terrible remake - while on that topic...
RedBubble has a cool graphic poster of that movie for sale
The Playlist a new tearjerker project for Channing Tatum, Two Kisses for Maddy about a widower raising his daughter 
Cinematic Corner falls hard for Furiousa and Mad Max Fury Road
Reel Talk thinks we need to start taking Nicholas Hoult seriously (as do I post Fury Road... though I was far less convinced previously)
CineMunch wonders who your favorite drunk actresses are on their latest podcast -- with gin drink recipes!
CHUD great new poster for the final Hunger Games movie. Those movies are dull but I will give them this: they've always had wonderful smarts about the teasing
MNPP's quote of the day reveals two Stephen King properties that the studios actually don't want. Weird
MNPP gets excited like Chris Pratt for Jurassic World 

Tweet o' The Week
Squarespace no longer seems to allow tweet embeds -- they say they do but they never show up at TFE anymore so this is a snapshot of a tweet from the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain herself. (About the formerly ubiquitous Bryce Dallas Howard). It is wonderful. Gingers forever.

 

Showtune to Go!
June is Pride Month and with Caitlyn Jenner kicking things off with that Vanity Fair reveal today let's go back to one of the most moving original gay anthems "I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles. It's only one of the greatest songs ever written about being true to yourself. (I adore that moment at the beach in Paris is Burning when the two ladies start singing it).

Sing out, John Barrowman! 

 

Wednesday
May272015

HBO’s LGBT History: Common Threads (1989)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed films & miniseries produced and distributed by HBO.

Last week we looked at the quietly touching film Tidy Endings (1988), written and starring Harvey Fierstein and a must-see for Stockard Channing completists. We’re not going far this week, since much of HBO’s early LGBT output tried to grapple with the AIDS epidemic that had dominated the cultural conversation about gay men in the 1980s.

Did you know that films produced by HBO have won over 20 Oscars? This past year alone, HBO dominated both documentary categories with Citizenfour and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 emerging victorious. It has been a stealth awards run which Sheila Nevins (currently the president of HBO Documentary Films but her involvement stretches back to 1979) has all but nurtured herself. 

Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
Written & Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman (based on the book, The Quilt: Stories From The NAMES Project by Cindy Ruskin)
Narrated by: Dustin Hoffman (who'd just won his 2nd Oscar)

HBO’s commitment to strong documentary storytelling goes back to the late 1980s; their first Oscar win came in 1985 when the American Undercover special Soldiers in Hiding won the Best Documentary Feature award, the first time it was bestowed to a pay cable service. Having hosted the then-surgeon general in their 1987 informative special, AIDS: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know…But Were Afraid to Ask, it’s not surprising HBO would help produce Epstein and Friedman’s Common Threads which won Best Documentary Feature at the 62nd Academy Awards, the year Driving Miss Daisy took Best Picture (how’s that for a double feature?). Common Threads continued the network’s commitment to mining urgent and contemporary social issues in their documentaries...

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Tuesday
May262015

"Are you a Catholic?" (Actually No, But I *Get* It)

For The Lusty Month of May, we're looking at a few sex scenes. Here's Nathaniel...

They like to say that people come into your lives for a reason. Also true of movies. When I saw Priest (1994) in its American release in 1995, I was just out of the closet but still very much struggling with having been a strict Mormon for then roughly 100% of my life. The movie is about a gay Priest (Linus Roache) who struggles with his vows .... and not just the sexual ones. It hit me in a seismic way. This had never happened to me before or since but I started crying at the end and actually couldn't stop until after the credits had ended. 

Where you are in life can dictate a lot about how you receive a movie. But this series is about sex scenes so let's narrow our focus. Today Priest's sex scene, which I had liked (okay, obsessed over - shut up) back then plays super tame. Why did it shock me then? I have the answer in 2015 watching it again...

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Saturday
May232015

Stage Door: "Little Wars" 

If I were a blurb whore I might start this article with:

"If you liked... 

Julia (1977), The Children's Hour (1961), The Little Foxes (1941), Corey Stoll & Kathy Bates as Ernest Hemingway & Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris (2011), and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker in Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle

...than you'll love Little Wars"

But I am not a blurb whore. At least not most of the time. But I do think you'll love Little Wars

Here's a beautiful problem with theater (and smallish movies, too): there's more good stuff than anyone can possibly see. And also, sometimes, depending on promotional budgets and media pedigree or lack thereof in both cases, more good stuff that we sometimes ever hear about. I refuse to be a part of that problem so I blog from the missionary zeal of great entertainments. One of the reasons The Film Experience takes detours to theater and TV and books is that all of the storytelling playgrounds inform and cross-pollinate.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas are the focus of "Little Wars"Which brings us to "Little Wars," one of five works by a very promising young playwright Steven Carl McCasland who I hadn't even heard of until last week. (The five plays run in repertory through May 31st so there's only 4 more chances to see this one). I bring it to your attention because it's entirely affordable ($18 a ticket) and it's an actressexual's delight.

Little Wars riffs on iconic people and though that device can sometimes prove gimmicky (consider that wobbly first season of Penny Dreadful or any number of tacky riffs on "public domain" characters), it's also responsible for great works of art (case in point: The Hours, fictional but inspired by Virginia Woolf's 'whole life in a single day' work on Mrs. Dalloway). McCasland's play happily falls much closer towards the latter pile of fictions. It imagines a 1940 evening inside the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein (Polly McKie) & Alice B Toklas (Penny Lynn White), then "radical lesbians" -- radical because they were out -- who've invited "The Great Agatha Christie" (Kim Rogers) to dinner... liquid dinner nat'ch. Things don't go as planned since there's an unexpected visitor who goes by "Mary" (Kristen Gehling), a secretive housemaid (Samantha Hoefer) and Christie really disrupts the plans by bringing along Dorothy Parker (Dorothy Weems) and playwright Lillian Hellman (Kimberly Faye Greenberg). Initially just hearing these famous accomplished characters (who did know each other in real life though the play is fictional) verbally spar, boast, and drink like fish is entertaining enough but as the play progresses, organic drama emerges involving differences of opinion about art, the Nazi threat, marriages (gay and straight), and survival through wars large and small.

McKie and White anchor the play with fairly miraculous specificity as the odd (lifelong) couple at its center but most of the women are given at least one shining moment or two in McCasland's generous ensemble writing. I wanted a clearer picture of Dorothy Parker's famous wit, she mostly seems sad and drunk, but there was more than enough to compensate elsewhere. Familiarity with their collective works or previous biopics will undoubtedly aid your enjoyment -- especially if you've seen The Children's Hour (1961) and Oscar favorite Julia (1977) -- but the play is strong enough to stand on its own as a fascinating and unexpectedly moving collision of voices at a pivotal moment in history. 

Kim Rogers as Agatha Christie in "Little Wars" © Samantha Mercado Tudda

P.S. an 'it's a small-world' bonus for readers of The Film Experience. The actress playing Agatha Christie, Kim Rogers (no relation), is a longtime fan of The Film Experience -- we'd never previously met but we talked after the show.

Wednesday
May202015

HBO’s LGBT History: Tidy Endings (1988)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed films and miniseries produced and distributed by HBO.

Last week we gave a brief overview of the purpose of this small miniseries and we went down memory lane as we reminisced about our favorite LGBT characters from HBO TV shows. All of your comments made me want to pop in episodes of The Wire, The Comeback, Oz, Sex and the City, The Larry Sanders Show, Game of Thrones and True Blood, even! Unsurprisingly, though, most of you singled out Six Feet Under’s David Fisher (Michael C. Hall), definitely one of the most well-rounded gay men that has ever graced our television screens. How appropriate then that we officially kick off the series with a death and a metaphorical haunting.

Tidy Endings (1988)
Directed by: Gavin Millar
Written by: Harvey Fierstein
Starring: Stockard Channing, Harvey Fierstein.

By 1988, when HBO first aired Tidy Endings, its first gay-themed TV film, the cable network was still in the process of breaking away from being merely another cable provider. After successfully building from its subscriber base in Pennsylvania and New York by becoming one of the first cable providers to transmit their signals via satellites in 1975, HBO entered the 1980s understanding that while Hollywood reruns were its bread and butter, it would need to create its own content if it wanted to distance itself from other rising networks like Showtime and The Movie Channel. [MORE]

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