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Fall queer movie preview
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

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Fall officially arrives in a few weeks but as usual movies are ahead of Mother Nature—pushing the awards season envelope with festival buzz and laying odds on their heavyweight contenders. It's seemingly the one time of year that pictures with riskier content have a chance of a) actually getting booked in a theatre and b) getting seen and appreciated by more than the coveted teenage fanboy crowd. In other words, get ready for a fair amount of films with LGBT themes. Locally, queer film audiences have much to anticipate between now and the end of the year.


Circumstance, the story of a budding and extremely forbidden lesbian romance set in Iran from bisexual filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz, is currently in theaters and shouldn't be missed. Neither should Gun Hill Road, the story of a Latino ex-con returning home to the Bronx after a three year absence to find that his teenage son is in the process of transitioning to female. (See my review in this week's edition of WCT.)

The Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., has been building its LGBT-themed movie programming and they'll have the Chicago premiere beginning Sept. 23 of A Good Man, a documentary about out dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones' creation of an historic work about Abraham Lincoln. The following week the Siskel screens the documentary !Women Art Revolution, a concurrent portrait of a group of women artists including queer film historian B. Ruby Rich and sculptor Judy Chicago.

That same weekend, on Sept. 28, the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave., opens what promises to be one of the sexiest gay-themed movies of the year. The aptly titled Weekend focuses on an extended one-night stand that's being described as a "Before Sunrise for gay men" and promises to warm up the chill as fall officially arrives.


The 47th Chicago International Film Festival runs Oct. 6-20. Each year the fest screens hundreds of films from around the world, mixing all styles and genres, all making their Chicago debuts. Only 25 of the fest's titles were announced at press time but they include several prominent LGBT-related titles, including Leave It On the Floor, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, and Madame X. Fest audiences will also be the first in town to see the eagerly anticipated Tilda Swinton drama We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Dirty Girl, a road-trip comedy in which an overweight gay twentysomething hooks up with a sluttish party girl, is in theatres Oct. 7. That same weekend the Music Box screens the first Halloween event of the season on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. when Camp Midnight gives the camptacular matinee treatment to the 1976 horror classic Carrie. It's a partial benefit for Handbag Productions and Dick O'Day, the alter ego of yours truly will be on hand as host. The Music Box will also host a return of film writer Rob Elder's "Movie that Changed My Life" series with a screening of The Godfather Oct. 16 featuring Boys Don't Cry/Stop Loss director Kimberly Peirce in attendance.

The big-budget costume drama The Three Musketeers, starring up-and-coming Welsh actor Luke Evans, arrives in theatres Oct. 21 (and premieres here earlier in the month at the Chicago International Film Festival). Evans, who also stars in the forthcoming big-budget fantasy epic The Immortals (Nov. 11), has been the subject of intense Internet buzz of late—for apparently heading back into the closet after outing himself years ago. When the dust settles, could we finally have the first openly queer A-list movie star?

Queer Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodovar's latest film, The Skin I Live In, in which he reunites with Antonio Banderas, arrives in Chicago on Oct. 21 as well. Martha Marcy May Marlene—which stars the Olsen twins younger sister, Elizabeth as a young woman suffering from the psychological fallout after escaping a cult—premieres here that same date. The film has absolutely no queer content, other than your out film critic has seen it and is touting it as one of the year's best films.

Roland Emmerich, the gay writer-producer-director of a batch of blockbusters, goes the literary route with Anonymous, the story that asks the question, "Was Shakespeare a fraud?" Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave star in the costume epic that is in theatres Oct. 28.

October concludes with the Chicago premiere of lesbian director Wendy Jo Carlton's follow up to 2009's lesbian drama Hannah Free. Jamie and Jessie are Not Together, a romantic comedy with music, begins a weeklong run at the Siskel Oct. 28 with a gala premiere featuring Carlton, with cast and crew members (most from Chicago) in attendance. Carlton wrote and directed the feature. (See my interview with her in this issue.)


Reeling 30, Chicago's LGBT international film fest, runs Nov. 3-12. The fest, the country's second oldest, celebrates 30 years of annually presenting the best in LGBT cinema to Chicago audiences. This year promises to be particularly exciting with debut screenings of the highly anticipated lesbian-themed drama Pariah (produced by Spike Lee) and two compelling documentaries: We Are Here, a personal history of the AIDS crisis related by five San Francisco residents who lived to tell the tale. The film, which David Weismann (The Cockettes) directed, has been receiving critical acclaim and was recently the subject of a laudatory piece in the New York Times. Windy City Times is co-sponsoring the movie's presentation at Reeling. Vito—the latest movie from documentary filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz that is a portrait of Celluloid Closet writer and AIDS activist Vito Russo—will also be screened during Reeling (both docs co-presented by the Queer Film Society).

In a Windy City Times exclusive, Reeling 30 has also announced The Wise Kids, a coming-of-age drama that filmmaker Stephen Cone shot in Chicago, as its opening-night presentation Nov. 3 at the Music Box. Other titles in the fest include August, Cho Dependent, CoDependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Going Down in La-La Land (the latest from writer-director Casper Andreas), Hit So Hard: The Life and Near-Death Story of Patty Schemel, Longhorns, Private Romeo and Wish Me Away.

My Week with Marilyn—based on writer Colin Clark's memoir as gopher to Laurence Olivier on the film set of The Prince and the Showgirl, which co-starred Marilyn Monroe—is in theatres Nov. 2. Vengeful FBI director J. Edgar Hoover gets the biopic treatment (with script by Milk Oscar winner, out screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) in J. Edgar. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hoover while Armie Hammer takes on the part of Hoover's purported lover, Clyde Tolson. Clint Eastwood directs the movie, out Nov. 11.

Neil Patrick Harris is back and having fun playing off his image in yet another edition of the wacky comedy Harold & Kumar series, this one titled A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (Nov. 4). Fans of homoeroticism will surely get plenty of that when the Twilight series continues and features more shirtless Taylor Lautner scenes. This penultimate installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I, is in theatres Nov. 16. Out director Bill Condon (Gods & Monsters; Kinsey) helms this film.

I'm particularly excited about The Artist, the French silent movie that's winning critical and audience raves from festival audiences wherever it plays. It's the tale of a silent age film star (Jean Dujardin, who won Best Actor at Cannes) on the way down in love with a lovely starlet whose career is on the rise—a sort of silent Star Is Born as it were (and it's, of course, in glorious black and white). It's in theatres Nov. 25.


Now the award contests really heat up and expect the one between Meryl Streep (starring in The Iron Lady (Dec. 16), the biopic of England's dragon lady ruler, Margaret Thatcher) and Glenn Close (playing the title role in Albert Nobbs (Chicago release date TBD), as a Dublin woman who lives as a man and works as a butler to fulfill her financial dreams in the 1880s) to be particularly intense.

Also in theatres this month are Pariah (first screening at Reeling 30, December release date TBD); Polanski's Carnage (Dec. 16) whose cast includes Jodie Foster; the U.S. remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (no word on whether the bisexual character's girlfriend will be in the first installment) (Dec. 23). December also features a slew of mainstream, big-budget releases—World War Z, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Darkest Hour, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse.

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