July 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm EDT | by Brian T. Carney
LGBT content abounds in summer 2017 streaming, home video formats
streaming, gay news, Washington Blade

Lesbian performer and Lady Gaga impersonator Athena is one of the people profiled in ‘Vegas Baby.’ (Photo by Amanda Micheli)

Now that the dog days of summer are here, instead of slogging through the heat to a movie theater, you can have some of the hottest recent LGBT releases delivered right to your living room. Between DVDs and a wide variety of Video On Demand (VOD) streaming services, you don’t need to leave the house until awards season begins to heat up in the fall.

One of the most interesting new releases is “Vegas Baby,” which was an audience favorite at the 2016 AFI Docs Film Festival under its original title of “HaveABaby.” Inspired by her own experiences with the economic and emotional toll of infertility treatments, Academy Award-nominated director Amanda Micheli turns her lens on a controversial annual contest.

A Las Vegas doctor asks people seeking infertility treatments to submit a video to a YouTube contest; the most popular entrant gets a free round of treatments. One of the most fascinating contestants is Athena Reich, a single lesbian performer and Lady Gaga impersonator, who reveals it was harder to come out to her Catholic family as infertile that it was to come out as a lesbian.

Recently out on DVD is “Flatbush Luck,” the eighth feature film by writer/director Casper Andreas. A multiple award winner on the festival circuit, the film is a romantic comedy crime caper about two hunky cousins in Brooklyn who stumble upon an insider trading scheme. Things heat up when stock tips turn into murder plots and Jimmy and Max find themselves dealing with crooked businessmen, the police, sexual confusion and an impending wedding.

“Before the Fall” is a modern-day gay adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” set in a small town in southern Virginia. Elisabeth Bennet has been reimagined as Ben Bennet, a wealthy lawyer, and the aristocratic Mr. Darcy has become Lee Darcy, a rough-hewn welder. Ben and Lee, of course, instantly dislike each other, but feelings, of course, begin to change in first-time director Byrum Geisler’s beautifully filmed, fresh take on an old tale.

Recently released on a variety of streaming platforms, the hard-hitting documentary “Returning Citizens” follows a group of Southeast D.C. residents as they strive to adjust to freedom after long-term incarceration and work to create new lives for themselves and their families. Directed by Toronto-based filmmaker Saffron Cassaday (Cyber-Seniors), the movie also shows community leaders working to end the ongoing cycle of crime and violence and illustrates the need for comprehensive prison reform.

“I Love You Both is definitely a family affair. Kristin Archibald is the co-writer and co-star of the movie with her brother Doug, who also directed. They play Krystal and Donny, co-dependent twins and roommates. They are in deep denial about the fact that they are both dating the same man (Lucas Neff), but when he finally chooses one of them over the other, they’re forced to start leading separate lives.

Another recent streaming release is the charming Irish dramedy “Handsome Devil.” Writer/director John Butler sets his coming-of-age story in a repressive Irish boarding school dominated by the homophobic rugby coach. Ned, a music-loving rebel who’s bullied by the jocks, is forced to share a dorm room with Conor, a star athlete. Under the watchful eye of their English teacher Mr. Sherry (Andrew Scott from “Pride”), the two form an unlikely friendship. The stakes get raised when the rugby team starts winning and several characters are forced reveal their true selves.

As always, the gay owned and operated Wolfe Video is a great source for LGBT films, whether on DVD/Blu-ray or streaming. Two of their recent acquisitions were standouts in the 2016 festival circuit.

A favorite with both critics and audiences, and a late-night hit at D.C.’s Reel Affirmations Film Festival last year, “Paris 09:59 Théo & Hugo” starts out after midnight in a Paris sex club. After a passionate sexual encounter, Theo and Hugo wander the streets of Paris, drunk with the possibilities of love at first sight and sobered by the risks of their passion.

Directed by Maura Anderson, the award-winning “Heartland” tells the story of a young artist who returns to the family homestead after the sudden death of her lover. Although her mother (Beth Grant of “Sordid Lives”) expects her to return to the straight and narrow, Lauren embarks on a reckless affair with her brother’s girlfriend.

Laura Spencer and Velinda Godfrey in ‘Heartland.’ (Photo courtesy of Wolfe video)

Other new releases at Wolfe Video include the documentary “Kiki” about the contemporary New York underground ballroom scene; the backstage comedy “Opening Night” starring Topher Grace, Taye Diggs, J.C. Chasez and Anne Heche; and “I Am Not Your Negro,” the powerful documentary about black gay writer James Baldwin.

Anne Heche in ‘Opening Night.’ (Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video)

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