March 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm EST | by Brian T. Carney
SPRING ARTS 2018 MOVIES: ‘Simon’ says he’s gay?
2018 movie, gay news, Washington Blade

Nick Robinson in ‘Love Simon.’ (Photo by Ben Rothstein; courtesy Twentieth Century Fox)

The spring 2018 movie season gets off to an explosive start Friday with the wide release of “Death Wish,” a contemporary reimaging of the classic 1974 revenge thriller. Bruce Willis takes on the role made famous by Charles Bronson.

“Love, Simon” (March 16) is about a gay teen (Nick Robinson) who can’t quite get up the nerve to come out of the closet. The problem isn’t his supportive parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) or his close-knit group of friends, but rather his own insecurities. Things change when he befriends another gay teen online and then tries to track down his elusive electronic pen pal.

Also opening on March 16 is “Tomb Raider,” a continuation of the Lara Croft saga starring Alicia Vikander, who won an Academy Award for “The Danish Girl.”

One of the most highly anticipated releases of the spring is Disney’s adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Based on the beloved novel by Madeline L’Engle and directed by Ava DuVernay (“Selma,” “Queen Sugar” and “13th”), the all-star cast includes Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifanakis and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which. Newcomer Storm Reid plays Meg Murry who goes on a dangerous multi-dimensional journey to save her scientist father.

Director Ava DuVernay and actor Storm Reid on the set of ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ (Photo courtesy Disney)

One of the highlights at the AFI Silver is “Wes World: The Films of Wes Anderson” which runs March 19-April 26. The AFI tribute to this stylish auteur includes his first film (“Bottle Rocket”) along with a number of fan favorites (“Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). Starting on March 28, AFI will also screen Anderson’s latest film, “Isle of Dogs,” a delightful stop-motion-animated adventure about a boy who rescues his dog from the awful Trash Island.

Other special programs at AFI include “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy on Screen”; “Directed by Michael Curtiz” featuring “Casablanca,” Errol Flynn in “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” Joan Crawford’s star turn in “Mildred Pierce” and a gory double bill of “Doctor X” and “The Mystery of the Wax Museum”; and two films screened in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month: “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” and “The Color Purple.” will be co-presented with a variety of local partners, including AHA! Moment and the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, home of the Reel Affirmations Film Festival.

In addition to its partnership with AFI, Reel Affirmations will continue to present monthly screenings at the HRC Screening Room. Upcoming movies are slated to include “Q Mason,” “A Moment in the Reeds” and “Water in a Broken Glass.”

From March 22-25, the increasingly popular Annapolis Film Festival returns to several scenic venues around Maryland’s state capitol. The schedule for the sixth annual festival has not been announced yet, but the staff have a few sneak peeks.

The LGBT feature-length films at the festival will include “Stumped,” a documentary about gay filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser who turns to stand-up comedy as therapy after he becomes a quadruple amputee; “Kiss Me,” an effervescent French lesbian comedy; and “Finding Home,” a moving portrait of three LGBT people who sought refugee status in the U.S. shortly before the 2016 elections.

The various programs of shorts also offer several queer films including “Men Don’t Whisper” about a gay couple who go to extremes to prove their masculinity; “Humbug,” a holiday story that features a hot lesbian kiss beneath the mistletoe; and the wonderful “The Whole World” about the special bond between a man and his mother.

The non-profit Avalon Theatre offers a wide variety of diverse films. In addition to its regular programming, the Avalon presents a number of special events, including “Exhibition on Screen” and the “Wednesday Signature Series.” On May 6, the theater will host “We’ll Always Have Casablanca,” a fundraiser that includes a special screening of the movie and a presentation by film historian Noah Isenberg.

Slated for an April release, “Disobedience” is a tumultuous lesbian romance set among London’s Orthodox Jewish community. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams play childhood friends who reunion turns into a romance. Sebastián Lelio (“A Fantastic Woman”) directs and Alessandro Nivola plays McAdam’s rabbi husband.

The recently “rescued” SNF Parkway Theatre in Baltimore includes three theaters and offers innovative cinematic programming year-round. Some of the queer programming on tap for the spring includes a free community screening of the award-winning documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk” on March 22 and “Queer Edward II,” Derek Jarman’s bold and beautiful queer reconsideration of Christopher Marlowe’s gay Elizabethan play “Edward II.”

Other programming at the Parkway includes “The Young Karl Marx,” directed by Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”) and Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s delicious “Big Night,” part of the Parkway’s exciting ongoing collaboration with Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre.

The Parkway, named for philanthropist Starvos Niachros, will also be one of the sites for the 20th annual Maryland Film Festival which runs May 3-6. Programming for the festival has not been announced, but one event is guaranteed. Baltimore film provocateur John Waters will be on hand to personally introduce one of his favorite cringe-inducing camp classics. Past choices have included the mother-daughter team of Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith in “Roar” and the husband-wife team of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Tennessee William’s “Boom.”

The popular Washington Jewish Film Festival runs May 2-19. The festival slate will officially be announced in April, but the producers have already confirmed that the fascinating “Rated LGBTQ” series will be returning.

Other notable spring openings include:

“Journey’s End” (March 23),  a stirring World War I drama based on the famous play by gay author R. C. Sherriff,

“The Death of Stalin” (March 16). a political satire about a dark period of Soviet history. Steve Buscemi stars as Nikita Khrushchev and Andrea Riseborough (“Battle of the Sexes) appears as Stalin’s daughter Svetlana,

“Avengers: Infinity War” (May 4), another visit to the Marvel Comic Universe,

And, on a much lighter note, a treat for the whole family: “Sherlock Gnomes” (March 23), a sequel to the clever and punny “Gnomeo and Juliet” (2011).

In the lead-up to Memorial Day and the summer blockbusters, three very different movies (with three very different LGBT fan bases will vie for box office dollars: Melissa McCarthy stars in the raucous comedy “Life of the Party” (May 11), Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in the fourth Hollywood remake of “A Star is Born” (May 18), and on May 25, the off-year franchise movie “Solo: A Star Wars Movie” zooms into theaters.

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