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Film Review: Yen Tan’s “1985”

Yen Tan’s 1985 is a quiet, well-written, and fabulously performed picture that quietly blows a kiss toward a generation of LGBTQ fighters.

Last Monday, LGBTQ film nonprofit, QFest, and queer Houston magazine, Spectrum South, presented the final night of QFest’s annual queer film festival at Rice University’s Rice Cinema, screening the new film, 1985. Starring Corey Michael Smith of Gotham fame, 1985 was written and directed by filmmaker Yen Tan and is set in the titular year surrounding the loss of life to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

QFest-Header Film Review: Yen Tan's "1985"The film sported a wonderful screenplay, and found a way to depict HIV/AIDS in the ’80s in a way that will not only make a person’s eyes well up with tears, but plays on the idiosyncrasies that help LGBTQ people laugh throughout tragedy without playing on stereotypes and cliches. The film revels in the fact that the LGBTQ community has come a long way since the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS virus, but still has a long way to go when dealing it is perceived by those on the outside. This film was a real tear jerker through its entire length. Smith plays Adrian, a man who makes viewers feel for all people who are dealing and suffering from this, past and present. His emotional scenes of tearful breakdowns are just as moving and convincing as his off-the-cuff one-liners to his childhood friend, Carly (played by the incomparable Jamie Chung), and his little brother, Andrew (played by young actor Aidan Langford).

vmadsen Film Review: Yen Tan's "1985"
Virginia Madsen, who stars as Eileen

The film’s supporting cast, however, receives equal acclaim to that of its star billing. Witches of East End and Designated Survivor star, Virginia Madsen, stars as Adrian’s mother, Eileen, who — in spite of her seemingly conservative ways — continually drops nuggets of affection for her son to let him know of her open-mindedness and liberalism (even revealing she voted for Mondale over Reagan in the 1985 election). Though often subdued and timid — likely a product of her role as a housewife during the time — Madsen’s performs brims with the honest love of a mother looking to connect with her child on a level transcendent of sexual orientation. Even Michael Chiklis’s performance (the The Shield star who portrays Adrian’s male fragility-epitomizing father) cracks the egg shell of 1980s homophobia and ignorance by letting his son know — near tearfully — that he can always count on his father for anything, even after learning Adrian’s seemingly well-kept secret. The film would also be nothing without the aforementioned Chung, who breathes something unexpected into this story that viewers might not go in expecting from a film about a gay white male — the power of feminism and liberation for women of color. Chung’s Carly is an old girlfriend and longtime friend of Adrian’s who is doing her best to grapple with why he can’t love her. But upon understanding the truth, the character wastes no time in carrying the Adrian on her shoulders, putting aside her own insecurities and hurt feelings for the man dealing with his impending death. That role — however small in the scope of the story as a whole — could not have been played by an actress other than Chung. As she jokes about her Korean upbringing while doing stand-up, she exerts the sort of strength that comes only from years of torment and inner-demons not easily translated to an authentic seeming character.

langford Film Review: Yen Tan's "1985"
Aidan Langford, who plays Andrew in the film.

But the real star of this film is reserved for none of the adults. Instead, the unsung hero of Adrian’s story and of the film as a production, is young actor Aidan Langford, whose character also is struggling with his identity and possibly his sexuality. No lines are delivered in this film with more conviction or honesty than those of Langford, nor are the scenes that really bear the soul to its audience. Langford’s childlike innocence, coupled with his innocuous upset with his brother he feels abandoned by are just as heart-wrenching as scenes dealing with the greater issues of HIV/AIDS. In fact, the part of the film that touched my heart most was when Aidan left his brother Andrew a recorded message on an eight-track because he knew that his brother one day would may go through the very same scrutiny of being judged because of his sexual orientation. And while the performances of all the actors in this montage are powerful, none are quite as visceral or real as Langford’s.

LGBTQ people have had many challenges, but still have so many more ahead such as the perception of AIDS to straight and cisgender people, equal rights, and fighting back the stereotypes of gender norms. I give this movie four stars and would recommend all to see this film. This film makes you think twice about how you treat people, simply because tomorrow is not something that is promised.

Were-About-It-1 Film Review: Yen Tan's "1985"

Matt Bomer: ‘Maybe I was just really lucky to be born at the right time’

by Greg Hernandez

Rock Hudson. Montgomery Clift. Raymond Burr. Robert Reed. Tab Hunter.

Hollywood history is filled with gay men who became stars then stayed steadfastly in the closet for fear that being found out would mean the end of their careers.

Only Hunter, now 84, came out publicly late in life. But the Damn Yankees star saw his career as an A-list movie star stall after a story in a gossip magazine in the 1950s hinted he was gay.

Then you have Matt Bomer in the year 2016.

His career has already been on an upwards trajectory with the TV series White Collar when he came out publicly in 2012 by acknowledging his husband and their three children in an awards speech.

Since then, he’s been nominated for an Emmy and won a Globe for the HBO film The Normal Heart, appeared in the film Magic Mike and its sequel, is currently starring in American Horror Story: Hotel and has roles in the upcoming feature films The Nice Guys and The Magnificent Seven.

In the current issue of Men’s Fitness, Bomer was asked about his ability now to be openly gay and to be cast in both straight and gay roles.

‘I try not to take the time to stop and think about all these zeitgeist-dependent circumstances that I really have no control over and just try and focus on the work,’ he says. ‘Maybe I was just really lucky to be born at the right time.

‘I’m really grateful for it, and I hope people will always think of me as an actor. It took a lot for me to be at this table right now.’

Cher to Release New Album: Dancing Queen

cher mamma mia dancing queen lgbtq music

Music legend and LGBTQ icon Cher pays tribute to the music of ABBA following global mega-success of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

The one and only LGBTQ goddess Cher will be releasing Dancing Queen, a new album of all ABBA hits on September 28, 2018, which was officially announced August 9 by Warner Bros. Records. Those who pre-order the new album will immediately receive Cher’s rendition of the song “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” You can listen to the official audio below.

The Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning icon was inspired to record the album following her stunning performance in the recently-released mega-hit film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Commented Cher: “I’ve always liked Abba and saw the original Mamma Mia musical on Broadway three times. After filming Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking ‘why not do an album of their music?’ The songs were harder to sing than I imagined but I’m so happy with how the music came out. I’m really excited for people to hear it. It’s a perfect time.”

Dancing Queen was recorded and produced in London and Los Angeles with Cher’s longtime collaborator Mark Taylor, who previously produced Cher’s global smash “Believe” which was number one in over 50 countries.

Dancing-Queen-Album-Cover-jpeg Cher to Release New Album: Dancing Queen

The track listing for Dancing Queen previously announced on Cher’s twitter is listed below.

Cher is scheduled to be awarded a Kennedy Center Honor on December 2nd in Washington DC. She is a co-producer of The Cher Show, the upcoming Broadway musical opening on December 3rd and will be touring Australia and New Zealand in September.  She is currently performing a residency at MGM Resorts. Get tickets HERE!

Dancing Queen Tracklisting:

1. Dancing Queen
2. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
3. The Name Of The Game
4. SOS
5. Waterloo
6. Mamma Mia
7. Chiquitita
8. Fernando
9. The Winner Takes It All
10. One Of Us


The Search for True Love Shines On Film In “Don’t Marry Griff”

In This New Film, African American Gay Men Search for True Love Releasing Nationally

Don’t Marry Griff, the latest independent film by Color of Love Production Studios, tells the story of Lyodell Archer (Steven L. Coard) and best friend Sutton Brown (Chris DeLoatch) as their friendship is shaken to its core once Sutton confesses his love to Lyodell. Things get even more complicated because he chooses to do it as Lyodell is about to wed his fiancé, Griffith Lowell (JR Rolley).

Don’t Marry Griff is a romantic comedy about love shared between African American men,” explains director Steven L. Coard, who also stars in the film.  “I have always dreamed of the day when I could produce my own independent film for the gay African American community. I aim to create unique and original stories that will hopefully unite our community.”

Coard intends for Don’t Marry Griff to be the first of a series of movies that tackle love stories of gay African American characters.  “It’s important for African American gay men to have characters they can identify with while being entertained,” he says.

“I think most gay black men are striving to achieve the American Dream. I  know I want that white picket fence.  Although I am not looking for the children part,” he adds with a grin.

Don’t Marry Griff  stars Steven L. Coard, Chris DeLoatch and JR Rolley.

Coard had DeLoatch in mind for the role of Sutton when writing the film.  “I had seen him in the web series, ‘Bait’. He plays a psycho killer in the show but I saw a genuine goodness in him.”

The character of Sutton is the type of guy everyone dreams about being with one day.  He’s honest with a sense of humor.  He’s confident, courageous, communicative, a natural leader who listens and takes initiative.  He’s not afraid to go after what he wants and most importantly, he stands up to Griffith in the film and provides Lyodell a safe haven.

Coard originally had another actor in the role of Griffith, but as so often happens in independent filmmaking, two weeks before filming was set to begin, the actor dropped out. Coard was left scrambling to find someone to replace him.  DeLoatch recommended he consider JR Rolley, an actor known for playing  lovable guy-next-door roles.  Coard was doubtful as the role of Griffith called for a type-A, bad-ass personality.  “Despite my hesitation, I brought JR in to read for the part. I immediately saw the passion in his eyes and that he was very prepared and looking for a character opposite from the pretty boy roles he usually plays.”

All seemed to be back on track with filming, until the actor confirmed to play Lyodell unexpectedly dropped out, too.  Pressed for time, Coard decided to take on the role himself.  “I had wanted to focus on working behind the camera as executive producer and director but things don’t always work out the way you plan,” he laughs.  “I sucked it up and and called in my acting chops to start working again.”

Don’t Marry Griff is being distributed by Color of Love Production Studios, an award winning production company that specializes in creating stories about the LGBTQ community of color.   Founded by Steven L. Coard, the studio strives to  focus on unique issues of relevance to the gay African American identity.

“The wonderful thing about Don’t Marry Griff is that viewers do not need to be African American and gay to enjoy it,” says Coard.  “Anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship can relate to the film.  It entertains and is educational as well.   I won’t give away the ending but I will tell you, in Don’t Marry Griff , karma is a beeeotch.”

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