Culture Club

What to Watch: The male ‘Gaze,’ sucking on ‘Candyman’ & Keiynan Lonsdale’s huge talent

William Burke (Colman Domingo) in Candyman.

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: Candyman

Clive Barker’s iconic boogeyman returns in this new film, a sequel that gives the franchise the Halloween treatment by mostly ignoring the low-rent sequels to focus on the events of the original movie. This new Candyman follows Alexander (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a Chicago artist who becomes obsessed with the legend of the Candyman—that is, a different but similar Candyman than the killer depicted in the original film. As his research continues, he becomes haunted by visions of the spectral killer, and the bodies around him begin to pile up.

We’re very happy to report that this new entry in the series includes identifiable queer characters, and also features a standout performance by queer actor Colman Domingo. The script burdens his character with long passages of exposition, and in the hands of a lesser actor, those scenes could sink the whole movie. Fortunately, Domingo rises to the occasion, delivering his dialogue with raspy-voiced fanaticism. He dominates every moment he appears on screen.

Candyman turns up the volume on several elements of the original film, including the concepts of racism and lynch mob brutality that play even more relevant today. On the other hand, the movie does excise the most dangerous element of the original film: romance. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen had an uncanny amount of sexual tension between their characters back in 1992; indeed, the Candyman of the original film had more in common with The Phantom of the Opera than with Freddy Kruger. Screenwriters Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and Nia DaCosta (who also directed) drop the eroticism in favor of metaphors about artistic mania and police violence with mixed results. The climax of the movie seems to contradict the story leading up to it, resulting in a confusing ending. That said, we enjoyed the ride up to that point for the performances of the cast, the creepy atmosphere, and for the reverent homage paid to the original movie. That includes the participation of Madsen, Todd (no, we won’t say how) and fellow OG star Vanessa Williams, who turns in a magnificent cameo.

In theatres August 27.

The Quickies: Male Gaze – Three’s Company

The ongoing film series that collects and anthologizes short films into feature-length material continues yet again, and as the title implies, it’s getting steamy. This new collection features stories from France, Canada, Germany and Belgium, all of which examine same-sex relationships and attraction between men. From bi-curious road trips to prep school memories, homophobic families to gay dads dealing with a toddler, each story represents a brief, personal statement about masculinity, sex and homoeroticism. Our pick of the litter: Golden Boys, a short from director Jill Riley about three grown friends who revisit their high school together, and face up to emotions they’ve long buried.

August 27 on Amazon & Vimeo.

The Spin: Jake Wesley Rogers “Weddings & Funerals”

Queer cult musician Jake Wesley Rogers returns this week with his new video, a tongue-in-cheek spoof of heterosexual wedding excess, and how LGBTQ people often feel paralyzed by fear when it comes to similar territory. For Rogers, that visualizes as a recreation of the Kennedy Assassination, with the singer playing the role of Jackie, complete with pink suit, all because he’s scared to ask out a boy. It’s a strange conceit, though we’ll grant that Rogers’ high-rock tenor voice and pensive lyrics make him an undeniable talent. Considering he’ll tour with Ben Platt next year, that’s a good thing.

Streams on Vimeo.

The Jam: Keiynan Lonsdale “Rhythm & Music”

The ever-underrated Keiynan Lonsdale just dropped his newest video which, if nothing else, should remind viewers of his incredible talent. “Rhythm & Music” finds Lonsdale channeling his inner Jennifer Beals in a video that recalls Flashdance…though, for our money, his dance moves recall those of Michael Jackson more than anyone else. We don’t make that comparison lightly: Lonsdale, quite simply, dances better than any other pop star in recent memory. For that matter, he also has a remarkable gift for pop music, as this sexy, banging dance ballad demonstrates. That the rest of the world hasn’t seemed to figure that out is everyone’s loss. For the love of all that’s holy, will someone please put this magnificent talent in a musical!?

Streams on YouTube.

The Throwback: Garbage “Androgyny”

Alt-rockers Garbage celebrate the 20th anniversary of their EP Beautiful Garbage this year. As such, the group has issued a new version of the video for the album’s first single, “Androgyny.” Keen ears may remember the single—in all its queer glory—when it landed on radio stations back in August 2001. Garbage was coming off the release of Version 2.0, one of the great pop-rock albums of the 90s, and hit a brick wall. The music video for “Androgyny” dropped on September 10, just before the attacks on 9/11 soured the nation on the melancholy and goth puckishness that made Garbage so big in the first place. 20 years on, we think it’s time to give “Androgyny” a second listen. A tune that relishes what was—at the time of release—confined to the bathrooms of queer venues may have just been a little too ahead of its time.

Streams on YouTube.

The Sip: The Candyman

In honor of the return of one of our favorite–and most underrated–movie boogeymen, we offer up this homage concocted based on the events and flavors of the original film. Considering that the new movie does the very same thing, it seems like an appropriate hook. See what we did there?

  • 1 1/2 oz. honey whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Bacardi 151
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • ginger Ale

Mix liquor and grenadine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass over ice. Add ginger ale.