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Shades of ‘Blue’

Blue is the Warmest Colour, gay news, Washington Blade

Production still from Cannes Palm D’or winner ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour.’ (Still courtesy of Sundance Selects)

It was a good year for LGBT film in 2013 — which means plenty of DVD options for cold winter nights at home.

The most fabulous movie of the year was clearly Pedro Almodóvar’s “I’m So Excited.” This superb farce by a master filmmaker at the peak of his powers is staged largely within the confines of a malfunctioning airplane. While the pilots try to find a place to land, the three male flight attendants drug the coach passengers and perform elaborate musical routines to distract the first class passengers, who include a virgin with psychic powers, a notorious dominatrix (played by Almodóvar regular Cecilia Roth), a shady businessman, a pair of newlyweds and a famous actor. While maintaining a delightfully campy tone, Almodóvar manages to make some interesting observations about sexual identity, death, ethics and morality.

Camp was also an essential element of a more mainstream offering: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Wonderful over-the-top performances by Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket skillfully guide the audience through the darkening political landscape of the dystopian Panem.

Real-life stories served as the inspiration for several notable LGBT movies of 2013. Helmed by openly gay director Lee Daniels, “The Butler” chronicled the emergence of the civil rights movement through the eyes of White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker). “The Dallas Buyers Club” told the story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic straight man who is diagnosed with AIDS. With the help of Rayon, a transsexual, he fights the medical establishment by smuggling drugs into the county. HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” recounts the tempestuous relationship between famous pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his younger lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), whom he literally tries to remake in his own image.

HBO also presented “Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ to Tell You,” a documentary about the groundbreaking African-American stand-up comedian. Director Whoopi Goldberg details not only Mabley’s onstage life as a trailblazing performer who challenged racial and gender barriers and who was the highest paid performer at the legendary Apollo Theatre, but also her offstage life as a lesbian who was teasingly called “Mr. Moms.”

Another outstanding documentary was “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” written and directed by filmmaker Alex Gibney, who combines archival footage with incisive interviews to tell the intertwined stories of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Private Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning).

Directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the documentary “Bridegroom” tells the emotional story of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom. Their plans to marry are crushed by Bridegroom’s untimely death. Crone’s grief is exacerbated when his partner’s family bars him from the funeral. A year after Bridegroom’s accidental death, Crone made a video called “It Could Happen To You.” The video became a viral sensation on YouTube and Facebook and inspired Bloodworth-Thomason to make this moving documentary about the importance of marriage equality.

Although billed as a murder mystery, “Kill Your Darlings” is really a coming-of-age story about Beat poet Alan Ginsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe). The movie recreates the meeting of Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs and the tortured relationship between their friend Lucien Carr and David Kammerer (an excellent Michael C. Hall).

Lesbian director Kimberly Peirce took an unexpected turn after winning acclaim for “Boys Don’t Cry.” Working with openly gay screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who adapted Lawrence D. Cohen’s script for the famous 1976 Brian De Palma film of the Stephen King novel), Peirce tried to put a contemporary feminist spin on the classic horror tale “Carrie.” While Peirce never manages to fully put her personal stamp on the material, her version is still quite terrifying. She puts a stronger focus on the tangled relationship between fundamentalist Margaret White (an unnerving performance from Julianne Moore) and her teenage daughter Carrie (the tremendous Chloë Grace Moretz) and takes a fresh look at spoiled rich girl Chris (Portia Doubleday). Peirce also explores Carrie’s fear and delight at researching and refining her new-found telekinetic powers, (and the careful orchestration of her revenge at prom) and the dehumanizing impact of technology.

Blue is the Warmest Colour” was the surprise hit of the Cannes Film Festival. In an unprecedented move, the jury awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or not only to director Abdellatif Kechiche but to lead performers Léa Seydoux (Emma) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adèle). Inspired by both the contemporary graphic novel of the same name by Julie Maroh and a sprawling 18th century novel by Pierre de Marivaux, the movie tracks the rise and fall of the passionate relationship of teenage schoolgirl Adèle and blue-haired art student Emma. The movie was controversial for explicit sex scenes between the two women, a controversy that was mirrored in the movie’s discussions of how male artists have depicted female nudes throughout the ages.

Finally, one of the queerest movies of the year came from straight director Woody Allen. Inspired by the Bernie Madoff story, “Blue Jasmine” is Allen’s heartfelt homage to Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Jasmine French (the superb Cate Blanchett) is a New York socialite who loses everything when her investment banker husband Hal is jailed for fraud. She flees to San Francisco to live with her estranged sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Jasmine tangles with Sally’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), who lost his life savings in one of Hal’s schemes, and Sally’s current boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), resists the advances of her lecherous boss (Michael Stuhlbarg) and is wooed by the suave but naïve diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard).

The movie moves back and forth between Jasmine’s memories of her Park Avenue life with Hal and her attempts to start over again in San Francisco, which are derailed by the potent combination of guilt, anger, denial, vodka and Xanax. Blanchett, who won raves for her recent stage performance as Blanche DuBois in “Streetcar,” offers a stunning performance as a forlorn figure who is both exasperating and seductive as she descends into madness.

01
Jan
2014

Thousands march in Cyprus’ first Pride parade

Cyprus, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image public domain)

Thousands of people on May 31 participated in Cyprus’ first LGBT Pride parade that took place in the country’s capital.

Costas Gavrielides, president of ACCEPT-LGBT Cyprus, a Cypriot advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview that he and other organizers expected only 300 people would attend the parade in Nicosia. He said roughly 4,000 people marched, with another 1,000 attending a post-parade event.

Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of “The View,” and actress Olympia Dukakis expressed their support of the parade in videos that Harry Mavromichalis, a gay Cypriot movie director who lives in New York, produced.

Former Cypriot President George Vassiliou and Parliamentarian Stella Kyriakides are among those who attended the parade. Gavrielides said diplomats from the U.S. and other countries also supported the march.

“It was a huge success,” said Gavrielides.

The Associated Press reported police clashed with a group of Orthodox Christians who protested it.

Gavrielides told the Blade there were a few dozen “vocal” protesters among the roughly 100 people who turned out to oppose the event, although he said he didn’t personally see them.

“The police basically stopped them,” he said. “We were very glad that it was understood that the parade should happen freely.”

Lawmakers on the divided eastern Mediterranean island decriminalized homosexuality in 1998. Northern Cyprus — formally known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — in January became the last European jurisdiction to make consensual same-sex sexual acts between adult men legal.

A law banning anti-gay employment discrimination took effect in 2004 before the country joined the E.U. Cyprus last year amended its penal code to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

LGBT Cypriots lack many other legal protections found in other E.U. member states in spite of the aforementioned laws.

Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou last year said the government would propose a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.

Gavrielides told the Blade that debate on the proposal has taken place “without any tangible results.”

The Cyprus Orthodox Christian church — which remains influential in the conservative country — has expressed its opposition to civil partnerships and marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Associated Press reported it described homosexuality as “an illness and not a natural way of life or choice” in a statement that strongly criticized the May 31 Pride parade.

“We realize that we have a lot of work to do,” said Gavrielides.

He said the parade not only showed LGBT Cypriots they can come out and “be proud,” but sent a message to the country’s politicians.

“It’s sad, but it was the people who had to give courage to the politicians for them to act instead of being the other way around,” said Gavrielides. “Even in this way we are pleased that there will be some change.”

03
Jun
2014

Dance on the Pier

New York City Pride continued with a Dance on the Pier following the Pride Parade on Sunday. Performers included Deborah Cox and Cher with a special guest appearance by Whoopi Goldberg. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) buyphoto 

04
Jul
2013

Year in review: D.C. hosts International AIDS Conference

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Uganda

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Ugandan human rights advocates at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than 30,000 people from around the world gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. in July for the International AIDS Conference.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Laura Bush, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg and gay singer Elton John were among the politicians, public health officials and others who spoke during the gathering that took place in the United States for the first time since San Francisco hosted it in 1990. (President Obama in 2009 completed the process that lifted the ban on people with HIV/AIDS from entering the country.)

Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. officials used the conference to highlight the city’s ongoing efforts to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the nation’s capital. The NAMES Project showcased tens of thousands of panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt throughout the metropolitan area in July, while the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other HIV/AIDS service providers protested what they contend is a lack of commitment from the White House and other American politicians to combat the epidemic. U.S. Park Service police arrested Housing Works President Charles King and 12 others who tried to tie red ribbons, condoms and other items to the White House fence following a protest in Lafayette Park.

The 20th International AIDS Conference is scheduled to take place in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2014.

26
Dec
2012