The Hot Sheet
Katy Perry: Teenage Dream — If Katy Perry won over gay fans with the release of her first album, then she’s secured their loyalty on her second. Teenage Dream is packed with songs ripe to be remixed, and first single “California Gurls” already boasts a number of gay video tributes on YouTube. The singer’s voice is also much improved this time around, and she gives a solid vocal performance that will likely be recognized come Grammy time on the title track.
Fantasia: Back to Me — Fantasia’s made headlines in recent weeks mostly for her suicide attempt, but the singer gets back to what she does best on Back to Me, a collection of soul/R&B tunes that showcase the American Idol winner’s impressive set of pipes. “Bittersweet” is a throwback to early-’80s ballads featuring powerhouse vocalists, and the singer knocks it out of the park with “I’m Here,” the showstopper from the musical The Color Purple.
Heart: Red Velvet Car — Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson reunite with their band for their first album in nearly six years — and their first on a major label since the mid ’90s. In recent years the girls have become a staple among lesbian fans in particular, thanks to their appearance on The L Word and their participation in Linda Perry’s An Evening With Women benefit. The 10-song, mostly acoustic set is a must-buy, particularly for fans of “Barracuda”-era Heart. And the woman with the big voice sounds better than ever.
The Back-Up Plan — Jennifer Lopez pairs with gay director Alan Poul for this artificial insemination comedy about a woman who gives up on finding Mr. Right, then meets him on the cab ride home after becoming impregnated. The humor is a bit uneven, but Lopez is in her element here, even echoing shades of Lucille Ball. And the mostly lesbian birthing team she finds for support provides the film with its biggest laughs. Kudos too for finding leading man Alex O’Loughlin. Nice!
The Lottery — The Lottery is a heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring look at the failings of the American educational system, highlighting four families who have entered their kids in a charter school lottery with the hope of a better future. Directed by Madeleine Sackler and shot by award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held, the film takes a blunt look at the dire need for education reform — and will surely tug at the heartstrings of anyone with children or hoping to one day raise children.
Dorian Gray — The latest film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray stars The Chronicles of Narnia’s Ben Barnes in the titular role — and doesn’t shy away from Dorian’s gay leanings. The film didn’t score a stateside release but was a commercial hit in the U.K. Costarring Colin Firth and Rebecca Hall, the film suffers from the same shortcomings as nearly every adaptation — this is one of those stories that’s better read than seen.
Takers — One of two decidedly ungay films being released this weekend (also known as the weekend when Hollywood dumps its crap titles), Takers is a crime drama starring Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, and, hoping to bounce back from the bad press surrounding his relationship with Rihanna, Chris Brown. Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies) pops up in a supporting role.
The Last Exorcism — Hoping to capitalize on the success of films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism is told from the point of view of a disillusioned evangelical minister — our favorite. Reviews have been mixed, though it did get a solid response at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Premise of the film? “If you believe in God, you must believe in the devil.”