Friday, March 4, 2011

Missed Movies number 3

In honor of Natalie Portman winning an oscar for playing a lesbian, or rather because I feel like it, here is another episode (is episode the word I'm looking for?) of Missed Movies, this time devoted entirely to gay and lesbian movies, or rather 2 of each. This is partially an apology for my Destroy All Monsters review (see below) being so short.

In & Out

Frank Oz has directed some good movies and some bad movies and while In & Out is far from the movie of his career, it's a good natured and enjoyable comedy, featuring a great performance by Kevin Kline (remember, he won an Oscar for A Fish Called Wanda?). Basic premise, an english teacher in small town America is engaged to a fellow teacher, when a former student of his wins an Oscar for playing a homosexual soldier. During the acceptance speech he thanks his teacher and 'outs' him, apparently unaware that his teacher is engaged. The story becomes a national sensation, in what feels like a vicious lampooning of celebrity culture, with the teacher constantly denying that he's gay. Problem is, he acts pretty gay and the evidence is starting to stack against him.

If it sounds like it's going somewhere stupid, trust me it's not; This rom-com built around an 'edgy' (for the time) subject matter actually comes out on the side of non-traditional relationships, even finding time for a quick commentary on female body image. Oh and Matt Dillon is in it. Yeah, he hasn't been very good in a lot of things...but he was in Crash and he was good in that. And he's good in this.


This movie is actually my final bit of evidence that the Watchowski's work has been on a downhill slide their entire career (this eventually bottomed out with Speed Racer when they really could not go any deeper). It's amounts to a well made and well written heist movie, where the girlfriend of a mobster meets a former thief and they get together, both physically and to steal 2 million dollars from him; Only the thief is a lady too.

It never strays too far from that central premise and while that could be interpreted as disappointing, I think it gives the two fledgling directors room to breathe on the details, including a fantastic script, incredible camera work (there's a scene about midway through involving literal money laundering, as in washing dollars, that is so well handled that you could faint) and a well used soundtrack. Plus it's got some great performances from Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly and Joey Pants (I'm not writing out his name). It is rather intensely dark (and it feels out of place in a list consisting mostly of comedies) but it's an excellent film in it's own right, so if you can find it, check it out.

The Birdcage

As tonally far from Bound as is physically possible, The Birdcage is a comedy based on a French movie I've never seen, and probably my favorite movie on this list. Starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as an aging gay couple running a club in Florida. Years ago Robin Williams' character knocked up a stripper and the pair raised the kid, who is now off to college and getting married. Problem is, the girl he's marrying is the daughter of an extremely conservative Florida politician, who is facing some public backlash after his political partner was found dead in the bed of an underage prostitute.

The movie is a perfect example of 'better than it sounds' because based on that description, it's impossible to see why this movie is so good. Robin Williams' performance is nice and understated, consisting mostly of deadpan and snark. The politician and his family manage to be sympathetic and realistic, without ever descending into strawman territory. But the star in this regard is Nathan Lane, who manages to take a character who at first looks like a generic drama/drag queen (dragma?) and give him real heart through his performance. It's funny, sweet and enjoyable and it deserves your attention.

Imagine Me and You

YES it's named after Happy Together can we move on?

This one was a toss up between this and I Can't Think Straight but I chose this because I figured I'd give you a movie you had a chance of actually tracking down. The basic premise is a woman falls in love with a flower girl at first sight-at her wedding.

I can hear you groaning at that premise, but it's a romantic-comedy, which means execution is everything. Which is good, because it hits all the right points. The screenplay is funny and well written (and R-Rated for once), the characters rounded and believable with everyone having real arcs, the actors are all good and no one is ever forced to act like an idiot to move the plot forward. So it's a good natured and sweet comedy, good for a few laughs and smiles even while it's not interested in pushing the envelope too far (or at all, really). And a movie that's merely good for being heartwarming is okay once in a while.

Plus we have Anthony Stewart Head here, and we all love him. I mean...don't we? He was Giles and we all love Giles right? Giles from, from Buffy? I'm so alone.

Okay so that's the list. This is by no means the only or the best gay and lesbian themed movies. These are merely the 4 that I thought hit the magic sweet spot of being just obscure enough that you probably haven't seen them but not so obscure that you'd have real trouble finding them (though given that most of you probably have Netflix, who knows). 

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