Put on your cha-cha heels and watch some good movies
June 8, 2021 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Missing from the list, IMO..

The Laramie Project (2002)
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) and her sister from Down Under, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Angels In America (2003)
probably others. The "essential queer cinema" catalog can be wide and varied in a lot of ways.
posted by hippybear at 9:34 PM on June 8, 2021 [29 favorites]

hippybear, thanks for this and the rest of the Pride Month posts! I don't have much to say about this list or these movies, but I do appreciate the work you're putting in to all these posts. Thank you!
posted by malthusan at 9:50 PM on June 8, 2021 [9 favorites]

Missing from the list, IMO..

Hah. Yeah, all three of those are weird oversights to be sure!

Re: Angels in America, and the "wanting things to go back to the way they were," which seems prescient right now...

Belize and America

In the documentary vein, I would throw in Marlon Riggs' brilliant Tongues Untied (a specific target of Jesse Helms because it lived rent-free in his homophobic fever dreams). Trailer.

Also Lemebel:

Writer, Visual Artist and pioneer of the Queer movement in Latin America, Pedro Lemebel shook up conservative Chilean society during Pinochet's dictatorship in the 1980s. Body, blood and fire were protagonists in his work that he attempted to perpetuate in the last eight years of his life in a film he was never able to see finished.

In an intimate and poetic journey through his risky performances dealing with homosexuality and human rights, "Lemebel" portrays a culmination of yearning immortality.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:05 PM on June 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

Totally plan to add Pee-Wee's Big Adventure to this list.

Tell em Large Marge sent ya
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:35 PM on June 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

Heh. That's a pretty big jump from 1923 to 1961, understandable if you are just talking explicitly gay content from primarily a US perspective, but there are a lot of movies that are good and/or interesting that are pretty clearly gay in subtext that are worth noting in those gap years as well as more films from outside the US that are really great.

Just to note a few as examples,

Michael (1924), directed by Carl Dreyer who famously also directed The Passion of Joan of Arc addresses the subject directly

Flight (1929) is a delightful gay romp in the most minimally disguised subtext directed by It's a Wonderful Life's Frank Capra of all people.

Sylvia Scarlett (1936) featuring a cross dressing Katherine Hepburn

Garden of Allah (1936) another scantly disguised gay subtext filmed in gorgeous early technicolor

Then there's a bunch of movies where major characters and themes are heavily gay coded that sometimes get overlooked by straight critics even as they might praise the movies themselves, Johnny Eager (1941), Johnny Guitar (1954), Tennessee's Partner (1955) (A Ronald Reagan film!) and many other westerns and "noirs" stories featuring male partnerships that contain too much excess for the films to be seen as straight as the plot pretends, and more romantic comedies featuring extended cross dressing "gags" that offer more than just fulfilling the basic needs of the story, from Laurel and Hardy onwards.

This isn't to argue with the list so much as it is to say that there were movies that spoke to or from the gay community that have been made from the start here in the states that did fill the gap of enforced silence in direct representation and many more made abroad that I haven't listed that are every bit as important and great as the ones mentioned, current directors like Ming-liang Tsai, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, for just two examples of critically acclaimed directors whose work is consistently queer.

As more of an aside, I have a strong fondness for Some of My Best Friends Are (1971), mentioned on the list, it's a strong contender for best fucked up Christmas movie and should be at least given more notice around the holidays. (It's a weird film to talk about because it relies heavily on stereotypes, but stereotypes which hadn't really made it to the screen or mass culture much before, which makes them feel both old and fresh at the same time in a way.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:50 PM on June 8, 2021 [15 favorites]

I was disappointed in the 2020 remake of The Boys in the Band. Nobody’s heart really seemed in it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:48 PM on June 8, 2021

I love this! Even as a long term queer film festival attendee, there were years I had to miss, so I have a few new things to look forward to watching now. And I learned some things about a show I had seen. Too cool.

I'd like to add a link to Noah's Arc because it's the first show I ever saw about gay men of color and I loved it. It was a long time ago, and my memory isn't super clear so I have no idea how well it stands up today, but it felt important at the time and I've never met another person who's seen it.
posted by liminal_shadows at 3:07 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Drunktown's Finest is really good, worth searching out if you have a chance.
posted by gimonca at 4:58 AM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Better Than Chocolate is pretty dang good, and has an amaaaazing soundtrack.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on June 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

But I'm A Cheerleader.
posted by thivaia at 5:40 AM on June 9, 2021 [31 favorites]

My college years were punctuated by The Crying Game, Philadelphia, and the Incredible True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. (And a couple of Melissa Etheridge albums.)

It was a time.
posted by wellred at 6:13 AM on June 9, 2021 [8 favorites]

This is a pretty good list, and I agree with the additions in the thread.

I would also add 1995's The Celluloid Closet, an excellent documentary about queer and queer-coded depiction in movies.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:35 AM on June 9, 2021 [11 favorites]

My wife and I still make jokes about getting cha-cha heels.
posted by SoberHighland at 7:03 AM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Glad to see both Saving Face and Pride on that list.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:07 AM on June 9, 2021

I still haven't managed to see it myself, but the Chilean film A Fantastic Woman from a couple years back is apparently a scorcher. The actor who plays the lead is trans herself.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:18 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I would add 1968's The Queen, a fascinating record of the pre-Stonewall drag pageant scene. It culminates with an epic read by Crystal LaBeija (founder of the House of LaBeija and the drag mother of Pepper LaBeija, who features in Paris Is Burning)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:21 AM on June 9, 2021 [6 favorites]

Longtime Companion
(it's a crime that this movie isn't streaming somewhere)
posted by dnash at 7:48 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I remember enjoying Parting Glances, but it’s been 30+ years; I wonder how it would hold up….
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:51 AM on June 9, 2021

Seconding But I'm a Cheerleader and Better than Chocolate, formative movies for this queer along with Go Fish.
For much, much earlier queer cinema, Nerdist has a list of the earliest depictions in silent films today.
posted by ApathyGirl at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

I was hoping this would turn into mostly a recommendation thread and I'm not disappointed.

Here's some random non American ones from me: Manji, Bambi (2013), Outrageous! (Its on Youtube and there's a recent biography of its star Craig Russell), When Night Is Falling, Winter Kept Us Warm, Montreal Main, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, J'ai tué ma mère, Hanging Garden (and maybe Thom Fitzgerald's Wolf Girl tho presented as heterosexual certainly comes off not - I once asked Thom about it and he told me only his mum and me liked that movie), Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, The Rubber Gun, My Prairie Home, I've Heard The Mermaids Singing, John Greyson's Zero Patience & Lilies, Fire Song, Fire, Forbidden Love... And I guess the work of the pride of Tiverton Ontario Bruce La Bruce (which to be fair is an acquired taste).
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2021 [9 favorites]

I just recently rewatched Hedwig And The Angry Inch and cracked my heart open all over again. I'd forgotten how much of a 90s move it is (brassy lighting, jump cuts, intentionally simple animation), how much of a character piece it is (John Cameron Mitchell spends a lot of time looking directly into the camera), and how incredibly self aware it is (some of my favorite moments are the throwaway jokes about common mispronunciations of the script) .
The bit that struck me the hardest is the one where Tommy Gnosis jerks his hand out of Hedwig's pants like it's on fire. "What is that?!?"

"It's what I've got to work with."

That line, with that delivery, is still lodged somewhere in my gut. It may never come out.
posted by Leeway at 9:52 AM on June 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

I’ve worked on one of these! I wish the post would have acknowledged Fred Sargeant.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:09 PM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Birdcage (1996)

But not the original nearly 20 years earlier?

(In fairness, this is a case where the remake is as good as the original.)

gorgeous early technicolor

Does it for me. I mean, I love the visual precision and clarity of the modern digital medium too. But emotionally it's technicolour that hits home, coz that era is when I was first introduced to movies. Probably helped along by not having TV where I grew up until I was 10. So it was the full experience of movies at a theatre, or nothing. Lawrence of Arabia and Space Odyssey: 2001 just don't have the same impact in a home theatre as on a giant screen.
posted by Pouteria at 9:24 PM on June 9, 2021

Man, I totally missed what was happening with this year's Inside Out film festival (thanks, pandemic brain!), but here's a list of the schedule and what was screening (or streaming, as it was this year).

A few from that list that I really want to see:

A Distant Place - trailer

Genderation - trailer

Moffie - trailer

Being Thunder [can't seem to locate a trailer]

Fanny: The Right to Rock - trailer
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:40 PM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

No Babadook? Ok, Linda.
posted by gohabsgo at 11:33 PM on June 9, 2021

Thanks for the post hippybear, and your continuing pride month content! And thanks to everyone in the thread with new suggestions, so many new films to watch!
posted by ellieBOA at 7:54 AM on June 10, 2021

> I remember enjoying Parting Glances, but it’s been 30+ years; I wonder how it would hold up…

It's still one of the best AIDS movies ever, imo. Friends just rewatched and said it really held up well.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:33 PM on June 10, 2021

I was watching Pride, and I cried so hard at the end. It’s such a great film.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:21 PM on June 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

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