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Our favourite things of 2013: Arts and Entertainment

Sun 22 Dec 2013 In: Entertainment

Never mind the dog bites and bee stings, here are our favourite things from the world of entertainment (with a slant towards our communities of course) in 2013! Films Behind The Candelabra We found the recreation of a type of gilded and affluent gay life aspired to by many gay men in the liberating, hedonistic '70s, here in New Zealand as well as in the USA, spot on. Beautifully filmed, what also stood out was some magnificent acting. Michael Douglas is quite wonderful as Liberace. He doesn't skip a beat. Matt Damon as his lover Scott Thorsten is even better, totally believable and compelling - while Rob Lowe almost steals the movie as a slimy drug- and cosmetic surgery-addled Hollywood doctor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower Best teen coming-of-age drama in AGES, for many reasons, but a key one was Ezra Miller Patrick, a too funny for words gay teenager who actually has a meaty storyline too. The film is based on a book by Stephen Chbosky which is a really good read by the way! With Every Heartbeat Thanks Out Takes for picking this HOT Swedish flick! We loved the instant attraction between Mia and Frida from the moment they met, and how it spilt over when, thanks to magic of movie-making, they ended up alone together, on an island! It’s rare to see mind-blowingly believable fireworks between two women on the big screen, but this film provides one of the most memorable lesbian first kisses in cinema. TV Orange is the New Black This is a show that has made many end of year lists, and deservedly so. Women's prison - hello! While it’s incredibly funny and sweet, the diversity is the best thing about this offering, with characters who are trans, butch and even ‘gay for the stay’. And guess what? Netflix has promised a new season next year! Wentworth Yes, ok another women's prison show. We can't help it, we love them. This Aussie offering (with a couple of Kiwi stars) is designed to be a contemporary reimagining of that classic Prisoner. Of course as prion shows go, this one is somewhat rougher and more violent than Orange is the New Black, and drips with drama! Um, and there is also the rather hot Nicole da Silva as lesbian inmate Franky Doyle. American Horror Story – Asylum Ok, creepy as hell, and not for the weak-stomached or faint hearted. A long way from Glee for creator Ryan Murphy! However this show is compelling! The most depressingly memorable storyline of the year goes to Lana Winters, a sixties lesbian trapped in a Catholic-run psychiatric institution. We shuddered as she suffered and delighted as she took revenge, even if it was all very tragic. A Place to Call Home We enjoyed the gay storyline in this drama much more than we did the one in Downton Abbey! Character James Bligh offers an interesting look at what life might have been like in the closet for a wealthy man in post-war Australia. Graham Norton So gay! So funny! So entertaining! So human! So spot on! This show provided some of the best laughs in 2013. Theatre and performance K' Rd Strip In a 90 minute blast of bravura dance, song and sensuality the Okareka Dance Company, centred on gay dancers Taane Mete and Tai Royal, powered through an unflinching tits and all, mythical and real, portrayal of New Zealand's gayest street. A magnificent ensemble piece, carefully structured and choreographed to play to each performer's strengths. Black Faggot Our content editor Jay Bennie is still raving about this play. "Black Faggot isn't merely brilliant, it's beyond brilliant," he said after the show, which he believes may well be the most poignantly hilarious show, on radio, TV, the movies, the net or on stage, that you'll see for a decade. Probably longer. Salon Mika An Auckland Pride Festival show you need to kick yourself if you missed. Like an untrustworthy ringmaster on heat Mika guided and manipulated the cast and audience alike through a series of brief stories - musical vignettes really - of the night, eye-catching noir gems of dubious lustre and deceptive motifs. Salon Mika was by turns sultry, sad, driven, passionate, funny, beguiling and unexpected. (On a side note, we can't wait for Auckland Pride 2014's offerings!) Books Chris Brickell's Two-By-Two The stunning latest work from the Mates and Lovers maestro includes 100 photos, many of them never before published, of pairs of New Zealand men from 1880 to 1960, everywhere from at work, to at home and play, to photographers' studios. The 120 copies which have been made so far have been beautifully hard bound in black cloth by Dutybound of Dunedin, a craft bookbinder - something extra special in the days of characterless e-books. Peter Taylor's Past My Expiry Date Peter Taylor did everything on his own terms this year, and went out with humour and grace. The gay Auckland icon’s final work is a must-read and you can find out how to get the e-book here or a hard copy here. Beth Ditto's Coal to Diamonds Ok, it's a really simple read, but well worth it to learn a bit more about the no-nonsense Gossip frontwoman and her screwed up life growing up somewhere in dirt poor Arkansas in the 90s. So many biographies these days are tamely written and totally devoid of interesting anecdotes – with the likes of squirrel eating going on (and no that’s not a euphemism) this one sure ain't! We must have missed the great gay novels this year (please fill us in if you read a good one!) but if you need something for the holidays, reader Peter Rickard recommends the Cut and Run series of books by Abigail Roux, which you can get through Amazon. He says they're what Jack Reacher would be like if Lee Child made him gay. Fun! Comedy Urzila Carlson We love Urzila Carlson's shows for how much she laughs at herself, actually enjoying her own jokes as much as the audience. In her 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival effort The Long Flight to Freedom we died a thousand timed from laughter as she told incredible tales about her life in South Africa, from lions in the carport to being forced to strip down to her undies at work. Yup, Urzila, you're still our favourite lesbetarian. Music Anika Moa’s Songs for Bubbas If you have little ones in your life, get this album. It’s so much fun! And how cool to have an album of music made by a Kiwi lesbian mum of twins! No other clear favourites this year, but among the albums on high rotate have been Savage’s Silence Yourself, Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, M.I.A.’s Matangi, David Bowie’s The Next Day, Haim’s Days Are Gone and Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City. Lorde also stole our hearts with Pure Heroine, while Beyonce’s surprise new album is an absolute showstopper! Our pop-loving contributor Chaz Harris says ARTPOP was a return to form for Lady Gaga. He’s also loved the soundtrack from the TV show Smash this year. Ok, ok, so what did we miss? Feel free to let us know your faves via Facebook, Twitter or email ( so we can let everyone else share in the good stuff! staff and readers - 22nd December 2013    

Credit: staff and readers

First published: Sunday, 22nd December 2013 - 9:00am

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