Easily the most talked about new series of the fall 2014 season, Transparent (available through Amazon Prime) is, in a word, triumphant. Series creator Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight, Six Feet Under, and The United States of Tara) has created a show that transcends labels, effortlessly blurring the lines between comedy and drama. The story of Mort (Jeffrey Tambor), a divorced father of three who is in the process of transitioning from male to female, from Mort to Maura, Transparent stars one of the most inspired and brilliant ensemble casts in recent memory, including Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass and Gaby Hoffman, as Maura’s adult children.
After a slight slump, queer cinema is making a strong comeback. In 2014, the movie Love is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics) is almost singlehandedly leading the way. Directed and co-written (with Mauricio Zacharias) by Ira Sachs, Love is Strange stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as Ben and George, respectively, a gay couple in New Yorkwho have been together for 39 years. The film opens on the joyous occasion of their wedding, surrounded by family and friends. Soon after, the celebration turns to tragedy when George, who teaches at a Catholic school, is fired from his job. Faced with dire financial prospects, the couple is forced to live apart – Ben with his nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows), Elliot’s wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and their teenage son Joey (Charlie Tahan) and George with neighbors (and gay cops) Ted (Cheyenne Jackson) and Roberto (Manny Rodriguez) – until they are able to find a suitable living situation. Intimate and poignant, Sachs makes it easy for audiences from all walks of life to get involved with these men, their complex situation and their search for resolution and dignity. I spoke with Sachs about the film during the summer of 2014.
Snapshots of Seduction: Cody (Lethe Press, 2014), with text by Gavin Atlas and photos by Garrett Matthew, is not your typical book of gay erotica. For one thing, it’s an unusual size, more akin to the shape and length of a kid’s book – so be sure to put it away when the nieces and nephews come to visit! The (short) story of Joseph, a professor and photographer, whose Las Vegas rendezvous with stripper Cody takes an unexpectedly, well, erotic turn. Atlas, who lives in Houston with his boyfriend John, is also the author of The Boy Can’t Help It and The Full Ride, and a contributor to some erotica anthologies. I spoke with Atlas about his work in June 2014.
Neon Trees gay front-man Tyler Glenn is a nice guy. Funny, smart, and thoughtful, he’s the kind of artist who makes the interview process an enjoyable one. So it’s not all that surprising that Tyler’s band also comes off as funny, smart and thoughtful, especially on its latest release, Pop Psychology (Mercury). A more personal effort than the quartet’s previous releases, many of the songs involve serious subject matter. But instead of getting bogged down, the music, which is buoyant and brilliant dance-pop, elevates the songs and the mood, sort of like a musical anti-depressant. I spoke with Tyler about the band and more during the summer of 2014.
Let Me See It (Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2014), James Magruder’s second book of fiction, following his 2009 novel Sugarless, is a collection of linked stories about gay cousins Tom and Elliott. The ten stories span a 21 year period, from 1971 to 1992, opening with a prologue set in 2008. From gay adolescents (and gay adolescence) to adulthood, Tom and Elliott navigate their distinctive paths, taking them to various locations, eventually coming together in the sexually charged and treacherous NYC of 1985. Magruder is a gifted storyteller and Let Me See It is necessary reading for the way it depicts the past, in all of its brutal and beautiful glory, and connects it to the present.
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