Just four DVD releases in January 2010 I'm recommending
film from a queer perspective
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January at the Movies
1-20-10 KATM Windy City Times Column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
Though tradition dictates that many of the new films in theatres this month are, ahem, not exactly in
a league with their December forebears, each year there are exceptions to the rule.  Lately I’ve been
happily recommending the Ethan Hawke vampire flick
Daybreakers, a nice little b-picture addition to
the genre, Heath Ledger’s final movie,
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus with its eye popping visuals
and starry cast, and for the more adventurous (read: those who are okay with subtitles) I strongly
recommend the strangely hypnotic
The White Ribbon, with its stunning black and white cinematography
and decidedly unsettling story (it’s a sort of weird hybrid of
Village of the Damned and the classic Kings

January is also the month when many moviegoers finally find time to take in those talked about,
highly anticipated holiday releases.  You already known about a certain sci-fi megaflick called
(I missed the Imax version but friends insist that’s the way to go), Alec Baldwin showing off his
tuckus in
It’s Complicated and the homoerotic undertone in Sherlock Holmes so here’s another shout
out for Tom Ford’s
A Single Man and Lee Daniels’ Precious – two movies that are both challenging,
thought provoking and entertaining.

As you’re putting away all the holiday decorations and finishing up the thank you notes, this is also a
good month to explore several of the potential award contenders now out on DVD.  
The Hurt Locker
with a star making performance by Jeremy Renner who played gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in an
indie release is at the top of my list (I think it was 2009’s best film) along with the light as a feather
500 Days of Summer with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who gay audiences
remember from his amazing lead performance in
Mysterious Skin) and Meryl Streep and Amy Adams
re-teaming again in the delightful
Julie & Julia.

A flurry of LGBT-themed releases are worth adding to the mix as well.  I’m strongly recommending
Kirby Dick’s documentary
Outrage which focuses on closeted conservative politicians who have
repeatedly supported anti-gay legislation.  
The film is an incendiary experience that isn’t afraid to
name names.  The DVD includes several deleted scenes, a fascinating after screening Q&A with the
filmmaker and gay activists Roger McFarlane, Michaelangelo Signorile, and Larry Kramer (still spitting
fire thank God), as well as a heartfelt tribute to gay activist McFarlane, who committed suicide shortly
after the film premiered.  Though GLAAD chose to ignore Outrage in its documentary category
(shame on you GLAAD), it’s a really galvanizing movie and was one of my LGBT Top Ten for 2009.

Streamers, basically a filmed version of the critically acclaimed 1975 play by David Rabe, is also worth
looking into.  The film, from acclaimed director Robert Altman, features strong performances from its
six-man cast and will especially appeal to theatre devotees.  The material focuses on a group of
soldiers waiting to be shipped to Viet Nam.  Stuck in their barracks with nothing to do and with
tensions and fears mounting, their cultural differences come to light.  Matthew Modine stars as the
rural bumpkin struggling to resolve racist and homophobic views, David Alan Grier is his best friend,
out actor Mitchell Lichtenstein (who later co-starred in
The Wedding Banquet) plays the gay urbanite,
the son of privilege, who reads Sylvia Plath, isn’t embarrassed to wear Japanese klogs in the shower
and easily throws off the taunts of the others.  Shot in 1983 on a limited budget by the late director
Robert Altman, in a time before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the film touches on many of the issues that
the policy would bring to the forefront.  A new making of documentary includes Modine and

Those with a taste for the offbeat will surely appreciate
Flexing with Monty which is being released by
Breaking Glass Pictures, a new distributor of GLBT themed DVDs.  The movie, which began in 1994
and wasn’t completed for 14 years, has to be seen to be believed.  It stars the late Trevor Goddard,
victim of a heroin-cocaine overdose in 2003, who plays the title character, a self-absorbed narcissist
who spends the bulk of his time working out, gazing at his perfect physique in the mirror while having
sex with a blow up doll, fantasizing about his rather strange brother (who keeps a naked midget in a
cage), and taking calls as a leather escort.  Then Sally Kirkland as a nun with her own agenda enters
the picture and things get really weird.  This psycho-sexual fantasia – perfect midnight movie fare –
is part camp, part turn on (Goddard struts around naked much of the time) and complete oddity.

Two movies with primarily female casts are also worth adding to the queue.  The first,
St. Trinian’s, is
a wacky Brit comedy starring Rupert Everett (who also Executive Produced) in two roles – one in drag
as the head mistress of a notorious school for girls.  It’s a sort of female variation on frat house
comedies (especially
Animal House) with lots of the tongue in cheek insanity of the lesbian comedy   
D.E.B.S.  The movie features a raft of expert British comedic actors (including Colin Firth) and a hot
soundtrack.  The second is
Whip It, Drew Barrymore’s unfairly overlooked directorial debut, the gentle
coming of age comedy about a teenage girl (Ellen Page) who finds herself via the bone crushing
sport of roller derby.  Both arrive on DVD on Jan. 26.

Also out that day is the Michael Jackson documentary
This Is It and speaking of music themed
releases, what self-respecting former high school choir member or Thespian won’t want to add
Glee –
Season 1, Vol. 1 – Road to Sectionals to their collection?  The pilot, the first 13 episodes and a batch of
special features of out co-creator-writer-producer Ryan Murphy’s tremendously entertaining show –
featuring the delightful Jane Lynch as the butch cheerleading coach, hottie Matthew Morrison in the
lead, Chris Colfer as the sweet voiced gay soprano, et al – are included in this must have release.

That should be enough to hold you until February’s chill arrives – along with another release eagerly
anticipated by show tune queens –
Liza's at the Palace, the DVD of Minnelli’s Tony-winning 2009
concert on Feb. 2.
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