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 Extended: Mapplethorpe – Director’s Cut
This new version of the 2017 festival hit arrives on streaming services this week and, in a similar vein to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, proves once again that producers should let a director tell a story, rather than a committee. Mapplethorpe: The Director’s Cut elevates the material from a mediocre biopic to a compelling and challenging vision of a man driven to near madness by his own contradictions…not to mention everyone else around him. This new cut of the film delves more into Mapplethorpe’s troubled Catholic upbringing, and how his attraction to the subtle sexuality of Catholic imagery sparked his interest in BDSM. The film also deepens his relationship with musician Patti Smith, as possibly the only person Mapplethorpe could let down his guard around. Matt Smith makes the title role into a character as brilliant as he is infuriating: his Robert Mapplethorpe seems to inject BDSM into every aspect of his life wittingly or not. He’s not a likable person, but still a fascinating one. Along with a much clearer and nuanced narrative, Mapplethorpe: The Director’s Cut also features no shortage of full-frontal male nudity and scenes of intense gay sex. To paraphrase Boogie Nights, come for the sexy stuff, stay for the story.
Streams On Demand April 2.
The Scandalous: Shiva Baby
Talk about quirky: this comedy about a devout Jewish woman having a crisis of sexual orientation, family and a Sugar Daddy runs through all kinds of genres. In other words, we’ve never seen a story quite like it. The film follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a bisexual Jewish woman at a funeral. There she happens to encounter her parents, her doting Sugar Daddy and her high school girlfriend, all of whom vie for her attention. The confluence of personalities causes Danielle to question her life choices, and eventually, her sanity. Call it a latter-day Moonstruck: a meditation on age, gender and love, with a delightfully queer twist. In addition to a winning performance by Sennott, the film also features a supporting turn by the always-reliable Ryan Murphy stalwart Jackie Hoffman (Feud, The Politician), who—it should come as no surprise—gives another hilarious performance.
In theatres and On Demand April 2.
The Aptly-Named: Hysterical
Speaking of hilarity, this new documentary examines the lives and careers of women in stand-up comedy and the unbelievable sexism they face in their workplace. That includes a number of LGBTQ performers, including Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes, Jessica Kirson, Judy Gold and Fortune Feimster, all of whom share stories about harrowing encounters (including sexual assault) at comedy clubs and on the road. Fortunately, the comedy of these women—along with archive footage of groundbreakers Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, as well as Kathy Griffin, Sherri Shepherd, and Lisa Lampanelli—keep the proceedings from getting too dour. If we have one criticism, its that we wished the film would have focused more on how being a queer woman affects perception within the business. That said, this trip into the dark underbelly of the comedy world is always interesting and, very often, downright hysterical.
Streams on FX and Hulu April 2.
The ICYMI: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
And speaking of hysterical (again), our favorite comedy of the year arrives on even more streaming services this week. To recap: Tthe movie follows two middle-aged Midwestern besties (Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo; the pair also penned the script) on a spontaneous vacation to south Florida where they encounter a hunky secret agent, a bumbling secret agent and a dastardly supervillain determined to destroy Vista Del Mar with killer bees. If that sounds all over the place, it is. It’s also extremely funny in the same vein as Austin Powers, Romey & Michelle’s High School Reunion and Drop Dead Gorgeous, and just the kind of laugh we needed after a year of COVID. And since COVD lockdown hasn’t quite ended yet, we could use another laugh.
Now Streaming on digital On Demand. DVD & Blu-Ray arrive April 6.
The Jam: Mila Jam’s “Pretty One”
Transgender recording artist Mila Jam (hereto best known for her collab with Angelica Ross earlier this year) drops her newest single, a tribute to transgender people in honor of The Transgender Day of Visibility. Channeling 80s synth dance tracks with a dash of Enrique Iglesias, the song features Jam at her most brazen and charismatic, writhing about with some very good-looking dancers. It’s a sensual and energized indie dance tune destined to have uninitiated listeners gasping “Dude, who sings this?’
Streaming on YouTube.
The Spin: Brooke Lynn Hytes’ “Queen of the North”
Canadian drag star Brooke Lynn Hytes, fresh off landing a spot as a judge on Drag Race Canada, drops her single and accompanying short film this week. Glossy, glittery and gothic, Hytes channels Marie Antonette and Charlize Theron in Snow White & The Huntsman for a high-fantasy design to a high-energy song. As much a musical calling card as a drag-ready dance track, Drag Race fans should have a good time voguing out to the beat.
Streams on YouTube.
The Sip: The Brooke Lynn Hytes Ol’Fashion-D
For our sip this week, we suggest this sweet and potent cocktail named for Ms. Hytes herself and created at one of her favorite haunts, The Drink in Toronto. With hints of maple and spice, it has no shortage of Canadian charm or charge, just like the lady herself.
- 2 parts vodka
- 1 part maple syrup
- dash of bitters
Mix and stir over ice. Serve immediately.