Beginners (opening June 3) and an onslaught of superhero epics, there are a number of movies being released between now and the end of August that will be of special interest to the GLBT community:
Mr. Popper's Penguins (June 17): OK, so a family film starring Jim Carrey as the surprised recipient of a gift of six penguins might not seem like gay-interest fare. Throw co-star Angela Lansbury into the mix, however, and it becomes the biggest event for her GLBT fans since her 2009 Tony Award-winning turn in Blithe Spirit on Broadway!
The Smurfs (July 29): Similarly, a big-screen version of the more irritating than charming kiddie icons from the early 1980's may tempt us to run screaming from our local multiplex, but Neil Patrick Harris (its openly gay star) will no doubt get me to fork over $10 to watch him help the little blue animated critters fight the villainous Gargamel (played by gay fave Hank Azaria).
Larry Crowne (July 1): Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts reunite in this dramedy co-written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos. Vardalos previously wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Connie and Carla, both popular among GLBT viewers. Hanks, who played gay in 1993's Philadelphia and won an Academy Award for it, directs as well as stars as a recently laid-off man who decides to go back to college.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (July 15): Femme-centric director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) returns with a new tale about forbidden friendship between two young women in 19th-century China. Several modern-day scenes include one in a Shanghai nightclub that features a musical cameo by Hugh Jackman.
Friends with Benefits (July 22): Justin Timberlake headlines and reportedly shows a lot of skin in this romantic comedy that has him and hot co-star Mila Kunis (a recent Golden Globe nominee for her bisexual turn in Black Swan) grappling with unexpected emotions that intrude into their initially strictly-sexual relationship. Will Gluck, who made last year's delightful Easy A, directs and Woody Harrelson plays a gay role!
The Perfect Host (July 1): Out actor David Hyde Pierce stars as a man planning a lavish dinner party at which a bank robber hiding from the police shows up in this dark comedy-thriller. Singer-actress Helen Reddy, long absent from the screen since her 1970's heyday, is in the supporting cast.
The Help (August 12): Based on the bestselling novel that details the lives of African-American maids in the early 1960's and the white families for whom they work. The film's star-studded cast includes Emma Stone (also an alum of Easy A), Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney, Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson.
Circumstance (August 19): A lesbian love story set in repressive Iran, this movie has been hailed by some as the best of numerous GLBT-themed entries at this year's Sundance Film Festival. While it is American-produced, much of it was secretly shot in Iran.
Conan the Barbarian (August 19): Summer will end on a hunky note, as newcomer Jason Momoa inherits Arnold Schwarzenegger's loincloth to become Robert E. Howard's classic warrior. Stephen Lang (Avatar) plays his supernaturally-powered nemesis.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.