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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

13 Movies to See at Reeling 2015: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

Tomorrow night Reeling 2015: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival begins its 33rd year of presenting movies that celebrate the queer experience. For the last week I've been watching many of this year's featured films, and below I have selected my Top 13 favorites in order of preference (click on a title for more information). Unfortunately, I was not able to see a preview screener for Stonewall (which will be released on September 25), Freeheld (which will be released on October 2) or Kiss Me, Kill Me (which is having its World Premiere at the festival on Friday, September 18), but I hope that you will check them out - along with some of my selections - during Reeling, which runs September 17 to 24.

Reeling's main venue will once again be Landmark's Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark), and for advance tickets, festival passes and a complete schedule of films, go to

1) Beautiful Something
I wanted to spend more time with the engaging characters of writer/director Joseph Graham's erotic drama, which follows four gay men looking for love and/or sex during one night. The talented cast couldn't be better with outstanding performances by Brian Sheppard, Zack Ryan, Colman Domingo, John Lescault and Peter Patrikios.

Show time: 7 pm, Wednesday, September 23

2) Two 4 One
Actor Gavin Crawford gives an amazing performance as Adam, a pregnant transgendered man, in this bittersweet comedic drama from writer/director Maureen Bradley. I also liked Naomi Snieckus as Adam's ex-girlfriend and Gabrielle Rose as his supportive mother.

Show time: 9:15 pm, Wednesday, September 23

3) She's the Best Thing In It
In this wonderful documentary about actress Mary Louise Wilson, she discusses her relationship with her gay brother, but I think the main reason why this movie is being featured in an LGBT film festival is because many gay men - including myself - love the theater. And I adore Ms. Wilson, who won a Tony Award for the musical, Grey Gardens, during her long career on the stage (and whom I still remember from the sitcom, One Day at a Time). She and director Ron Nyswaner are expected to be in attendance for Q&A following the screening.

Show time: 9:30 pm, Monday, September 21

4) Portrait of a Serial Monogamist
"We call it Fucking at Sandy's House" is the funniest line of the festival - and it's from this romantic dramedy about a lesbian Don Juan (winningly played by Diane Flacks). And comedian Robin Duke - who appeared on SCTV and Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s - is amusing as Flacks' mother.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Friday, September 18

5) The New Girlfriend
After her best friend Laura's funeral, Claire jogs over to Laura's house to find her widowed husband David dressed as a woman. I won't reveal anymore about the plot twists of this intriguing French drama from director François Ozon, but I will say that the lead performances of Anaïs Demoustier (as Claire) and Romain Duris (as David) are terrific.

Show time: 7 pm, Friday, September 18

6) You & I
The old saying "two's company, three's a crowd" would apply to this frequently full-frontal drama about best friends Jonas and Philip - straight and gay, respectively - who pick up a male hitchhiker while on a trip through the German countryside. The film certainly kept my interest as I wondered who would hook up with whom.

Show time: 9:15 pm, Tuesday, September 22

7) Death in Buenos Aires
The festival's Closing Night film is this intense crime drama about a veteran police inspector (Demian Bichir) who teams up with a young rookie cop (Chino Darín) to solve the murder of a wealthy gay man. The movie's homoerotic overtones reminded me of 1989's Apartment Zero, which was also filmed in Argentina - but instead of Hart Bochner, the handsome Mr. Darín provides the eye candy (as well as being a fine actor).

Show time: 9:30 pm, Thursday, September 24

8) From This Day Forward
Director Sharon Shattuck's documentary tells the compelling story of her father who came out as transgender when she and her sister were children. I found myself most interested in Shattuck's mother, whose marriage survived some difficult times.

Show time: 12:15 pm, Sunday, September 20

9) Guidance
Instead of Cameron Diaz's Bad Teacher, now we have a bad guidance counselor in this increasingly dark comedy starring director and writer Pat Mills. I laughed a lot, but Mills does make you care about his seriously disturbed character.

Show time: 9:15 pm, Saturday, September 19

10) Fourth Man Out
The festival's Opening Night film is this likable comedy about Adam, a 24-year-old small town car mechanic who comes out to his three straight buddies. The four leads - Evan Todd as Adam and Jon Gabrus, Parker Young (Suburgatory) and Chord Overstreet (Glee) as his friends - exhibit some great bromantic chemistry while providing many laughs. Parker Young, Evan Todd and The Office's Kate Flannery (who plays Adam's mother) are expected to be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.

Show time: 7:30 pm, Thursday, September 17, at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport)

11) Those People
This angsty drama about the close relationship between a young gay painter and his rich best friend reminded me a little of 1990's Metropolitan (but without the humor) and a lot of Brideshead Revisited - especially since the two main characters are named Charlie and Sebastian. Jonathan Gordon and Jason Ralph are quite good as the two leads, and I also liked Haaz Sleiman as an older pianist who falls in love with Charlie.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Saturday, September 19

12) That’s Not Us
This cute dramedy is about three twentysomething New York couples - one gay, one lesbian, one straight - who spend a summer weekend together at a beach house. Straight couple Liz and Dougie (nicely played by Elizabeth Gray and Tommy Nelms) have the best storyline as she teaches him how to ride a bike.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Thursday, September 24

13) Seeking Dolly Parton
The title of this romantic drama refers to the rose called "Dolly Parton", not the singer, so don't expect to hear any country music. It tells the story of a lesbian couple seeking a sperm donor, and two supporting characters - a gay best friend (Raffaello Degruttola) and his grandmother (Lois Stewart) - steal every scene they are in.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Tuesday, September 22


MovieJunkie said...

Some of these look good, but I wonder what happened to the really fun and delightful gay romantic comedies?

Marc Harshbarger said...

You're right, MovieJunkie, there weren't any fun romantic comedies at this year's festival. Most of the films were darker and edgier. But I'm sure we'll have some more light LGBT comedies in the future.