Limited runs and special events:
@ Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312/744-6630: International Dinner and A Movie - Black Orpheus (Feb. 18) – South American cuisine served; Taste of Cherry (Mar. 18) – Iranian cuisine served
M (Apr. 15) – German cuisine served; Rififi (May 20 & 21) – French cuisine served.
@ DOC Films @ U of C/Max Palevsky Cinema, 1212 E. 59th St, 773/702.8574: Queer Heroes – Trembling Before G-d (Jan. 30); Before Night Falls (Feb. 6); Paris Is Burning and Benjamin Smoke (Feb. 13); Wilde (Feb. 20); Southern Comfort and My Left Breast (Feb. 27); The Man Who Drove With Mandela and Tongues Untied (March 6); I'm The One That I Want (March 13).
@ Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773/281-4114: The Slaughter Rule (Jan. 29 – 30); MC5*A True Testimonial (Feb. 19); Dead Alive: Final (Feb. 28, Mar. 1 – 6).
@ Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312/846-2600: Nightclubbing: Danceteria Video Lounge (Feb. 1, 6); The Pocket (Feb. 10, 13); ABBA: The Movie (Feb. 16, 20); Drugstore Cowboy, Mala Noche + shorts – all directed by Gus Van Sant (Feb. 21); Drugstore Cowboy (Feb. 22); A Skin Too Few (Feb. 22, 23, 27); My Own Private Idaho (Feb. 23, 25); Mala Noche (Feb. 25); Gerry – new Van Sant film w/Matt Damon (Feb. 26); The Producers (Feb. 28, March 1-6); Converging With Angels (Feb. 28, March 1-3, 5); Ray Charles: The Genius Of Soul Music (March 2, 6)
Nicholas Nickleby—Without a single overtly homosexual character in the story, Douglas McGrath's film adaptation of Charles Dickens's Victorian-era novel Nicholas Nickleby is still one of the gayest movies of the year. Charlie Hunnam, who played young, gay love interest Nathan in the British version of Queer As Folk, is Nicholas Nickleby. Following the death of his dedicated, but destitute, father, 19-year-old Nicholas becomes head of the family and must find a way to support his mother and younger sister. The trio finds themselves at the mercy of the evil Ralph Nickleby, the senior Nicholas's well-to-do brother. While there is a happy ending, getting to it over the course of more than two hours is somewhat brutal, with abuses suffered at the hands of a twisted headmaster and his wicked wife, a lecherous old man, and others. There are moments of levity, provided by gay actor Nathan Lane and Barry Humphries (a.k.a. Dame Edna Everidge) as a married couple running a theatrical troupe, as well as openly bi-actor Alan Cummings, who plays a member of the troupe. Jamie Bell, best known for his portrayal of Billy Elliot, plays Smike, the abused orphan that Nicholas rescues. Kevin McKidd, who played the gay character Leo in Rose Troche's Bedrooms & Hallways, plays Browdie, a friend to Nicholas. Nearly 20 years ago Tom Courtenay, Ralph Nickleby's badgered and berated, but ultimately vengeful personal assistant Noggs, won a Golden Globe award for playing the homosexual personal assistant to Albert Finney's hammy actor in The Dresser. Both Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson, the aforementioned headmaster and wife, also recently played characters in the movies Iris and Food of Love, respectively, in which a gay plot or subplot figured into the story. B
The Cockettes (Strand Releasing): David Weissman and Bill Weber have created one of the most enlightening, entertaining and even educational documentaries in recent memories. Not bad for two men making their first feature length film, especially when the film is about the now-defunct Cockettes, a troupe of gay men and straight women (including Sylvester, Divine and Hibiscus) who made their name by performing outrageous drug fueled hippie drag shows during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Cockettes, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, was recently awarded the best documentary prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and also found a place in my Top 10 list of 2002. The DVD contains nine scenes that weren't included in the theatrical release, among which you will find 'Dressing Up With Fayette,' in which one of the female Cockettes talks about Sylvester borrowing her clothes; 'Marshall at the Stonewall Riots and Woodstock,' in which one of the straight male Cockettes tells about his experience at the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969; and 'Kreemah Ritz sings '(Gert's) Postcard' with Scrumbly on Piano,' in which Kreemah and Scrumbly perform a wonderful song based on a postcard from Gertrude Stein to Alice B. Toklas. There is also bonus footage from the Sundance Channel, including an interview with directors Weber and Weissman. A-
The Einstein of Sex (TLA Releasing): In German, with English subtitles, openly gay director Rosa von Praunheim's 1999 dramatization of the life of Magnus Hirschfeld, the 'grandfather of gay emancipation,' is an entertaining cinematic history lesson. Young Hirschfeld (played by Kai Schuhmann) is frustrated while at university to discover that German culture clashes with his own ideals about sexuality. By 1895, Hirschfeld was a doctor with a specialization in psycho-sexual issues and, following the suicide of a closeted soldier, he publishes a book accounting for same-sex love among women and men to the dismay of his closest family members, an aunt and uncle. Hirschfeld began to gain notoriety for his work, which included the development of a psycho-biological questionnaire, and was befriended by the gay Baron von Teschenberg (Gerd Lukas Storzer) and Our Own magazine publisher Adolf Brand (Ben Becker). In May of 1897, despite a small turnout, Hirschfeld held the first meeting of the Scientific-Humanist Committee and began his lifelong struggle to abolish the anti-homosexual Paragraph 175 from the German constitution. The older Hirschfeld (played by Friedel von Vangenheim) is rescued from a beating at the hands of thugs by Karl Giese (Olaf Drauschke) who eventually becomes Hirschfeld's lover. One-time patient and later housekeeper Dorchen (Tima die Gottliche) was also a constant companion and assistant until, with the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-gay rhetoric of the Nazi party, Hirschfeld went into exile. The documentary Magnus and Rosa, an added bonus to the DVD, is also well worth watching. B-
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: Special 10th Anniversary Edition (Capitol DVD/Queen Productions): Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant and fabulous, lead singer of Queen, died of AIDS complications in November of 1991. In April of 1992, his surviving bandmates Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, along with an amazing all-star cast of performers, including David Bowie, George Michael, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield and Liza Minnelli, to name a few, performed at a tribute concert honoring Mercury at the Wembley Stadium. Available on DVD for the first time, this two-disc set features the concert on the first disc, which includes a multitude of historical live performances. Interestingly, the Elton John/Axl Rose (looking scruffy in his pre-plastic surgery disaster youth) duet was a reminder that Eminem was not the first virulent homophobe with whom Sir Elton shared a stage and an embrace. The second disc contains a thoughtful TV documentary about the tribute concert. B+
Gorillaz Phase One: Celebrity Take Down (Virgin DVD): Almost as much a visual experience as it is an audio one, animated supergroup Gorillaz took the music scene by storm in 2001 and toured the U.S. in 2002. This abundant DVD contains 'live' footage from a couple of Gorillaz shows, as well as videos for the songs 'Tomorrow Comes Today' and 'Clint Eastwood.' There is also a humorous mockumentary ('The Charts of Darkness') and some video storyboards. The bonus CD-ROM features fun video games, wallpaper and screensavers. Fans of The Archies never had it so good. B+
PBS (check local listings for time) – In The Life: Poet Staceyann Chin hosts the February edition of In The Life, featuring 'post-riot grrrls' (such as JD Samson of Le Tigre, and others), a significant leader in the civil rights movement (Bayard Rustin), and 'a Native American who makes art out of his AZT,' in a program focusing on 'gays and lesbians who struggle to create voices for themselves and for the movement.' Other ITL profiles include The Advocate on it's 35th anniversary and openly gay NYPD Blue actor Bill Brochtrup. – WTTW-Channel Feb. 23 @ midnight
Sundance Channel highlights (check local listings for times) – Scotland, PA - Jan. 31; Amargosa – Feb. 1, 7, 10, 16, 19, 27; Benjamin Smoke – Feb. 7, 11, 24; The House of Mirth – Feb. 10, 19, 22, 28; Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's – Feb. 2, 6, 10, 15, 18; Sweetie – Feb. 3, 8, 13, 25; Under the Sand (aka Sous le sable) – Feb. 4, 14; Won't Anybody Listen – Feb. 4, 8, 14, 19, 24
Shorts Programs: Shorts Out Loud #3 - Inside Out, Above the Dust Level and hITCH - Feb. 2, 6; An Early Frost (aka Gelée précoce) – Feb. 26; Taste – Feb. 14, 18, 27.