The Chicago fall movie season is in full swing with former Chicagoan Jill Soloway's feature debut Afternoon Delight (see review below) kicking things off to a promising start. Lesbian icon Jane Lynch (also a former Chicago resident) co-stars in Soloway's refreshing, offbeat, female-centric, lesbian-tinged comedy. Here's a quick rundown of other notable movies playing in Chicago over the next couple of monthswith an emphasis on those with an LGBT bent. Unless otherwise noted, the opening date listed refers to at least a one-week theatrical run.
C.O.G.Out actor Jonathan Groff stars as a disaffected grad student (a fictionalized version of humorist David Sedaris) who travels to Oregon and works as an apple harvester in this first film adapted from the writer's essays. A big hit on the LGBT fest circuit, the movie kicks off a Chicago premiere run at the Gene Siskel. Denis O'Hare co-stars. Sept. 20
FourA quartet of interconnected folks hook up (including a couple of gay ones) in writer-director Joshua Sanchez's provocative film, which made the fest rounds in 2012 and is getting a Chicago theatrical run at AMC River East 21. Sept. 20
The Wizard of Oz 3DCalling all friends of Dorothy: Judy Garland stars in the beloved fantasy classic from MGM, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in what promises to be an eye-popping Technicolor experience exclusively in IMAX theaters. Sept. 20
Sole SurvivorLesbian director Ky Dickens follows up her acclaimed LGBT-themed Fish Out of Water documentary with this thought-provoking look at four lone survivors of horrific plane crashes, members of what Dickens has insightfully termed, "The loneliness club in the world." Screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center Sept. 21 and 26
Don JonIndie fave Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played gay in Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin, muscled up to star in his self-penned, directorial debuta sexy tale of a computer-porn addict. Sept. 27
ConcussionThis lesbian-themed drama won raves on the LGBT film fest circuit after its Sundance debut. A suburban housewife has a sexual awakening after suffering a head injury and soon finds herself attracted to life as a prostitute. Oct. 2
Valentine RoadA searing documentary that has made the LGBT fest circuit comes to HBO on Oct. 7 and plays throughout the month. The film examines the tragic murder of a 15-year-old transgender teen by a 14-year-old boy he asked to be his valentine. Oct. 7
The Chicago International Film FestivalThe 49th edition of this prestigious fest includes the best in international cinema, advance screenings of anticipated Hollywood films, and a highly selective group of LGBT-themed movies (regrouped this year under the moniker OUT-look). The fest is giving a new awardthe Q Hugoto this latter category. Announced titles include the queer-themed Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, Blue is the Warmest Color and a documentary portrait of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch titled Elaine Stritch: Just Shoot Me. The Coen Brothers' latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, will be the closing-night feature. The fest's entire schedule will be released Sept. 17 ( www.chicagofilmfestival.com ). Oct. 10-24
We Are What We AreA gothic drama with horror overtones, this is a remake of a Mexican film. Out actor Kelly McGillis co-stars. Oct. 11
After TillerThis documentary that profiles the four remaining physicians performing third-trimester abortions (including a lesbian doctor) following the murder of Dr. George Tiller by anti-abortion activists has its Chicago premiere at the Music Box. Oct. 18
CarrieBoys Don't Cry director Kimberly Peirce updates Stephen King's horror story of a misbegotten telekinetic teenager who takes revenge on her classmates after a cruel prank administered at prom and her religious fanatic of a mother. Chloe Morentz and Julianne Moore take on the Oscar nominated roles played by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie essayed in Brian De Palma's stellar 1976 version. Oct. 18
The Fifth EstateA dramatic thriller based on real-life events by out writer-director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) focuses on the instantly infamous Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberpatch) and his cohorts. Oct. 18
12 Years a SlaveChewitel Ejiofor, who broke through playing the gay drag queen/boot designer in the British indie hit Kinky Boots (the basis for the hit Broadway musical), reportedly gives an Oscar-winning performance in this based on a true story of a free Black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery before regaining his freedom after a dozen years. An all-star cast headed by producer Brad Pitt supports Ejiofor. Oct. 18
SalJames Franco helms another gay-themed project. This one from 2011 centers on the last hours of murdered, openly gay actor Sal Mineo (Rebel Without a Cause, Exodus). Frequent Franco collaborator Val Lauren (who also plays Al Pacino in Interior. Leather. Bar) stars. VOD beginning Oct. 22, in theaters Oct. 30 (Chicago date TBD)
Blue is the Warmest ColorThe explicit, controversial, nearly-three-hour lesbian romance between two French teenage girls arrives stateside with an NC-17 rating. The film won the Palm d'Or at Cannes and awarded both female stars the actress prize. Nov. 1
Kill Your DarlingsDaniel Radcliffe plays gay poet Allen Ginsberg, who, along with his fellow beat poets, was drawn into a murder in 1944. Dane DeHaan plays Ginsberg's lover, Lucien Carr. Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster and Jennifer Jason Leigh co-star in out writer-director John Krokidas' feature debut. It opens in New York and Los Angeles Oct. 18. Look for a Chicago run to begin Nov. 1.
DianaNaomi Watts portrays the late Princess Diana in this eagerly awaited biopic that focuses on the last three months of her life and a secret love affair. Nov. 1
Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film FestivalThe 31st edition of the second world's oldest queer festival returns after a year's hiatus. The fest (of which I am this year's programming director) is announcing its complete line-up Wed., Sept. 25, at a special fundraiser at Sidetrack 7-9 p.m. The full schedule will be posted at the fest's website ( www.reelingfilmfestival.org ) the following day. Blackbox, out writer-director Stephen Cone's follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2011 debut The Wise Kids and Interior.Leather.Bar, the collaboration between James Franco and Travis Mathews, are two films making their Chicago premieres at the festival. Nov. 7-14
Dallas Buyers ClubMatthew McConaughey lost 40 pounds to play the part of Ron Woodroof, a straight, anti-gay cowboy who unwittingly became a hero to the gay community when he contracted AIDS in the mid-'80s and sold his own prescription drug therapies to his fellow suffersdrugs that were smuggled in from Mexico and unapproved by the FDA. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto co-star. Nov. 8
Thor: The Dark WorldThis sequel to the popular Marvel Comics blockbuster again stars hunkalicious Chris Hemsworth as the super-strong superhero based on the Norse legend and is an early start to the forthcoming holiday movie season. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba co-star. Nov. 8
Gold Coast native Jill Soloway won a directing award when her debut feature, Afternoon Delight, premiered last January at Sundance. Now the filman offbeat dramedy with a career-altering performance by Kathryn Hahnis playing here in Soloway's hometown (at the Landmark Century). The movie is a sharply observed portrait of a marriage in crisis that not only benefits from Hahn's leading performance (and those of her fellow actors) but from Soloway's telling dialogue.
Hahn plays Rachelan upper-class Jewish suburban housewife who is bored out of her skull and, more than anything, wants her husband Jeff (Josh Radnor), a sensitive but distracted computer software designer, to give her the works in bed. When her best girlfriend suggests the couples try visiting a sex club she gets a lap dance from McKenna (Juno Temple), a tiny blond who she later bumps into, takes pity on and insists should move into the bedroom of her now-departed nanny.
Rachel decides to "save" McKenna from what she perceives is a life of depravity and, over Jeff's objections, dubs her the new nanny for their couple's young son. McKenna, at first, seems to tantalize Rachel with her sexual openness. (In one scene, she even seems about to succumb to a desire for McKenna.) Soon, however, Rachel's assumptions about her new live-in guest are upended and, before long, the idea of whose life really needs saving comes into question.
Hahn is fearless in her portrayal of a woman who has eschewed vanity and thwarted her own desires (sexual and otherwise) in service to her husband, child and their lifestyle with its rigid rules and rituals. As Rachel spirals out of control, flailing about (sometimes hilariously, other times exhibiting cringe worthy behavior), she comes closer to finding what she left behind in service to this suburban dream that, as Soloway so aptly points out, has plenty of dark and dreary elements and exacts a price as well.
Although Afternoon Delight has its logical gaps, these lapses are outweighed by Soloway's ability to find fresh nuance in the all-too-familiar "Diary of a Mad Housewife" theme and the lively performances. Jane Lynch is funny playing Rachel's lesbian psychiatrist, a shrink who'd rather talk about her own relationship with her girlfriend. The movie's playing in Chicago at the Landmark Century Centre Cinemas, 2828 N. Clark St. www.landmarktheatres.com