Movie – In 1972 John Wojtowicz held up a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn in order, he said, to get money to pay for his wife Eddie’s sex change operation. Through the course of the day he argued with the police, ordered a pizza and tipped several thousand dollars for it, drew so much attention that local news switched from Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign to cover the story, and eventually got what he wanted – almost $250,000 and Eddie on a plane to Denmark. Unfortunately you’d have to pay actual money to stream Dog Day Afternoon, the Oscar-winning Al Pacino movie about this iconic moment in gay history, but you can watch The Dog, the documentary about the real John Wojtowicz, on Hoopla.
As documentaries do, The Dog takes this unconventional but ultimately optimistic Robin Hood love story and complicates it. John only rarely refers to Liz Eden (neé Eddie) as “she,” which is increasingly uncomfortable the better we get to know her, and Liz describes how John threatened to kill her when she left him. John himself admits to being a controlling, alpha-male chauvinist. And yet you can see how he had a string of wives, legal and common-law, male and female. He’s charismatic and compelling, even at his most pathetic: out of prison, living with his mother, his only source of income posing for photos wearing a shirt that reads “I Robbed This Bank.” He adores his mother and dotes on his disabled younger brother. You don’t want to like the guy, but you almost can’t help it.
This is a great documentary about a fascinating person – not a good person by any means, but a fascinating one – who somehow managed to upstage the entire New York City gay community in being flashy and outrageous.
[Content warnings for frank and explicit discussions of sexuality, period-typical slurs and transphobia, and plenty of working-class-Brooklyn-typical foul language]
DVDs and eVideos – The pandemic upended many happy couples’ would-be nuptials this summer. If you are staying indoors to beat the heat, check out one of our wedding movies guaranteed to make you laugh and cry. While dramatizations will never replace the experience of witnessing friends and loved ones exchange vows at a wedding, or commitment, ceremony they do provide much-needed escape and entertainment from the stresses of every day life, especially during these times.
Rivalry and romance between college friends set the tone for The Best Man Holiday; Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are forced to reconcile with life’s realities after getting married in Love Is Strange; adventures of love abound Chicago-style in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Best Friend’s Wedding; love goes international to Greece in Mama Mia and Ireland in Leap Year; it’s all about the fun in Bride Wars and Bridesmaids; things heat up in Miami for Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Bird Cage, and life gets apocalyptic for Kristen Dunst in Melancholia.
An Italian-style reunion stirs up trouble in Kiss The Bride. One of the partners of a Manhattan is forced into a marriage of convenience in The Wedding Banquet, directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, Gemini Man). Both films are available on Hoolpla.
Movies – June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and to celebrate, here are some excellent documentaries you can watch to learn a little more about the community.
We Were Here – The AIDS crisis was the last great pandemic in the US, before the current crisis, but the stigma and prejudice associated with HIV left the full impact invisible to many people. This award-winning documentary interviews five individuals who played meaningful roles during the epidemic in San Francisco, including a political activist, a nurse, and a flower seller who supplied flowers to the overwhelming number of funerals.
(A)sexual – This documentary offers a personal look at asexuality, one of the lesser-known and most misunderstood orientations. What’s it like to be attracted to no one at all, when so much of society revolves around who you’re attracted to? What does sexual orientation really entail, anyway? If you’ve never encountered asexuality before, this can be an enlightening look at a concept you thought you already understood.
Before Stonewall/After Stonewall – These documentaries chronicle the history of the gay rights movement both before and after the seminal turning point, the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. Made in 1984 and 1999 respectively, they’re now also historical documents in their own right, shedding light on just how far we’ve come in the last half a century.
All of these films can be streamed from Hoopla.
Movie – In the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman), early 18th century England, the physically and emotionally frail queen rules with the support of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), her oldest and closest friend. When a cousin of Lady Sarah’s arrives at court, fallen on hard times and happy to take a job as a servant, Lady Sarah takes her under her wing, giving cousin Abigail a chance to regain her aristocratic status. War rages in France, Abigail (Emma Stone) takes advantage of Lady Sarah’s distraction to insinuate herself into the queen’s affections, and soon the war between the two women is as fierce as anything being fought on the Continent.
This is often described as a sex comedy, and while there’s quite a bit of sex and any number of funny moments, I wouldn’t call it a comedy – it’s far too bittersweet. The Favourite is a political story, full of backstabbing and dirty dealing, as nasty as anything out of House of Cards. It’s also a story about love and loyalty, including broken loyalties and broken hearts, and the particularly messy space occupied by women who love women in a time and social class when everyone must be married and produce heirs. This is a multi-layered film, and dismissing it as a sex comedy with good costumes (although the costumes are exceptional) is a great disservice.
Movie – It’s Thanksgiving, and all the girls are going home from their rural boarding school — all the girls, that is, except for Rose, who wants a chance to talk to her boyfriend before meeting her parents, and Kat, whose parents are dead. Fenced in by snow and isolation, things begin to go slowly but inescapably wrong within the near-empty school. Meanwhile, Joan is hitching a ride in the direction of the school with a kindly married couple. If they have any idea what’s waiting for them at the school, they show no signs of it, but they won’t be pleased at what they find.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a slow-burn kind of horror movie, the kind where the eerie wrongness creeps up behind you so slowly you hardly know it’s there. If you’re in the market for thrills, look elsewhere, but if you want to become completely terrified of the thick blanket of snow that traps you indoors with whoever — and whatever — is inside with you, this movie directed by the son of Anthony Perkins, made famous by his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, will be just your cup of tea.
Magazines – You can enjoy several titles among our eMagazine offerings from Zinio that are not in the regular print collection. I’ve set Zinio to alert me to the availability of new issues of two that I enjoy, Natural Health and GEEK.
Natural Health focuses on health and nutrition, fitness, and the links between mind and body. Typical articles are on health issues like allergies and stress. One article outlines nine things people often do that are aging their bodies more than they probably know. The Nov/Dec issue features holiday recipes from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, and drug-free headache remedies. Natural weight-loss is promoted through articles such as the one that teaches readers six Pilates moves that can be done anywhere at any time. There are articles on meditation and other techniques that are helpful for slowing down the pace of everyday life and creating a more relaxed and manageable environment.
GEEK is a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine that includes features on science, movies, television, video games, technology, comics, music, gadgets, and more. The May-June issue included articles on the Guardians of the Galaxy, Mars Rovers, and the curious incidences of our dogs aligning with the magnetic fields of the earth. I found even the advertisements unique and entertaining. One was for a service offering 3D printing of action figures created from your own identity.
Coming soon…Zinio has announced that they will soon simplify their account setup process to make accessing eMagazines even easier!