by MISS FEMMEMORANDUM
Happy holidays, readers, or, as I call it, happy week-off-to-prep-for-Oscar-season. The pool of films released in 2013 included several LGBT themes, characters, and stories, from Adèle Exarchopolous and Lea Seydoux’s heartrending and scandalous Blue Is The Warmest Colour to David Sedaris’s semi-autobiographical C.O.G.
Behind the Candelabra
Maybe all you’ve seen about this HBO Liberace biopic is the vigorous love it received at the Emmys, snatching up 6 nominations and forcing us to sit through a belabored Elton John number, presumably after the HFPA scrounged around for some other gay piano player to do a tribute. Michael Douglas plays Liberace against Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson, and the film chronicles their secret affair from its fervent inception to its painful, dysfunctional end. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it a “portrait of loneliness,” and it has received generally positive critical reviews. The kicker, though, is that it’s reportedly Stephen Soderbergh’s last project “for the time being,”which, you know, is too poignant to pass up. Watch with an Olivia Pope-sized glass of wine in your silkiest robe.
Dallas Buyers Club
An awards show darling, Dallas Buyers fictionalizes the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a man’s-man diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 Texas. His solution: track down alternative treatments and do the good, old-fashioned American thing: sell them to a demanding market. Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Woodruff and Jared Leto’s mincing, yet complex portrayal of transwoman Rayon both received acclaim, as well as a fair amount of blowback: Rayon’s casting received criticism from the trans* community, who asked, again, why a straight man was cast as a transwoman. The question seems particularly poignant when posed in the early reign of Queen Laverne Cox, don’t we agree? Further, while its story is compelling, Dallas Buyers doesn’t paint a complete picture of the desperate measures taken by 1980s AIDS patients in search for a cure. If you want that, turn to How To Survive A Plague.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Hoo boy. You know how every year there’s a film that everybody gets wide-eyed about and calls “RAW, man?” Last year it was probably Amour? Right. This is 2013’s that. The film has dealt with controversy about the filming environment and the way noted scumbag director Abdellatif Kechiche treated his two principal actresses. Your opinion might affect whether or not you go see it, if you’re a quasi-political Polanski-boycotting filmgoer. At any rate, Adèle Exarchopoulos’s performance has generated almost as much buzz as the film’s graphic sex scenes, which some queer critics have lambasted as unrealistic. Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a lesbian film that, perhaps, isn’t simply about overcoming intolerance or championing a cause, but takes its sweet damn time in weaving a careful story about exploration, awakening, and falling in love.
Kill Your Darlings
It’s Dan Radcliffe as Alan Ginsberg, which should be interesting enough, but virtually all the coverage of this film, like all the coverage of that fateful run of Equus, has been about Harry’s wand ‘n bludgers. Kill Your Darlings also involves a murder investigation, a cast of characters essentially made up exclusively of prodigiously gifted writers, plenty of gorgeous mid-century scenery, and okay fine the actual climax of the film is a gay sex scene. Fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, musty book smell, and horn-rimmed glasses will like it. Beat generation devotees… have already seen it.
Imagine the marvelous, charming, perfect Dame Judi in the title role. Now imagine her delicately, sympathetically pursing those perfectly aged lips around the word “beard.” Of course, Philomena is much more than this moment, taking us through Philomena’s search for the son she gave up for adoption, which tends to happen when you give birth out of wedlock while in a convent. Her journey reveals a great deal about her son, including the fact that he was gay. A substantial drama, touching on family, religion, and loss. Keep an eye on Dench for Oscar.
An adaptation of a David Sedaris short story, C.O.G. tells the story of the idealistic, or maybe just pathologically superior, David, who sojourns into the pastoral idyll of his post-Yale summer determined to connect with Real America by picking apples on an Oregon farm. He quickly finds a host of characters who dismantle every aspect of his identity. Sedaris devotees may find the lack of his signature voice disconcerting, but the film’s collection of episodic sketch-type encounters certainly evoke his style. You may want to skip this to reread Santaland Diaries, and I will not judge you.
Or you could just watch Gun Hill Road, which is now on Netflix.
Miss Femmemorandum is a media/PR/law hybrid by day and a DIYer/obsessive media consumer by night. Come to her for all things crafty, filmy, and ladylike and stay for the diatribes on intersectionality and invisibility.