Whatever your entertainment needs, we got your back (and hopefully your mind) with Queerty’s weekly “Culture Club” column with some of the highlights of new releases, streaming shows, classics worth revisiting, and what to drink while you watch.
The Step Out: Cyrano
We caught this unexpectedly awesome musical late last year as it screened for awards consideration. Now the general public can get in on the fun. Cyrano reimagines Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac with a contemporary twist. Instead of sporting an enormous nose, the title character is played by Peter Dinklage, who brings his characteristic gravitas and—big surprise—strong baritone vocals to the lead. The rest of the story framework remains more or less the same: Cyrano falls hard for the beautiful Roxanne (Haley Bennett), but because of his diminutive size, can’t quite bring himself to romance her. Instead, he helps Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a handsome dullard, to court her. Roxanne becomes enamored of Cyrano’s words as spoken by Christian, and an unusual love triangle develops.
Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) sets his action against the real-life historic neighborhoods of Sicily, which gives the film an automatic breathtaking look. The music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National blends contemporary pop and rock styles into memorable original tunes, showing off Bennett and Dinklage’s hereto unknown vocal chops. Bennett, Dinklage, and Harrison all give fine performances, and yes, even though we knew exactly how this Cyrano would end, it still felt like a twist of the knife. Romantic, stylish, and featuring actors having an absolute ball, we recommend it for lovers of the classics, romance, and who enjoy seeing a few queer characters in a costume drama.
In theatres February 25.
The Stream: My Best Part
French auteur Nicolas Maury stars in this film, which he also directed and produced, and which nabbed a spot at the Cannes Film Festival last year. My Best Part follows Jérémie, a struggling gay actor dealing with relationship woes. See, Jérémie has a nasty case of paranoid jealousy when it comes to his veterinarian boyfriend Albert (Arnaud Valois), to the point where he stalks Albert at work, hacks his phone, and places hidden cameras around their apartment. As Jérémie’s anxiety causes an understandable rift in their relationship, and with a big audition for a production of Spring Awakening approaching, Jérémie heads off to the country for a reprieve at his mother’s (Nathalie Baye) to find his center. He also becomes enamored of Kévin (Théo Christine), his mother’s handsome gardener.
As an actor, Maury channels the great clowns of silent cinema. Like Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, he has some of the most emotive eyes ever to go before the camera. Every moment he appears on screen, we see what Jérémie feels. It’s a remarkable performance free of self-consciousness, even in moments that require him to go full-frontal nude.
The rest of the film has a unique tenderness to it. Though in his 40s, Jérémie still auditions to play teenagers. We get the sense that has less to do with his looks than his energy; indeed, he behaves like a scared child most of the film. When My Best Part finally begins to explore the origins of his paranoia, we get the sense he’s less a spoiled brat than a victim of extreme trauma heaped on him by two people very close to him. The film’s original title Garçon chiffon (translation: “rag boy”) hints at that darker vein in the plot. Jérémie doesn’t want to be an anxious, self-destructive twit. He doesn’t have a choice.
My Best Part reminds us of just how profound movies can be when they take risks and supply unique characters of surprising layers. Equal parts funny, moving, sexy and sad, we recommend it for anyone looking for a terrific queer story, and for Maury’s magnificent performance. Seriously, someone in Hollywood get this man a job.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles February 25. Available on VOD the following day.
The Revived: Reno 911! Defunded
The wacky improv troupe of Reno 911! returns this week with 11 new, totally hilarious episodes. In the era of racial protests, kiddie vigilantes and calls to defund the police, how could Reno’s trainwreck department ever survive? Original cast members Carlos Alazraqui, Mary Birdsong, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Niecy Nash, and Cedric Yarbrough all return for this new outing, joined by guest stars George Lopez, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and (gasp) a decolletage-sporting Jamie Lee Curtis in recurring roles.
At this point, all the OG Reno 911! performers have thriving careers. As such, we get the impression they’ve returned to these characters for the fun of it all more than for the paycheck. As with past seasons, this new iteration of the almost 20-year-old franchise is also a master class in improv comedy. And yes, given the renewed conversation about the mental health, behavior, and role of police in broader American society, these folks still know how to make us howl. We’re here for it.
Streams on The Roku Channel February 25.
The Jam: Logan Lynn “Is There Anyone Else Like This In The World? (Bright Light Bright Light Remix)”
Queer music masters Logan Lynn and Bright Light, Bright Light combine forces this week for this new remix of Lynn’s dark dance ballad. This new version features (excuse the expression) a much brighter take on the song’s tale of love, deceit and betrayal. That adds to the tune’s appeal as a dance track, one which we hope to hear on the dance floor in the very near future.
Streams on YouTube.
The Boogie: The Knocks (with Dragonette) “Slow Song”
Electronic/synth duo The Knocks also dropped this new single this week, a duet with electropop singer Dragonette. The song and accompanying video (which stars drag performer Aquaria) tell the story of a woman—or possibly a drag queen—yearning to get out on the dancefloor and shake off her crush on a totally incompatible guy…and having a lot of trouble doing so. Hey, we’ve been there too, which could be why this upbeat song has us ready to dust off and dance. Possibly with a totally incompatible but utterly irresistible dance partner.
Streams on YouTube.
The Sip: French Martini
In honor of this week’s hearty dose of Frenchness (My Best Part, Cyrano‘s origins), we offer up one of our favorite classy libations: the French martini. Sweet, fruity, and very potent, it pairs well with any of this week’s selections.
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) vodka
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) pineapple juice
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Chambord* or other raspberry liqueur
Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake. Pour into a martini glass and serve.