113. Weekend

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Movie: Weekend

Release Date: September 23, 2011

Director: Andrew Haigh

Starring: Tom Cullen, Chris New.

Tag Lines: “A (sort of) love story between two guys over a cold weekend in October.”

Relevance: In 2012, even though I was dating someone, my life was pretty uneventful. I worked. I spent time with my son. I listened to music. I watched movies. Thrilling, right? I spent many a night just chilling with Netflix and finishing off a bottle of wine. On one of those wild and crazy nights, scrolling through Netflix, I came across ‘Weekend.’ After reading the quick synopsis I decided to “press play.” Little did I know what a profound effect that little action would have on my life.

For ninety-seven minutes, I was completely riveted to the television screen. The movie was funny, charming, heartwarming and really, really sexy. I fell head over heels in love with the two male leads and became mesmerized by their story. The movie had a simple premise but it was so beautifully created and very realistic and relevant, especially to an openly gay man. It was refreshing to see gay characters on screen that weren’t 100% stereotypes and caricatures. I am not sure if the finished bottle of wine was partly to blame, but by the end of the film I was full on crying my eyes out.

As the movie credits were rolling and I was blowing my nose and drying my eyes, I was listening to one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard. I immediately jumped on my laptop, went to iTunes and looked for the soundtrack to the movie. I really, really wanted the song that was playing. To my chagrin, there was not a soundtrack available. I re-watched the credits to the movie and waited for list of songs played and was subtly given the name of John Grant. So jumping back to iTunes, I purchased “Marz” by John Grant. While it was downloading, I listened to other tracks from his album, “Queen of Denmark.” By the time the first song had downloaded, I had already listened to snippets of the other songs and hit “buy album.”

The rest of that night, besides re-watching ‘Weekend,’ I listened to “Queen of Denmark” over and over again. Similar to the movie, I laughed, cried and was mesmerized by John Grant’s beautiful baritone, haunting music and biting, humorous lyrics. The album eventually became my second favorite album of 2012, second only to Madonna’s “MDNA” which was released that March. I instantly became a fan of Mr. Grant and have remained one to this day. Both “Queen of Denmark” and his sophomore release “Pale Green Ghosts” remain two of my favorite albums of all time. Again. art begets more art.

‘Weekend’ remained one of my favorite movies that year and I watched it over and over again until Netflix removed it from its streaming service. Once it was gone, I was thankful that I still had John Grant’s music to fill the void and remind me of the film’s beauty. In 2014, I started watching a show on HBO called “Looking.” I was pleased to see that the writer and director of ‘Weekend,’ Andrew Haigh, was also its creator. It ended up being one of my all time favorite series, albeit much too short lived. Again, like ‘Weekend,’ it portrayed gay men as human beings with real problems and situations. For that I am very thankful to Mr. Haigh, an openly gay man himself. I will forever be thankful for his film ‘Weekend’ for entertaining me, breaking my heart and introducing me to John Grant. I am forever indebted.

Today’s Thoughts: “Because they shove it down our throats all the time: Being straight. Straight story lines on television, everywhere – in books, on billboards, magazines, everywhere. But, ah, the gays, the gays…’We mustn’t upset the straights. Shh. Watch out. Straights are coming. Let’s not upset them. Let’s hide in our little ghettos. Let’s not hold hands. Let’s not kiss in the street, no.'”

‘Weekend’ was by far my favorite film that was released in 2011 (even though I saw it in 2012) and I couldn’t wait to re-watch this raw, beautiful, sexually charged love story again today. To prepare, I listened to John Grant’s “Queen of Denmark” album. After track twelve was finished, I felt that I was emotionally prepared for the film. I was wrong.

I have watched ‘Weekend’ many times over the past decade or so, and each time I am gutted beyond repair. I can’t help it. I just get so attached to the two lead characters and want so badly for them to be together. See, I really am a true romantic at heart.

I absolutely love this film. Everything about it is smart, perceptive, heartfelt and sentimental without ever becoming sappy. It is beautifully written and directed by Andrew Haigh with two out of this world performances by Tom Cullen and Chris New. The chemistry the two of them have on screen is palpable. That final scene at the train station is devastating. The tears start falling immediately and don’t stop until John Grant’s voice fades over the end credits. This is a true “Kleenex” movie.

It is also a true “penis” movie. It may come as no surprise that a movie about a weekend hook-up has some sex scenes with full male frontal nudity. Again, is it silly I started counting penises on this list? Absolutely. But my point was to show how sexist Hollywood is in regards to the exploitation of women versus men. Out of 253 movies watched so far, only fourteen have shown a willy or two. You can check out the thirteen previous willies here: 120. Sex and the City, 133. Porky’s, 139. Trainspotting, 144. Fargo, 183. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 199. Six Degrees of Separation, 209. The Fisher King, 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.

‘Weekend’ is a movie that comes highly recommended regardless of your sexual preferences or identity. It will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think and will possibly introduce you to John Grant’s music. So today’s lesson is watch the movie and listen to John Grant. Repeat if necessary.

Awards: British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production (winner), British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Tom Cullen (winner).

Ways to Watch: Sling TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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