Starting today at the SIFF Film Center is Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, the documentary about the coming-out of country star Chely Wright, which I saw in last year's Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and loved:
Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf's documentary maps the public coming out of country music star Chely Wright—and it's riveting. Go in expecting a self-serving spin on the E! True Hollywood Story and you'll be knocked sideways by an unprecedentedly intimate dissection of The Closet. Raised in a deeply religious small town, Wright assiduously buried her unacceptable natural desires and set about chasing the consolation prize of country music stardom. Amazingly, she got it and found herself on top of the world while living a soul-crushing lie. Wish Me Away shows us what Wright's closet life looked like from both inside and outside (watch as a clueless Dick Clark grills her about her "mysterious love life"!) and lets us in on the machinations behind the Public Coming Out (watch media coach Howard Bragman school Chely on how one never "admits" homosexuality, one acknowledges it). Bonus: footage of an Oak Ridge Boy processing the concept of out-and-proud lesbianism.
And continuing at various cinemas is Magic Mike, the male-stripper drama which I saw last Sunday in a near-empty cinema in Salt Lake City and liked so much more than I expected to. Here's the thing: It's a Steven Soderbergh movie, and surrounding all the fleshy enticements are scenes of people talking and doing things that are expertly shot and expertly written (until the end, which is dumb) and quite well-acted. (I even liked the flat-affect love interest; I'll take intriguing dullness over Kate Hudson bubbliness any day.) Here's the other thing: It's packed with very well-built men who are often very close to naked, and even if their heads aren't necessarily appealing, it's quite something to see a whole movie built around exploiting the erotic potential of the male form. If you enjoy a naked man, even ironically, go see Magic Mike.