It’s June, which means it is Pride month. So here is my pick of the top 30 gay films.

1931 – Mädchen in Uniform – The controversial and often censored German film directed by Leontine Sagan from the play by Christa Winsloe. A young girl is sent to a private boarding school and falls in love with one of her teachers.

1941 – The Maltese Falcon – This third, and best, version of the classic Dashiell Hammett story, written and directed by John Huston, involves private detective Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, becoming involved in a search for a priceless treasure, with three of the four bad guys being queer as a three dollar bill.

1961 – Victim – The first English-language film to use the word homosexuality. This British film directed by Basil Dearden follows a barrister played by Dirk Bogarde as he is being blackmailed for being gay.

1971 – Sunday Bloody Sunday – Director John Schlesinger and writer Penelope Gilliatt give us this swinging London look at a triangle consisting of a female office worker, a male doctor, and the male artist who drifts between the two of them.

1972 – Cabaret – One of the greatest musicals of all time. Directed by Bob Fosse and adapted from the stage by Jay Presson Allen, a gay man goes to Berlin in the 1930s and finds himself caught up with a cabaret singer and the rise of Nazism.

1972 – The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant – The story is driven by the sexual conflicts between a fashion designer, her female assistant, and the young woman the designer leaves her assistant for. One of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films that put him on the map. With Hannah Schygulla.

1975 – Fox and his Friends – Fassbinder again. He plays the central role, a plain, working-class gay man who wins the lottery. And then is quickly taken advantage of by his friends and lovers.

1975 – Dog Day Afternoon – Al Pacino plays a bank robber trying to raise money to help his boyfriend get a sex change operation. Directed by Sidney Lumet. With John Cazale.

1982 – Personal Best – In this film written and directed by Robert Towne (Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown), a female track and field athlete is caught between two romantic interests; her male coach and her main female rival.

1985 – My Beautiful Laundrette – In a metaphor about an England on the verge of cultural change, a young Pakistani man joins forces with his white boyfriend to make their fortune by opening a laundromat. This is an early film that got Daniel Day-Lewis really noticed. Directed by Stephen Frears.

1987 – Law of Desire – Pedro Almodóvar’s tragicomedy about a gay film maker who becomes involved with an obsessive fan while still longing after his straight ex-boyfriend. With Antonio Banderas and Almodóvar muse Carmen Maura.

1991 – Edward II – Derek Jarmen’s transgressive adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s play of the same name about a king who sacrifices it all for the man he loves. With Tilda Swinton.

1994 – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Two drag performers and a transgender woman take their cabaret act across the lengths of Australia. With Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp. Written and directed by Stephen Elliott.

1996 – Bound – Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, one a mobster’s girlfriend, the other an ex-con plumber, join forces and become lovers in order to cheat the mob of a suitcase of money. Written and directed by Lily and Lana Wachowski.

1998 – High Art – Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, the movie dramatizes an up and coming magazine writer who has an affair with her new subject, a drug addicted photographer. With Ally Sheedy as the photographer.

2000 – Before Night Falls – Javier Bardem received his first Oscar nomination for this biographical film about the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, who managed to escape to the US. Directed by Julian Schnabel, with Johnny Depp in a dual roll as a prisoner who dresses in drag and a Lieutenant at the prison.

2004 – Mysterious Skin – Two boys are molested by a pedophile. One grows up to be a hustler, the other grows up believing he was abducted by aliens in this powerful drama written and directed by Greg Araki. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

2004 – Bad Education – Another Almodóvar entry. Two friends who meet while attending a Catholic school under the repressive regime of Franco reunite later when one is an actor and one is a film director. Or is something else going on? With Gael Garcia Bernal.

2005 – Time to Leave – Francois Ozon’s drama about a gay fashion designer who is diagnosed with a brain tumor and decides to forgo medical help and die on this own terms.

2005 – Brokeback Mountain – Director Ang Lee and writers Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana broke new ground, at least from a Hollywood point of view, in this story of two modern day cowboys who fall in love. With Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

2009 – I Killed My Mother – Québécois Xavier Dolan’s first, and still probably best, film is a semi-autobiographical story of a young gay man’s conflicts with his mother.

2009 – A Single Man – Colin Firth stars as a professor whose is having trouble coping with the death of his lover who he met just as World War II ended. Directed by Tom Ford and co-starring Julianne Moore.

2013 – Blue is the Warmest Colour – In this Cannes award winner, a high school student from a working-class background meets and falls in love with a collegiate who travels in more intellectual circles; will their relationship be able to survive their class differences? Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

2015 – Tangerine – A trendsetting movie filmed entirely on a phone.  Aided by her best friend, a transsexual hooker goes up and down Sunset Boulevard trying to find her pimp who cheated on her while she was in prison, having taken the fall for something the pimp did.

2015 – Carol – From the short story, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, one of the few gay stories to have a happy ending at the time it was written. An up-and-coming photographer falls in love with an older woman leading to complications in both of their lives. With Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Directed by Todd Haynes.

2016 – Moonlight – Writer/director Barry Jenkins Oscar winning film (remember that ceremony) about three stages in a young man’s life as he struggles with his sexual identity and life on the hard streets of Miami. With Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.

2016 – The Handmaiden – From the director of Old Boy and Thirst comes another South Korean masterpiece in which a handmaiden helps and falls in love with a Japanese heiress who is being defrauded by her guardian.

2017 – God’s Own Country – Francis Lee’s debut feature dramatizes the growing love between an unhappy farmer and a Romanian immigrant hired for lambing season.

2017 – BPM (Beats Per Minute) – This French masterpiece focuses on a love affair between HIV+ and HIV- activists in the early days of AIDS activism in France. Directed by Robin Campillo.

Happy Pride month.

Meanwhile, listen, like, follow or comment on my podcast, POP ART, the podcast where we find the pop culture in art and the art in pop culture. Every episode, my guest chooses a movie from popular culture and I’ll choose a film from the more art/indie/foreign/classic side of cinema that has a connection to it.

On ITUNES https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pop-art/id1511098925, Anchor: https://anchor.fm/howard-casner, and Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/5jX4noVGArDJdmcFtmrQcG , Sticher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pop-art, Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/…, Breaker: https://www.breaker.audio/pop-art, Pocketcasts: https://pca.st/vfjqj6j6, Radiopublic: https://radiopublic.com/pop-art-GExxNb and other streaming sites

GAY BY GAY: Moonlight, Closet Monster and King Cobra

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rev-1For new screenwriters, the niche marketplace is important because it’s not unusual for that to be a stepping stone for up and comers to bigger budgets and more ambitious projects.
For gays and lesbians, it’s doubly important because it gives us a series of films where the central character dying at the end isn’t a requirement for the acceptance of the story (although that can make it more difficult for an actor to get an Oscar nom-#oscarssowhite just loves a nice helping of #oscarsgayssodead).
There have been three movies of late (well, four, but I reviewed The Handmaiden in another post) that are niche films that have a special appeal to the LGBTQ community. Two are what are called coming out films. The other is decidedly not. Continue reading