2011 Year in Review: Movies

 
 

Both Love Crime and the lesbian-ish vampire-ish schoolgirl-centered Moth Diaries were deliciously dark thrillers, and while neither garnered quite the same hype as the internationally known Dragon Tattoo, both brought serious steam to the screen. Of course, if you like your lesbian vampire flicks to star full-on lesbian vampires, your best bet was German We Are The Night on IFC. However, if you wanted extra schoolgirl coming of age action and Rooney Mara, Tanner Hall was certainly your flick of choice. No vampires (or dragon tattoos) in that one, sadly.

We had plenty of the “usual” lesbian subplots in movies that comprise the quirkier side of “mainstream.” The Family Tree and The Roommate figured among them. The Perfect Family stood out in this category, notably because it was helmed by out director Ann Renton and featured serious star talent (it also featured at the Tribeca Film Festival).

True Life

One of the best personal documentaries to come out in years, No Look Pass profiled the charismatic, complex Emily Tay — a star basketball player on the Harvard University squad and semi-closeted lesbian. Following the course of a year in Emily’s life, the film shows her struggling with the expectations of her first-generation Asian American immigrant parents and learning to play a professional sport abroad, effectively telling a personal story that reflects expertly on larger themes. It remains one of the year’s absolute best queer films, in any category.

It was also one of the few personal documentaries, as much of the rest provided a whole world of righteous indignation over gay rights and the wider political picture, across contexts.

Another personal documentary, Hit So Hard, let audiences get up close with Patty Schemel, the out drummer from Hole (among other high-profile bands). AE editor Trish Bendix outlined the SXSW selection in a preview:

Patty Schemel has played with some of the best bands of the last three decades. The out drummer has been on the kits for Hole, Bastard (a short-lived super group with Courtney LoveLouise Post and Gina Crosley), Imperial Teen and Juliette and the Licks. And luckily, she’s brought a camera with her to recording sessions, backstage areas and into the studio. It was only right that she’d hand over the hours of footage to some capable friends (including director P. David Ebersole) to make a movie out of it.

The Strange History of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a slick, well-produced HBO documentary that covered the history and the inner political workings of the United State’s Military’s discriminatory policy, which, until very recently, made being openly gay in the armed forces a very big no-no. Despite some issues regarding representation (in essence, the interviewees tended towards snowy white), reviewer Ali Davis found it worthwhile:

The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is well worth your time. It’s an absorbing account of an important piece of LGBT history. And a stark reminder that your Congressional representatives can go all loopy if you let them off the hook for even a minute. Basic fairness and common sense can win out in the end, but you have to keep reminding them of what that is.

If you needed to get your righteous rage meter filled up, three excellent (and difficult) docs were also on offer, perhaps as a worthy counter to some of the year’s good news for LGBT rights (including the end of DADT and marriage equality for New York). Outrage covered the issue of blinding hypocrisy of closeted LGBT lawmakers who vote against gay rights – featuring a few of the worst examples in the current legislative world. Meanwhile, Illegal Love (which, like Outrage, aired on Logo); was an interesting French Documentary on the Proposition 8 debacle (which took away the right of gay California residents to marry).

Ali Davis’ review spells it out:

It’s odd and sort of embarrassing watching an outsider try to make sense of the shameful efforts of one group of our citizens to revoke rights from others. But in a way, seeing the basics get spelled out so that a French viewer can understand what was going on starkly highlights the ridiculousness – and inherent meanness – of the Prop 8 campaign.

If the previous Logo BeCause films didn’t have you fired up enough, The World’s Worst Place to be Gay really brought home the desperate need for comprehensive human rights everywhere — especially places that are years off of marriage equality and still struggling with the whole “LGBT people as human beings” thing. The film follows Scott Mills an openly gay BBC radio personality, as he travels to Uganda, meeting both the victims of the country’s infamously anti-gay policies and attitudes, and the leaders who propagate them. It’s a powerful, often devastating piece of work that shows all too well the ways unfettered homophobia can lead to serious, systemic abuse.

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