Reel Pride: Top 10 LGBTQ films
LGBTQ Pride is here again! Traditionally celebrated throughout the month of June, this year Dublin Pride 2017 march will be taking place on Saturday 24th June assembling from 11am onwards at St. Stephen’s Green, departing at 2.00pm and finishing-up at Smithfield. See: http://dublinpride.ie
Dublin City Council has for a long time been and remains a proud and enthusiastic supporter of this event and Dublin City Public Libraries have for several years hosted LGBTQ themed book displays / promotions in line with our strong commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and equality.
Of course, libraries are not just about the written word but information, education and entertainment in all their varied formats so we thought at Rathmines Library this year that we might showcase an array of films of LGBTQ interest – REEL PRIDE! While there are too many titles to mention, please see below a small (admittedly subjective) selection of some of the very best. Of course, no one need have an interest in LGBTQ themes to enjoy these titles – they all warrant viewing and are brilliant productions in their own right!
1. Beautiful Thing (1996) Directed by Hettie Macdonald
This Channel Four Films production, an adaptation of the play of the same name by award-winning Liverpuddlian playwright Jonathan Harvey, was a massive breakout hit in 1996. Set on a working class London housing estate two young lads, Ste and Jamie, slowly fall in love while coping with their dysfunctional families and their eccentric neighbours. Features heartfelt performances by Scott Neal and Glen Berry who are gleefully aided by Linda Henry and Tameka Empson. Also of note; a stunning soundtrack stuffed with exuberant Mama Cass hits.
2. Were the World Mine (2008) Directed by Tom Gustafson
A whimsical, joyful and light-hearted musical retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. This small-budget production was a huge hit at a large number of film-festivals around the world, picking-up multiple awards. Featuring strong performances from Tanner Cohen and Nathaniel David Becker, also features a magnificent turn by Wendy Robie as their mysterious music teacher Ms. Tebbit – this musical will have you grinning from ear to ear and tapping your feet.
3. Gods and Monsters (1998) Directed by Bill Condon
A moving and sometimes sombre imagining of the late years of Frankenstein director ‘James Whale’ exploring empathy, desire, loss and memory. Powered by a magnificent trio of leads – Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave and (cast very much against type) Brendan Fraser. The film received an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and the title is taken from a snippet of dialogue in the 1930s film ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ (directed by Whale) – ‘To a new world of Gods and Monsters’ . Compelling viewing from beginning to end.
4. The Queen of Ireland (2015) Directed by Conor Horgan
This choice is an Irish documentary centred, in the run-up to Ireland’s historic equal marriage vote, on Rory O’Neill (aka EVERYONE’s favourite Drag Queen Panti Bliss) who has made waves and headlines around the world and become an inadvertent international icon on behalf of LGBTQ rights. Let’s be honest – you could watch Panti read her shopping list and it would still be wildly entertaining and moving and leave you feeling uplifted; so this is one not to be missed!
5. The History Boys (2006) Directed by Nicholas Hytner
The big screen adaptation of the Royal National Theatre / Broadway hit of the same name by world-renowned playwright Alan Bennett. The production, set in a 1980s Sheffield grammar school, is effortlessly carried by a remarkable and exuberant young ensemble cast (most of whom starred in the original Olivier Award winning production) led by the late (and much missed) Richard Griffiths and the inestimably talented Frances de la Tour. Who could have thought exam preparation could be such riotous fun?
6. A Single Man (2009) Directed by Tom Ford
This gorgeously lush and richly stylish adaptation of the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood details the slide into depression of an English academic mourning for the loss of his partner in 1960s Los Angeles. Worth viewing alone for what is arguably a career-best performance by Colin Firth. Julianne Moore brings genuine emotion and pathos to a role that in less talented hands could easily have veered into one-dimensional comedy. Keep an eye out for a wonderfully understated Nicholas Hoult as student Kenny Potter. Unmissable.
7. Milk (2008) Directed by Gus Van Sant
A dramatised biographical account of the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to hold elected office in the United States set in 1970s New York and the Castro district of San Francisco. Boasting an all star cast including Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna and James Franco, Milk was nominated for an astonishing eight academy awards, winning two (Best Actor & Best Original Screenplay). Also of note is the fact that many contemporaries of Harvey Milk make appearances / cameos. Engaging and absorbing Milk is well worth viewing.
8. Pride (2014) Directed by Matthew Warchus
This charming film is a joint production between the BBC and Pathé and chronicles how a group of gay and lesbian activists seek to establish solidarity with embattled miners who are embarking on strikes in 1980s Thatcherite Britain. Whilst the latter group are initially wary of their new supporters they eventually overcome their mistrust (with some hurdles along the way) and the two groups; Welsh miners and equality activists form fresh bonds. Featuring Dominic West, Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy.
9. Brokeback Mountain (2005) Directed by Ang Lee
Possibly the most prominent LGBTQ film of the noughties, this feature from Ang Lee, based on the work of iconic author E. Annie Proulx, met with huge critical and commercial success and was a frequent feature of American culture war discourse both in the lead up to and following its run in cinemas. Jake Gyllenhall and the late Heath Ledger put in outstanding performances as two sheepherders / ranchers who against all expectations and social norms face forbidden and secret love. Beautifully acted and directed Brokeback Mountain was the recipient of numerous awards.
10. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) Directed by Stephan Elliott
A modern classic; this bubbly, high-octane, even higher camp orgy of frocks, sequins, songs and lip-synching is a complete riot and became a global hit. Gloriously colourful in every sense we witness the escapades of a trio of disparately matched drag queens and their encounters with an array of odd, freaky and desperate characters as they make an epic journey across the Australian outback. While Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce are obviously having a riot, their peer, Terence Stamp steals the show with an unforgettable portrayal of the vinegary and uptight Bernadette. Unmissable (unless you are allergic to Abba) and worth watching for the final set piece, featuring CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally’, alone.