Staff Picks July 2021

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Ever After
ever afterMaybe my favorite adaptation of Cinderella, this movie has everything you could want from a fairy tale retelling: a great cast (especially Drew Barrymore as a spunky and active heroine), splendid costumes, lots of humor and heart, and of course a sweeping love story!

CD: Greatest Hits: Sound and Vision by Blondie sound and vision
This “greatest hits” album lives up to its name by including all ten of the iconic rock band’s US chart-toppers, and several of their UK hits as well. All the best songs from their Parallel Lines album are here, along with classics such as “The Tide is High,” “Call Me,” and “Maria.”

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Independence Day
welcome to earth“Massive spaceships appear in Earth’s skies and wonder turns to terror as the ships blast destructive beams of fire down on cities all over the planet. The world’s only hope lies with a determined band of survivors.”

Audiobook: Shoot to Thrill shoot to thrillby P.J. Tracy
“When Minneapolis homicide cops are called to a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, they see a bride, facedown, dead in the water. But it’s not long before the Monkeewrench Crew discovers a frightening link between the unlucky bride and the latest, most horrific use of the Internet yet.”

John’s Picks

DVD: Non-Stop
non stopLiam Neeson at his best in this intense action thriller! A US Air Marshall must identify the individual threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes for ransom. So many twists & turns you’ll be left guessing (probably incorrectly) along with Bill Marks (Neeson).

CD: This Land by Gary Clark Jr.this land gary
The winner of the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Clark is a master on the guitar, and he’s evolving into a leading figure in the industry with a unique blend of blues and rock.

Kim’s Picks

DVD: War and Peace
war and peaceSergei Bondarchuk directs and stars as Pierre in this epic of epics based on Leo Tolstoy’s historical novel that follows several segments of Russian society during Napoleonic times.  Stupendous battle scenes depict Austerlitz and Borodino, and the grand balls may only be topped by those in The Leopard21 lessons (1965).  Tender and life-altering moments for the young and vibrant Natasha contain equal pleasures.

Audiobook: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
Harari has written three best-selling books in the past few years, all of which expand the reader’s mind:  this, Homo Deus, and Sapiens.  In 21 Lessons Harari makes what should be self-evident:  put on the back burner the age-old question about the meaning of life.  Priority number one must be, “how do we stop suffering?”

Mary’s Picks

DVD: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
prince of persiaFun, action packed adventure based on the video game. With great costumes and sets, this fantasy will keep you entertained all the way through.

CD: La Vie en Rose Original Soundtrack la vie
This soundtrack to the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie en Rose features not only iconic Piaf songs  but is also filled out by pieces from the original score that convey the feelings and themes of the film.

Stephanie’s Picks

Libby Audiobook: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrixsouthern vampire
“A supernatural thriller set in South Carolina in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a real monster”

CD: Jaime by Brittany Howard
Jaime is the name of Brittany Howard’s sister, a sibling who died from a rare cancer when she Jaime Brittany Howardwas 13 years old. Howard began reckoning with the enduring ramifications of her loss when she started writing a memoir, an exercise that eventually led to her 2019 solo debut Jaime. Running a tight 35 minutes but containing a lifetime’s worth of drama and insight, Jaime is bracing in its adventure and generosity. Trace elements of Americana can be heard… but Jaime could never be mistaken for an Alabama Shakes album. It’s too funky and too fluid in how it embraces noise, art, and soul… Jaime plays the way memories do: specific facts get lost to a truth that gets larger as years pass, where the familiarity can be reassuring yet melancholy. Howard’s embrace of all the mess of life gives Jaime its sustenance. Her audacity is apparent upon the first listen, but subsequent spins are profound and nourishing.”

All quoted material from catalog.ccls.org.

The Quotable Colleen Gray

Although film aficionados are familiar with Coleen Gray (1922 – 2015), she is not a household name. Nevertheless, her career on the big screen and TV was long and contained a number of highlights. Not many had such a promising start in multiple first-class films. Who knows why that didn’t continue? Poor agent? Unwilling to go the casting couch route with a studio exec? Marriage and family? (Somehow Jeanne Crain managed to be a 20th Century Fox mainstay from 1944 into the 50s despite birthing 7 children, although she did give up the plum role of Eve to Anne Baxter in the Nightmareb1950 classic All About Eve.)

After small and/or uncredited appearances in several films, Gray got the “and Introducing” honor as Victor Mature’s neighbor and future wife Nettie in the seminal noir Kiss of Death (1947). (Until relatively recently, Richard Widmark’s overpowering debut as the giggling psychopath Tommy Udo sucked all the oxygen from the other players. Of late, Mature has come in for well-deserved kudos.)

In her next film, the same year, Gray not only had another superstar to play against but initiated her unheralded spate of memorable lines.  Nightmare Alley has become an increasingly hailed noir that Tyrone Power was keen to use as a way to demonstrate that he was more than just a pretty boy—maybe Hollywood’s handsomest star.  He’d taken a step in that direction the previous year in The Razor’s Edge and wanted to keep that ball Redriverarolling. In Nightmare, he played con man Stan Carlisle and Gray his wife who eventually had enough and stood up to him: “Wait a minute, mister. You’re not talking to one of your chumps. You’re talking to your wife. You’re talking to somebody who knows you red, white and blue, and you can’t fool me anymore. There’s only one way I can stop you from doing this thing, and that’s to leave you.”

In 1948 Gray was John Wayne’s girl in the epic cattle drive saga Red River. Her role as Fen was small but significant. She pleaded with Tom Dunson (Wayne) to stay with the wagon train rather than leave the customary trail with crusty old Groot (Walter Brennan): “Listen to me, Tom, listen with your head and your heart, too. The sun only shines half the time, Tom, the other half is night.” He didn’t listen and regretted it the rest of his days.

SleepingaAlthough it wasn’t on the same scale or have the same prestige as her earlier movies, The Sleeping City (1950) with Richard Conte was a good crime drama set in a hospital. Once more Gray had the best lines, a monologue: “Blemishes are hid by night and every fault forgiven. The world should live by night. Dark draws people together. They can feel the need for each other. But the world gives the night to the sick, keeps for itself daylight and lets men look into faces filled with fear and hatred. Are you filled with fear and hatred?”

Like Marie Windsor, Mari Blanchard, Peggie Castle, Beverly Garland, Marla English and several Vampireaothers, Gray can in retrospect be labeled a B-movie queen of the 50s. See: Apache Drums, Copper Sky, Las Vegas Shakedown (“Nothing happens to school teachers.”), Star in the Dust, Destination 60,000, The Vampire, Hell’s Five Hours, The Leech Woman.

Occasionally Gray was in what would later be recognized as an important, even classic movie. See Stanley Kubrick’s multi-layered heist film The Killing (1956).

In the western The Black Whip (1958) Gray provided audiences with another memorable rant. As dance-hall Blackwhipafloozie Jeannie, she confronted Hugh Marlowe: “What do you know about women like me? Do you think I chose this kind of life?”

In Johnny Rocco (1958) her character’s wit and wisdom was topped by Stephen McNally, her co-star from the same year’s Hell’s Five Hours.  McNally apologized for his misstep: “Sorry, I call all dames Jack.”

The 1960s found Gray a fixture in TV series. She appeared on Perry Mason in 4 episodes between 1960 and 1966. In 1966 she was a regular on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. She guest starred on innumerable other shows and many years later was a friendly, appreciative guest at film conventions.

New Releases

Moviesthe courier
Boogie
The Courier
The World to Come
The Reason I Jump
Us Kids
Madame Rosa
Stray
The Lovebirds
American Experience: American Oz
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
Escape from Extinction
Life at the Waterhole
Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement
American Experience: The Blinding of Isaac Woodard
American Immigration: Fear, Myth, and Reality
Land of Azaba
Spring TideGodzilla vs Kong
To the Ends of the Earth
Godzilla Vs. Kong
Voyagers
Anything for Jackson
French Exit
Enforcement
Nobody
The Unholy
Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
Hunter Hunter
Human: The World Within
Pariah
Stardust
Streetwise/tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell
It's Not a Burden: the Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents
The Watch
Moby Doc
UsThe Umbrella Academy

TV Series
Last Call to Normandy complete series
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal season 1
I Hate Suzie season 1
Fuller House season 5
The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1
Your Honor
Halifax: Retribution
Becoming Evil: Serial Killers of the Old West
Umbrella Academy season 1
Bloodlands
Purge the complete seriesIn the Heights soundtrack

Music
January Flower by Mat Kearney
Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots
Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
Long Lost by Lord Huron
Makeover by K. D. Lang
Carnage by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Laysongs by Chris Thile
Weekends Look a Little Different These Days by Brett Young
Man on the Moon III: The Chosen by Kid Cudi
In the Heights Official Motion Picture Soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Now Serving: Royal Tea – Live from the Ryman by Joe BonamassaMaroon 5_ Jordi
Big Mess by Danny Elfman
Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 14
Soul Original Score
Wary + Strange by Amythyst Kiah
The Golden Casket by Modest Mouse
Jordi by Maroon 5
Bodies by AFI
Mammoth WVH by Mammoth WVH
Cande Y Paulo by Candy Y Paulo
Changephobia by Rostam  
Now That’s What I Call Country Classics 00s

Audiobooks
The Lady Has A PastTokyo Ever After by Amanda Quick
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Legacy by Nora Roberts
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
Unfinished Business by J. A. Jance
The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer
The Bullet by Iris Johansen
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Dream Girl by Laura Lippman
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi
The Fiancee by Kate White
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray
Jackpot by Stuart Woods & Bryon Quertermous
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: The Black Order by Tom Clancy & Jeff Rovin
Changes by Sheldon Pearce
Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon
The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
Blackout by Nicola Yoon

LGBTQIA+ Documentaries

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This is a list of true-life stories about members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, their lives, and the struggles and triumphs they face.

An Act of Love (2015, Not Rated)
After officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, Rev. Frank Schaefer was put on trial in the United Methodist Church, the second-largest protestant denomination in the country.

An Honest Liar (2014, Not Rated)
James Randi has made a life for himself exposing sham faith healers, psychics, and con-artists, creating many disguises and deceptions to do so. But a revelation about his personal life shows his actions in a new light.beond gay

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride (2009, Not Rated)
In a time when Pride has become a celebration more than a protest, the Vancouver Pride Society journeys to places where Pride is an event of political action against still-rampant homophobia.

Born to Be (2020, Not Rated)
Follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting, a pioneering surgeon at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, where trans and gender non-conforming people have access to transition-related care.

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003, Not Rated)
Bayard Rustin was a major player in the Civil Rights movement, one of the first “freedom riders” and an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. But his role was severely diminished after being outed as homosexual.

Call Her Ganda (2018, Not Rated)call her ganda
When a Filipina transwoman is brutally murdered by a US Marine, three women demand justice for the murder and call for an end to American imperialism.

Deep in Vogue (2018, Not Rated)
Follows and celebrates the unique and colorful lives of the members of Northern Vogue, a vogue ballroom in Manchester, England.

Do I Sound Gay? (2015, Not Rated)
After a breakup, journalist David Thorpe confronts his anxiety about sounding gay, enlisting the help of actors, vocal coaches, and experts to explore the “gay voice” and what it represents in our culture.

Freddie Mercury: The Greatest Showman (2019, Not Rated)
A celebration of the life and work of the rock legend, featuring interviews with his friends, colleagues, and collaborators, as well as rare archive footage.

The Freedom to Marry (2016, Not Rated)growing up coy
Follows the trajectory of the movement for marriage equality, and the many activists who fought to win the equal right to marry.

Gender Revolution (2017, Rated TV-PG)
Katie Couric talks with scientists, experts, and everyday people, to answer questions about gender identity and explore how science and society help to construct ideas of gender.

Growing Up Coy (2016, Not Rated)
When Coy, a six-year-old transgender girl, is banned from the girls’ bathroom at her school, her parents file a discrimination suit which becomes one of the most high-profile cases in recent history.

Growing Up Trans (2015, Rated TV-14)
Explores the lives of transgender kids and teens, and the struggles and choices they and their families face along the path to transition.

The Guys Next Door (2016, Not Rated)how to survive
Follows the life of a modern gay family. Erik and Sandro live together with their daughters, who they had by a surrogate—their friend Rachel, who has three teens of her own. 

Homosaywhat? Who’s Pushing Hate? (2019, Not Rated)
Explores how cultural institutions and public figures have advanced systemic anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice in society, from history to the current day, as well as how this prejudice can still be deeply harmful.

How to Survive a Plague (2012, Not Rated)
Tells the story of LGBTQIA+ activists who fought to end the AIDS epidemic, making their voices heard in the pharmaceutical industry to help hasten a treatment for the devastating disease.

Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story (2014, Not Rated)
A former U.S. Navy Seal shares her journey as she transitions, and contemplates the ideals of the country she served—what do they mean to her now as a transgender woman?

Making the Boys (2010, Not Rated)
The Boys in the Band memories of a penitent heartwas the first ever gay play (and subsequently Hollywood film) to reach a mainstream audience. This film explores how the play and film came to be made.

McQueen (2018, Rated R)
An intimate portrait of the life and work of legendary fashion designer Alexander McQueen, including interviews with his friends and family and archival documents.

Memories of a Penitent Heart (2016, Not Rated)
A filmmaker digs into her family’s past to uncover the truth about her uncle’s death, and to find his partner Robert. An exploration of the AIDS crisis and how faith can be used as a tool of hate.

The Most Dangerous Year (2019, Not Rated)
2016 was a dangerous year for transgender people, thanks to a slew of transphobic bathroom bills. This movie follows the battles fought by transgender people and their families for justice and fair treatment.

Out in the Open (2013, Not Rated)paris is burning
A celebration of the things that make us beautifully different, this movie interviews people from all walks of life in an attempt to foster understanding, especially for LGBTQIA+ teens. 

Out in the Silence (2009, Not Rated)
When a gay filmmaker’s wedding announcement causes controversy in his hometown, he returns to the town to help a teen who is being mercilessly bullied in school.

Paris is Burning (1990, Rated R)
Made over the course of seven years, this groundbreaking documentary explores the Black and Latine Harlem drag-ball scene, and the evolution of vogue culture in 1980s New York City.

The Queen of Ireland (2015, Not Rated)
Explores the life, art, and advocacy of Rory O’Neill, AKA Panti Bliss, an Irish drag queen and LGBTQIA+ activist.

Rebels on Pointe (2017, Not Rated)
Les Ballets Trockadero Monte Carlo is the world’s first-ever all-male drag ballet company, started on the heels of the Stonewall riots. This film shows the past and present of this notorious group. hellooooooo

Seahorse: the Dad Who Gave Birth (2019, Not Rated)
After years of soul-searching, a transgender man longing to start a family makes the choice to carry his own baby. This movie follows his pregnancy and birth and explores the tender universality of family.

To Be Takei (2014, Not Rated)
A look at the extraordinary life of trailblazing Star Trek actor George Takei, from his childhood in Japanese internment camps to his present-day life with husband Brad.

Transformer (2018, Not Rated)
A body-builder, record-holding power lifter, former Marine and father of three undergoes a gender transition and starts living her truth with a new name: Janae.

49 Pulses (2016, Not Rated)
Examines the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida—one of the worst shootings in U.S. history.

International LGBTQIA+ Films

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This list features LGBTQIA+ inclusive movies from all around the world!

Bad Education (Spanish, 2004, Rated R)
Follows two lifelong friends from the school where they each suffer sexual abuse, and throughout their lives, exploring how this violence colors their experiences.

Being 17 (French, 2016, Not Rated)
Two teen boys, initially rivals, are forced by unseen circumstances to live together, and must navigate their budding attraction to one another.bad edu

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (German, 1972, Not Rated)
Two women form a complicated love triangle with the eccentric fashion designer Petra von Kant when they move into her apartment.

The Cakemaker (Hebrew, 2017, Not Rated)
After his lover dies in a car crash, a young German baker moves to Jerusalem and helps his lover’s widow revitalize her café with his baking. But how long can he lie about who he is?

End of the Century (Spanish, 2019, Not Rated)
Two men encounter one another over and over in what appear to be a series of coincidences. But as they begin a love affair, they find they might be drawn together by destiny.

A Fantastic Woman (Spanish, 2017, Rated R)
Marina, a transgender waitress and nightclub singer, copes with the loss of her boyfriend and with the scrutiny his death brings upon her.

Fire (Indian, 1996, Not Rated)fire
Banned in India upon release, this was the first Indian film to explore a lesbian relationship. Trapped in loveless marriages, Sita and Radha find comfort and love in their increasingly close relationship.

Greta (Portuguese, 2019, Not Rated)
To secure a hospital bed for his dying friend, an elderly gay nurse sneaks a convict out of the hospital and begins to care for him in his apartment.

The Handmaiden (Korean, 2016, Not Rated)
A Korean woman (secretly working for a con man) is employed as a handmaiden to a wealthy Japanese lady, but falls in love with her even as she’s trying to rob her.

Hazlo Como Hombre (Spanish, 2017, Rated R)
Three lifelong friends have their world rocked when one of them comes out as gay. Initially hesitant, the other two help their friend embrace his new life.

Heartstone (Icelandic, 2016, Not Rated)no way jose
Two boys come of age one summer in a remote fishing town. One, Thor, falls in love with a girl while the other, Christian, falls in love with Thor.

Jitters (Icelandic, 2010, Not Rated)
A first kiss with a boy one summer abroad causes Gabriel to realize he is gay. Returning home, he faces scrutiny from his family, and things get more complicated when his summer crush reappears.

José (Spanish, 2018, Not Rated)
Growing up in a conservative, religious city and with an overprotective mother, José doesn’t think he’ll ever come out. But when he meets the gentle Luis, a world of new possibilities opens up.

Kanarie (Afrikaans, 2019, Not Rated)
At the height of South African Apartheid, a young man must serve his compulsory military training in the South African Defense Force Choir and Concert Group.

Knife + Heart (French, 2018, Not Rated)la cage
When porn producer Anne is dumped by her girlfriend, she vows to win her back by making an extravagant new film with a flamboyant gay man. But her plan has scary consequences…

La Cage Aux Folles (French, 1978, Rated R)
A gay couple must fool their son’s ultra-conservative new father-in-law by using their drag skills to disguise one of them as a woman. But how long can they keep up the disguise?

Mom + Mom (Italian, 2018, Not Rated)
A young lesbian couple desperately want a child, and go through many trials and tribulations trying to have one. Based on the director’s true-life experiences.

No Dress Code Required (Spanish, 2017, Not Rated)
Victor and Fernando want to get married in their small hometown of Mexicali, Mexico, but must overcome countless legal and social hurdles to do so.

North Sea Texas (Dutch, 2011, Not Rated)portrait of a lady
A teenage boy, Pim, falls in love with the boy who lives next door to him.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (French, 2019, Rated R)
A young woman is hired to secretly paint the bridal portrait of a wealthy lady recently released from a convent. As they spend time together, their friendship grows into collaboration and love.

Santa & Andres (Spanish, 2016, Not Rated)
In Eastern Cuba, a young girl is assigned to stand guard at the house of a blacklisted author for three days. But as they spend time together, they realize they have a lot in common.

Spa Night (Korean, 2016, Not Rated)
A young man starts working at a spa and, seeing gay customers there, begins to consider his own sexuality. He struggles to balance being true to himself with pleasing his traditional, conservative family.

Stranger by the Lake (French, 2013, Not Rated)
While on vacation, Franck falls madly in love with the mysterious Michel. But when a murder occurs, the men’s affair makes them the prime suspects.

Summertime (French, 2015, Not Rated)tom of finland
During the early feminist movement of the 1970s, Carol and Delphine fall in love. But when Carol is called home to the countryside, she must choose between love and duty to her family.

Thelma (Norwegian, 2017, Not Rated)
A shy young woman leaves home for college, but while there begins to suffer terrible seizures. She must cope with her burgeoning feelings for another girl as well as budding supernatural abilities.

Tom of Finland (Finnish, 2018, Not Rated)
The true-life story of the titular artist, from his time serving in WWII, to his struggles with repressive 1950s Finnish society, to the triumph of his art during the sexual revolution of the 70s.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Chinese, 2013, Not Rated)
A married doctor bumps into an old friend at a party, which awakens repressed feelings. Yearning to be more true to himself, he begins to look for true love.

The Witnesses (French, 2008, Not Rated)will you still
At the dawn of the AIDS crisis in France, the lives of a writer, her boyfriend, a renowned doctor, and a handsome young gay man all unexpectedly intersect.

Xenia (Greek, 2014, Not Rated)
After the untimely death of their mother, two brothers, Dany and Ody, travel across the countryside of Greece to find their estranged father.

XXY (Spanish, 2008, Not Rated)
Alex, an intersex teenager, begins to develop feelings for the son of a family friend. But to protect her from the prejudice of others, her family decides to move from Buenos Aires to a small, remote town.

LGBTQIA+ Comedies

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This list of films features movies that celebrate LGBTQIA+ friendship, love, laughter, and joy.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994, Rated R)
An aging drag queen named Bernadette relives her glory days on a road trip through the Australian desert with her friends.

Anchor and Hope (2017, Not Rated)
The idyllic life of a young lesbian couple is interrupted when one’s mother demands a grandchild. The couple and a male friend contemplate p17043_p_v10_acmaking a baby.

Battle of the Sexes (2017, Rated PG-13)
Based on the real-life match between tennis stars Billie-Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and the events in their lives that led up to the match.

The Birdcage (1996, Rated R)
A middle-aged gay couple has their lives turned upside-down when their son decides to marry the daughter of a conservative senator.

Booksmart (2019, Rated R)
Two high school best friends realize that their devotion to academics has made them miss out on some milestones. Together they try to cram four years of partying into one night before graduation.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005, Rated R)
Kitten Braden, a foundling raised in an Irish rectory, leaves Ireland for London to start a new life as nightclub singer.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, Rated R)
Tells the story of Hedwig, a genderqueer person who flees East Germany just as the Berlin Wall is about to fall, and tries to live a loud and glamorous rock and roll life.

I Love You, Phillip Morris (2009, Rated R)
After being arrested for a string of crimes, con man Steven falls in love with a prison inmate named Phillip. In order to build the perfect life for hedwigthem, Steven goes on another crime spree.

Ideal Home (2018, Not Rated)
A bickering gay couple, Paul and Erasmus, is thrown for a loop when a boy shows up on their doorstep claiming to be Erasmus’s grandson.

In and Out (1997, Rated PG-13)
After being outed by one of his students, a high school teacher struggles to conform to typical masculinity.

The Kids Are All Right (2010, Rated R)
Nic and Jules have two children and marriage that has lasted twenty years. As their oldest daughter prepares to go to college, the couple get in contact with the sperm donor who fathered their kids.

Kinky Boots (2005, Rated PG-13)
A straight-laced shoemaker enlists performer Lola to save his family business by making flamboyant stilettos for drag performers.

Lez Bomb (2018, Rated TV-14)
A young woman goes home for Thanksgiving, planning to come out to her family, but her family also has some surprises up their sleeves.love simon

Love, Simon (2018, Rated PG-13)
Simon is a closeted high-schooler, worried about coming out to his family and friends, and wondering which of his classmates is his anonymous online crush.

Never Goin’ Back (2018, Rated R)
Two high school dropouts run away from home and become waitresses to save for a beach trip. But saving turns out to be tough when life—especially nightlife—gets in the way.

Papi Chulo (2018, Rated R)
Sean, a lonely gay weatherman, hires Mexican migrant worker Ernesto to be his friend. Their friendship crosses borders of race, language, and sexuality.

Pride (2014, Rated R)
In the summer of 1984, gay activists in the U.K. help miners during their extended strike on the National Union of Mineworkers. Based on a true story.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, Rated R)
An “ordinary” couple, stranded in a storm, seek refuge in a castle where they meet Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist building Rocky, the perfect man.

Saving Face (2004, Rated R)saving face
A closeted lesbian must balance a relationship with her boss’s daughter and with housing her pregnant mother, who has been disowned by her parents.

Tangerine (2015, Rated R)
After being released from prison on Christmas Eve, sex worker Sin-Dee hears that her boyfriend has been unfaithful. She and her friend travel through L.A. to get to the bottom of things.

That’s Not Us (2015, Not Rated)
Three couples travel to a beach house for an end-of-summer getaway, only to find tension simmering among the group.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995, Rated PG-13)
Three drag queens on a cross-country road trip get stranded in a sleepy Midwestern town, and shake up the locals with their colorful personalities.

Victor, Victoria (1982, Rated PG)
Victoria, a cabaret singer, rises to fame with an act where she pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman. But things get complicated when she meets the man of her dreams.

Staff Picks June 2021

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Maurice
maurice againA sweeping and deeply romantic gay love story, based on the final novel by E.M. Forster. Maurice, a young upper-class man in Edwardian England, must come to terms with his homosexuality and his feelings for a schoolmate in a time when such a love is not only unheard of, but illegal. All the cutting social commentary and lush, breathtaking romance of a Jane Austen story, with an LGBT twist for Pride month!

CD: No Shape by Perfume Geniusno shape
Mike Hadreas (better known by his stage name, Perfume Genius) devotes his fourth album to his longtime boyfriend and the love that they have shared, as well as themes of radical self-love. It is a dreamy, fantastical, almost transcendent album, and the music will transport you somewhere beautiful. Standout tracks include “Slip Away” and “Just Like Love.”

 

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Fast Five

faster fiveFun and over-the-top, this installment in the series is part car movie and part heist movie.  The characters are what set this series apart from other car movies.

Audiobook: Less by Andrew Sean Greer less cd
This book is one of the few humorous titles to win a Pulitzer!  To avoid truly accepting that his ex is marrying someone else, Arthur travels the world and has humorous mishaps.

 

John’s Picks

DVD: King of Queens
A classic late-90s/early-2000’s family sitcom often overshadowed by the likes of Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves king of queensRaymond, and The Office. This lineup of comedic all-stars included Kevin James, Leah Remini, Patton Oswalt, and of course, the late Jerry Stiller who’s eccentric character, Arthur Spooner, added so much to the storyline. Stiller once commented that this role tested him more than any other.  No longer competing in the primetime, this series is certainly deserving of a fresh look.

CD: False Alarm by Two Door Cinema Club false alarm
The fourth album by the Irish indie rock band delivers a new electric (almost disco-esque) feel—a style much different from the band’s earlier punk vibes. Just a colorful, feel-good album by a fun band. Their earlier albums are certainly worth a listen to as well, especially Tourist History.

 

Kim’s Picks

DVD: Scream and Scream Again
In 1970 this British horror/sci-fi film was considered too disjointed to warrant praise, and Roger Ebert gave it a negative scream and screamreview.  It did make money, however, and nowadays is reckoned something of a mini-masterpiece, an opaque or at least translucent piece of moviemaking applauded by master director Fritz Lang (Metropolis, The Big Heat).  Film historian Tim Lucas provides sharp commentary that illuminates the shenanigans involving composites (read cyborgs) who Vincent Price contends will become a super race, “but not an evil super race.”  Side-note: Price was born on May 27, while two other stars of the film, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, were born on May 27 and May 26, respectively.  How deliciously weird is that?

CD: Cinema Rhapsodies: The Musical Genius of Victor Young
Unless it is MGM house composer Herbert Stothart (Mutiny on the Bounty, Northwest Passage, Mrs. Miniver) the most cinema rhapsodiesunsung movie soundtrack composer of Hollywood’s Golden Age is Victor Young even though in his time he was reckoned the greatest and most prolific of melody makers.  Among his 22 Academy Award-nominated scores include those for My Foolish Heart, Around the World in 80 Days, Samson and Delilah, Shane, East of Eden, The High and the Mighty, and Written on the Wind.  The Uninvited (1944) featured Young’s popular and award-nominated tune, “Stella by Starlight.”  As this roster demonstrates, he was adept at composing for films in various genres.  These movies and more are represented on this CD.

 

Mary’s Picks

DVD: How to Be a Latin Lover
how to be a latin loverEugenio Derbez creates a surprisingly likable and almost heartwarming comedic character, his delivery is priceless. This movie is pretty silly, but really made me laugh.

Audiobook: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams why we sleepby Matthew Walker  
A must read for everyone. Fascinating and enlighteningly insights on many aspects related to sleeping. Very well researched. In short, make sure you get a full night’s sleep!

 

Stephanie’s Picks

DVD: Young Adult
young adultRaw and honest, funny yet uncomfortable to watch at times, Young Adult is the story of a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart.

Audiobook: I See You see youby Clare Mackintosh 
In this psychological thriller, danger lurks around every corner. You won’t want to stop listening.

LGBTQIA+ Dramas

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This list of films features serious stories of LGBTQIA+ love, tragedy, and triumph.

Albert Nobbs (2011, Rated R)
In 1890s Ireland, a woman chooses to live as a man to earn a living. After 20 years of living this way, Albert Nobbs is confronted with a problem that will alter the course of his life.

Ammonite (2020, Rated R)
Acclaimed paleontologist Mary Anning agrees to care for a tourist’s wife to earn extra money, and ends up falling in love with her. angels in america

Angels in America (2003, Not Rated)
In New York City, 1985, a young gay man afflicted with AIDS is given a message from heaven: he is to be a prophet. His life, and the lives of friends and strangers, are changed forever.

Beach Rats (2017, Rated R)
A Brooklyn teen with a bleak home life navigates his identity, struggling with friends, a budding relationship with a girlfriend, and online relationships with men.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2019, Rated PG-13)
This movie tracks the rise to stardom of iconic rock band Queen and its lead singer Freddie Mercury, from the band’s genesis to their once in a lifetime performance at LIVE AID.

Boy Erased (2018, Rated R)
Jared Eamons is outed to his Baptist parents and, fearing the loss of their love, enters conversion therapy. While there, he butts heads with its leader and begins to explore what he really wants.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999, Rated R)
Outed to his ex’s brother, trans teen Brandon runs away from home. Taking refuge in a small town, he falls in love with a singer, but his plans for a future are threatened by her violent friends.

The Boys in the Band (1970, Rated R)brokeback mountain
Harold’s birthday party goes off the rails when his friend Michael brings some unexpected guests, who play a game that raises tensions and unearths violent emotions.

Brokeback Mountain (2006, Rated R)
In a remote Wyoming town in 1963, two men are thrown together after taking a job watching sheep in the wilderness. There they kindle a love that alters the course of their lives.

Carol (2015, Rated R)
In 1950s Manhattan, young clerk Therese falls in love with the older, enigmatic Carol, a woman trapped in a marriage of convenience.

The Danish Girl (2015, Rated R)
Two artists navigate the changes in their love and marriage as one of them, Lili, transitions.

Disobedience (2017, Rated R)fingersmith
A woman returns to the community that shunned her for her same-sex attraction, and rekindles the affair that she was shunned for, exploring the boundaries of faith and desire.

Fingersmith (2005, Not Rated)
A young woman raised among thieves agrees to spy on a wealthy heiress, only to find herself falling in love with her.

God’s Own Country (2017, Not Rated)
A young Englishman stuck in a downward spiral starts an affair with a Romanian migrant worker that sparks deep change in his life.

Gods and Monsters (1998, Rated R)
At the end of his life, renowned horror director James Whale kindles a friendship with his handsome young gardener. But will his blossoming love be requited?

The Hours (2002, Rated PG-13)maurice
The lives of three women intersect over the course of one day: in 1929 Virginia Woolf is writing a novel, in 1951 housewife Laura is reading the novel, and in 2001 Clarissa is living the novel.

Maurice (1987, Rated R)
A young man in Edwardian England must come to terms with his homosexuality and his feelings for his close friends and schoolmate.

Milk (2008, Rated R)
Based on the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever to be elected to office in the United States.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018, Not Rated)
Sent to a conversion therapy camp after being caught with another girl, Cameron post finds herself forming a family with the other teens who aremoonlight trapped there.

Moonlight (2016, Rated R)
A young black man comes of age in a rough Miami neighborhood.

My Own Private Idaho (1991, Rated R)
Mike, an orphaned narcoleptic, and Scott, the son of wealthy parents, hitchhike across the Pacific Northwest in search of Mike’s mother, and themselves.

The Normal Heart (2014, Rated TV-MA)
At the dawn of the AIDS crisis in New York, a couple struggle as one of them is afflicted with AIDS, and the medical community struggles to advocate for those afflicted to an America in denial.

Pariah (2012, Rated R)
Alike, a Brooklyn teen with a love for poetry, wonders whether she should come out to her family as a lesbian.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017, Rated R)rocketman poster
Based on the true story of psychologist William Marston, and the polyamorous relationship between him, his wife, and his mistress, which inspired him to create the comic book hero Wonder Woman.

Rocketman (2019, Rated R)
A musical based on the life of rock legend Sir Elton John, his rise to fame and struggles with love and substance abuse.

Shelter (2007, Rated R)
Zach is stuck in dead-end jobs to support his sister, but when his best friend’s brother arrives home for the summer, he finds himself drawn to him, and finds a brighter future in their love.

Soldier’s Girl (2003, Rated R)
A young army private falls in love with a transgender nightclub singer, but their relationship ignites the anger and violence of his homophobic friends.

Summerland (2020, Rated PG)tipping the velvet
At the height of WWII, a reclusive writer names Alice takes in a London war evacuee, and finds they have more in common than she thought.

Tipping the Velvet (2002, Not Rated)
The story of a lesbian love affair kindled in the colorful world of 1890s music halls.

Wilde (1997, Rated R)
Based on the true story of renowned author Oscar Wilde, his successful writing career which meets an unfortunate end because of a then-illegal same-sex affair.

1985 (2018, Not Rated)
A closeted gay man coping with the height of the AIDS crisis returns to his hometown and religious parents.

The League of Alternate Superstars: Jean Simmons

Jean Simmons (1929 – 2010) was the fifth member of the unofficial quintet that might be lauded as the “Beautiful British Brunettes of the 50s.”  Think Joan Collins, Dana Wynter, Claire Bloom and Elizabeth Taylor.  All made their mark on the international scene, and it is debatable if even Taylor had more good roles than Simmons.

In The Great Stars:  The International Years, David Shipman said Simmons:

“…has always been taken for granted.  As a child player in Britain she was expected to be one of the best child players and she was; she was expected to become a big international name and she did.  In Hollywood for over twenty years she was given good roles because she was reliable, great-expectations_p7nHhfand she played them, or most of them, beautifully, and got good notices, and was liked.”

Nevertheless, Simmons didn’t receive a Best Actress Academy Award nomination until 1969.  “Maybe it doesn’t help to have been so good so young,” opined Shipman.

Simmons was born in London’s Islington district and tasted showbiz during World War II by singing on the stage in Winscombe.  A vocal cinematic moment occurred in the war film The Way to the Stars (1945) when Simmons jumped onto a table in the local dance-hall and let loose with “Let him Go Let him Tarry.”  As Shipman observed, it was sung “with great aplomb…”

Back in London after the war, she was spotted by novice but perceptive director Val Guest.  (Guest would later demonstrate a knack for the semi-documentary look he brought to such films as The Quatermass Xperiment, Hell is a City, and The Day the Earth Caught Fire.)

In 1945 Simmons was signed to a 7-year contact by Gabriel Pascal.  Playing the young Estella in David Lean’s critically acclaimed film version of Great Expectations boosted her fledgling career, and in 1948 the role of Ophelia in Olivier’s Best Picture-winning Hamlet brought her a Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination.  The Venice Film Festival gave her the Best Actress award.  She was now a star.  According to Shipman, esteemed writer and perspicacious critic James Agee commented that Simmons was “the only person in the picture who gives every one of herJeanHamleta lines the bloom of poetry and the immediacy of ordinary life.”  Terrence Rafferty’s reappraisal of the film for The Criterion Collection praised the actress:  “18-year-old Jean Simmons is the loveliest, most heartbreaking Ophelia you’ll ever see.”

At mid-century Simmons was, as Shipman observed, younger than her contemporary British leading ladies as well as “warmer, gayer.”

Simmons and husband Stewart Granger, perhaps the Pitt-Jolie of their time, went Hollywood, Granger to MGM for such high-end follow-ups to King Solomon’s Mines (1950) as remakes of Scaramouche and The Prisoner of Zenda, both 1952.  Britain’s Rank Organisation sold Simmons’ contract to RKO, a mixed blessing because at that time the U.S. studio was owned by eccentric billionaire and womanizer Howard Hughes.  Attempting to prey on Simmons, Hughes was told by Granger in no uncertain roads to back off or else.

Pascal produced Simmons’ first U.S. film, Androcles and the Lion (1952), with Victor Mature.  For her next RKO film, Angel Face, director Otto Preminger received orders by Hughes to have costar Robert Mitchum slap Simmons around in an important scene.  (Lee Server, Mitchum’s biographer, wrote, “Inflamed by Hughes’s fetishist dictates concerning her hairstyle, Simmons had abruptly taken a pair of shears and hacked off her rich dark locks till what remained was a variation on the hairdo worn by Stooge Moe Howard.  Wigs had to be quickly prepared to disguise the damage.”)

Mitchum honored the Hughes-inspired directive until Simmons was a wreck, whereupon he threatened or actually did slap Preminger.  Even if it was a threat, it spurred the director to ask Hughes to fire the actor. That didn’t happen. Mitchum was RKO’s biggest star.

JeanHomeaEven if he’d been fired, Mitchum’s mantra was always “Baby, I don’t care.” One wonders if his relationship with Simmons was similar to the compatible one he shared with Deborah Kerr with whom as with Simmons he made three films. He always let Kerr have first billing.

Hughes continued to take revenge by not loaning Simmons to Paramount for 1953’s Roman Holiday. Audrey Hepburn got the role and an Academy Award. It is easy to picture Simmons as the seemingly demure but adventuresome princess.

Nevertheless, 1953 was a banner year for Simmons.  An out-of-court settlement set her freed her from Hughes and RKO.  In MGM’s Young Bess she played the youthful Queen Elizabeth I while Granger popped in as Thomas Seymour. Simmons was top-billed over Granger, Deborah Kerr (as Catherine Parr), and Charles Laughton (reprising the title role that had won him an Academy Award for The Private Life of Henry VIII in 1933). The previously mentioned Angel Face became a film noir classic. In The Actress Simmons was the stage-struck daughter of a flustered father played by Spencer Tracy. (According to Shipman, in The Spectator Virginia Graham called Simmons “adolescence personified.”)  The least of the films Simmons made that year was Affair with a Stranger but the biggest and greatest success was Fox’s The Robe, another costume drama and the first film in CinemaScope. Many Brits, male and female, congregated in historical pageants, and Simmons was one of those. See, for instance, Androcles JeanSpartacusaand the Lion, Desiree, The Egyptian, and Spartacus.

Casting against type.  Simmons was teamed twice with Marlon Brando, both demonstrating their versatility, she resplendent in Desiree (1954) as the vivacious youthful paramour of Brando’s Napoleon, and Guys and Dolls (1955) in which Simmons’ mission as Salvation Army Sergeant Sarah Brown was to reform big city gamblers. Brando and Simmons did their own singing and a bit of dancing. It was a big success. In The Musical Film, author Douglas McVay, normally a harsh critic, commended Guys and Dolls as “the year’s most entertaining work in the genre….” As for the cast, the prize goes to Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, as Sky Masterson the gambler and Sarah Brown the Salvationist. All their sequences together are a joy:  their opening meeting; their duet “I’ll Know When My Love Comes Along;” their evening out at the Havana bistro, where Sarah, whom crafty Sky has primed to the back teeth with “Bacardi milk shakes,” lets herself go in Dionysiac dance; her tipsily ecstatic ditty “If I were a Bell;” and their duet of “A Woman in Love,” back in the unaccustomed tranquility of a Manhattan dawn.  Marlon acts splendidly—but Jean has the better voice!

In a sense the entire 1950s was an admirable era for Simmons, and ending the decade and beginning the next was special.  The Big Country (1958) was an epic western with a stellar cast of which Simmons was second billed behind Gregory Peck and ahead of Charlton Heston.  According to Shipman, Peck said Simmons “was an exception among leading ladies: ‘There’s a girl who has managed to succeed in a profession that has destroyed femininity’.”  Elmer Gantry (1960) featured her as an evangelist latched onto by a conman.  As the title character, Burt Lancaster won an Academy Award.  (Shipman thought her work in Gantry was “simply stunning.”  A personal outcome was Simmons’ marriage in 1960 to Gantry director Richard Brooks.  Her marriage to Granger had ended earlier that year.)  In Spartacus (1960) Simmons was Varinia, the slave girl and mate of the title character played by Kirk Douglas.  Giving previously blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo screenwriting credit, Douglas pushed the envelope further by coaxing Simmons into a nude swim scene—mostly cut from the final print.  (Somehow Simmons escaped doing “cheesecake” JeanBigapublicity shots for her entire career.)  The Grass is Greener (1960) was a modern comedy of manners but hardly appealing to a mass audience despite the world-beating cast of Cary Grant, Simmons, Kerr and, if you can believe it, Robert Mitchum.

Really good roles were becoming rarer for her and contemporary co-star Deborah Kerr by the late 60s.  A notable exception was All the Way Home (1963), the film version of James Agee’s A Death in the Family.  Simmons turned to TV.  Most notoriously, she appeared in the TV movie Heidi in 1968.  The Oakland Raiders-New York Jets football game had not finished up by the scheduled 7 p.m. EST and NBC cut away. On the East Coast viewers missed a two-touchdown comeback by Oakland that gave them the victory.  The public was vociferous in its displeasure.

Back on the big screen in The Happy Ending (1969), Simmons finally had a plum role that garnered a Best Actress Academy Award nomination.  Some of Simmons’ other accolades included the 1953 National Board of Review’s Best Actress award for her work in The Actress, The Robe, and Young Bess. She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Guys and Dolls (1955).  On TV she received the Primetime Emmy Award Best Actress for The Thorn Birds (1983).

After a career worthy of note and breaking the “10-year-rule” by playing leading roles in quality films for more than two decades, Simmons died at the age of 80 in 2010.

References

McVay, Douglas.  The Musical Film. 1967.

Rafferty, Terrence.  Hamlet.  Criterion Collection, September 18, 2000.

Server, Lee.  Robert Mitchum:  “Baby, I Don’t Care.”  2001.

Shipman, David.  The Great Stars:  The International Years.  1972.

New Releases

MoviesRaya and the Last Dragon
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Little Things
Roe V. Wade
Sometime Other Than Now
Trances
The Virtuoso
Looking For Life On Mars
Land
The Marksman
The Mauritanian
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry
The Father
Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
Minari
The Nest
Raya and the Last Dragon
Tom & Jerry: The MovieAtlantic Crossing
Above Suspicion
Cosmic Sin
Flowers of Shanghai
Supernova
Influence
Kinky Boots
Sheep Without A Shepherd
Shadow Lines season 1

TV Series
Atlantic Crossing
The Mallorca Files series 1
A Suitable Boy
The Alienist season 2: Angel of Darkness
The Salisbury Poisonings
Star Trek: Lower Decks season 1
Supernatural season 15
Every Star Above Mandy Barnett
Music
Every Star Above by Mandy Barnett
Working Woman by Grace Pettis
Detritus by Sarah Neufeld
Body Language by Blake Shelton
Wink by Chai

Audiobooks
21st Birthday by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer
The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews
That Summer by Jennifer Weiner