James McAvoy gets cray cray and then some in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Cynthia Nixon turns in an awards-worthy portrayal of poet Emily Dickinson – who died from painful illnesses – in A Quiet Passion, two of the featured releases in this edition of What To Watch, our biweekly guide to the best, and queerest, theatrical, home entertainment and streaming releases.
Now let’s dive in!
(Opens April 14 at NYC’s Lincoln Plaza Cinema & Quad Cinema; Music Box Films)
Cynthia Nixon gets a chance to show off some serious acting chops as poet Emily Dickinson in director Terence Davies’ smart and sublime biopic. Exploring her early days as an aspiring poet stuck in a patriarchal society and the relationships that helped form her body of work (which only became known after her death), there’s plenty of drama, witty dialogue, and gorgeous period settings. We’re expecting Nixon to show up on some awards lists later this year…
(Opens April 14th in L.A.; Factory25)
Shot over three years, fashion photographer-turned-director Jenny Gage’s documentary tracks the lives of seven adolescent girls in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, including babydyke Olivia. By turns dreamy, intense, and intimate (thanks in part to Gage’s cinematographer Tom Betterton), All This Panic sees Olivia come out while her friends juggle love, dysfunctional families, and the dicey world of academia.
($24.99 DVD; Breaking Glass Pictures)
Gay director John G. Young’s Parallel Sons and Rivers Wash Over Me are two underrated, sublime LGBT indie films that address biracial lives and relationships. His latest, bwoy, is also tinged with profundity in its central romance: Anthony Rapp (Rent) plays Brad, a repressed married man who becomes romantic and sexually obsessed via the internet with a 23-year-old Jamaican man, Yenny (Jimmy Brooks). When Yenny starts asking for monetary assist, Brad isn’t sure whether this is all just a game, but then again, he’s satisfying his own hidden need… Engrossing and superbly acted, this is a strong character-driven chamber piece. Extras include a Q&A with Young and cast.
($19.99 DVD; Filmrise)
For his first outing as director, Dominic Rodriguez tackles the topic of “furries” and “furry fandom”: those who enjoy roleplay as anthropomorphic animals and creatures. Rodriguez’ own status as a furry lends a bit more insight than previous entries (like Rick Castro’s 2001 short Plushies & Furries), and touches on the fact that a majority of furries are LGBT-identified males. The film doesn’t shy away from the drama within the Furry community and some of its most eccentric members (like Boomer The Dog, who attempts to adopt this moniker legally). Amusing, enlightening stuff – with a tail to boot!
($24.99 DVD; TLA)
When hunky Argentinean Fernando convenes a group of his handsome friends for a men-only (and scantily clad) vacation at his Buenos Aires country house, he decides to introduce a newcomer to the clique: German, a fellow from his taekwondo class. Of course, there’s a twist: German is gay, a fact he keeps on the DL. Between all the pot smoking and testosterone-soaked antics, he starts feeling more than a platonic connection with Fernando. Could there be sparks here…? Or even a raging fire? Co-directed by homoerotic movie masters Marco Berger and Martin Farina, this film is a muy caliente slow burn.
($34.98 Blu-ray, $29.98 DVD; Universal)
In M. Night Shyamalan’s latest suspenseful creepfest, James McAvoy plays a kidnapper whose three teenage captives soon learn their abductor isn’t just one person, but rather a whole motlew crew of dysfunctional misfits. Are we dealing with simple multiple personality disorder, or could something even more dire be afoot? McAvoy truly runs rampant here in a tour de force performance, while Shyamalan appears to really be back on his game. Extras include an alternate ending, deleted scenes, and several featurettes.
($29.95 Blu-ray/DVD; Wolfe)
French partners in filmmaking and life, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Funny Felix) deliver a gay romance that kicks off with a nearly 20-minute long, X-rated gay orgy scene in a sex club that sees Parisians Theo and Hugo meet during some hot sex action. They end up leaving together, and after a bit of talk and bike riding, it becomes clear that Hugo is HIV-positive, and Theo, not realizing this, didn’t use a condom, so the pair race to a hospital to seek out PEP treatment. Truly a gay romance for the post-Looking/Weekend era, this one’s a must-see. Extras include the short film Glory Hole, about a longtime couple that met at an adult bookshop.
Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour is the stuff of legend; a game-changing spectacle thanks to seven backup dancers that became celebs in their own right following the release of Truth Or Dare. Decades later, the six surviving dancers — one has since passed on from AIDS — are reunited for this new documentary revealing the ups and downs experienced during and since their days with Madge. From their sudden fame to two members’ struggle to keep their HIV positive status hidden from the public, this moving, inspired story features a clique we’re still intrigued by. Premieres at 8PM Thursday April 6, following Truth or Dare at 6pm.
(April 21, Netflix)
RuPaul Charles is just one of the familiar faces and queer folks to show up in this Netflix series based on the book #Girlboss by Nasty Girl fashion brand founder Sophia Amuroso. Over 13 comedic half-hour episodes – three directed by But I’m A Cheerleader‘s Jamie Babbitt, and executive produced by Charlize Theron – we follow Sophia’s start as a sassy ebay vintage clothing seller to her reign as the founder of a true empire…
I Am The Ambassador
Bad Kids Of Crestview Academy
Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season
Veep: Season 5