September 13, 2012 | by Brian T. Carney
Coming attractions

Nicole Kidman as Charlotte Bless in Lee Daniel’s steamy ‘The Paperboy.’ (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)

The LGBT fall film calendar gets off to an exciting start with the D.C. release of “How to Survive A Plague” on Sept. 28.

The inspirational documentary by first–time filmmaker David France tells the story of two coalitions — ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and TAG (the Treatment Action Group) — and how they changed medical and political history. France, a journalist who has been covering the AIDS crisis for 30 years, draws on archival footage, much of it shot by the activists themselves, to tell the stories of the brave men and women who banded together to fight the plague.

The film examines how they saved the lives of millions of people by battling apathetic government bureaucrats and politicians, developing shocking outreach strategies to spur a complacent media into action, exposing greedy pharmaceutical companies and educating a scared and ignorant populace.

Lee Daniels, the openly gay director of “Precious,” returns to the big screen with “The Paperboy.” Based on the novel by Pete Dexter and set in the swamplands of Florida in 1969, The Paperboy offers a provocative, sexually charged tale of desire, ambition, prejudice and crime.

The film centers on two brothers returning to their hometown. Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) has been kicked out of college and is now working as a paperboy for his father, the local newspaper publisher. Miami journalist Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) comes home to prove the innocence of death row inmate Hillary Van Welter (John Cusack). Ward’s investigation reveals of tangled web of sexual tension, mixed motives and shadowy facts.

The cast is rounded out by Nicole Kidman as vampy death-row groupie Charlotte Bless, David Oyelowo as Ward’s hotshot writing partner Yardley Acheman, and Macy Gray as Anita, the family maid. The film’s producers hint that a central plot twist involves a character’s emerging sexuality, but are tight-lipped about which character comes out. They do, however, confirm the tabloid rumors that Zac Efron dances in his underwear and frequently appears shirtless. It opens Oct. 5.

On a lighter note, “For a Good Time, Call …,” helmed by openly gay director Jamie Travis, is a comic look at two Manhattan women who get involved in the phone sex industry. Estranged college friends Katie Steele (Ari Graynor) and Lauren Powell (Lauren Miller, who also co-wrote the script with Katie Anne Nayton) are reintroduced by their gay mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long) when both face a housing emergency.

Katie is initially shocked when she overhears her new roommate talking to one of her clients, but quickly sees dollar signs. The two establish their own company, and are quickly raking in the cash as they resume their friendship — and possibly more. The film includes cameos by Seth Rogan, Ken Marino and Kevin Smith as three clients. It’s in theaters now.

“Keep the Lights On”  is a drama about a closeted lawyer (Zachary Booth) and a documentary filmmaker (Thure Lindhardt) and their mercurial relationship. It opens Sept. 21 in D.C. at West End Cinema.

“Diana Vreeland: the Eye Has to Travel” is a documentary about the former Vogue editor. It opens Sept. 21.

And speaking of documentaries, details are still be worked out, but former Log Cabin president-turned-documentarian Patrick Sammon is finalizing details for a screening of his first film about the life of Alan Turing (called “Codebreaker”), the gay World War II-era legend. It’s tentatively slated for an October opening and a November wider release in 20-30 U.S. cities.

Other LGBT releases expected this fall include:

  • “Pitch Perfect,” a battle-of-the-sexes comedy about the rivalry between two college a cappella singing groups (Oct. 5).
  • “Bear City 2,” a sequel to the popular movie that takes the cast of bears and chasers from their New York City lairs to the wilds of Provincetown. It will be screened as part of Reel Affirmations in D.C. on Nov. 4.
  • “Gayby,” about the problems that ensue when frustrated single Jenn asks her gay best friend Matt to help her conceive a child the old-fashioned way. It’s also in Reel Affirmations. Look for it Nov. 3.

Speaking of Reel Affirmations, D.C.’s annual international LGBT film festival, the 21st festival is scheduled for Nov. 1-4 and the selection committee is currently hard at work finalizing the schedule. In the meantime, RA XTRA offers monthly film screenings. September’s screening, a double feature of “Cloudburst” and “Men To Kiss,” will be held on Sept. 20 at the Carnegie Institute for Science.

“Cloudburst” is a romantic road movie about two lesbians (played by Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker) who flee their nursing home in Maine and drive to Nova Scotia in an attempt to be legally married. “Men To Kiss” is about Ernst and Tobias, a gay couple in Berlin whose lives are upset when Ernst’s old friend Uta draws them into her schemes.

The Chesapeake Film Festival in nearby Easton and Oxford, Md., is Sept. 21-23 and includes two LGBT-themed films — “Trans” and “Queen of Country” (both screening Sept. 22 at the Academy Art Museum). Visit chesapeakefilmfestival.com for details.

The D.C. Shorts Film Festival continues through this weekend. It, too, has LGBT content in several films. Visit dcshorts.com for details.

The fall film season comes to a spectacular close with the much-anticipated release of the cinematic adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Les Miserables” (Dec. 14). Based on the classic Victor Hugo novel with music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Alain Boublil and screenplay by William Nicholson, the epic movie traces the decades-long battle between escaped convict Jean Valjean and obsessed police inspector Javert. The all-star cast includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.

 

 

 

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