Autumn at the Movies
With the traditional Oscar-bait races getting an early head start powered by Richard Linklater’s "Before Midnight," Ryan Coogler’s "Fruitvale Station" and "Lee Daniels’ The Butler," it’s time to catch up with other early favorites, beginning with promising queer-themed releases.
In Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s wickedly funny take on a David Sedaris essay, a book-smart, angelic-faced white boy plans to spend a summer picking apples alongside a young lady he imagines to be his girlfriend. Samuel makes his first mistake when the girl stands him up on the ride out to Oregon. Sedaris fans will relish the opening montage as Samuel is assaulted by a full array of Greyhound bus denizens, from the trash-talking pregnant black woman to the scary tattooed Jesus freak just out of prison.
The freshly out actor Jonathan Groff is adept at channeling a prideful sissy-boy on the verge of hilarious pratfalls with two middle-aged Mr. Wrongs: A dildo-collecting apple plant supervisor and an angry Bible-spouting vet, an Oscar-worthy turn from openly gay Denis O’Hare. (Sept. 20)
Kill Your Darlings
John Krokidas introduces us to America’s most glamorous and notorious literary crowd through the backwash of a terrible crime. "Kill Your Darlings" received rich Sundance buzz for moments where young Daniel Radcliffe, as fledgling poet Allen Ginsberg, ingests drugs, masturbates, and has sex with an older man. This may be the movie that finally gets the Beats in focus. (Nov. 1)
As Abby (Robin Weigert), a wealthy lesbian housewife, rides home with her wife and kids in the family bus, she’s just been struck in the head at her son’s Little League game. The blow becomes a catalyst for a series of huge life changes. Director Stacy Passon presents her emancipated heroine, with all her blazing contradictions, in a memorable debut that’s a lesbian companion piece to last year’s Ira Sachs-directed "Keep the Lights On." As Passon explained on a Sundance website, "She tells her wife, ’I’ve had it, I’m going back to work.’ And her version of that is to actively source sex. We need to show her at her most vulnerable, when she was filled with rage and jealousy, because some people can have it all, and she couldn’t. If you’ve been sexually abandoned in your life and your marriage, how do you find intimacy again?" (Oct. 4)
Depending on how you see it, Jill Soloway’s debut Sundance-heralded feature is either a sassy, edgy, post-feminist comedy or a depressingly familiar report back from the digital wars. In either case, we encounter our beleaguered heroine, Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), sitting in the womb of her van as it glides through an automated car wash. It’s a more soothing experience than the conversational combat with her happily married lesbian shrink (finally, a good non-"Glee" part for the talented Jane Lynch) whose mad method is to take up Rachel’s time with advice from her own marriage. But then, a therapy session where the client makes guilty allusions to Dafur is a bit screwy from the get-go.
Rachel is married to a "nice" Jewish guy, Jeff (Josh Radnor), whose job it is to inflict new phone apps on the world. Their union is rounded out by a curly-haired four-year-old son. Rachel is drifting towards trouble with the other married gals from her JCC. That trouble arrives in the person of a skinny blonde waif, McKenna (Juno Temple, turning into this generation’s vessel for the loopy turns once the province of Karen Black or Goldie Hawn). In "adopting" McKenna, whom she meets at a lap-dancing sex club, Rachel is at least unconsciously deciding to detonate her smothering, sexless marriage. The scene that will determine whether this one’s for you has Rachel in a women’s-night-out wine party screeching that her precious personal photos are locked away in "the cloud." The women boast that their 20s are for sleeping around, with their parents paying for the inevitable abortions. Rachel asks if anyone cares to imagine what her aborted kid might look like if one had lived. Meanwhile, McKenna has invaded Jeff’s all-boys poker night with comic brio. This is a must-see for fans of Mike White’s satirical ickfest "Chuck and Buck." Soloway has the chops to render an old Woody Allen gag about a psychiatrist bursting into tears. (Sept. 6)
Marta Cunningham captures the story behind the 2008 classroom shooting death of California queer teen Larry King by classmate Brandon McInerney. "Brandon was 14 years old when he committed the crime, he was looking at 53 years to life without the chance of parole, and I thought, ’That’s not right.’ It’s not right to kill somebody in the middle of English class, but is it right for him to be tried as an adult?"