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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Winter LGBT movie preview
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2016-12-14

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It must be December: Movie award contenders and some of their most anticipated mega blockbusters are here, along with the usual holiday trappings.

Just like last year, unfortunately, although the winter months ahead promise plenty of diverting films, Our People won't see much representation among them. Take heart: When spring arrives, so will a slew of LGBT-themed movies as well. Unless otherwise noted, the opening date listed refers to at least a one-week theatrical run.

December

Jackie—Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy reflecting on life in the White House to a reporter in the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination. The gifted Portman turns the easily parodied Jackie into a flesh-and-blood woman in this somber portrait. Dec. 16

La La Land—Emma Stone shines as a struggling actress and Ryan Gosling is appropriately downbeat as a struggling keyboard player with a dream of opening a jazz club. The two "meet cute" during an L.A. traffic jam, exploding into an opening musical number that sets the tone for this bright, frothy homage to both classic musicals and the light-as-air French '60s pop musicals of Jacques Demy. Damien Chazelle ( 10 Cloverfield Lane, Grand Piano, Whiplash ) directs. Dec. 16

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—After buying the Star Wars franchise lock, stock and barrel, Disney determined it was going to get its money's worth with annual movie releases and, after last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke all the records, who can blame the company for keeping its schedule? This prequel takes us back to the middle of the saga, focusing on the resistance fighters who steal the plans for the Death Star. Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen and Forest Whitaker co-star. Dec. 16

Passengers—In this space romance, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt play two passengers among 5,000 who awaken from suspended animation 90 years too early when their spaceship malfunctions. They slowly fall in love while trying to discover what happened. Morten Tyldum ( The Imitation Game ) directs. Dec. 21

Fences—Denzel Washington directs and stars in this long-gestating dream project that's a screen adaptation of August Wilson's award-winning play. Washington plays a one-time professional baseball player who's now a garbage collector in 1950s Philadelphia, and who squashes his son's dream of playing college football. Viola Davis co-stars as Washington's clear-eyed wife whose diplomatic skills are as finely tuned as her cooking abilities. Dec. 25

January

Underworld: Blood Wars—Kate Beckinsale dons the skintight, Emma Peel-inspired leather pantsuit for the fifth time as Selene, the vampire death-dealer who is still trying to stop the eternal war between the vampires and the werewolves ( the Lycans ). And there's still only her hottie boyfriend ( Theo James ) and his dad ( Charles Dance ) to help her in her quest. Jan. 6

Hidden Figures—This is the true story of a trio of brilliant Black women who worked behind the scenes at NASA in the effort to put astronaut John Glenn into outer space. Glenn's recent death makes this all the timelier. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae play the women, and Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst co-star. Jan. 13

Patriots Day—This film is a dramatic re-creation of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings. Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman co-star. Peter Berg directs. Jan. 13

Table 19—Anna Kendrick plays the ex-maid of honor who decides to attend her best friend's wedding anyway and ends up at the reject table in this raucous comedy. Jan. 20

A Dog's Purpose—Okay dog lovers, here's our movie! A devoted dog ( voiced by Josh Gad ) discovers the meaning of his own existence by interacting with humans over the course of several lifetimes. Based on the best-seller by W. Bruce Cameron, it stars Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Juliet Rylance and Peggy Lipton ( ! ). Jan. 27

February

Rings—Thirteen years after the events that led to the nasty little Samara being released from the deep, dank well, the curse is back in this third installment in the franchise about the killer videotape and its deadly side effects. ( I'm not sure how this new crop of victims will be watching the tape—on video players at their grandparent's houses? ) Feb. 3

Collide—To pay for his girlfriend's emergency surgery, a desperate young man ( cutie pie Nicholas Hoult ) agrees to pull off a drug heist for an eccentric gangster ( Anthony Hopkins ). Feb. 3

Fifty Shades Darker—Old joke: "Why do you stay with that sadist? "Beats me." The joke takes on new meaning when one recognizes that the movie detailing said sadist and his playmate made a zillion dollars. So here they come and ( no doubt ) come again—Christian Grey and Ana Steele ( Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson ), the poster couple for S&M romance. Feb. 10

A Cure for Wellness—An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company's CEO from an idyllic but mysterious "wellness center" in the Swiss Alps. Upon arrival, a lot of creepy shenanigans ensue. If the trailer is any indication, this latest from director Gore Verbinski looks to be a great addition to the psychological horror canon. Jason Isaacs, Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth co-star. Feb. 17

A United Kingdom—In 1940s Botswana, Prince Seretse Khama shocks the world when he decides to marry a white woman. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike co-star. Feb. 17

A trio of holiday movie gift ideas

Three recent Blu-ray and DVD releases that are going to be of special interest to Our People, and will make great holiday gifts for the movie lover on your list.

Florence Foster Jenkins—Meryl Streep shines as the title character, a wealthy Manhattan opera buff whose tone-deaf singing improbably led to her one-night-only performance at Carnegie Hall in the 1940s. It's a black comedy biopic with dramatic heft from director Stephen Frears thanks to Streep's performance and surprisingly, Hugh Grant as her endearing husband and Simon Helberg as her gay accompanist.

Something for Everyone—Michael York, at the height of his blonde beauty, stars as an irresistible bisexual seducer who sleeps his way to the top of a wealthy German family, headed by the eccentric Angela Lansbury. Legendary Broadway producer/director Harold Prince made a rare foray into movies with this 1971 oddity, a mix of murderous camp and sex that has long been coveted by film fanatics and has been restored in this debut release on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Girls Lost—A trio of adolescent girls find themselves bullied for daring to be different. Then, after finding a magical plant whose nectar temporarily turns them into boys, the girls experience life a whole new way. This is a refreshingly original lesbian/trans-tinged coming-of-age story that was a festival hit.


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