|Welcome to our selective guide to what's on in mainstream
cinema across the UK, what's worth seeing and what's a must to avoid.
Each week we take a look at the pick of the movies currently on release from a gay
perspective, give them both an overall star rating plus our exclusive gay rating. The more stars out of a possible 10, the better the film; similarly the more pink triangles, the greater
the gay interest. Now Playing Reviews Index has a complete list of all our past reviews.
|The Da Vinci Code on release|
Movie Rating: Slow Moving But McKellen Saves It
To be fair, I should preface this review by saying I am number 40 million and one, which is to say, if forty million read and enjoyed The DaVinci Code, I’m the one who started the book and never finished it because it bored me, writes Ross van Metzke of GayWired.com. It wasn’t so much the plot, or anything to do with the book itself, really. Maybe it was that half of those 40 million people felt compelled to tell me this was the book that changed them. That they adored it, it was brilliant, best thing they’d ever read. Forgive me, but that’s a pretty tall expectation for a book to live up to.
So it was with mixed emotions that I ventured, on opening night no less, to a film which critics and audiences alike swore up and down paled in comparison to the book. Still, I tried to see things with an open mind. I love Ron Howard as a director. Ditto for Tom Hanks. Audrey Tautou was adorable in Amelie and how can I not sing the praises of the great Sir Ian McKellan? I can honestly say, without risk of feeling ill informed, The DaVinci Code isn’t so much a terrible movie, it’s just a boring one. Moments that should be nail biters barely rouse you to sit up straight in your seat, let alone cling to the edge of it. Hanks is so monotone, so dead set on trying to be bookish, nary an emotion pours from him in the two hours and twenty minutes we spend watching him work. Howard, a great director in his element, seems so lost with what do do here, he does nothing but refer to the book as a stage play.
And then there’s McKellan. Ah, good ole reliable, sturdy, trustworthy McKellan, the film’s saving grace. For a book that prides itself on standing apart from the crowd, for being a truly unique and inventive thriller, it is surprisingly lacking in any form of creativity. McKellan changes all that as the wise expert on all things historic with his sardonic wit and feisty bite. His presence in the film is a blessing – he brightens even the dullest moments. Him aside, The DaVinci Code is every inch the dull, snails pace thriller critics say it is.
©2006 All Rights Reserved.
|Gay Interest: Some|
Sir Ian McKellen is great and the theme of the corruption of the CHurch will gladden the heart of any gay consipiracy theorist.
|Transamerica on release|
Movie Rating: Excellent Cast
Pre-op transsexual Bree (Felicity Huffman) says nothing when teenage hustler Toby (Kevin Zegers) mistakes her for a Christian missionary, only offering him a ride across country. She neglects to mention that she is his biological father, and that she has sought him out at the insistence of her therapist, who refuses to sign off on her sex-reassignment surgery until she faces her past.
Writer-director Duncan Tucker's debut feature explores the relationship of those familial ties that bind in this melodramatic road movie that collapses into soap-opera cliche. At least, he cast well: Zegers is terrific, and Huffman is simply miraculous - a credible transsexual, yes, but much more as she reveals the hurt, loneliness, and longing beneath the surface of repressed Bree's skin.
Felicity Huffman and Graham Greene.
©2005 IFC Films
|Gay Interest: |
Though ultimately more interested in the parent-child relationship, this is also a coming-out movie of sorts, as Bree lives in a self-imposed closet. Director Tucker is gay and previously contributed to Boys To Men, an anthology of queer erotic short films. Huffman stars in the queer-friendly Desperate Housewives, and real-life transsexual Calpernia Addams - the subject of the Showtime movie A Soldier's Girl - has a small role here.
|Syriana on release|
Movie Rating: Moving Performances
From Academy Award-winning writer/director Stephen Gaghan comes this deliberately paced thriller set against the corruption and intrigue of the oil industry. There are multiple storylines, the central and most emotionally resonant ones involving CIA operative Bob Barnes (George Clooney), who finally learns the unsettling truth about his life's work, and a sellout energy analyst (Matt Damon) who grapples with profiting from his own son's accidental death.
There's more: corporate lawyers facing moral quagmires, ruthless CEOs, and downtrodden Pakistani teens turning to fundamentalist Islam. The dense layers of storytelling can get tediously heavy at times, and audiences may wonder what the point is beyond knowing that big business is evil. Still, strongly moving performances from Damon and Clooney keep this ponderous political beast from feeling too much like a really depressing global civics lesson.
George Clooney. ©2006 Warner Bros.
|Gay Interest: Some|
Clooney produced the gay-themed film Far From Heaven. Damon starred in the queer-themed The Talented Mr. Ripley, while co-star Jeffrey Wright played gay in Angels In America, and co-star William Hurt won an Oscar for playing gay in Kiss Of The Spider Woman.
|The Weather Man on release|
Movie Rating: Insulting & Tasteless Drama
For Chicago weatherman Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage), all forecasts point to a raging squall ahead. His midlife crisis is kicking in, compounded by his feeling like a failure in comparison to his Pulitzer Prize-winning father, Robert (Michael Caine). Then there's Robert's sudden illness, ex-wife Noreen's (Hope Davis) impending remarriage, and trouble with his two adolescent kids.
Caine's tender performance is the sole highlight of this excruciating, tasteless drama, while Cage sleepwalks through the role of the terminally self-involved TV star. Dave is whiny and often despicable, but he is far less offensive than the constant barrage of product placements, the tight shots of women's (clothed) vaginas, and the film's token gay character - a paedophile (Gil Bellows) trying to seduce Dave's teenage son (Nicholas Hoult).
Nicolas Cage. ©2006 All Rights Reserved.
|Gay Interest: Insulting|
In addition to the movie's minor and insulting queer content, Caine played a flamboyant gay beauty-pageant consultant in Miss Congeniality.
|Capote on release|
Movie Rating: Excellent
Writer Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) travels to Kansas - accompanied by childhood friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) - to pen a magazine article about a family's murder. Instead, after befriending killers Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), he changes the face of literature when he writes In Cold Blood, his groundbreaking non-fiction novel about the case.
Hoffman is brilliant in this biopic, capturing not only the author's familiar voice and mannerisms, but also his ever-shifting character. Capote was a complicated man, generous enough to help Smith and Hickock with their appeals, yet so ruthlessly ambitious that he began to anticipate their executions as a way to end his book. The actor's performance is so persuasive that it is almost possible to ignore the movie's doddering pace and lack of dramatic tension.
Philip Seymour Hoffman & Catherine Keener.
©2005 Sony Pictures Classics.
|Gay Interest: Massive|
Capote was openly gay and the movie touches on both his relationship with partner Jack Dunphy - played by Bruce Greenwood - and the homoerotic nature of his friendship with Smith. Screenwriter Dan Futterman is also an actor with numerous queer credits, including The Birdcage, Urbania, and a recurring role on Will & Grace. Hoffman, Keener, Pellegrino, Greenwood, and co-star Chris Cooper have all appeared in other gay-themed projects.
|Good Night, And Good Luck on release|
Movie Rating: Excellent Docu-drama
At the height of Sen. Joe McCarthy's 1950s Communist witch-hunts, CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his producer, Fred Friendly (George Clooney), decide to take a stand. Network head William Paley (Frank Langella) objects, and advertisers drop the programme, but Murrow's team presses on with a series of reports that expose the Wisconsin politician's perfidy and record of baseless allegations.
Clooney co-wrote and directs this astonishing film that recreates a pivotal moment in American history by seamlessly blending drama with footage of the real-life McCarthy. The performances are indelible, especially that of Strathairn, who perfectly embodies the legendary journalist's determination and integrity. Smoke-filled, black-and-white images evoke the buttoned-down, postwar era, while Clooney and Grant Heslov's screenplay subtly underlines the parallels to our own time.
George Clooney & David Strathairn.
©2006 Redbus Film Distribution
|Gay Interest: Lots|
If you listen closely, you can hear Liberace subtly take a step out of the closet as Murrow interviews him about marriage. Clooney executive-produced and co-star Patricia Clarkson appeared in Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven. Co-star Robert Downey Jr. played a gay character in Wonder Boys, as did co-star Jeff Daniels in HBO's Angels In America.
|Walk The Line on release|
Movie Rating: Good Performances & Loads Of Energy
Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) was country music's original outlaw, so why does this biopic go down so smoothly? The answer may lie in the fact that it comes posthumously for The Man in Black - a time when goodwill toward his memory is exceptionally strong. Still, it's full of real-life moments, solid performances (especially from Reese Witherspoon as June Carter), and energy to spare.
The story of Cash's rise and fall and rise again, from black-sheep son to swaggering, renegade country star to amphetamine addict to born-again Christian brims with life and humour, most notably in scenes between Phoenix and Witherspoon. But the rough edges have been sanded down to make the man who sang, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," maybe a little more cuddly than he actually was.
Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix.
©2005 20th Century Fox.
|Gay Interest: More Than You'd Think|
Witherspoon has a large gay following, thanks to the Legally Blonde franchise and to other films. Shelby Lynne, the Grammy-winning country artist who plays Cash's mother, has a very devoted lesbian fan base.
|Jarhead on release|
Movie Rating: Unconventional War Drama
It's 1991, and Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) is stationed in Iraq, waiting for something to happen during Operation Desert Storm. He's been trained as a sniper, and he wants to test his newly honed skills - to kill something, anything, really. So he waits. As does his low-energy sniper buddy Troy (Peter Sarsgaard) and their gung-ho sergeant (Jamie Foxx).
That idle sitting around, expecting a ground war that never comes, is what creates the tension in this film. By turns funny, brooding, and unsettling, full of ironic references to other war films, it's an unconventional look at what happens to soldiers primed with battle foreplay but never given the opportunity to transform themselves into the heroes they've been promised they'd become.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.
©2005 Universal Pictures.
|Gay Interest: Jake Gyllenhaal|
It's a contemporary war movie, so naturally there are negative references to homosexuality, but also one strangely surprising and funny scene in which the soldiers, just to cause trouble for a visiting camera crew, simulate a gay orgy under the desert sun. Meanwhile, the very worked-out Gyllenhaal is undressed quite a bit. Sarsgaard has played gay in Kinsey and in the forthcoming film The Dying Gaul, and was one of the killers in Boys Don't Cry. Gyllenhaal stars as a gay cowboy in the critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain. Broadband Feature Dialup
|Brokeback Mountain on release|
Movie Rating: Not To Be Missed Groundbreaking Gay Love Story
Ang Lee's outstanding film is based on an E. Annie Proulx short story. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger play two cowboys who meet macho outside a rancher's office in 1960s Wyoming, wearing Marlboro attitude and denim. They get summer jobs as sheep herders and their silent attraction for each other smoulders in the fresh mountain air. One chilly night, Gyllenhaal's Jack drapes his arm over the sleeping bag of Ledger's Ennis, and the two begin wrestling like panthers. Former rodeo rider Ennis takes Jack from behind, sealing a love that spans a lifetime.
Many wondered how Annie Proulx’s spare but elegant prose would translate to film, and Ang Lee has lived up to expectations so well that even the quickest shots in the movie made the audience gasp. Just two cans of bubbling baked beans over the campfire and you feel like you're there. The emotionally barren landscape contrasts so vividly with its physical beauty that the sex scenes seem a natural extension of the film’s meticulously crafted shots of the evergreen mountains or agonizingly beautiful streams and rivers. Go see.
©2005 All Rights Reserved.
|Gay Interest: Must See|
The film stars two of the sexiest actors around Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger and has explicit gay sex scenes betwen the two men - a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy - who unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Ang Lee has made a number of gay-themed movies including The Wedding Banquet
|King Kong on release|
Movie Rating: Stunning Tragic Spectacle
A group of explorers and documentary filmmakers led by director Carl Denham (Jack Black) who travel to the mysterious Skull Island to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong. Once there, they discover that King Kong is a real creature, living in a massive jungle where creatures from prehistoric times have been protected and hidden for millions of years. Ultimately, it is the attention of a beautiful woman (Naomi Watts) that soothes Kong long enough for him to be subdued by the explorers and shipped back to New York, where his bleak future involves being put on display in front of humans... but how long can even the mightiest shackles of man hold back an ape 25 feet tall?
Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 classic is spectacular, occasionally terrifying and just a little too long. Set in the period when the original stunned audiences, New York in the 1930's is stunningly recreated. The relationship between Watts and the gorilla is played as an epic tragedy, and the film is stuffed with great perforemances. A flawed triumph, but a triumph nevertheless.
|Gay Interest: Passing|
The theme of a doomed relationship does have a certain resonance with a gay audience, but just go for the spectacleBroadband Feature Dialup
|The Constant Gardener on release|
Movie Rating: Outstanding
Stationed in Nairobi, British diplomat Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is content to putter in his garden, while his firebrand wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), agitates for Kenya's poor. His complacency shatters when she is murdered, and he plunges into a nightmarish investigation into her death. Based on John LeCarre's novel, this romantic thriller is as moving as it is suspenseful.
Shooting on location in Kenya, director Fernando Meirelles captures the startling contrast between the unimaginable poverty of Nairobi's ghetto and the posh lives of the diplomatic corps. The story, told in flashback, is an angry indictment of the way governments and multinational corporations exploit the Third World, but the politics never obscure a love story made all the more real by Fiennes and Weisz's sensational chemistry.
Rachel Weisz & Ralph Fiennes.
©2005 Focus Features.
|Gay Interest: Some|
A plot point revolves around a supporting character who is assumed to be straight, but is later revealed to be gay. Weisz had a small role in the queer WWII drama Bent.
|Munich Steven Spielberg directs an international cast headed by Eric Bana and Daniel Craig in a thriller set in the aftermath of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. On Release |
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