By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com November 19 2010 8:45 AM ET
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — So much has changed since the first Harry Potter film, and we’re not just talking about the transformations of Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson into 20-something sex symbols (and Radcliffe into one who considers himself an honorary member of the LGBT community). This is easily the most adult of the Harry Potter films, with a PG-13 rating. Fans of the books know what to expect (a two-parter because the story was just too damn intricate), and though he’s seen only peripherally, there’s always the knowledge that Professor Dumbledore is gay (thanks, J.K. Rowling) to keep you invested.
Made in Dagenham — Happy-Go-Lucky's indefatigable Sally Hawkins and The Hours' Miranda Richardson headline the cast in the relatable true tale of a group of female workers at the Ford Dagenham plant in England who, in 1968, strike out for equality, with Bob Hoskins offering support. What may sound like dour drama is, in the hands of Calendar Girls director Nigel Cole, a surprisingly accessible candy-colored romp.
... Featuring by Norah Jones — The 18 eclectic tracks here mark a career-spanning collection of the versatile singer-musician's collaborations with Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Outkast, Ray Charles, and others that showcase Jones's range and virtuosity. Standout track is the duet with Belle & Sebastian on the contemplative ballad "Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John."
Burlesque: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack — Christina Aguilera gets eight songs while Cher gets just two, but that doesn’t stop the legendary singer-actress from stealing Xtina’s thunder on the Diane Warren–penned power ballad “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” It’s like catnip for any big Cher fan. That said, Aguilera has some fine moments here — though she’s still a victim of her own talent (her voice is so big, she oversings practically everything), she steps out of her comfort zone and is very un-Christina-like on “But I Am a Good Girl.” And Sia Furler, who managed to rein the singer in on Bionic’s collection of ballads, successfully forces Christina to just sing on “Bound to You.” First single “Express” is fun but frankly would be better served with an appearance by Cher, who is too sparsely featured here.
Loud by Rihanna — After taking a stumble with the critically acclaimed but largely fan-ignored Rated R, Rihanna strikes a balance between bad girl and dance-hall queen on her fifth album, Loud. From the first track, “S&M,” Rihanna makes it clear she’s not retreating back to her former “good girl” image: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me,” she sings on the chorus. Later she stumbles with “Cheers (Drink to That)” — Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” is just not a song that needs to be sampled — and the ballad “California King Bed” (no, just no) but sounds more confident than ever on the grand ballad “Complicated.” The album is a bit uneven, but it should continue Rihanna’s streak of being a hit-maker who knows how to stay relevant.
Eyes Wide Open — The taboo-busting but understated debut feature from director Haim Tabakman follows the devastation that results when Aaron (Zohar Shtrauss), a devout family man in Jerusalem, falls in love with Ezri (Ran Danker), a young man who stops into his butcher shop to escape the rain.
Eat Pray Love — Or, in a perfect world, Eat Intermission Like. Director Ryan Murphy takes a heavy-handed approach to adapting Elizabeth Gilbert’s “loaded lady in crisis” memoir for the big screen. Maybe it’s the fact that the economy has everyone on money watch, but it’s hard to sympathize with an unhappy woman who has enough money to travel the world for a year — let alone one who’s leaving behind a sex-hungry James Franco to do it. Once you get past that, though, Julia Roberts’s charms as an actress serve her well as she eats her way through Italy, but while the pray portion boasts some fine acting by Richard Jenkins, there Roberts’s Liz just comes off like a stupid American. Love fares better (Roberts and Javier Bardem have a natural chemistry), but by this point you feel like you’ve seen it all done better by Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun — and for some reason, she didn’t quite come off like such a spoiled bitch.
Public Speaking — Despite her paltry output, gay writer Fran Lebowitz has a dedicated following thanks to her collections of essays like Metropolitan Life and Social Studies and being a fixture among New York's literati for decades. This feature-length Martin Scorsese–directed documentary, which catches Lebowitz walking around the city, holding court at the Waverly Inn, and delivering her acerbic bons mots, preserves her urbane wit and peculiar wisdom. It premieres on HBO November 22 at 10 p.m.