Before she lost her head for her country, Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) lost her head for Sidonie (Lea Seydoux), a lady-in-waiting who became the queen’s favorite reader in “Farewell, My Queen.” Spanning the first few tumultuous days of the French Revolution in July 1789 , the film opens with a shot illustrating the vast differences between the worlds outside of and within the walls of Versailles. As bread becomes scarce in Paris, the question becomes how safe is it for the king and queen and their staff of servants.
More than 60 years after Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning “Sunset Boulevard” premiered, forgotten silent film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) remains one of cinemas most enduring characters. She’s been parodied by Carol Burnett and was the subject of an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. Some of her most famous lines – “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” – have become part of the gay lexicon.
The Beatles’ 1967 made-for-television “Magical Mystery Tour,” now on DVD, takes the camp and silliness of the group’s previous feature films to a vivid new level. Directed by all four Beatles along with Bernard Knowles, “Magical Mystery Tour” plays out like a series of scenes woven together as an excuse to have a goofy, good time – and, of course, to hear Beatles’ songs, including “Fool On the Hill,” “I Am the Walrus” and “Your Mother Should Know.”
If you can overlook writer/director Whitney Sudler-Smith’s unnecessary and self-indulgent intrusiveness, his doc “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston” is informative, enjoyable and respectful of its topic. Smith’s search includes marvelous period film footage. His interviews with such high profile subjects as (Halston muse) Liza Minnelli, right-wing socialite and impresario Georgette Mosbacher, designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Anjelica Huston, Billy Joel and others provide the fabric as well as the stitching.
Jenn (Jenn Harris), a straight, NYC yoga instructor and Matt (Matthew Wilkas), her gorgeous, geeky, gay, comic bookstore-employed BFF have been talking about having a baby together since they were in college. With romantic prospects looking bleak for both of them, they begin making plans for how to have a kid. Jenn prefers the old-fashioned way. And, since they have only officially – and disastrously – had sex once, while in college, they agree to give it a try. That, in a nutshell, is the premise of writer/director/actor Jonathan Lisecki’s funny and sweet rom-com “Gayby.”
From the first time that we see her onscreen, we know there’s something not right about Diane (Juno Temple). Wandering the streets of Manhattan attempting to borrow the cell phones of passersby, she ends up in a shop where she meets young, butch Jack (Riley Keough), who takes her in.
The Blu-ray “A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand” should have been monumental, but it’s uneven, dull and disappointing. As the 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year, Streisand was feted at a gala affair in Los Angeles. This Blu-ray captures more than a dozen of that evening’s performances.
Boston-based drag king performance troupe All the Kings Men is the subject of “Play in the Gray,” a documentary by filmmaker Kaitin Meelia. The title refers to the “gray zone” of gender occupied by most of the six-member group.
All The Kings Men has a straightforward, so to speak, mission to make people “think in a fun and open way” and to show “the world a different view.” ATKM’s shows feature skits, lip synching, choreography and a wide variety of genders and characters.
The Oscar-winning film “Cabaret” is finally out on Blu-ray. A multitude of memorable lines and songs from “Cabaret” have left their mark on gay culture.
The film is based on the book “Goodbye to Berlin” by gay writer Christopher Isherwood (“A Single Man”). The book served as the basis for the play “I Am a Camera” and the subsequent Kander and Ebb stage musical “Cabaret.”
“Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement” is a beautifully rendered story of dancing and romancing that parallels a couple’s coming-out story with that of the LGBT community. The romantic journey of Edie Windsor (from Philadelphia) and Thea Spyer (from Amsterdam) over the course of more than 40 years is uplifting and wondrous.
Now in her 80s, Edie gets the film started by recounting that in 1962 she “couldn’t take it anymore” and called a friend to find out where the lesbians socialized. That night at Portofino’s Restaurant, Edie and Thea met, danced together and, as Thea puts it, their “bodies fit.” Eventually they became a couple.
Rhys Thomas’ doc “Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender” captures the essence of the late Queen front man and music legend Freddie Mercury. An honorable portrait of a talented man who died too soon, the film is packed with a vast array of footage, ranging from live performances to in-studio sessions to interviews from a multitude of sources.
Remember when Lasse Hallström (“My Life as a Dog”) made good movies? “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” isn’t one of them. The biggest problem is Simon Beaufoy’s stilted and clunky screenplay, based on Paul Torday’s novel. From the first weighted frame, it’s obvious we are watching a movie based on a book.