Closeted Mormons. A Rock Hudson lookalike. A fluffer. An English English professor. They all make appearances in this collection of gay movies based in Los Angeles, a city where identities are malleable, dreams are made (and dashed), and the men are fast and loose. Well, some of them, at least. Others charge. Because, oh yes, there's no shortage of hustlers here (according to the flicks that are generated from La-La Land).
1. A SINGLE MAN (2009): Colin Firth received critical praise (and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor) for his portrayal of English professor trying to live life while still mourning his dead lover in this Tom Ford-directed film that transports viewers to the Los Angeles of the 1960s. You've probably already seen this one, but it's worth viewing again. Also, composer Abel Korzeniowski's soundtrack is wonderful work music. Just a tip.
2. LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR (2011): Viewers get a sense of the West Coast ballroom scene in this musical. When it debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival two years ago, The Hollywood Reporter said "the performers are so dynamic that we buy into an ancient musical convention that has fallen out of fashion," and predicted Leave It On The Floor "could develop cult status." Help make that prediction come true.
3. HUSTLER WHITE (1996): 1996 was a big year for gay-themed hustler movies. In addition to this Bruce La Bruce flick, there was Johns and Skin & Bone, but Hustler White wins out because it's not as over-the-top and preachy as its peers. While grit and grime are included, La Bruce made sure to include some of his signature satire and self-examination. Plus, it's far sexier than the others.
4. LATTER DAYS (2003): A romantic comedy about a Mormon who discovers his sexuality, and true love, in Los Angeles has plenty of drama — bike accidents! anti-gay treatment camps! faked deaths! — but enough heart to deserve some respect. The always-watchable Joseph Gordon Levitt makes a cameo.
5. CIRCUIT(2001): Depending on your point of view, this film about an Illinois cop who falls into LA's circuit scene is either a cautionary tale or hysteria-infused schlock.
6. LEATHER JACKET LOVE STORY (1997): Horror director David DeCoteau tried out a whole new genre with this rough and artful story of a poet who falls for a leather daddy.
7. THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB (2000): This big-hearted romantic comedy boasts a pretty well-rounded, well-known cast: post-Lois and Clark Dean Cain, Timothy Olyphant, at that point famous for his roles in Scream 2 and The First Wives Club, and Andrew Keegan. Billy Porter, who just won a Tony for Kinky Boots, also appears in this film from Greg Berlanti, the writer/director who cut his teeth on Dawson's Creek before his more recent credits, including the television shows Political Animals and Arrow and the Green Lantern movie.
8. THE LIVING END (1992): It wouldn't be an gay L.A. rundown without at least one entry from Greg Araki, a director who sets many of his movies in Hollywoodland's shadows. This one concerns two HIV positive men — one a cop-shooting drifter, the other a straight-laced movie critic — who go on a road trip that's hilarious, horrifying, and touching.
9. ALL OVER THE GUY (2001): Even if the the toothache-inducing plot of two men trying to make it work weren't sweet enough, Doris Roberts, Dan Bucatinsky and Andrea Martin, the actress who played Hedwig's manager and whose role in Pippin won her a 2013 Tony, give their all in this movie and almost every viewer will find something to love.
10. HOLLYWOOD, JE T'AIME (2009): Writer/Director Jason Bushman puts a French twist on the already familiar story of a gay man trying to make it big in the city of Angels. Co-starring Chad Allen and Eric Debets, Hollywood, je t'aime was described by Variety as a "polished crowd-pleaser," a tag many gays in LA already hold.
11. GOING DOWN IN LA-LA LAND (2011): Another account of a man who finds porny trouble in the Hollywood Hills and learns that being a star isn't all it's cracked up to be. Noticing a theme here?
12. STRAIGHT-JACKET (2004): Fictional actor Guy Stone is clearly a stand-in for Rock Hudson in this Fifties-inspired romance about a closeted star who tries to balance his career with his sex drive. Shenanigans, antics, and comedic errors ensue.