‘The Naked Civil Servant’ and ‘The Lost Language of Cranes’ DVDs debut. Plus many DVD shorts.
Two new DVDs paint a very different picture of what it means to live gay in a straight world. One (The Naked Civil Servant) tells the story of a man who never knew the inside of a closet and the other (The Lost Language of Cranes) of a life spent hiding in denial.
That Quentin Crisp announced his intent to make the existence of homosexuals “abundantly clear to the world’s aborigines” at the tender age of 22 is remarkable. That he made this commitment seven decades ago is astounding. He never wavered from his plan, sporting purple eyeshade and long flowing scarves in the ultra-conservative England of the Depression Era. He never looked less than fabulous for the next 70 years. He made New York his adopted home after his autobiography appeared on PBS as The Naked Civil Servant. John Hurt won the 1976 English Best Actor award for his dead-on portrayal of this outrageously courageous original. The DVD offers a short interview with Quentin Crisp and a commentary looking back by the filmmakers.
In The Lost Language of Cranes, Brian Cox (Troy, several episodes of Deadwood) plays Owen Benjamin, the father of Philip (Angus Macfadyen, Saw III) who is desperately in love with an American cad. Owen’s wife, Philip’s mother, Rose (Eileen Atkins, Cold Mountain) is content knowing next to nothing about the two men in her life. When Philip comes out to his parents in a misguided attempt to keep his cad of a boyfriend (Corey Parker, several episodes of Will & Grace), Rose says she needs time to get used to the idea. Owen can’t talk. Once Philip leaves, Owen breaks down in one of the more emotionally charged scenes you will ever see.
Crying for the life he has spent and wasted, Owen makes the decision to live in the light. Atkins delivers an intelligently understated and powerful performance as the twice-surprised mother and wife.
These two DVDs are being released at the same time for a reason. See them together. They present a powerful lesson on the damage done by denial and the joy and freedom that await those strong enough to embrace and live the truth.
The Naked Civil Servant: 1975. Directed by Jack Gold. The Lost Language of Cranes: 1991. Directed by Nigel French. Costars Rene Auberjonois (TV’s Boston Legal) and out director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy). Both from BBC Video (www.bbcamerica shop.com).
John Stiles (www.johnwstiles.com) writes regularly for OutSmart magazine.
I Wanna Be a Republican
Patriotism and greed and corruption — oh my! This high-production, high-def, hysterical romp follows The Kinsey Sicks — our favorite dragapella beauty shop quartet — as they portray four Republican women awaiting W’s arrival at a GOP fundraiser. With any luck, the Sicks will one day headline the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Available June 19 from Eyethink Pictures (www.eyethinkpictures.com). — Preview: Nancy Ford
Shel Grandy (ER‘ s John Stamos) is a gay party planner (well, he’s gay, not the parties he plans). Not long after his straight brother Ben (Grey’s Anatomy‘ s “McSteamy,” Eric Dane) asks him to organize his wedding with Maggie (The O.C.’s Bonnie Somerville), Maggie’s father, Governor Welling (Barbra Streisand’s hubby James Brolin) speaks out against gay marriage. Grandy takes a stand, pulling out of the wedding and leading gays across the country in a strike for equal rights. 2006. Directed by Jim Fall. Available June 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (www.sonypictures.com). — Preview: Eric A.T. Dieckman
Noah’s Arc: The Complete Second Season
T he DVD of Logo’s groundbreaking show about four comely African-American gay friends in Los Angeles includes three discs of the season’s eight episodes, special digisodes, extended episodes, commentary, a behind-the-scenes look at the Noah fellas at the gym, deleted scenes, and special photo features. FYI: Keep an eye open for an early 2008 Noah feature film release. Available June 12 from Logo (www.logoonline.com). — Preview: Eric A.T. Dieckman
Dante’s Cove: The Complete Second Season
The torrential new GLBT series combines homosexuality, horror, the supernatural, sex, camp, the beach, and sexy residents at Hotel Dante. Season two introduces new characters and conflicts. Will the sorceress Grace teach Van how to harness her newfound powers? What is sex club owner Colin’s dark secret? Available June 5 from Genius Entertainment and here! (www.heretv.com). More: www.dantescove.com. — Preview: Eric A.T. Dieckman
Will & Grace: Season 6
The fabulous foursome continue their homo-hilarious misadventures with hysterically cheeky titled episodes including “Strangers with Candice,” “No Sex ‘n the City,” and “Oh, No You Di-in’t.” Look for guest appearances by Harry Connick Jr., Tracey Ullman, J-Lo, and more. From Lionsgate (www.lionsgate.com). — Preview:Eric A.T. Dieckman
Scrubs: The Complete Fifth Season
Though there aren’t any GLBT characters or references in this season of “ER meets The Wonder Years,” the inseparable relationship of John Dorian (Zach Braff) and Christopher Turk (Donald Faison) is often the brunt of gay teasing among their peers at the hospital. From Buena Vista Home Entertainment (www.bventertainment.go.com). — Preview: Eric A.T. Dieckman
29th & Gay
James is getting closer and closer to the big 3-0. An average gay man, his abs are not rock-hard, his hair is thinning, he’s an unemployed actor, and he has no partner. Wondering about his place in life, his friends push him through his funk. Will James realize life is about the journey and not the destination? 2005. Directed by Carrie Preston. From TLA Releasing (www.tlareleasing.com).— Preview: Eric A.T. Dieckman
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 To Catch a Thief is back on DVD in a “Special Collector’s” edition, this time boasting an “all-new digital transfer” and new commentary by Peter Bogdanovitch and Laurent Bouzereau. The handful of featurettes included here, which include an homage to costume designer Edith Head’s “Paramount Years,” are leftovers from the previous DVD release. I guess you gotta really be hot for the “all-new digital transfer,” because To Catch a Thief probably wouldn’t be included in a Hitchcock Top Ten list. Still, it is Hitchcock and it does unite Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in a romantic thriller set on the French Riviera. Incidentally, character actress Jessie Royce Landis plays Kelly’s mother here. Four years later Landis played Grant’s mother in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which is interesting due to the fact that Grant and Landis were both born in 1904 and Grant was actually older by several months. From Paramount Home Entertainment (www.paramount.com). — Review: Jack Varsi