Ah, summer. Weekends in the mountains, afternoons at the beach and GLBT Pride festivals beckon. Summer is also the time to enjoy an onslaught of cinematic spectacles in air-conditioned theaters. The following films are those that GLBT moviegoers in particular should be on the lookout for between now and the end of August (please note that all release dates are subject to change):
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (opening this Friday): Gay-friendly star Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role — following interim, song and dance stints hosting both the Tonys and the Oscars — as the indestructible, metal-infused hero.
Little Ashes (May 8): Miss this revealing look at the tortured relationship between writer Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltran) and painter Salvador Dali (Robert Pattinson) at your own peril! It’s one of the best films I’ve seen yet this year.
Star Trek (May 8): This long-running sci-fi series ran out of steam following 2002’s underrated Star Trek: Nemesis, but it’s about to get a re-boot with the help of a hot young cast that includes Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Heroes star Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock and Eric Bana as their formidable adversary.
Angels & Demons (May 15): Does anything scream “gay” more than Vatican intrigue? In this sequel to The Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks returns (with a more believable haircut) as scholar-adventurer Robert Langdon. The always-watchable Ewan McGregor co-stars as a papal toady with many secrets.
Big Man Japan (May 15): A slacker becomes a super-sized hero following an electrical mishap, and is pressed into protecting the populace from the requisite giant monsters in this hip, very funny import from Japan.
Easy Virtue (May 22): A Jane Austen-inspired romantic comedy, based on a lesser-known play by Noël Coward. The cast includes plenty of eye candy for both the ladies and the men: Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Ben Barnes, the best thing about last summer’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Departures (May 29): An attractive Japanese man thinks he’s going to work for a travel agency when he answers a help wanted ad for someone “to help with departures.” Instead, he finds himself a mortician’s assistant handling funerals for, among others, a transgender person. A surprise winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s ceremony, it is a beautiful and moving story with universal appeal.
The Country Teacher (June 5): In this Czech drama, a gifted, gay teacher becomes friends with the mother of one of his students … and finds himself attracted to her son. Winner of the Audience Award at the Cottbus (Eastern European) Film Festival.
Land of the Lost (June 5): This looks to be an enjoyably campy update of the 1970’s Saturday morning kids show about explorers who find themselves in a prehistoric world. It stars Will Ferrell, Anna Friel (of the late, fabulous Pushing Daisies) and a slew of nasty, rubber-suited Sleestaks.
The Art of Being Straight (June 5): Questions of sexual attraction and orientation arise among a group of friends in Los Angeles. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2008 Dublin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
Séraphine (June 5): A biopic of the largely-forgotten French painter Séraphine de Senlis. A housekeeper who dabbled in art as a hobby, de Senlis’ creations today occupy some of the world’s most prestigious galleries thanks to Wilhelm Uhde, the gay German art critic and collector who discovered her.
Sex Positive (June 12): Reviewed here, this is an enlightening expose of the three gay men who pioneered the unpopular but life-saving concept of “safe sex” in the early years of the AIDS crisis.
Public Enemies (July 1): Johnny Depp plays notorious bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale (who also stars in this summer’s Terminator Salvation, May 21) leads the manhunt to put Dillinger behind bars. Hopefully, we’ll see some pre-incarceration frisking!
Brüno (July 10): In what promises to be the gayest flick of the summer, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen takes on American attitudes toward homosexuality in the same stealth-subversive way he exposed the US in his hit Borat.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17): Fresh from his full-frontal turn on Broadway in Equus, the all-grown-up Daniel Radcliffe returns as the perpetually adolescent wizard in his latest adventure, which is also the first film since Dumbledore was "outed".
Lion’s Den (July): A woman serving time in prison for killing her lover gives birth, and subsequently finds herself in a custody battle with her mother. Fortunately, she finds an ally — and perhaps same-sex love — in a fellow inmate.
G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra (August 7): Quit snickering at the subtitle! A cast that includes hotties Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings the classic boy dolls to big-screen life.
Julie & Julia (August 7): Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, who were great together in Doubt, join forces once again in a comedy by director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle). La Meryl plays none other than chef-extraordinaire Julia Childs.
Taking Woodstock (August 14): The director and producer of Brokeback Mountain — Ang Lee and James Schamus, respectively — return with another gay-themed movie. This time, they tell the real-life story of Elliot Tiber, the gay Catskills entertainer who inadvertently organized the Woodstock music festival in 1969.
Patrik, Age 1,5 (August): Thanks to a computer glitch, the baby a Swedish gay couple thinks they are adopting turns out to be a homophobic teenager. This crowd-pleasing dramedy had its world premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.
I can already smell the popcorn! Here’s to a great GLBT summer at the movies!
Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.