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film spotlight


by chris carpenter GIVING THANKS FOR NEW GBQ MOVIES Ah, November has arrived. The month of cooler temperatures, roasted turkeys and pumpkin pies is here! Unfortunate-


ly, traditional Thanksgiving gatherings will be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 prevention efforts. But November remains the start of the holiday season as well as the film industry’s annual awards season. Due to pandemic-related delays, the awards season will last longer than usual. The current submission and screening deadline for most organizations including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the end of February 2021, with most awards not being presented until March or April. Three new movies of gay, bi and/or queer interest that are also sparking awards buzz are therefore getting a head start by being released this month. They will play theatrically where possible but will also be available for streaming.


T


he film Uncle Frank, from Amazon Studios, is a nostalgic and often heart-rending look at the life of a closeted gay man in the early


1970s. It will be available on Amazon Prime begin- ning Wednesday, November 25. British actor Paul Bettany, best known as the heroic Vision in various Marvel Universe epics, could be an awards contender for his sensitive performance in the title role. Following his upbringing in conservative South


Carolina, Frank has fled to New York City and become a revered literature professor. He also has a longtime but secret partner, Walid, who is warmly portrayed by Peter Macdissi. Things start to get complicated for Frank when


his young niece, Beth (Sophia Lillis, who made a splash as Beverly in the It movies), becomes a student on his NYU campus. She soon discovers that her beloved uncle is gay but accepts him. Things get much more complicated when they receive word of the sudden death of Frank’s homophobic father, Beth’s grandfather. Frank, a recovering but vulnerable alcoholic, reluc- tantly returns home for the funeral with Beth


16 ragemonthly.com November 2020


in tow. They undertake a road trip to Creekville, South Carolina, which Walid unexpectedly but eventually joins them on. Once home, Frank learns that he was


excluded from his late father’s will and, to make matters worse, is forced to finally face a long-buried trauma that he has spent his entire adult life running away from. Many gay men of his generation will relate to this aspect of the script, which was written by Alan Ball. Ball is the out and well-respected creator of TV’s Six Feet Under and True Blood, and he won an Oscar for his original screenplay for American Beauty. He also directed Uncle Frank and served as one of its producers. In addition to providing a great acting show-


case for Bettany, the film’s excellent supporting cast includes Judy Greer, Steve Zahn and Margo Martindale. And look for stage and screen veteran Lois Smith, who turns 90 this month. The film features plenty of humor despite its serious subject matter, including the hilarious line: “I’ll slap you so hard, your clothes will go out of style!” Uncle Frank should not be missed.


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