Before the Credits Roll
By Hans Pedersen, January 2017 Issue.
In 2016, fewer A-list stars shone on the silver screen in Oscar-worthy LGBTQ roles – along the lines of say, Carol or The Dallas Buyers Club – than in recent years.
Perhaps you were wowed by the inspired performances in Moonlight. But you might have been left cold by King Cobra, a film about gay porn that was frequently compared to Boogie Nights, but wasn’t half as endearing.
Movies that were well-reviewed in Echo’s pages, such as Spa Night and First Girl I Loved, are now streaming online, as well as the heart-wrenching Viva, the Molly Shannon comedy Other People and the ensemble tale The Intervention.
Still, we’ve rounded up a few additional films (available now on various streaming platforms) that we think you’ll enjoy before this year officially comes to close. In no particular order, here are five great films featuring LGBTQ themes that you may have missed in 2016.
No Men Beyond This Point
This clever mockumentary elaborates on the radical feminist idea that men are expendable. The award-winning film’s conceit is to chronicle a modern world where there really are almost no men left. It explains that in 1954 asexual reproduction became possible, and males soon became unnecessary to perpetuate the human species. In this matriarchy, women eventually stopped giving birth to men, and most couples are lesbian moms. Very few members of the male species remain.
Most of the subjects in the “documentary” are women, except for a guy in his mid-30s – a novelty – who works as a nanny. While one mom is concerned about their giggling daughters’ exposure to a rare example of a strapping male, her more progressive partner seems more comfortable with the abnormal arrangement. He’s treated in exactly the condescending way that upper-middle class families still treat their female nannies now.
Heterosexuality is a subversion to this society’s norms: it’s a fantastic one-note gimmick that works, at least for a while. Written and directed by Mark Sawers, this mock doc offers a glimpse into a world where males are an aberration.
Tab Hunter Confidential
Many recall Tab Hunter, the heartthrob who was alienated by Hollywood amid a gay scandal. Only now, for this rose-colored portrait in a documentary produced by his partner Allan Glaser, is Hunter willing to talk openly about his sexuality. That’s not to say he’s comfortable with the idea, which makes him a bit of a squirmy subject.
Hunter, who remained closeted for decades, defends anyone who wants to stay private about sexual orientation. And he never apologizes for being closeted, the way, say, “Star Trek” actor George Takei did in To Be Takei.
It’s important to remember, as the documentary explains, Hunter was raked over the coals by such folks as powerful Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper. It also outlines how AIDS cast a shadow over LGBTQ media representation in the early 1980s.
Hunter co-starred with a drag queen in John Waters’ Polyester, a career move that gave cross-dresser Divine mainstream visibility and crossover appeal, while boosting Waters’ credibility too. (The two actors appeared in a second film together, and Hunter went on to appear in the underrated Grease 2, while Divine starred in Waters’ Hairspray.)
The story unfolds as Hunter’s fascinating meteoric rise, thanks to the Hollywood machine, happens nearly as quickly as his fall: he was the victim of a bad career move, as well as severe homophobia.
This behind-the-scenes Hollywood documentary is brimming with tons of archival footage, interviews, riveting stories and a detailed discussion of Hunter’s romantic relationship with the late Anthony Perkins (Psycho), who was apparently bisexual.