Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate - See "Pride" (2014)

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET MARRIED. It's a great day for civil rights in the USA. I can honestly say I'm proud of my country.

If you can't make it to a Pride Parade this weekend, that's too bad—it's going to be fantastic—why not watch my new favorite feel-good movie of the century, Pride? Based on a true, better-than-fiction and little-known event, Pride is expertly written by Stephen Bereford and directed with much soul by Matthew Warchus. (Note: I watched with English subtitles to get all that accented British humor.) Its ensemble cast is just simply remarkable, including all manner of promising newcomers along with great performances by so many greats—Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Dominic West.

I'm not a huge proponent of the "feel-good" film. I don't like being emotionally manipulated by the powerful medium of cinema. But this film earns its emotions, by giving us well-rounded characters (so difficult to pull off in a large ensemble story), with excellent acting and the perfect story-telling touches that are the essence of skill, effort and some collaborative magic. There's so much humor and humanity in this film. And it's just a great story.

It's 1984 in Margaret Thatcher's London. A small group of young activists decide at the behest of their impromptu leader, Mark, to collect funds for long-time striking miners in Northern England. The miners are running low on funds, food and hope. They're also getting arrested on a regular basis. Mark figures they're experiencing a lot of the same problems that he and his gay and lesbian friends have gone through in a conservative society. They form Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners—LGSM (although Steph, the lone woman, initially makes it The Lesbian and Gays who Support the Miners).

At first they can't even get the union to accept their money—do you see any parallels to our world today? So they call a random town in Wales and make some contact. This leads to further contact, and then full immersion in their respective worlds: gay/straight, small town/urban center, liberal/bigot, until the lines blur and, oh just see it! You'll feel good. You'll also feel sad. It's the cusp of the AIDS crisis. You're going to feel emotions—really feel them. That's worth experiencing.

Here's Mark, who walks tall and leads with his heart (played by Ben Schnetzer—an American, of all things), in his youthful abode with is life-sized cutout of Eartha Kitt and just barely noticeable Communist flag. Mark's political leaning is one of the true facts glossed over to appeal to a wider audience—a pity, since it explains Mark's initial supporting of the miners so well.

I think J.K. Rowling had Margaret Thatcher and her cronies in mind when she thought up Slytherin House.


Gay Pride, the film version.

It was not easy to be out in 1984. The film, a perfect period piece, reminds us without ever losing its sense of humor and honor along the way.

Paddy Considine, disappears (as usual), into his role as Dai, a miner. I would see pretty much anything that Paddy Considine works on—he's like a stamp of quality on a film project.

The LGSM, having lunch with their first miner.

Considine—an actor's actor.

Steph (Faye Marsay) is so 80s with her caustic wit, iconoclastic hair and smoker's stance.

The group shots not only support the theme of strength in unity—they're actually based on real video footage and photos of the time.

Gethin (Andrew Scott) washes his bookstore windows and his resolute body language tells us that he's done this perhaps many times before.

The fierce (and adorable) Jessica Gunning as Sian James—the Wales housewife who went on to big things in parliament.

The genuinely fabulous Dominic West as Jonathan, retired actor and disco appreciator.

Bill Nighy makes understatement a complete art form. Imelda Staunton continues to inspire by handling drama and comedy so deftly.

So many issues are beautifully covered in Pride. Beyond the historical record, there's the difficulties of coming out, finding a support network, fear of the unknown, knowledge and openness as a lifestyle, reaching out, making someone a pot of soup because that's the best course of action at the moment—so many important aspects of life. See it.

And Happy Pride. XO

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