New DVDs from a church, about a church, and exposing a church.
‘k.d. lang with the BBC Concert
Orchestra: Live in London’
At 47, k.d. lang is aging gracefully, to be sure. She is the pair of comfortable shoes she still chooses to kick off onstage. Her fresh, minimally made-up face framed by her Rachel Maddow-y haircut is fuller now; her stuffing is shifting like an old, over-upholstered chair that’s been in the family as long as you can remember.
Was it really almost 20 years ago that we squealed with glee at the sight of her writhing on the floor on Saturday Night Live in cowboy drag, begging Johnny to Get Angry, backed up by her rollicking Reclines?
Two of her four Grammys resulted from duets with veteran crooners Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett, but on her most recent effort, Live in London, we are treated to k.d.’s exquisite solo voice, backed by the perfectly complimenting BBC Concert Orchestra.
On it we discover unquestionably that, perhaps more importantly than with grace, k.d. lang is aging fearlessly. Unlike her padding, her pipes haven’t shifted. Striking vocal dual tones without effort, her throat still opens like a bellows, then softly cradles the next note to emit barely a whisper.
Lord, she’s good.
A generous handful of the tunes here are from Watershed (2008), which Lawrence Ferber described in his March 2008 OutSmart interview with lang as “a sumptuous, dreamy, melodic affair.” Also included are the unspeakably sultry “Wash Me Clean” from 1994’s Ingénue, Leonard Cohen’s soaring “Hallelujah” and Neil Young’s pleading “Helpless” from her Hymns of the 49th Parallel (2004), and several smoky, searing others.
Recorded in front of a tiny, enrapt audience at the 18th-century London landmark, St. Luke’s Church, k.d. lang with the BBC Concert Orchestra: Live in London, with its eco-friendly packaging, is available February 3 on DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment (www.imageentertainment.com). — Review: Nancy Ford
Save Me, an overwrought exploration of the conflict between Christian fundamentalists and gays, opens with a gay couple driving, taking drugs, and making out with abandon. Interspersed between glimpses of the speeding gay couple we see a small gathering of church folks mournfully singing hymns to the joy of eternal life (see Eddie Izzard’s DVD Dressed to Kill for a hilarious send-up of same). The opening scenes of Save Me bludgeon with the message that one can either have great fun or sing badly, but the two don’t mix.
I was more than halfway through Save Me before I got over being mad at what purports to be an attempt to balance the fundamentalist perspective that homosexuality equals sin with the somewhat less judgmental position of the GLBT
community. The relatively recent introduction of the conceit that there are two sides to every issue has made its way into nearly every corner of public and private discourse. No, I say, some issues have a right side and a wrong side. This week I listened to a report from an Australian news source about climate change with the disclaimer that not everyone believes humanity has contributed to global warming. In the same way, I suppose, that one could find some Nazi skinheads to argue for genocide, or some country-club folk to posit that homelessness is a scam. Any sentient being should know better than to validate the lunatic fringe with a “balanced” view of their madness. Instead though, we have some well-meaning souls making a film that humanizes the unflinching condemnation that passes for a faith-based belief system.
Save Me is not a simple film. Its complexity helps mitigate its flawed premise. Gayle, the woman at the center of Genesis, a halfway house for the “sexually broken,” has her own issues with which to deal. Without an actress the caliber of Judith Light to illuminate her depth, Save Me would not rise above melodrama.
From First Run Features (www.firstrunfeatures.com). — Review: John W. Stiles
‘We’re All Angels’
Maybe if I’d seen We’re All Angels first, I would have been more tolerant of Save Me. A documentary of the—hold on now—Christian/gay/pop music duo Jason and deMarco, We’re All Angels follows the unfailingly charming pair through the recording and promotion of their latest CD to the gay-friendly Houston-based Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church and then on board a five-day Gulf cruise. They can be a bit intense at times, but you can’t help but root for them.
Threading a minefield between a music community with little respect for Christian artists and a GLBT community rightfully apprehensive of “Christians,” we get to know them through their relationship to each other and their music. Theirs is a faith of love and inclusion, and it was a much-needed tonic after the fundamentalists of Save Me.
If Jason and deMarco break up or give up, don’t tell me… I don’t think I could stand it.
From Telekinetic Entertainment (jason anddemarco.com). — Review: John W. Stiles