8 posts categorized "LGBT"

December 10, 2015


THE DANISH GIRL This year’s big mainstream addition to LGBT cinema finds the ever-reliable Eddie Redmayne turning in a solid portrayal as Einar Wegener, the (historically factual) first man to undergo a sex-change operation. With the aid and approval of his loving wife Gerda (played by a terribly miscast Alicia Vikander), Einar makes the transition into his inner-ego Lili Elbe. It helps that both are independently minded painters.

Although scribe (Lucinda Coxon) and director (Tom Hooper) conspire to downplay the film’s would-be unbearably intense dramatic scope, “The Danish Girl” has the potential to pay off handsomely to audiences who empathize fully with Gerda’s generosity of spirit, as matched by Einar’s daring nature. They are at one the perfect couple, and the wrong couple. This may be LGBT-lite, but the effort is there, however embellished with a distinctly British stiff upper lip.

“The Danish Girl” is a terrific showcase for Eddie Redmayne’s dauntless abilities as an actor of Broadway and film. His pensive sense of confidence and commitment to Einar’s and Lili’s complex inner emotional life is as pure an interpretation as you could ever imagine. The actor’s porcelain features work perfectly in the context of David Ebershoff’s novel, as adapted by the same filmmaker responsible for “The Damned United” and “The King’s Speech”).

Alicia Vikander is five years too young for her role, but this flaw could easily slip past audiences won over by the film’s lush production design and tasteful use of music.

To Vikader’s credit, it is not her fault that she was miscast. She gave an excellent performance in “Ex Machina,” and will go on to do many more roles more suited for her. The problem here is that Gerda is an accomplished artist in her own right before she shows her maturity by helping her troubled husband follow his dream to transform into the woman trapped in his body.

The film drags in places. It also resides inside a melodramatic bubble of theatricality that dares not show too much emotion. The movie has a soap opera vibe. 

The Danish Girl” pales against Todd Haynes’s “Carol.” Still, there is much to admire in Eddie Redmayne’s daring performance. It’s the main reason to see this film.

Rated R. 120 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

March 21, 2012


Hedwig and the Angry Inch"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (2001) epitomizes an LGBT uprising on multiple fronts. Based on the musical by composer Stephen Trask and actor/director John Cameron Mitchell, the film adaptation is disarmingly touching and funny at every turn.

The narrative significance of the title’s “angry inch” is the lump of itching burning flesh left behind after Hedwig’s botched sex change operation. Hedwig—formerly Hansel Schmidt—underwent the procedure, at his mother’s advice, in order to enable his escape from communist East Berlin to the U.S. by marrying Luther, a gay African-American soldier.

Image result for HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH movie

A distorted guitar version of the American national anthem segues into LGBT rock goddess Hedwig (Cameron Mitchell) leading her tough-looking Eastern bloc rock band through “Tear me Down,” a ferocious song that discusses, “the divide between east and west, between slavery and freedom, between man and woman, top and bottom.”


Hedwig sings, “Ain’t much difference between a bridge and a wall. Without me right in the middle, babe you would be nothing at all.”

Hedwig’s guitarist boyfriend Yitzhak (convincingly played by Miriam Shor) slips into spoken verse: “August 13, 1961 a wall was erected down the middle of the city of Berlin. The world was divided by a cold war and the Berlin Wall was the most hated symbol of that divide. Reviled, graffitied, spit upon; we thought the wall would stand forever and now that it’s gone we don’t know who we are.”


A punk rock musical ethos carries the quasi-political tone of Hedwig’s exposition of a personal history referenced in artfully composed flashback sequences and animated reveries. The band’s confrontationally punk performance is anachronistically set in a Junction City, Kansas, diner where Hedwig slips into comic monologues between songs. Hedwig’s sharp wit drips with irreverent sarcasm. Hedwig is a memorable and charismatic psycho-sexual archetype firmly on par with Iggy or Bowie.

Image result for HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH movie

Brilliantly photographed performances of well-crafted songs such as the mystically minded “Origin of Love,” or the all-out rocker “Angry Inch,” carry much of the story.

A romantically hot rivalry endures between Hedwig and her former lover/apprentice Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt), who has gone on to great musical success. Hedwig is sick with heartbreak, anger, and jealousy over Tommy’s betrayal. Through the story of Hedwig’s doomed romantic encounters the audience is exposed to a character that has never existed before; on-screen or off. John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig is a vivid contrivance of inspired human conviction.


“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is an important cultural touchstone for the LGBT community and a thrilling discovery for everyone. The film’s articulate and passionate depiction of a complex person using performance art as the ultimate self-help therapy is utterly cathartic.

Image result for HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH movie

Rated R. 95 mins.

5 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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January 09, 2012


Personal_bestAlthough screenwriter Robert Towne's directorial debut fell largely on deaf ears when it was released in 1982 "Personal Best" remains a powerful examination of high-stakes female athletes during the late ‘70s, an era when smoking pot and drinking beer were part of America’s cultural landscape — even for Olympic contenders.

Most significant is Towne’s pitch-perfect depiction of a lesbian relationship that goes through various stages of bliss, disagreements, and outside pressures over the course of a few years. The auteur’s striking ability to use the sexuality of his story's two lead female characters as an integral aspect of their ambitious motivations is an impeccable example of eroticism's function within a narrative framework.


The author of such film classics as "The Last Detail" (1973) and "Chinatown" (1974) flexes his writing muscles to conjure the atmosphere Olympic-level female athletes who eat, breathe, and live for the opportunity to conquer their opponents, as well as their own mental and physical limitations.

Personal Best

In a role that should have made Mariel Hemingway the biggest female star in Hollywood for the ‘80s, ‘90s, and beyond, the indisputable beauty plays track-and-field runner Chris Cahill. Chris’s troubled promise as a professional athlete starts to look up after an unfortunate restaurant episode puts her in the car of Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly), a track-and-field star with an established coach. Romance blossoms between Chris and Tory who shack up in Tory’s San Luis Obispo apartment. Tory imposes on her coach Terry Tingloff (Scott Glenn) to give Chris a chance during a routine practice. Chris suitably impresses Coach Terry, who harbors no illusions about the tricky nature of Chris’s and Tory’s romantic relationship within the demands of competing for a spot on the 1980 Summer Olympic Team.

Personal best

A touch of American politics provides a backdrop for the story due to President Jimmy Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games as punishment for Russia’s recent invasion of Afghanistan. A television news commentator announces during the film’s climax competition, the competing athletes are, “all dressed up with no place to go.”

Personal Best 2

“Personal Best” takes a matter-of-fact approach toward the intrinsic sensuality of professional female athletes. Towne uses a sauna as a frequent meeting place for the girls’ team to congregate in the nude to laugh and joke, but also to carry on serious discussions. Chris’s bisexuality is not commented upon, but rather comes about organically after competitive circumstance separates her from Tory. A frank bit of innocent humor comes during an intimate scene between Chris and her new boyfriend when she follows him to the bathroom to hold him while he pees. The scene perfectly captures Chris’s fearless spirit of childlike curiosity and determination. 

Personal bestFive Stars

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

COLE SMITHEYA small request: Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon, and receive special rewards!



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