June Show

By Obie Espinosa, Christopher Jones, Jeff Katz & Gary M. Kramer

Twenty Feet From Stardom (Theaters)

RadiusTWC

4 stars

Lead singers beware: the true diva may be behind you. At least that’s what Morgan Neville’s exciting Twenty Feet From Stardom finds, as some of the iconic background voices from music’s biggest songs finally get their turn in the spotlight. Neville jumps around between decades and stories, covering the bumpy roads of such true stars as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer, who recount their years singing backup for the likes of Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, Bette, Elton and more. The stories are compelling, but the music is the real gem of the film! Amazing footage from early Ike and Tina performances, studio sessions from the heyday of Phil Spector’s reign and priceless backstage gossip make Twenty Feet From Stardom any music lover’s must-see doc of the year. But this isn’t all old-school reminiscing: The doc also introduces a then-unknown phenom named Judith Hill, a former Michael Jackson backup singer who many may now recognize from her recent run on The Voice. Stardom not only paints of beautiful picture of true musical talent and intense drive and determination, but also the pitfalls of fame and an all-too-often unfair entertainment industry. —JK

 

 

 

Call Me Kuchu (Theaters)

Cinedigm/Cat & Dogs

5 stars

While it took the murder of Ugandan gay rights leader David Kato for most of the world to wake up to the incredible injustices being put forth by that government, filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall had already been on the ground for nearly a year, working to highlight the incredibly brave work of a small but might group of LGBT people. David’s 2011 death would of course be a turning point, but as Call Me Kuchu brilliantly shows, the fight for human rights was already well underway. The documentary takes viewers into the courtrooms, hideouts and, yes, funeral, where Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill and the country’s other controversial anti-gay measures hit hardest. Some interviews, like that of the managing editor of the Rolling Stone newspaper—the paper which published the names, photos and address of “known homosexuals”—will infuriate, while moments like the joyous scene at the unofficial Miss Kuchu 2010/2011 pageant will inspire. It’s the filmmakers’ ability to walk that fine line in emotional, fair storytelling that makes Kuchu such a standout. —OE

 

 

Men to Kiss (DVD)

TLA

3.5 stars

This genial German comedy—featuring many of the same cast members from Alex and Leo reprising their roles from that film—has Tobi (Udo Lutz) and Ernie (Frank Christian Marx) hitting a snag in their relationship when Ernie’s BFF Uta (Alexandra Starnitzky) pays a visit. While the film is about the animosity between friends and lovers, the comedy is farcical with Tobi and his pals plotting against Uta, and vice versa. There are some cute gags, and some fun courtesy of Tobi’s mother (played by a man in drag), however by the time this slight romantic comedy reaches its climax it’s more maddening than madcap. Still, Marx is so adorable it makes sense why folks would fight over him. —GK

 

 

The OUT List (TV)

HBO

5 stars

Gaylebrities: Our prominent LGBT celebrity leaders in the entertainment, business and sports worlds representing LGBT life. We love them and often we think we know them, but the The Out List, a documentary film by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, proves that we all truly have no idea. In poignant and personal interviews, this film examines the trials and triumps of some of our favorite and most beloved stars by asking them the questions we wish we all could: Why was Neil Patrick Harris afraid of being gay and why does he believe his children don’t need both male and female parents? How did Wanda Sykes resolve her personal conflict between homosexuality and religion? What does Dustin Lance Black think about being labeled a gay filmmaker? During a month where we celebrate LGBT Pride; we wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act; and we mark the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this brilliant film couldn’t come at a more perfect time. —CJ

 

 

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