By Romeo San Vicente
Seeing Other People at Sundance
Maybe you’ve been watching Fargo. You should have been, anyway. And maybe you caught Jesse Plemons as Kirsten Dunst’s husband. He’s one of our new favorite character actors and now you know his name. But there’s more. It turns out he’s an ambitious sort, and he has written and directed a queer-themed film in which he stars. It’s also the opening night film at Sundance. It’s called Other People and it co-stars Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow and June Squibb in a story of a comedy writer (Plemons), recently broken up with his boyfriend, who moves home to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Once again living with his younger sisters and very conservative father, he has to sort out what it means to come home, navigate family expectations, and possibly witness the death of a parent. In other words, it’s a Sundance movie that sounds like a Sundance movie. But so what? We’re in for queer characters whose lives intersect with everyday drudgery. It’s sexy.
Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper leave Nothing Left Unsaid
The very, very, very rich Vanderbilts, one of those old-money families that are as close to American aristocracy as it gets, have always been among the noisier mega-wealthy clans (see also: The Kennedys). But their more well-known members – famous-from-childhood heiress and fashion designer Gloria, and her superstar journalist son Anderson Cooper – have done rich the right way, by being both entertaining, endearing and not plagued by bad behavior, scandal or awful political leanings. So expect a bit of a lovefest when Nothing Left Unsaid, the new doc from Liz Garbus, hits Sundance and, then, eventually, arthouses. It’s a film of personal and cultural history, all wrapped up in the kind of home movies only people who take ski vacations in Switzerland can make. And it will feature in-depth, candid conversations with the devoted mother and son (secret that’s not so secret: mom is a pistol, so that’s really the draw). Pro-tip: Before viewing, go find your old pair of vintage jeans with Gloria’s swan on the pocket and see if you can still fit into them. Then wear them while watching.
Queen Latifah jumps on The Lee Daniels Train
There’s no slowing down Lee Daniels, now that Empire has established Taraji P. Henson as this generation’s Joan Collins. And with every black actor in Hollywood clamoring to be part of that show’s wildly expanding world, it’s no surprise that his next project attracted an A-lister like Queen Latifah. Fresh off The Wiz, she’s signed on for his next TV project, tentatively called Star. Like Empire it’s a musical, and like Dreamgirls and Sparkle, it’s the story of three young women who form a group and dream of being as big as Beyonce. Co-written and co-created by Daniels and Tom Donaghy, the pilot has cast up-and-comers Jude Demorest (Dallas), Ryan Destiny (Low Winter Sun) and Brittany O’Grady (The Messengers) as the young ladies with the voices and the moves. Latifah will star as a beauty salon owner who becomes a kind of surrogate mother to the girls. Disapproving at first, you know she’s going to come around. And sing. And sing some more. After that, she’ll probably sing.
The little movies that could
Sure, fine, Star Wars and all that. We know. We’re soaking in it. But for us, it’s the small films that keep the experience of moviegoing worth being excited about, especially when small, LGBT-themed films of quality find their way into theaters. Then it’s as exciting as when we encountered the New Queer Cinema of the early 1990s. So it’s nice to know that more are on the way, thanks to early 2016 premieres at the Sundance (yes, more Sundance news, it’s that time of year) Film Festival. Suited, the Lena Dunham-produced documentary about New York tailors Bindle & Keep, the business that custom-makes clothes for gender-nonconforming clients, will take its bow. So will Uncle Howard, a doc about Howard Brookner, a filmmaker whose Burroughs: The Movie captured a slice of downtown Manhattan in the early 1980s, and whose career was silenced by his death from AIDS. Directed by his nephew, Uncle Howard explores the unfinished, unseen work of a director whose talents were stolen from us. Finally, there’s Spa Night, from director Andrew Ahn, about a young Korean-American man whose duties to his immigrant family, as they struggle in Los Angeles, come into conflict with his secret sexual habits and the realization that he’s gay.
Romeo San Vicente will always keep your secrets. He can be reach via this publication.
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