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By The Gay UK, Oct 29 2014 03:06PM

Just as Maggie is about to fill her mouth with enough pills to ensure she shakes off her mortal coil, she gets a telephone call from a Nurse in a Hospital E.R. room telling her that Milo her twin brother has just attempted suicide. The news means that she puts her own plans on hold and flies out to L.A. to visit her sibling that she hasn't spoken too for the past 10 years.

By Roger Walker-Dack | 29th October 2014



The Skeleton Twins
The Skeleton Twins

Milo is just out of another failed relationship and cannot get an Agent, let alone an acting job, so is suffering from depression. Maggie on the other hand is a dental hygienist who is unhappily married to the sweet gregarious Lance who doesn't suspect for one moment that his wife is as miserable as sin. When the twins meet in the hospital neither discuss their own predicaments and they cover their awkwardness at being together with funny banter like they shared in their childhood.


Despite their estrangement Maggie persuades Milo to come back home with her to upstate New York to recuperate but it turns out that she also wants him to be a buffer with Lance and her marriage. There is a clue as to how the twins reached this level of dissatisfaction with life when they have a surprise visit from their annoying new-age mother who had abandoned them long ago after their father had taken his own life.  

The Skeleton Twins
The Skeleton Twins

As part of trying to re-adjust to living in his old hometown Milo plays a visit to his old English teacher with whom he had an inappropriate relationship with he was the man's pupil. Rich now has a live-in girlfriend and a teenage son but it doesn't stop him sleeping with Milo again which messes with both of their heads. Maggie meanwhile has taken to trying all sorts of classes to learn new skills... the current one is scuba diving... and she inevitably sleeps with each instructor before moving on again. Lance is blissfully unaware of anything going on under his roof and thinks that he and Maggie are trying to have a baby, where instead of being upfront with how she feels, is secretly taking birth control pills. When he discovers the truth and Maggie discovers that Milo has been seeing Rick again, all hell finally lets loose. The one thing the siblings now realise is that they are capable of hurting each other like no-one else can.


This terrific acutely written piece about two tortured souls trying to valiantly cope with the lives that they have ended up with is a sheer joy mainly because of the effusive humour that prevails throughout the whole piece. Directed and part-written by Craig Johnson who cut his teeth on the mumble-core hit 'True Adolescents' that starred Mark Duplass - who turns up here with his brother Jay as Producers. What elevates the movie from a run-of-the-mill melodrama are the shockingly good performances from two ex SNL alumni Kirsten Wiig and Bill Hader whose familiarity with each other helped them create the most perfect chemistry as the siblings. We know from her previous roles such as in the blockbuster 'Bridesmaids' that Ms Wiig is a very talented actress but Hader's performance as a confused gay man was so pitch perfect and such a delight. You would have to be made of stone not to be in aisles laughing at the hilarious sight of the pair of them outrageously lip-syncing to the 80's disco hit 'Nothing's Going To Stop Me Now'.





The Skeleton Twins
The Skeleton Twins


They are supported by Luke Wilson playing it straight as the cuckolded Lance, Joanna Gleason in an all-too-small cameo role as the ridiculously annoying mother, and Ty Burrell getting as far way from possible from his usual role on Modern Families to give a beautifully understated performance as the ex-school teacher Rich.


For a story that starts with two failed suicide attempts, this turns out to be an incredible funny and touching movie that I highly recommend.







By The Gay UK, Oct 27 2014 08:23PM

A young graduate working on a history project bought a suitcase full of photographic negatives in a Chicago auction hoping that one or two them maybe useful in his research. However what John Maloof discovered that day in 2007 was a treasure trove of what is undoubtedly one on the finest collection of street photography ever made. They all turned out to be the work of one person a Vivian Maier, someone so totally unknown there wasn't a single mention of her on Google or any other Internet search engine.

★★★★★



A curious Maloof turned detective and his painstaking research helped him very gradually put together a picture of this mystery genius and at the same time discover and purchase even more of her work. Vivian Maier had been born in New York in 1929 and had then spent much of her childhood in France before returning to Chicago where she worked for almost 40 years as a Nanny. Every new discovery Maloof made about the unknown Maier was a shocking revelation as very few of the people she had worked for had any sense that this extremely odd woman they had hired to look after their offspring was a prolific obsessed photographer with such a remarkable eye. It seems most of her young charges knew as Nanny Maier dragged them through the seamier rough spots of the city clutching her camera looking for subjects as part of their daily constitutional.


As Maloof pieced together Maier's story like a jigsaw what emerged was a picture of a very eccentric loner and a compulsive hoarder who was an immensely private person. It's only when he traces her steps in France does he discover that Maier knew that she was talented but apart from a brief correspondence with one printer did she ever talk about letting people see her work. The fact that news of the discovery of the 100000 plus negatives and the 700 plus undeveloped rolls of film had gone viral, there were still doubters from the people who new Maier that she would have ever wanted this worldwide fame and recognition.




This new documentary that Maloof wrote and directed, along with writer/producer Charlie Siskel, is exceptional for two distinct reasons. Firstly the very human story about this rather bizarre woman who was described as being 'so awesomely unique' and 'a very closed cold person' and who ended up losing one job with the mother explaining to her child 'Vivian has got a little too crazy even for us'. The reminisces of the people who knew her are riveting and poignant. And then there is this whole superb body of work which is so exceptionally wonderful it stuns you into silence at times. Howard Greenberg a leading NY Gallerist who holds exhibitions of her work claims that no other photographer's work has ever generated this much interest in his time.


Credit to Maloof on several counts. Not only for recognising the significance of his find, and for his sheer doggedness and determination to 'finding' Vivian Maier, but also for the impressive way he put this all together in this, his first ever movie.


There are so many components of this story that will keep you wondering and wanting to know more. Like why would this aggressively shy person produce so many ingenious portraits of herself that she could have been credited as being the creator of the ubiquitius selfie?


Unmissable : and you will want to see it at least twice.





By The Gay UK, Oct 27 2014 10:00AM

Newbie filmmaker Aaron Douglas Johnson's debut feature is an unsettling docu-drama hybrid that arose from a very personal tragedy in his life.

★★★★




Johnson was born in a small town in Iowa and as an only child he grew up very close to his cousin Matt. By all accounts Matthew, a devout Catholic and a passionate Republican, was a very popular member of his high school soccer team. Matthew was also gay, and at the age of 24 committed suicide after coming out of the closet in his hometown. This film however is not a biopic but Johnson's attempt to try and get a better understanding of what it must have been like for Matthew to struggle with his sexuality in this small town in Middle America.


The film successfully mixes a fictional story about Alexa a young blond Dutch woman who had befriended Matt on a Course somewhere and she has flown to Iowa from Amsterdam to make a documentary about her friends passing. Amongst all the interviews she films (unscripted and with very actual local lesbians and gays) she goes on somewhat of her own roller-coaster ride as she also starts to discover her own true identity as well.


Settling into a house where she has rented a room for the summer, Alexa is so caught up in her own world that she is unaware that Lukas her landlord, a lonely man in his 40s, is immediately attracted to her. In fact we soon discover that she has an unfortunate manner taking all kindnesses for granted and happily using and promptly discarding everybody who takes any interest in her.


After her first night in Iowa this somewhat confused girl wakes up in a strange bed without much recollection on how she ended up there. Her bed partner is Jennifer a local bartender/artist and the two women could not be more opposite. Not just because this is Alexa's first time with a woman, but the fact out and proud lesbian Jennifer is an edgy positive woman who knows exactly what she wants out of life. And that doesn't include sleeping with 'straight' women who end up running back to their boyfriends, as she has done that already.


Alexa's voyage of discovery will start at that moment when she cannot wait to get dressed and get out of Jennifer's apartment. She'll be back on and off, but not before she has a romp in a cemetery (well with a male grave digger) who, when he has finished making out with her in her room, is then unceremoniously kicked out by the Landlord at her request. Lukas will eventually try his luck after he has seen Alex dispensing sexual favors liberally with others, and when she resists, he rapes her.


Johnson's intriguing and thought-provoking film is somewhat disturbing. Not simply as the talking heads so poignantly articulate their own strife dealing, and overcoming, with some of the negative consequences after acknowledging the truth about their sexuality, but using a thoughtless and self-absorbed protagonist in the fictional story made it nigh on impossible to sympathise with her at times. It was however a very clever and unusual formula for re-inforcing his key message i.e. its still tough being out and gay in so many places even today.


Johnson should be applauded for honoring his cousin's memory in this manner, and if this movie succeeds in just saving one more life, then it was all definitely worthwhile.





By The Gay UK, Oct 26 2014 09:00AM

16 year old Hazel Graze is permanently attached to an oxygen tank that now keeps her alive after her most recent bouts of cancer. If knowing that her days on earth are severely limited isn't bad enough, she has to cope with her well-meaning parents and their enforced sunny dispositions to just get through each day. It's no wonder that this sweet teenager is so depressed as she is dragged from counsellor to group therapy because the adults in her life tell her this is what she needs.

by Roger Walker-Dack | 16th October 2014


It isn't of course, but as stoic and brave as she is, Hazel is not sure that anything beyond her favorite post modern novel (about cancer), will ever remotely make her happy. That is until one day in the Youth Cancer Group she meets Augustus. A clever tall and handsome 18 year old whose potential career as a baseball player was cut short when cancer took his right leg. He's a carefree optimistic soul with a very quick acerbic wit who takes an instant shine to Hazel and pursues with an energy and enthusiasm that totally throws her.



He takes her out on a few very chaste dates, reads the novel that she is addicted too, and starts courting her with long late night phone conversations and they gradually morph into couple in love. A few weeks into this budding relationship Augustus springs a surprise. He's fixed it with the 'Make a Wish Foundation' for the two of them to take a trip to Amsterdam where Hazel can meet Van Houten the author of the book she will not put down. The illusive writer never produced the sequel he promised and Hazel has always been desperate to know what happened next in this unfinished story.


Meanwhile before she can go she has another close call with death when she suddenly gets very sick again. It turns out that she will recover to fight another day only to realise that Augustus's cancer has reappeared and this time there is going to be nothing to stop it being terminal, and soon.


If that is not enough grief, Van Houten is a major disappointment and breaks her heart too, and just to insure that we use up at least two boxes of Kleenex watching this high-octane tearjerker, when the young couple are in Amsterdam they visit the Anne Franck house, giving us another reason to sob out loud.


However what makes this melodrama work and keep our sympathy remaining high throughout is a beautifully understated and mature performance by Shailene Woodley who so carefully avoids any temptation to milk the part and make Hazel a tragic figure. She imbues her with such a serenity and a dignity, makes her warm and funny and never once makes this poor dying teenager a pathetic figure. She is a sheer joy to watch. Ansel Elgot has a slightly easy task as Augustus and he does it exceedingly well demonstrating such great chemistry with his co-star.


Based on the best selling novel by John Green who used his past experiences as chaplain in a children's hospital for the groundwork of his story. Adapted for the screen by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, who previously wrote 'The Spectacular Now' together, and it is director Josh Boone's sophomore feature.


Highly reccomended.






By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 05:00PM

Gracie Otto's affectionate documentary on the charismatic and adventurous English theater and film producer Michael White is a movie long overdue. Despite his enormous contribution in a prolific career that spanned three decades he is as Anna Wintour succinctly put it, 'the most famous person that you've never heard'. Ms Wintour also so accurately summed up his rich and tumultuous career by describing him as 'a true Renaissance man'.

★★★★




Michael 'Chalky' White was born in Glasgow in 1936 to wealthy immigrant Jewish parents who packed him off to Boarding School in Switzerland at the tender age of 7. This small shy boy who suffered from asthma and couldn't speak a word of French was something of a loner and although fiercely independent developed a skill in befriending everyone, a character trait that would end up changing his life.


From Switzerland he went to study at the Sorbonne which was followed by a stint as a Wall Street runner in the 1950s. Somewhere along the line this well-travelled young man discovered a passion for the theatre and landed himself a job with the impresario Peter Daubney in London producing international theatre seasons. At the ripe age of 25 White produced his first play in the West End. It was not a conventional drama but a production of Jack Gelber's Living Theatre group called 'The Connection' and it depicted the life of drug-addicted jazz musicians. It had a mixed reception with its detractors up in arms about the debauchery on stage which showed men shooting up, something totally unheard of back in 1959 when every play was still censored by the Lord Chamberlain's Office.



It was however not the last time that White would break all the rules as he pursued anything avant-garde and different than the norm in a career in which he mounted 101 stage productions and produced 27 films.


He introduced London to art 'happenings' with Yoko Ono, contemporary dance with Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch, discovered the ground-breaking 'The Rocky Horror Show', joined forces with Kenneth Tynan to produce the all-nude review Oh Calcutta', gave Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage his first big break. Then as his career moved into movies he produced 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', John Water's 'Polyester', and the classic 'My Dinner with Andre'.


Otto starts her movie almost at the end when after casually meeting White at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 she is intrigued about this charming septuagenarian who literally knows everybody worth knowing. And what's more, they all totally adore him. From British royalty to the Hollywood A list via mega-rock stars to model superstars, White has hung out with them all, and many of them, including ex-wives and girlfriends, eagerly line up to give witness to althe joyous times they have spent together. Even Wintour the Ice Queen cracks a rare smile on her face when she talks about her times with White.



White's professional success (and sometimes failure) is because he is a gambler. Unlike any of his peers he is happy to take a chance on people and their productions simply if he believes in them, almost in the same way that he bets on horses too. His personal 'sucess' is because he is an optimist and believes that everyone is his friend. 'Some people have cheated me, but I have no enemies at all.'


Now after a couple of strokes, although White refuses to acknowledge the aging process, he is obviously not in a good shape physically or financially. Whilst he is happy to talk about his life (with the rare exception such as losing the lucrative rights to The Rocky Horror Show) he adamantly refuses to let Otto in to find out much about him as a man. Several colleagues drop very broad hints that part of his present demise is due to not just the excessive partying but the use of recreational drugs, but Otto chooses not to pursue any of this.


His legacy will not just be all the thousands of photographs he took to chronicle his life with a whole galaxy or stars, or the correspendece with the rich anf famous that he had hoarded for decades. It will be the way that his approach of leading with his heart and not his head completely propelled London into being a true world-class stage and discovering and giving a voice to such a remarkable array of talent. It also helped that he was also a professional charmer.


The world is definitely a better place because of Michael White, the like of whom we will never see again.








By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 04:30PM

We are bringing you a sneak preview of what many critics are already pronouncing as probably the love story of the year: it just happens that all the characters are gay too.



Love Is Strange
Love Is Strange

In Ira Sach’s follow up to his hit movie ‘Keep The Lights On’, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina give stunning award-winning performances of an older gay couple whose relationship is put under enormous pressure when Molina’s character is fired for getting married.


Our movie critic Roger Walker-Dack has seen it twice and writes ‘few film love stories are as profound, rich, and devastating as this.’


Already released in the USA , there is currently no date set for its UK premiere yet but watch this space as we will be tracking this for you.








By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 03:30PM

There is ‘camp’ and then there is Joan Crawford!




The legendary Oscar winning film star who’s career went from Queen of The Movies to Box Office Poison was always one of the most outrageous women in Hollywood.


Larger than life and those enormous shoulder pads of hers and the biggest bitch of all, she could pack a mean slap and she often did. Here’s a few of them. and some other juicy bits in an hilarious montage of clips we found on youtube.


by Roger Walker-Dack






By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 09:45AM

Frankie Valenti aka Johnny Hazard is the latest gay porn star to go legit and act in a movie where he keeps his clothes on (nearly) the entire time.




It’s a path that many have trodden and failed so miserably i.e. think François Sagat's leaden performance in the dreadful Man In Bath that we reviewed recently. When you think that the few lines that porn performers are forced to trot out just consist of stunners like ‘I’m here to fix your plumbing’ or ‘Give it to me big boy’, they really don’t need to be actors per se.


Frankie, following in the recent successful movie debut of Sean Paul Lockhart aka Brent Corrigan in TRUTH (reviewed in The Gay UK), has put in a surprising good performance playing one of two estranged gay brothers struggling to connect after the recent death of their father in ‘TIGER ORANGE’. Chet is an introvert who has never ‘come out’ or even left his small hometown, whereas rebellious Todd left for LA at the age of 18 and is out and proud and very loud. Easy to guess which one Frankie played.




It won’t win him any Oscars but is should get him more roles in independent moves such as this as he has more talent than just his larger member that has endeared him to so many gay men already. We will publish our full review when the movie gets released next year, but meanwhile here is a sneak preview of Frankie in action in Wade Gasque’s TIGER ORANGE.





By The Gay UK, Oct 21 2014 01:34PM

When 60-year-old Alice comes to Toronto six months after becoming a widow, her daughter Suzanne a lawyer is too busy at work to be home to greet her mother.

★★★★



She asks her unemployed friend Tru to step in at the last minute to look after Alice but then is shocked when she later arrives home and find that the two women have very quickly bonded. When Suzanne goes back to the office again that night, Alice takes Tru out to dinner to thank her, and the conversation soon takes a very personal turn.


Alice is fascinated to learn about 30-something-year-old Tru's life as a commitment phobic serial-bed-hopping lesbian's seemingly carefree life. She admits to having similar feelings when she was young, but confessed that back in those days one had either to get married or join a nunnery. This provokes Tru into joking that the latter would have been the same as being a lesbian. There is obviously an attraction between the two women, but both are afraid to act upon it.


The relationship between Alice and Suzanne is however is tenuous to say the least as if neither can deal with the other's grief for the departed husband/father. When it is clear that Alice's spirits are so lifted by just spending time with Tru, Suzanne steps in and meddles to try and ensure that she puts a stop to their budding relationship. It appears at first she is in denial that Alice could possibly be a lesbian, but it soon turns out that this lonely partner less woman has another reason to resent Tru making her mother so happy.



Tru on the other hand slowly realizes that with this welcoming older woman she is capable of loving someone after all. Alice never doubts her feelings but in some wonderful scenes talking to her late husband (seen on screen) she does question if this invalidates her life to date as she has not been true to her own feelings.


This very touching story is very much about the two women's quite chaste love but also equally about Alice's relationship with her own daughter which seems to have reached a very low point. It's unexpected and sudden ending was not the best way to finish the story as it didn’t really seem to give closure to all of them, well, at least to the two younger women.


It's an entertaining spirited movie about a delightful May/December relationship. Shauna MacDonald who co-wrote and co-directed as well as playing Tru gave herself a part that could/should have done more, but she did at least enable Kate Trotter who superbly played Alice and was a sheer joy as so convincingly conveyed the spirit of a woman finally discovering herself.











By The Gay UK, Oct 20 2014 10:49AM

There have been openly gay writers, directors and actors that have won Oscars, but never ever a Gay Themed Best Picture Oscar.




In 2005 BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN came close getting 8 nominations, the most of any film that year, and then winning 3 of them, but being pipped at the post for the ultimate award despite it being the hot favourite. Will 2015 be the year this all changes? Four countries have ‘officially submitted’ gay movies for BEST FOREIGN PICTURE nominations and we think they all have a good chance of winning. Here they are :-


SAINT LAURENT from France. At last an un-sanitised version of the great French designer and somewhat tortured genius. Directed and co-written by Bertrand Bonello and starring hunky Gaspard Ulliel, its been wowing wowing audiences in France, and we cannot wait to see it.




DER KRIES aka The Circle from Switzerland. This stunning and emotional account of gay life in Zurich post WW2 is part documentary and part fiction and will have you reaching for your tissues. Winner of a TEDDY AWARD at the Berlinale (which is the nearest thing to an LGBT Oscar).






THE WAY HE LOOKS from Brazil. We have just published our 5 Star review of this film that opens in UK cinemas on October 24th. We unashamedly LOVE this touching tale of a blind gay teenager’s coming-out story which also won a TEDDY AWARD at this year’s Berlinale. We talked with Director Daniel Ribeiro when he was in London recently, so look out for our exclusive interview coming soon.





MOMMY from Canada.This is technically not a gay film but we have included it as it is the work of gay wunderkin director/writer/editor/actor/composer/costume designer XAVIER DOLAN. This is his 5th award winning feature film at the ripe old age of 25 years old and it received an unprecedented 15 minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. In this film Dolan re-visits the tumultious mother-son relationship theme of his very first movie ‘I Killed My Mother’.





All OSCAR NOMINATIONS are announced on Thursday 15th January, and the WINNERS on Sunday February 22nd 2015.




By Roger Walker-Dack






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