Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every week, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Mini: Four by Sundance
The Sundance Film Festival, godmother of all indie film fests, returns this week, albeit in virtual form. (Thanks a lot, Omicron.) At any rate, with Sundance rising in the west once again, we thought it time to revisit four of our favorite queer movies to come out of the festival as a sort of prelude/mini-festival to whet our anticipation. Have a look, grab the popcorn, and prepare for four overlooked stories of marvelous LGBTQ themes birthed of old-fashioned, true-grit filmmaking.
Chuck & Buck
This weird (and we mean weird) comedy from the mind of Mike White somehow qualifies as a story of enduring friendship and stalker obsession. Charlie (Chris Weitz, best known as the director of American Pie) has a thriving career as a music executive and a beautiful fiancée. When he gets the invite to the funeral of a childhood friend’s mother, he reconnects with Buck (White, who penned the script), his one-time bestie who still has the personality of an adolescent. Buck moves to Los Angeles and begins to intrude on Charlie’s life. It only gets darker and funnier from there as both Buck’s obsession and Charlie’s revulsion conceal a much more complicated truth. As with the recent The White Lotus, White shows off his extraordinary gifts as a comic writer, and gives a performance hailed by Jeff Bridges as the best of the decade.
Streams on Amazon, YouTube, Tubi & VUDU.
Director Matt Yoka chronicles the life story of photojournalist Zoey Tur, one of the most successful in her field thanks to her relationship with then-wife Marika Gerrard, and to her talents as a helicopter pilot. Tur’s camera captured iconic footage of the 1992 LA Riots and the slow-speed OJ Simpson Bronco chase catapulting her to the peak of her field. Yet, despite her success–or perhaps because of it–Tur’s life itself entered a downward spiral as she struggled with a burdensome secret: she was a transgender woman. Whirlybird portrays Tur at her most triumphant and her absolute worst as her mental health deteriorates and she becomes ever abusive to her wife and family. Yoka doesn’t pass judgment, leaving that task to his audience who must reconcile Tur’s thrilling role in modern history with her obvious flaws.
Streams on Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.
Anyone who swooned over Netflix‘s wonderful limited series about the eponymous 1970s fashion icon should seek out director Frédéric Tcheng’s Sundance documentary of the same name. Before Ryan Murphy & Christine Vachon gave Halson the scripted treatment, Tcheng helmed this wonderful documentary of the near-forgotten style legend. Featuring interviews with close friends, including Joel Schumacher and Liza Minnelli, Halston examines the genius, ego, and excesses that rocketed the designer to stardom before plunging him into near-oblivion. Unlike the Netflix series, Tcheng dives further into what made Halson’s designs so unique, and how his approach to fashion shows (using [gasp] celebrities? [gasp] models of color? [gasp] obese women?) changed the fashion world forever.
Streams on Amazon.
God bless Sundance for boosting the career of Todd Haynes, possibly the greatest living queer filmmaker today. Haynes got a major career break when he debuted his film Poison in 1991. Still unique and subversive after 30 years, the movie–a triptych combining elements of horror, sci-fi and prison schlock movies–proved strong medicine for audiences at the festival for its blatant homoeroticism and metaphors for AIDS & homophobia. Rarely, if ever, does poison taste so good.
Streams on Amazon & YouTube.