Weekend recs


Hollywood Lesbians by Boze Hadleigh (1994): Celebrity gossip is only enjoyable when the subjects themselves are compelling. Hadleigh interviewed mostly closeted lesbians from Hollywood’s Golden Age, a few from behind the camera like Edith Head, and got startlingly frank — if sometimes coded — responses out of almost all of them. It’s dizzying to watch as he navigates his subjects’ comfort (the remarkable Marjorie Main, film’s Ma Kettle, who provides a touching document of a closeted era) or extreme discomfort (the imperious Judith Anderson, eternally Mrs. Danvers, who nonetheless leaves little doubt). A gripping read. — Greg Freed


Filthy Boy, Smile That Won’t Go Down (2013): Poised where “louche” tips into “dangerous,” Filthy Boy’s hook-filled debut seduces like an unholy union between Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Franz Ferdinand. Eleven tunes unspool gothic short stories, every heavy premise leavened with a bit of dark humor. I was first drawn in by highlight “Biggest Fan Ever” — tapping my foot until I realized it was about a crazed fan living out a twisted domestic fantasy with the abducted object of his affection. Lovely. — Rachel Berkowitz


Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, dir. Jacob Hatley: Helm, the drummer and a vocalist for ’60s-’70s country rockers (and Bob Dylan associates) The Band, passed away in 2012 from throat cancer. This film was shot from 2007 to 2009, so it thankfully doesn’t cover his demise (although there are a couple of doctor’s office visits). Ain’t in It … focuses instead on Helm as an outsized character, a raconteur extraordinaire. There’s plenty of rambling storytelling, though if you’re looking for lengthy concert footage, you’ll be disappointed. There are bits and pieces of performances from over the years, both with The Band and with his late-career band, and milestones from the last few years of Helm’s life – a Grammy for his first solo record in 25 years, the birth of his first grandson, and finishing and recording a long-lost Hank Williams song. Ultimately open-ended, but the ramble is the point, and didn’t he ramble! — Tim Wager

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