BearCity — Aspiring young actor (and closeted bear chaser) Tyler's fondness for fur leads him to look for love among a world of burly buddies. This hirsute — and intermittently amusing — take on the traditional gay rom-com won awards for best actor (Stephen Guarino) and screenplay at this summer's Outfest.
Hereafter — Clint Eastwood, who'll helm next year's biopic of notoriously closeted FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, weaves three story lines into this ambitious, moody, contemplative drama starring The Talented Mr. Ripley's Matt Damon as a reluctant psychic. The film's big set piece, a re-creation of the deadly 2004 Indonesian tsunami, is truly haunting.
Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives — The movie that made headlines months before it even got a release date is finally being shown in one theater in Los Angeles before debuting on DVD. LGBT activists complained that this send-up of 1970s exploitation films glorified violence against trans women. Add to that a salacious title, and Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives managed to get more press when it screened at Tribeca earlier this year than it is now. As for the film, the cast is engaging and attractive enough (Nip/Tuck’s Willem Belli in particular), but the film is a bit of a slow grind without much sense of purpose — and a lot less interesting than the title would have you believe.
The Union by Elton John and Leon Russell — Blues, country, gospel, pop, and rock are fused in this surprisingly listenable collaboration between two veteran piano men of distinctively different styles. Elton has long considered Leon an idol and has brought guest musicians such as Brian Wilson and Neil Young aboard for an album, recorded live with dueling pianos, that largely belongs to the underappreciated Russell. The gentle "In the Hands of Angels" and the scorching "I Should Have Sent Roses," two reflective tracks, are standouts.
Pipe Dreams by Mark Salling — Glee hunk Mark Salling puts on his folk-country singer-songwriter hat for Pipe Dreams, his self-produced debut album as a solo artist. It’s not a far cry from what we’ve heard Puck sing on TV — sure, gone are the big production numbers, but Salling won him some fans in season 1 with his versions of “Sweet Caroline” and “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and the largely acoustic collection of tunes here is in the same vein. The songs on Pipe Dreams aren’t likely to burn up the charts, but with Salling’s devoted fan base and his pleasant pop voice, he should do OK his first time out.
Plan B — When Bruno's girlfriend dumps him, he seeks revenge by sabotaging her relationship with her new boyfriend. When he develops unexpected feelings for his rival, he begins to question his own sexuality instead. This often witty, if leisurely paced, comedy from Argentina is worth seeking out for its casual acceptance of human sexuality as fluid, not to mention its generous, lengthy scenes of the two male leads sleeping next to each other in their underwear.
A Stolen Life — Twins Kate and Pat (Bette Davis doing double duty), who are identical in body yet polar opposites in personality, go boating, but only one returns— determined to assume the presumably happy marital relations with her sister's husband. The screen icon gets to chew twice as much scenery as usual in this 1946 melodrama, which she also produced and is now available on DVD from Warner On Demand.
Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet on Blu-ray — Baz Luhrmann is one of our most visual contemporary filmmakers, so it should come as no surprise that two of his most highly regarded films have a new life on Blu-ray. Romeo + Juliet’s extras include a look at the film’s soundtrack (to this day one of the best, including the stunning ballad “Kissing You”) and behind-the-scenes footage and stills. Fans of Moulin Rouge are treated to Nicole Kidman’s vocal test (eh!) and an alternate opening sequence. Both films hold up well, and the imagination of Luhrmann (not to mention production designer Catherine Martin, who worked on both films) is more vibrant than ever before.
The Real L Word — If you thought The L Word was drama, wait until you get a load of the real deal. As is the case with most reality shows, you get the sense that these girls have been given some stage direction. Recently wed couple Nikki and Jill come off largely unscathed and likable (though the whole “planning a wedding with two brides” bickering is predictable), but other girls — we’re talking to you, Rose — come off as a complete and total messes. Good TV if you’re looking for some Real Housewives–style drama, but a whole lot less fun when you realize these women live and work in L.A. — and frequent the same events as Advocate staffers.