The Craccum team have pulled together some of the best LGBT-focused and/or friendly material from their respective vaults. Next time you’re bored, consider one of these. You might as well make good choices in endless media consumption!
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
Lachlan: This came out in 1995, so you know, it’s not gonna be Fully In Sync with evolved discussions over gender identity and what not. RuPaul has a cameo as Rachel Tensions, a lady in a confederate flag dress, so yeah. But it’s so good! As expected of a road trip movie, the dialogue is snappy and immediately quotable (‘Little Latin boy in drag, why are you crying?”) and is very honest, because it’s an unashamed exploitation film; a nice throwback to days where The Gays™ didn’t have to spend half their media depictions being sanitised angels for the veneer of respectability. Plus, while dated, it is surprisingly thoughtful on what it means to be a woman. Patrick Swayze was meant to be a character actor.
A Single Man (2009)
Lachlan: Might have chosen yet another movie where it’s a straight guy putting on the airs of gayness, but it’s a less a ‘gay movie’ as much as it is ‘Gay Colin Firth wonders how to live after love, while Hot Mess Julianne Moore is super horny’. Tom Ford’s debut movie is beautifully shot, making sure to linger on every passerby as though they are just as important as the resolutely suicidal Colin Firth. It can be interpreted as a ‘kill your gays’ movie, but really, you’d have to be awfully disinterested in seeing any other point of view if you come to that conclusion. Just a wonderful little film.
Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ (2006)
Brian: I don’t have many LGBT recommendations, but I still wanted to contribute to this one anyways. I mean, I can’t even suggest you a full album, but whatever, I’ll just do this song. This is peak disco – I guarantee all your friends will say “Ohhhh, that song!” once played to them. With a songwriting credit to Elton John, and clear influences from the Bee Gees, one-hit wonder Scissor Sisters clearly had a hand in making this happen. However the high-octane falsetto performance from frontman Jake Shears, and the animated, flamboyant nature of the group is what sells you the performance. This one’s up there with the dance floor greats for me.
Far From Heaven (2002)
Maddy: I picked up this film during my undergrad, so I’m sure a bunch of media students are rolling their eyes (I’m coming at it like a full academic/film snob), but it makes me cry everytime I watch it. It’s a really beautiful and contemporary take on melodrama, using all the best tropes of the genre to dive into the politics of gender and sexuality during 1950s America. If you have difficulty connecting with your grandparents or want to open up a conversation that’s more productive than the usual dinner table exchanges, this is a pretty great film to do that.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Maddy: Joel Schumacher’s adaptation of Batman is often heralded as one of the worst films ever made. Watching it now, after years of semi-serious Marvel films and DC films, the film is a thrill ride of plastic, terrible CGI and nipples. Throughout the history of the comics, there was always a homoerotic connection present between Batman and Robin, and this is the closest we’ve ever come to have it realised on screen. Uma Thurman plays Poison Ivy as if she’s a drag queen, probably being the only actor in the film who understood the tone of the movie. It’s big, bombastic and campy. It takes the queerness of the superhero genre and turns it up as loud as possible (with studio approval). I mean, Alfred’s computer password is PEG.
Cameron: Auckland based Rapper, Randa, – also known as Larz Randa – is on the way up. They’re already well known – they’ve been making music since 2014. You’ll know hit track, Rangers, or their feature on the Air New Zealand Safety Video (yes, the rap one that got canned after three months. That’s not Randa’s fault). Randa’s played Big Gay Out, Milk & Honey Festival, and gigs for New Zealand Music Month. Their latest song, Heatwave came out in March. With more music on the way, Randa is one to watch for.
Tales of the City (2019)
Cameron: Tales of the City – the Netflix miniseries – is a modern addition to the ‘Tales of the City’ canon. Based on a series of novels by Armistead Maupin, the series follows a group of San Francisco residents, who reside around – and live in – 28 Barbary Lane – an apartment complex owned by eccentric landlady, Anna Madrigal.
While the original series took place in the late 70s and 80s, depicting true issues of the era including the growing pride movement and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the new series takes these characters into modern times, exploring how LGBTQ+ issues have changed and moved since the original series. I never read the books nor watched the original series, but the Netflix series picks up in a new chapter of the timeline, where we see the return of Mary Ann Singleton to San Francisco – the series does a great job of reintroducing these characters while making you feel like you can pick up from where they left off. It’s a great watch, with some truly outstanding representation of queer characters, outside of traditional character stereotypes and tropes. It’s refreshing to see these plotlines on camera and although the series at times falls into Soap Opera, the miniseries format keeps the story moving at a good pace. The series won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Limited Series.