We pulled into the driveway of the Maidstone Inn on a rainy, chilly Saturday morning in Easthampton to grab our press passes. “You just missed Kiefer Sutherland”, said an excited young writer who pushed by us to grab a coffee in the cozy living room of the Swedish-themed Inn where photos of Ingmar Bergman movies lined the walls.
Nina McCann and Jennese Torres of Proud to Be Latina grabbed our tickets for our first film of the day, The Special Need. This was a beautifully tender, thoughtful and original documentary about a 29 year old Autistic man who wants to experience physical love for the first time. Enea, sets out on a journey through Europe with his good friends, Alex and Carlo who try to help him find a solution to his “need”. The interesting soundtrack by composer, Dario Moroldo was in itself an important player in the pace and beauty of this story.
Next on our list was the 9-minute short film, Weenie, a comedy about a 16-year-old girl who gets grounded, but wants to go to a party no matter what. Writer and director Dan Roe explained, in his Q&A session that his vision was to share the often volatile relationship between teenage girls and their mothers, and the roller coaster of emotions that comes with that bond. The punchy, pop soundtrack highlights today’s musical trends, tastes and teenage life in the era of texting.
Our final movie of the night was Frank Whaley’sLike Sunday, Like Rain. Another powerfully musical film about a young woman, (Leighton Meester) who loses her job and dumps her boyfriend, (Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) in the same day but unexpectedly lands a job as an au pair to a 12-year old musical prodigy, Julian Shatkin, who is wise beyond his years and seemingly unaffected by his cold and incredibly wealthy mother played by Debra Messing. Frank Whaley explained that this film was miraculously shot in various locations throughout New York in a span of 20 days and on a shoestring budget.
Thinking that this would be a light, gossipy memoir on fashion, I was taken aback how great this memoir was. Halbreich grew up wealthy as an only child in Chicago, living a relatively lonesome life. From an early age, she was deeply fascinated by clothing. After enduring a difficult marriage and an attempt at suicide, Halbreich found her calling as a personal shopper (of the Solutions Department) at Bergdorf Goodman, helping dress celebrities like Joan Rivers and Candice Bergen (Halbreich is partly responsible for the iconic "Murphy Brown" look). Rich and lively and studded with incredible details, I'll Drink to That took me into bygone eras of fashion (she bemoans that it's all about the labels now, not the clothing) and into the life of a no-nonsense, direct, creative and dry-witted artist.
Does addiction ever leave us? The present tense immediacy of Bydlowska's memoir suggests sometimes it does not. Bydlowska's book hurtles into her personal experiences as an alcoholic young mother. Despite its subject matter and its wide open revelations, I wouldn't call the book devastating nor shocking, in fact Bydlowska's experiences are sometimes ordinary, eerily banal.
I believe this is the first collection I've read of Hillman and now I'm excited to go back to her other books. This one really sparked for me. The poems are packed with politics and detail. I liked the risk-taking and the messiness--the collision of varied moods and voices (furious and at times, weary) protest photos, data, and asides.
October is Gay History Month in addition to being the lead-up to Halloween, so it’s the perfect time to spotlight some of the LGBT characters that have found their way into horror film and television. I rank my picks in order from least to most positive—an order that roughly follows the films’ chronology. The times, they are a-changin’!
Gerde and Sandra (Sylvia Miles and Beverly D’Angelo), The Sentinel(1977)—Michael Winner’s gloss on Rosemary’s Baby is a lot of things, but politically correct is not one of them. This pair isn’t just weird and off-putting—they wear ballet suits for some reason, and D’Angelo pleasures herself while lead Cristina Raines squirms in her chair—they’re actually demons. But by the time Miles is seen feasting on brains, homophobia is the least of the movie’s crimes—it uses real deformed people to portray the other denizens of hell. Incidentally, Miles gets one of the best lines when Raines asks her what she and her companion do: “We fondle each other.”
ChadPat (Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears), "American Horror Story" (2011)—Sparring gay lovers Chad and Pat are a step above The Sentinel’s ghastly lesbians, but only just. True, the interior designers are suave and good-looking, but their relationship is a dysfunctional mess, and they fulfill numerous negative gay stereotypes, from Pat’s sex addiction to Chad’s superficial preoccupation with appearances; Chad covets Vivian (Connie Britton)’s twins, but plans to smother them with “a hypoallergenic pillow so they’ll always be cute.” Considering that nearly everyone on the first season of AHS is both deeply flawed and guilty of some heinous act or another, though, ChadPat barely qualify as the worst of the bunch.
Miriam and Sarah (Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon), The Hunger (1983)—In my sophomore year of college I had the distinct pleasure of watching this movie with a group of lesbians who’d never seen it before. They didn’t know quite what to make of this ultra-stylized movie about an ageless vampire (Deneuve) who ditches her latest male companion (David Bowie) for Sarandon’s comely Sarah. In true 80s fashion, the movie casts lesbianism through a veil of trendy bisexuality (Sarandon’s dating a man when we first meet her), fluttering curtains, and gratuitous slow mo photography (uh-oh, Sarah spilled wine on her blouse!). It gets a split vote in terms of how it portrays its queer characters; Deneuve is a true villainess, but Sarandon’s character manages to come out on top. Side note: the lead actress later sued lesbian magazine Deneuve for illegally using her name, forcing them to re-christen themselves as Curve.
Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist), Pet Sematary (1989)—Pascow is a truly original creation, a horrible disfigured apparition who nonetheless tries to help Dr. Louis Creed (bland but hunky Dale Midkiff) and his family avoid certain doom. After the good doctor fails to save the accident victim, he appears in the same sweater and red short shorts he died in to caution Creed against using the Micmac burial ground. His eccentric, fey delivery makes Pascow, in Greenquist’s own words, “a good fairy.” You can say that again!
David (Gordon Michael Woolvett), Bride of Chucky(1998)—Queer Child’s Play creator Don Mancini really let his camp flag fly with this spoofy sequel that features Woolvett as a good-looking, likable homo who helps star crossed lovers Jade (a before she was famous Katherine Heigl) and Jesse (gorgeous Nick Stabile). We’re obviously supposed to like David, which makes his shocking death pretty excusable—this is a horror movie, after all. Besides, what self-respecting gay man would spurn a movie that features Stabile in an utterly gratuitous car washing scene?