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Now Playing: 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Exoticmarigold-cast

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS

YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION

Though some media pundits scoffed last weekend when THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL opened for business the same weekend as The Avengers (previously reviewed) it turned out to be a savvy move. Where else were the spandex averse or Downton Abbey addicts to go? (Rather perversely, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel denies Abbey addicts additional showdowns between Lady Crawley and the Dowager Countess; Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith's stories don't intertwine much) In fact, this British retirees in India dramedy should have opened even wider since they had the nation's second best per screen average and could have cracked the top ten with far fewer theaters than the other movies.

But enough about money. Hotel manager Sonny  (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) is a dreamer, not a businessman. His family is losing patience with his dream and time is running out for the hotel. It's running out for the guests, too, as they near the end of their lives. The name of Sonny's establishment is actually “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People”. The movie's title lops off those last five words which only proves Sonny's business model's point: he believes that countries don't care about their elderly so he'll outsource old age. Come to India and live out your autumn years!

Would you rent a room from Dev Patel? MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

Dev-welcome

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Gay New York Couple of 60+ Years Who Married Last Year Die Just Two Weeks Apart

Alexander Obrien

Couples in their golden years who have been together for a long time often can't survive the death of their spouse, and often dies within days, weeks, or months of each other. What's unusual about this case is that the couple was gay, both were noted and acclaimed entertainers, and they were also married.

Shaun O'Brien (right), a dancer of four decades with the New York City Ballet, died at the age of 86 on February 23. His husband (left) Cris Alexander, a Broadway actor and photographer, died on March 7, just two weeks later.

The NYT noted the cause of death most accurately:

When same-sex marriage became legal in New York last year, he married Shaun O’Brien, the celebrated character dancer with the New York City Ballet. They had been together for more than 60 years and died less than two weeks apart — Mr. Alexander on March 7 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at age 92; Mr. O’Brien on Feb. 23 at 86. They shared a Victorian house in Saratoga Springs.

“If there is a cause of death, it’s a broken heart,” his friend Jane Klain said in confirming Mr. Alexander’s death. “It’s as simple as that.”

Hopefully we'll all get to lead such fulfilled and long lives. And those long-term couples around the country will have the chance to dignify their relationship in law like O'Brien and Alexander did.


Movies: Best LGBT Characters of the Year

Weekend-at-train
Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glenn (Chris New) in "Weekend"... one of the best films of 2011

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

 
TIS THE SEASON... OF LIST-MAKING
Meryl Streep, recently profiled on 60 Minutes, was asked about playing characters who seem so incredibly different than she herself is, like her upcoming role in The Iron Lady which opens in a week's time. Her answer intrigued:

It always really bothers me when people imagine that characters who don't look like you or don't have the same accent as you are far from you. A great actress Sybil Thorndike said 'I think we all have the germ of every other person inside of us.' And I believe we do."

This is true enough. A well written character of any type can feel human and relatable to anyone with a working imagination. This is especially true for minority moviegoers who learn instinctively to recognize themselves in people who look and seem nothing like them at first glance. Sometimes we have to go long stretches without seeing mirror-like reflections in mainstream pop culture. We may have a germ of every other person inside of us, but it's still thrilling to see something closer to yourself on the screen.

So herewith a list of the best LGBT movie characters of this past year in film. Tis the season of...list making.

Three notes before we begin: I missed the Iranian lesbian drama Circumstance which I've heard is quite good; I'm not touching Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In so as to avoid spoilers; The highest profile film skipped on this list is J. Edgar because you're better off doing just that.

TOP TEN LGBT CHARACTERS OF 2011 AFTER THE JUMP...

Gaygaygaymovies

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Nation's First Full-Time Center for LGBT Seniors to Open in NYC

SageNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) announced today that Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults, has been awarded an Innovative Senior Center (ISC) contract to open the nation's first full-time center for LGBT seniors:

The SAGE Center, slated to open in January 2012, will include program sites in all five New York City boroughs—bringing a comprehensive array of services and support to LGBT elders throughout the city.

In addition to the robust array of programs SAGE currently provides at the LGBT Community Center and SAGE Harlem, the new Center will offer hot meals, programs covering issues from health and wellness to workplace skills, comprehensive social services, a wide range of social activities, and much more.

Said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE: "SAGE is honored to have this opportunity to strengthen the programs and services we offer to address the unique needs of LGBT older people in New York City. Opening The SAGE Center has been our dream for many years. We are thrilled to be part of a bold initiative that emphasizes innovation in aging services; SAGE is committed to building program models that can be replicated in New York City and nationwide."


AARP Launches LGBT Microsite

Aarp

The AARP has launched a website for older LGBT Americans. They write:

"Welcome to AARP's online home for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. This page is designed to spotlight articles on news, personal finance, relationships, travel and other topics of concern to older gay Americans, and their family and friends. It also provides information about AARP’s positions and advocacy efforts in this arena."

The site's initial articles include an interview with SAGE director Michael Adams, estate planning tips for LGBT couples, the gay man's guide to dating over 50, LGBT-friendly vacations, and an interview with Dan Savage.


Movies: Falling For 'Beginners'

Beginners-dad-son
 Christopher Plummer & Ewan McGregor, beautiful father/son casting in "Beginners"

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

 
YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Have you ever found yourself wincing in premonitory fear that a gay character or theme will be mishandled by filmmakers or actors? Set those worries aside when approaching the expressive charming BEGINNERS. Though the story about a lonely bachelor artist Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his newly-out dying father Hal (Christopher Plummer) is fictionalized it has the stamp of the exquisitely personal about it. It's handmade, in other words, never to be mistaken for a movie made by committee. Writer/director Mike Mills' (Thumbsucker) own father came out of the closet when he was in his thirties and the film is an obviously loving tribute from son to father.

Beginners-dad Gay characters in the movies are sometimes little more than caricatures and depictions still largely fall into "types". Older gay men have it especially rough in media representations; if they aren't altogether invisible they're desexualized or depicted as lonely and pitiable. Beginners won't have it like that. One could argue that it's practically heroic in its willful embrace of wholly human characters, no matter their age or sexual preference. Hal is played with lively curiousity by Christopher Plummer with that customary dark twinkle in his eye. (It's actually brilliant casting since Ewan McGregor is such a kindred spirit when it comes to those mischievous undercurrents. This is one of his best roles yet.) Though the film doesn't lionize Hal or pretend that his romance with a younger polyamorous lover (Goran Visnjic) is perfect, Beginners is nonjudgmental about all of its romantic entanglements. One might say, it shares a kinship with that great McGregor picture Moulin Rouge!, in its bohemian values. No one vocalizes it but you could easily lift a voiceover from one film to another.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." 

Even the dog -- the cutest screen terrier since Best in Show (2000) or even The Awful Truth (1937 !) --  knows what's what when it comes to the sanctity of loving relationships, whichever form they take.

Wait, there's a talking dog? MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

Beginners-terrier

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