A widely published freelancer, Annalee Newitz is also a founding editor of the ground-breaking zine Bad Subjects and Culture Editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian for which she's most recently written a cover story on the queerness of superhero culture.
There are tons of queer-themed movies that I adore: everything from the lesbo-noir Bound to apocalyptic AIDS-era fuckfest The Living End and sweet coming-of-age comedy The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love.
But I have the most sentimental attachment to - and therefore love for - a gorgeous, depressing British film called Another Country (1984). Set in an unnamed, wealthy prep school during the 1930s, it's about two roommates: Tommy, a socialist (played by the devastating Colin Firth) and Guy, an apolitical, open homosexual (a sexy Rupert Everett in his first starring role).
During the course of the school year, as world war comes to seem more and more likely, the two young men realize that their schoolboy philosophical debates about sex and freedom have adult consequences. Based in part on the real-life experiences of Guy Burgess, a British journalist who defected to the Soviet Union, the movie chronicles what happens when Guy is violently reprimanded by school authorities for falling in love with a beauty named James (a ridiculously lovely young Cary Elwes).
Another Country is one of those pretty period films the Brits produce in seemingly countless numbers, but its subject matter is anything but light. It's about nothing less than desire and liberation, politics and love. It's worth watching more than once.
Gay Like Me
Owen Thomas is not only a fellow GreenCiner, he's also writer and editor of the daily must-read Ditherati.
I don't consider myself a gay film expert, by any means, or even a film buff; I just like a good flick. For
anyone who feels the same, I'd recommend Trick, a lovely romantic comedy that captures some essence of what it's like to be gay in the big city: Just because you're out and you've found a supportive society doesn't make love any easier. You want profound? Rent Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Gary Morris edits the incomparable Bright Lights Film Journal, a GreenCine favorite and "a popular-academic hybrid" (for a great read, check the list of banned words). He's also written for both San Francisco alternative weeklies, Images and other publications.
William Friedkin's The Boys in the Band (1970) has a pretty low rep in the queer community, partly because the "self-hating homos" angle remains too intense for many viewers, and of course, budding young queers have never even heard of it, and probably wouldn't know what to make of it if they saw it. But there's a quite unique sort of vicious vitality in this film that raises it even above other alleged "campy dialogue classics" like All About Eve. The characters are unforgettably alive, sophisticated beyond belief, and the "queen talk" is of the highest order, thanks to Matt Crowley's gift for the cutting aphorism. Every other line is a killer, and some have passed into the parlance, like "Who do you have to fuck to get a drink around here?" A question so many of us have asked. And hetero director William Friedkin gets riveting performances from the actors, some queer and some not, who might have wilted under a weaker director. The real scandal here isn't the alleged homophobia but the fact that, despite a newly restored print, The Boys in the Band remains unreleased on DVD.
And the runner up is... The Killing of Sister George! Robert Aldrich's masterful 1968 melodrama features one of the great dykes in movie history. "George" (Beryl Reid in a brilliant performance) plays a smarmy do-gooder in a maudlin British TV drama, but off the set and at home she's a terror, wreaking havoc on fellow employees, assaulting some nuns ("They should be scourged in their cells!" she shrieks), and forcing her timid, addled girlfriend to eat her cigar as "penance" for imagined crimes. (A later "crime" finds said girlfriend having her nipples gnawed by George's randy middle-aged female boss.) George's lust for (lesbian) life overpowers her and meets its tragicomic end, but even when she's up to no good, you can't help but be in her corner, urging her to throw those scones at her evil boss, dump that ice water on an obnoxious costar, or, most memorably, scream three increasingly terrifying "Moo's!" at the unthinkable prospect of becoming merely "the voice of Clarabell Cow."
Executive Director of Theatre Bay Area, Brad Erickson is also a playwright whose works have been performed at Theatre Rhinoceros and other fine institutions. He's currently working on, among countless other things, a libretto.
My favorite GLBT film? Easy. Parting Glances. Why? Well, "favorite" is a subjective term, and my answer is entirely subjective. I'd rank Parting Glances as my favorite primarily, I think, because of where I was personally when I first saw the film. That is, freshly moved to San Francisco, in my mid-20s, exhilarating in all the rites of coming out in a gay capital during the 1980s. And here came Parting Glances, the first movie my roommates, my boyfriend, and I had seen that reflected what we imagined as "our lives." (We wished we had lives and friends as cool as those in the film, but anyway, that's what we imagined, "There we are, up on the screen!" We all saw it multiple times.
Looking back - I haven't seen the movie in many years - I still remember it fondly. It has appealing characters, an attractive, sort of boho NYC ambience, a good dose of comedy, and a bittersweet romantic break-up. In a historical context, the movie, at an early moment, confronted AIDS head-on. And it drew a portrait of a hugely important element in gay life, that of the non-sexual gay friendship, even non-sexual gay love relationship.
More, the thing is just darn fun. I'd love to take another glance.