Friday, May 4, 2012

Reverend's Preview: Sunny Days & Dark Shadows

Ah, summer, beloved season of Pride, fruity cocktails and minimal swimsuits.  It is also the time of year when Hollywood releases its biggest, most expensive spectacles for audiences to ogle.  Superheroes, vampires and aliens typically reign supreme, but this summer's more GLBT-interest movies will feature such sights as male strippers, Tom Cruise in ass-less chaps, and a pairing of Brit divas Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. Here's the rundown (Please note all release dates are subject to change)...

The Avengers (May 4):  The largest collection of men in tights to hit the big screen since, well, Robin Hood: Men in Tights.  Marvel Comics heroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) join forces with The Hulk (ever-dreamy Mark Ruffalo) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson) to save the world.  Written and directed by Joss Whedon, who also masterminded Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 4):  A group of British senior citizens, led by Dench and Smith, decide to retire to an unexpectedly-rundown hotel in India in this comedy.  Co-starring cute Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire and directed by John Madden, who previously steered Dench and Gwyneth Paltrow to Oscar glory in Shakespeare in Love.


The Perfect Family (May 4):  Kathleen Turner plays a devout wife and mother up for her parish's "Catholic Woman of the Year" award who suddenly learns that her daughter (Emily Deschanel) isn't only a lesbian but is about to get married to her partner.  While it doesn't get all the church details right, the film is an enjoyable dramedy that premiered at last year's Outfest.  Out actor Richard Chamberlain plays the local monsignor. 

Dark Shadows (May 11): Based on what I've seen of it, Tim Burton's take on the supernatural soap opera that ran in the late 1960's-early 70's will no doubt be the campiest movie of the summer, possibly of the year. Johnny Depp stars as 200-year old vampire Barnabas Collins, who wakes up in 1972 to a decidedly different world.  The great supporting cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green and horror veteran Christopher Lee.


Hysteria (May 18):  This film's director, Tanya Wexler, likely describes it best: "It's a romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England."  She even bought cast members Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy and gay fave Rupert Everett, among others, vibrators as gifts.  Needless to say, the movie's got... buzz.

Virginia (May 18):  Academy Award-winning, openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) has assembled several top-drawer actors including Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Emma Roberts for his directorial debut.  I'm not sure what, if any, GLBT content is in the film but it will nonetheless give our community the opportunity to support one of our own as Black's standing in Hollywood continues to rise.

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away (June 1):  An eye-opening documentary, featured at last year's Long Beach Q Film Festival, about the former country music superstar's process of coming out as a lesbian.  Wright is impressively, movingly candid in her recounting of events before, during and after her tumultuous decision.


Rock of Ages (June 15):  Gay director-choreographer Adam Shankman (Hairspray) adapts another Broadway musical for the screen.  This time, he got big names Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti and Tom Cruise (and convinced Cruise to wear a codpiece and the previously mentioned chaps) to pay homage to the rock & roll "hair bands" of the 1980's.  Pour some sugar on me, baby! 

Brave (June 22):  This summer's animated epic from Disney-Pixar features a female lead, a first for the mega-successful Pixar.  Merida, a Scottish teenager during the Middle Ages, takes it upon herself to defend her parents' kingdom when it is endangered by the wicked witch Merida had sought counsel from to avoid being married against her will.  Sure sounds like a lesbian-gay parable to me!


Magic Mike (June 29):  The gays (myself included) will definitely be lining up for this expose of the goings-on at a male strip club, which reportedly includes a gay character/subplot. The movie was inspired by the pre-Hollywood career of its hot leading man, Channing Tatum, and is directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Contagion).  And if Tatum doesn't do it for you, one of his thong-clad co-stars (Matthew McConaughey, True Blood's Joe Manganiello, Alex Pettyfer, Adam Rodriguez and the recently out Matt Bomer) surely will.

The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3):  Andrew Garfield, taking over the title role from Tobey Maguire, told a reporter last month that he went commando under his form-fitting costume during filming.  That revelation has sure got my "Spidey Sense" tingling over this adventure, in which the webslinger tries to solve the mystery behind his parents' death while battling The Lizard, a mutated scientist.


Katy Perry: Part of Me (July 4):  Nothing screams "Independence Day" to me more than a 3-D concert film starring the fireworks-laden pop singer.  While Perry comes in second to Lady Gaga in many gay men's minds, I consider her "Fireworks" song to be as much of a gay anthem as Gaga's "Born This Way."  By the way, why hasn't Gaga had a 3-D movie devoted to her yet?  Well, I guess there's always next summer.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20):  Batman (Christian Bale) returns to contend with the villainous Bane (rising star and hottie Tom Hardy) and the more mysterious Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman (the fabulous Anne Hathaway).  Joseph Gordon-Levitt also appears as a cop with potentially conflicting motives. Football fields will explode, Gotham City will be endangered, and ticket sales will soar.


Ruby Sparks (July 25):  Not much has been made known yet about this one, but the fact that it is co-directed by Little Miss Sunshine's Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is enough to get my gay hopes up. Their earlier film's Paul Dano here plays a struggling author who discovers that the fictional girl in the book he is writing has somehow come to life.  Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas also star.

The Bourne Legacy (August 3):  Jeremy Renner, who made a splash in last December's Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol and also appears in this May's The Avengers, takes over from Matt Damon in the latest installment of this durable, intelligent franchise.


Hope Springs (August 10):  Any movie starring La Meryl (Streep, that is) is cause for gay celebration.  She re-teams here with David Frankel, director of The Devil Wears Prada, for a romantic comedy in which Streep is a married women who seeks marriage therapy with her prickly husband, played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Steve Carell co-stars as their therapist.

Sparkle (August 17):  The late Whitney Houston produced and makes her final screen appearance in this remake of a Dreamgirls-esque 1976 film about a girl group on the rise.  Houston plays the mother of one young singer (played by American Idol alumna Jordin Sparks) who is yearning for stardom.  She also sings on the movie's soundtrack.


Lawless (August 31):  Tom Hardy makes his second summer movie appearance of 2012 as a bootlegger in this reality-based story set during the Prohibition era.  Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke appear as his conniving siblings, and all must try to stay one step ahead of the obsessed G-man on their collective tail (played by Guy Pearce of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and last year's made-for-TV version of Mildred Pierce).

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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