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Awards season brings queer cinematic delights

‘Bare,’ ‘Supernova’ among anticipated debuts

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Bare, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Bare’ follows a group of dancers as they work on the contemporary dance piece, ‘Anima Ardens,’ which is presented entirely in the nude. (Photo courtesy of DOC NYC)

This year is anything but normal, but we can always count on the film industry to cling to the tried-and-true, and that means November still marks the beginning of “Oscar season,” which means it’s time for those awards hopefuls to start coming our way.

For LGBTQ+ audiences, it’s always an occasion to start scanning the horizon for contenders representing the community – and one early entry this year certainly fits the bill.

“Supernova,” is the second feature from British writer/director Harry Macqueen, which debuted at the San Sebastian Film Festival in September and is slated for release in the UK later this month. Its early reviews are mostly glowing, with particular praise for stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, who portray a longtime gay couple taking a road trip after one of them has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

With all the earmarks of the kind of “art film” that Hollywood loves to embrace at awards time, it seems more than likely that this heart-tugging gay romantic drama will be in the running (provided it meets Academy screening requirements in the U.S., of course – no date is currently listed for a U.S. screening before its official release date in January). Certainly, its two stars must be considered as potential front-runners; Firth is already a proven awards champ, and Tucci is exactly the kind of longtime screen stalwart “Oscar” loves to single out with a late-career nod. Their reputations are such that most anyone would have no doubt, even sight unseen, that their performances here would be worthy of recognition.

Still, inevitably, a long-standing and inevitable controversy has already manifested itself in discussions around the casting of these two actors – both superb, yes, but also both straight – in these two plumb gay roles.

There’s no need to launch into an argument about the appropriateness of such casting in 2020; the pros and cons of each side have been well documented in countless other articles, as they will continue to be as long as homophobia is still as much of a force as it is in the film and entertainment industry. Still, it might help gain some perspective (at least in this instance) to remember that “Supernova” is a UK film. While the British movie industry of the past was certainly just as repressive as Hollywood when it came to even the suggestion of anything “homosexual,” in recent years the sexuality of both the actors and the characters they portray has become undeniably less of a “thing.” Out actors like Ian McKellen or Derek Jacobi have moved freely between gay and straight roles for decades, with a younger generation of players such as Ben Whishaw or Russell Tovey following in their footsteps; and while it’s true that there are still some Brit thespians who remain cagey about identifying themselves publicly, those tend to be the ones with an eye toward the potential of Hollywood stardom.

It must also be said that both Firth and Tucci have proven repeatedly that they are capable of portraying gay characters with sensitivity and empathy; we can at least be relatively sure their performances will be delivered with the dignity, the honor, and the humanity that we have every right to expect.

Whichever side you come down on in the debate, you’re not likely to get a look at “Supernova” soon, but it’s something to keep in mind if early handicapping of the Oscar race is your game.

In the meantime, November offers some authentic queer content to keep viewers occupied – especially if you’re a subscriber to Revry, the global LGBTQ+ virtual network that has been providing a steady stream of it since 2016. The platform has just launched the newest addition to its lineup with OML on Revry, the first 24/7 live TV channel exclusively catering to queer womxn (lesbian, bi, trans female, gender non-binary, queer, etc.).

OML has actually been around since 2009 (formerly as “One More Lesbian”), with the mission to become a hub for lesbian members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking visual representation in the media and to allow access to this content on one platform. The channel joins the Revry lineup after having amassed millions of visitors and serving over a half million YouTube subscribers with curated lesbian content, as well as content for a broader queer audience, inclusive of all female and gender-expansive viewers.

OML on Revry features several tentpole attractions for its launch, including both established and brand new original series. One standout offering in the latter category is “Dating ‘In’ Place,” described in publicity as a “socially distant” comedy following two young women who are dating and falling in love during a global pandemic, bringing a femxle-focused comedic spin on the realities of dating in the “new normal” of COVID-era social constructs. Timely and relevant, to say the least, it debuted on Nov. 1, and you can watch the whole thing on demand. If you’re not already a Revry subscriber, it’s a good time to become one.

Lastly, if you’re a fan of male nudity, you won’t find a more intriguing viewing option than “Bare,” a documentary being screened at this month’s DOC NYC festival.

One of the few consolation prizes of 2020 is that such an event, normally out of reach for anyone not able to show up in person, is made accessible to anybody thanks to the necessity of virtual presentation. That’s good news for this fly-on-the-wall, cinema verité-style effort from filmmaker Aleksandr M. Vinogradov, which follows a group of dancers as they work with renowned Belgian choreographer Thierry Smit on his contemporary dance piece, “Anima Ardens,” which is presented entirely in the nude.

The film documents the process of auditioning, rehearsing, and performing the piece, which (for obvious reasons) could easily veer into eroticism; instead, “Bare” is as much anthropological study as it is provocative arts documentary, exposing us – literally – to so much visible male genitalia that it becomes commonplace. This opens up the experience to become a meditation on everything from the aesthetic beauty of the naked form to the dynamics of male power to the simple natural beauty that comes in the interactions of these men as they become gradually more at ease with being “bare” – in every sense of the word. The result is a powerful and transcendent film that might, on the surface, seem no more profound than a high-end coffee table book, but that end up having the potential to change your relationship with nudity – both your own and everyone else’s – by the time the final credits role.

Yes, the dancers are fit and attractive, and yes, they are mostly, if not all, gay men. In the end, those things matter, of course, but they are immaterial in the face of the film’s perspective on nakedness – and the body itself – as the “last bastion of personal freedom.”

If that’s something that appeals to you – and why wouldn’t it? – you can get tickets to the Nov. 11 online screening of “Bare” on the DOC NYC website at docnyc.net.

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Miscellaneous

D.C. homebuyers face hyper competitive market

Sellers in driver’s seat as region faces record low inventory

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housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

With job growth rising during a period of aggressive government spending and historically low mortgage rates, the spring 2021 market sits at the lowest level of inventory since 1983.

Homebuyers in the D.C. area continue to face an incredibly competitive market. This is truly a seller’s market.

Lack of Inventory: Washington, D.C. has been in a gradually worsening housing shortage since the Great Recession. The area hasn’t had a six-month supply of homes for sale for almost 12 years. Now, we add a global pandemic that seriously altered what homeowners want out of their home, Wall Street on fire, and insanely low interest rates and we get a surge in motivated homebuyers.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of homes nationwide reached a record low in December 2020, with just 1.07 million properties on the market. The DC metro area is even worse off than the national average with only one month’s supply of homes. That means if new listings were completely dried up, there would be no homes available in four weeks. On average, D.C. homes have been selling within 11 days, which is 15 days faster than this time in 2020.

Seller’s Market: The time is now for Washington, D.C. homeowners to seriously consider selling their homes if they have played with the idea. Experts predict 2021 will be another strong housing market with an increase in demand from existing homebuyers in search of larger homes and buyers who delayed purchasing a home due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Zillow forecasts a nearly 30 percent annual growth in homes for sale in 2021. This would be the largest home sales growth since 1983. Zillow’s annual report stated, “Home price appreciation will reach its fastest pace since the Great Recession, as the inventory crunch continues to pit buyers against each other, competing for a scarce number of homes for sale.”

D.C.’s Current Market: According to the NAR, in March of 2021, D.C. home prices had increased 4.1% compared to March 2020, for a median price of $635,000. There were 1,004 homes sold in March 2021, an increase from 842 at this time last year.

We are seeing many homes receive multiple offers within just a few days in the D.C. area. The average home is selling a little above 1% of the listing price and many hot homes are seeing large bidding wars and selling for 3% or more above the listing price; 42.7% of D.C. homes sold above list price in March of 2021. That is a 13.4% increase from last year at this time. Active inventory for March of 2021 was 1,457 homes, down 9% from March 2020. March 2021 also saw 991 homes sell in the D.C. area, an increase of 31% from February of 2021. March 2021’s total homes sold had a 19% increase from March 2020.

Buying a Home: In the current seller’s market, buying a home can be like playing a chess match. You need to know the rules and be strategic. It can seem more like winning than purchasing a home right now. If you find a home you want to buy, chances are you won’t be the only one making an offer. It is a seller’s market everywhere in the country right now and D.C. is no different. Be sure you know what you qualify for and what you can afford.

Conclusion: The NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association both project prices of existing homes to increase 5.9% in 2021. This may mean buyers will have to be more flexible than in the past. For example, making an offer contingent upon the sale of a current home may be harder than before. It’s also possible you will pay more than the list price. The D.C. real estate market is on fire and many homes are off the market within 24 hours of listing. For sellers, if you have been thinking of selling your home there is no better time than the present.

 

Khalil El-Ghoul is Principal Broker for Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821. Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the D.C. Metro area. Learn more about what makes us different at glassshousere.com.

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Miscellaneous

Kick-ass crossovers

Still the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms

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crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade

Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Crossovers keep wending their way into our driveways—and our hearts. After overtaking sedans, station wagons and minivans as the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms, crossovers are now taking aim at the most quintessential of American rides: the muscle car. With naughty looks and hepped-up engines, the two dynamite crossovers below are sure to blow your mind—and just maybe your budget.

DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT
$81,000
Mpg: 12 city/17 highway
0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds

For more than 20 years, the Dodge Durango has been a solid if nondescript family hauler. But this year the automaker jazzed up its midsize crossover with brawnier styling and the latest tech toys. And for the first time, Dodge is offering a limited-edition Durango SRT Hellcat—a high-test model with the same hellacious Hemi V8 engine in the Challenger super coupe and Charger sport sedan. With 710 horsepower, this blazingly fast crossover can kick some serious ass, outrunning many a Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The upgraded suspension provides more dynamic handling and cornering, as well as selectable steering for better grip. For straight-line acceleration and to prevent nasty fish-tailing, I simply flipped the “launch control” toggle switch. The massive Brembo brakes also were stellar, with stop-on-a-dime performance and flaming red calipers on each wheel. Another plus: the iconic Hellcat exhaust rumble could be heard blocks away—music to the ears of any auto aficionado. As with all Durangos, this bruiser has best-in-class towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.

Inside, there’s plenty of space, including more room than expected for third-row passengers. The steering wheel, dash, and trim accents now have trendy Euro styling, though it’s more VW than upscale Audi. And you can opt for flashy seatbelts and premium seats in a color Dodge calls Demonic Red, along with black velour floor mats and a soft-touch headliner. Other features include heated/ventilated seats, a large 10.1-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at once. Options include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and rear-seat entertainment with Blue-Ray player. Alas, this is a limited-edition model and all 2,000 of these speed demons quickly sold out months ago. But there’s still hope: Dodge allocated some of the racy Durangos to select dealerships, so you can call around to see if any are still available. And you can always try social media to find a lucky Durango Hellcat owner who just might be willing to sell this rollicking ride, if the price is right.

LAND ROVER DEFENDER X
$85,000
Mpg: 17 city/22 highway
0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds

For decades, both the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover have been ubiquitous in the United States. Not so the smaller and less ostentatious Defender, often seen as a work-horse vehicle in BritBox reruns or action flicks like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But last year the Defender returned to these shores after nearly a quarter-century hiatus.

Available in two- or four-door models, both Defenders start around $50,000. My test vehicle was the new top-of-the-line Defender X, which added—yikes!—another $35,000 to the sticker price. The look on these crossovers is boxy chic, which allows for a ginormous amount of headroom, legroom and cargo space. Land Rover also added extra stowage areas and cubby holes, as well as transom windows and a sliding panoramic sunroof to keep things airy. While the cabin may be sparse and full of solid plastics, the walnut trim on the center console and door panels is quite elegant.

Land Rovers have a somewhat infamous reputation for less-than-stellar electronics, but the 10-inch touchscreen was crystal clear and synced up seamlessly with the infotainment system. Tricked out with a jet-black roof, hood, and side cladding, the press vehicle I test drove was painted a haughty Eiger Gray Metallic. It also came with thick all-terrain tires, adding to a slightly menacing vibe. A full-size spare is conveniently mounted on the vertical tailgate, which swings completely open like a refrigerator door for easy access. The Defender X may not be as lightning quick as a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, but it’s still plenty fast. And this brute can tackle the toughest of terrains, thanks to locking differentials, hill-descent control and a standard air suspension that can raise the chassis 11.5 inches above the ground. Overall, the Defender X can’t quite hide its refined roots as a tony Land Rover. But as with the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, this burly crossover flexes some serious muscle.

Land Rover Defender X

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Miscellaneous

A closer look at the houses in our fave holiday films

The role of architecture in Christmas storytelling

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Christmas house, gay news, Washington Blade
Ralphie’s house in ‘A Christmas Story’ is available for special events and even weddings. (Photo courtesy AChristmasStoryHouse.com)

We’re in the midst of the Hallmark season. Their movies are available 24/7 and they can serve as both light entertainment and as background noise.

The formula is simple: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, and she moves to some rural place with plenty of snow rather than live in the city where she is harried, overworked, and financially successful. Thankfully, Hallmark is finally branching out to boy meets boy and girl meets girl like Dashing in December and The Happiest Season, but the formula remains pretty much the same except that someone is still in the closet.

As a real estate agent, I tend to focus on things like architecture and décor when I watch the original classics and those that have become traditional in more recent years.

There are extreme exteriors like the Griswold house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Deck the Halls, where the Halls and the Finches argue over how many exterior lights are too many.

One of my favorite movies is The Holiday, where Iris and Amanda exchange homes for Christmas vacation. Iris’s house is the quintessential stone cottage in a quaint English village. You can just feel how cold the house is until the fire is lit.

Amanda’s house, on the other hand, is a gorgeous Mediterranean built in the late 1920s, with a barrel tiled roof, located in San Marino, Calif. There are lots of contemporary touches inside, including automatic window shades and a kitchen to die for. While the house’s exterior is real, the interior was specifically constructed on a separate soundstage to transform it from traditional to contemporary.

The kitchen in A Christmas Story reminds me of my maternal grandparents’ home in Maine. It was a three-bedroom, one-bath upstairs apartment over my grandfather’s general store. We would sit around the table chatting while my Nana uncovered the dough that she would use to bake bread.

She would peel off little bits of dough to deep fry and we would eat them with locally made butter for breakfast (think hush puppies with dough instead of cornmeal). The whistle from the nearby, malodorous paper mill called us to lunch at that same table. At one, the whistle would blow again to call the townsmen back to work.

The incredibly large Georgian Colonial home in Home Alone, also from the 1920s, always made me wonder what Mr. McCallister did for a living that he could afford the mortgage. Today, that house in the Chicago suburban village of Winnetka, Ill., would command roughly $3 million.

The Victorian Four Square showcased in The Family Stone reminds me of the homes in 16th Street Heights, with large wrap-around porches, wide moldings, wainscotting and what looks to be William Morris wallpaper. And who could forget the Smith’s family home in Meet Me in St. Louis, an impressive Victorian Second Empire, where the songbird, Judy Garland, wooed us with her rendition of Merry Little Christmas.

The Columbia Inn with its adjacent ski lodge became the set for White Christmas. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye sang and danced their way into our hearts. The lodge had floor to ceiling atrium windows and held about three dozen tables for dinner. It was beautifully decorated for the holiday, with the red of poinsettias and the green of World War II uniforms.

Also lovely were the Christmas tree and arched doorways in the 1947 Cary Grant film, The Bishop’s Wife (not to be confused with Denzel Washington’s 1996 remake, The Preacher’s Wife, which seems to take place as much outdoors as indoors).

How can we possibly talk about Christmas movies without mentioning the drafty, old house of It’s a Wonderful Life? The Old Granville House is another example of Second Empire Victorian (1860s to 1880s). In the beginning of the movie, it’s what we would call a fixer upper, without the shiplap and open floorplan favored by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Mary Bailey, wife of George, does an excellent job of cleaning and wallpapering (and, we hope, replacing windows) to transform an ugly duckling into the swan that is the family home.

Finally, Miracle on 34th Street is still one of my favorite Christmas movies, as much for the independence of the single mother and trial of Santa Claus as for the yellow Cape Cod that a young Natalie Wood is presented with once she learns to believe in Santa. Perhaps if you believe in Santa again, someone will bring you a house next year too.

Wishing you happiness and good health this holiday season.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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