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Silver bells, silver screen

Several gay-themed flicks among holiday fare

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Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, gay news, Washington Blade
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, gay news, Washington Blade

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in the film adaptation of ‘Les Miserables.’

LGBT filmgoers have some interesting mainstream and independent movie choices coming up this holiday season.

Already in theaters (D.C.’s Landmark E Street Cinema among them) is “Any Day Now” starring Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt. Set in Los Angeles in 1979, it tells the story of an unconventional family battling internalized and institutional homophobia as an unlikely gay couple tries to adopt a special needs child.

Cumming plays Rudy Donatello, a flamboyant drag queen who yearns to stop lip-synching and perform his own cabaret act. Dillahunt plays Paul Flieger, a shy fan who finally gathers up the nerve to approach the performer after a show. Paul’s a straight-laced closeted assistant district attorney, so the two clearly have some challenges in making their relationship work.

Rudy lives down the hall from a prostitute who has a 14-year-old son, Marco, with Down syndrome. When she’s arrested on drug possession charges, Rudy impulsively and reluctantly decides to care for Marco. Soon, Paul, Rudy and Marco are living together in Rudy’s cramped apartment, although the two men initially pretend to be cousins to avoid public scrutiny. Trouble ensues when the couple decides to adopt Marco and take on a hostile bureaucracy that doesn’t consider gay men appropriate guardians and that routinely places special needs children in institutions.

Rebels of a different sort are on-screen in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic Beat novel, “On the Road.” Like the novel, the movie is a thinly veiled recreation of the famous cross-country road trip taken by Kerouac with his friend Neal Cassady and Cassady’s girlfriend LuAnne Henderson. Sam Riley plays Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise and Garrett Hedlund plays the charismatic Dean Moriarty (based on Cassady). Kristen Stewart appears as Moriarty’s girlfriend Marylou and Viggo Mortenson and Tom Sturridge are featured as characters based on William S. Burroughs (author of “Naked Lunch”) and Allen Ginsburg (the openly gay poet who wrote “Howl”).

Reunited with screenwriter Jose Rivera (the two worked together on “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a road movie inspired by the life of Che Guevara), Salles unflinchingly recreates the artistic, philosophical and sexual awakening of Paradise. The film combines a celebration of the Beat writers and the women and gay men who were part of their world along with an understanding of the misogyny and homophobia that ultimately underscored much of their work. The movie includes explicit sex scenes but the focus remains on the sexual liberties taken by the straight white writers.

“On the Road” opens in limited release Dec. 21 and is expected in D.C. theaters in January.

A very different road trip is the subject of “The Guilt Trip,” a holiday release starring the unlikely comic team of gay icon Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Currently in wide release, the movie is based on a real-life from suburban New Jersey-to-Las Vegas trip taken by screenwriter Dan Fogelman (“Tangled” and “Cars”) and his mother.

In the movie, Rogen plays Andy Brewster, an inventor travelling across the country to sell his newest product. Streisand, in her first lead movie role since “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996), plays his pushy mother Joyce, who decides to join her reluctant son on his travels. Along the way, mother and son rebuild their strained relationship and Joyce is reunited with a lost love.

It opened this week in wide release.

The blockbuster release of the 2012 holiday season is the much-anticipated “Les Misérables,” the musical adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel about a popular uprising against an oppressive regime (the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris) and the transcendent power of love. Directed by Tom Hooper, the musical extravaganza stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, who serves a brutal 19-year prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children. Breaking parole and living under an assumed name, Valjean is relentlessly pursued by the ruthless Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe).

The all-star ensemble cast features Anne Hathaway as Fantine, the doomed factory worker; Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Fantine’s beautiful illegitimate daughter who is raised by Jean Valjean; Eddie Redmayne as Marius, the student who falls instantly in love with Cosette; and Samantha Banks as Éponine, the wily gamine who pines with unrequited love for Marius. The principal cast is rounded out by Aaron Tveit as the leader of the student revolutionaries; Colm Wilkinson (who originated the role of Jean Valjean in London and New York) as the kindly Bishop of Digne; and, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers, comic denizens of the Parisian underworld.

“Les Miz” makes movie musical history by being the first film musical to be recorded live on the set (performers usually lip-synch to tracks previously laid down in a recording studio). The movie adaptation will also include a new song written specifically for leading man Hugh Jackman. The authors of the English stage musical (Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer), working with screenwriter William Nicholson, wrote the song “Suddenly” for Jean Valjean to sing after he rescues Cosette from the Thénardiers. The new song clarifies the character’s emotional journey and will be eligible for Oscar consideration.

“Les Misérables” opens nationwide in wide release Tuesday.

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Out & About

Pride Run 5K nearly sold out

Front Runners annual event to be held at Congressional Cemetery

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Front Runners Pride Run 5K (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sign up now to join the annual Front Runners Pride Run 5K. The event is 85 percent sold out. The event is Friday, June 7 at Historic Congressional Cemetery.

Join more than 1,000 runners and walkers as they kick off Pride weekend 2024. When registering please consider donating to one of the event’s charity partners. This year’s race proceeds benefit local LGBTQ and disenfranchised youth organizations, including the Team DC Student-Athlete Scholarship, Wanda Alston Foundation, Blade Foundation, Ainsley’s Angels of America (National Capital Region), Pride365 and SMYAL. Visit DCPriderun.com to register or to donate.

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Out & About

Civil rights commission to celebrate queer life

Panel discussion to discuss progress in LGBTQ rights

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(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights will host “Celebrating Progress and Centering Joy” on Thursday, June 6 at 12 p.m. virtually.

This event is a virtual panel discussion, as the commission celebrates the progress in LGBTQIA+ rights and center joy within the community. 

This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

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Calendar

Calendar: May 17-23

LGBTQ events in the days to come

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Friday, May 17

Center Aging Friday Tea Time will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults! Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more information, email [email protected]

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Speed Friending” at 7 p.m. at Puro Gusto. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ+ community, including Allies, together for delicious food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, May 18

LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgment free. For more details, ​​visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook.com/centerpoc.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Sunday, May 19

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Dinner” at 7 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Monday, May 20

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected]

Go Gay DC will host “Out and About in Shirlington LGBTQ+ Happy Hour” at 6 p.m. at Palette 22. About 30 LGBTQ folk are expected. Palette 22 offers modern street food spanning the globe served in a bustling art studio & gallery atmosphere. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite

Tuesday, May 21

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Bi Roundtable will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This event is an opportunity for people to gather in order to discuss issues related to bisexuality or as Bi individuals in a private setting. For more details, visit Facebook or Meetup

Wednesday, May 22

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit thedccenter.org/careers.

Asexual and Aromantic Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a space where people who are questioning this aspect of their identity or those who identify as asexual and/or aromantic can come together, share stories and experiences, and discuss various topics. For more details, email [email protected]

Thursday, May 23

The DC Center’s Fresh Produce Program will be held all day at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. No proof of residency or income is required. For more information, email [email protected] or call 202-682-2245. 

Virtual Yoga with Charles M. will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breathwork, and meditation. For more details, visit the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s website.

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