American Beauty does everything a brilliantly complex film should do

American Beauty, having won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Cinematography at the 1999 Academy Awards, is one of the most spectacular films I have ever seen, employing a psychologically taut ensemble of deeply complex characters in a suburban setting where such deep underlying issues are rarely explored or shared with the rest of country and city dwellers.

Screenwriter Alan Ball’s keen interest in the psycho-sexual (and all those little hidden ghosts we lock deep down inside) lends itself to the creation of characters with driving forces so realistic I thought I was watching a gorgeous imitation of life.

Ball’s theme ‘Look Closer,’ which can be seen by the attentive viewer on a piece of paper strategically hanging in the cubicle of our protagonist, is groundbreaking, forcing us to peer deeper into the seemingly perfect lives of an all-American suburban family. Upon looking more closely, we find that behind the flawless rose garden, the immaculate house, the great jobs and the family dinners around the table, we have a cast of extremely unhappy and utterly unfulfilled characters.

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is going through a mid-life crisis. He is "a whore to the advertising industry," he hasn’t had sex in far too long, and he feels like he has "lost something." But, as the film explores, it is never too late to get it back.

After quitting his high paying career for a new job at a fast food restaurant, picking up marijuana for the first time in many years, Lester finally begins to feel good about his life once again. However, his wife and daughter are not so thrilled when Lester begins fantasizing about his daughter’s 16-year-old best friend.

Lester’s wife Carolyn (Annette Benning) is a frigid, career-obsessed basket case who hides behind a pseudo-professional and painfully phony demeanor. Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is the average high school girl:  insecure, self-conscious and miserable. That is, until she meets the new next door neighbor Ricky Fitz (Wes Bentley), a pot dealer who seems almost too confident to be real.

Ricky becomes the conscious character, as he seems to be the only one with insight into just how dysfunctional everyone is around him. Also among this group of dysfunctionals are Jane’s so-called best friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) and Ricky’s parents, Colonel Frank Fitz U.S. Marine Core (Chris Cooper) and Barbara (Allison Janey).

Barbara lives in her own catatonic world, rarely speaks and seems as detached from the rest of the world as a distant star. Never before have I seen a character quite like her on the big screen; the epitome of what can happen as a result of entirely giving up on life.

But Colonel Frank Fitz takes the cake. An openly homophobic cynic, maniacally suspicious about a nonexistent sexual relationship between his son Ricky and Lester, he does the unimaginable toward the end of the film.

Narrated throughout by Lester Burnham, the brilliant conclusion of this ferociously realistic gem of a film left me in absolute awe well after the fade to black.

Masterfully directed by Sam Mendes, American Beauty is one of those rare films that must be seen by all, perhaps again and again, to fully understand the complexity of the characters, as well as to be reinforced that life, in all its imperfection, is truly worth living to the fullest while we all still have the chance.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

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by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

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Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

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