April is showering home viewers with some terrific streaming options. From the eagerly anticipated second season of “Bridgerton” to one of the late Cloris Leachman’s last roles, here is a rundown of what to watch.
Available now on Netflix, Season Two of this hit series opens with the new season of balls and “diamonds,” as well as plenty of gossip and intrigue —all narrated by Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews in voiceover). The feminist Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) is having her debut and seeking a husband — against her will of course; she feels trapped by tradition and prefers her independence. Her eldest brother, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (out gay Jonathan Bailey) is the most eligible bachelor, but he is struggling to find anyone suitable until he meets Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), a new arrival who bewitches him. Of course, she is wary of his looks and charms, and has her own agenda — to marry off her younger sister, Edwina (Charithra Chandran), to English nobility. Meanwhile, the Featheringtons are anxious for a new Lord to arrive in their household and help them out of debt. The costumes are still colorful, and yes, that is Madonna’s “Material Girl” playing at one of the glamorous balls. “Bridgerton” still retains its charm, even if breakout star Regé-Jean Page from Season One has left the show.
Available now, “Jump Darling” is writer/director Phil Connell’s sensitive tale of Russell (Thomas Duplessie), a drag queen who escapes to his grandmother Margaret’s (Cloris Leachman) country house after breaking up with his boyfriend Justin (Andrew Bushell). Margaret and Russell develop a rhythm in their lives together. He finds work at a local gay bar and helps Margaret live at home — not in the eldercare facility her daughter insists on. Duplessie’s drag performances are a highlight and his budding romance with Zachary (Kwaku Adu-Poku) is sweet, but most viewers will appreciate the late Leachman’s delicate and sometimes foulmouthed performance here.
“100 Years of Men in Love: The Accidental Collection”
This charming documentary, now available on HERE TV, features a selection of the 3,200 vintage photographs of male-male couples that Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell have amassed over time. The images were published in their 2020 book, “Loving.” The photos, which were likely made between 1850-1950 (some are tintypes; many are undated) are lovely portraits of male intimacy — from a full embrace to subtler poses with fingers intertwined, or feet discretely touching, as well as more effusive affections as from a photo booth, or sharing an umbrella, and even kissing. While there are only a handful of images of Black or interracial couples — a sign of the times — the portraits offer voyeurs the opportunity to think about what the lives of these men from the past were like. Many shots feature guys in the military, and a few have notes or extensive stories, such as one about gay soldiers during WWII, or a couple that lived together after the war. The photographs are well curated, and writer/director David Millbern (who also narrates) peppers each section with quotes about love from gay writers, including James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Walt Whitman, among others. “100 Years of Men in Love” is a valentine to queer romance and same-sex desire.
“From the Journals of Jean Seberg”
Available on Kino Now, “From the Journals of Jean Seberg” is out gay filmmaker Mark Rappaport’s savvy 1995 documentary about Seberg’s ill-fated career. Picked from thousands of hopefuls to play the coveted screen role of Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger’s 1957 film, “Saint Joan,” Seberg is literally and figuratively burned in the process. (The film is a flop). As Seberg’s career is recounted by Mary Beth Hurt in astute, self-aware remarks paired with shrewdly edited clips, Rappaport comments on gender and sexuality while also providing lessons on filmmaking, toxic masculinity, and even politics. (Alas, too little is discussed about Seberg’s involvement with the Black Panther Party.) Nevertheless, “From the Journal of Jean Seberg” is a fascinating case study that contrasts the late actress with icons ranging from Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave to Clint Eastwood to provide critical thinking about how badly Hollywood treats women.
“To the Sea”
The Chilean film “To the Sea” (available April 26) depicts a romantic triangle as the adorable Vincente (Francisco Dañobeitía) becomes the object of affection of both Lorena (Ana Burgos), and her bi-curious and closeted partner, Diego (Marcelo Gutiérrez). The two men share an intimacy — a scene of them rolling a cigarette is full of sexual tension — that ends abruptly when Diego panics after a kiss. He tries to overcompensate by coming on strong with Lorena, but she becomes concerned about their relationship. This may be what drives Diego to have increasingly more explicit trysts with Vincente on the down low — but can Diego give Vincente what he wants? And as Lorena and Vincente get more acquainted, how will that impact the secret lovers? Director Marco Antonio Núñez creates an ethereal mood; the landscapes and environs are gorgeous. The script may be a bit thin, but when the trio sit around a campfire talking about love and sex — thinly disguising their real feelings — “To the Sea” gets at the complexities of the relationship it portrays.