The real Lee Israel, the celebrity profiler turned forger who died in 2014, was a more boastful figure than the sad-sack recluse Melissa McCarthy plays in Marielle Heller’s sympathetic biopic, especially when methodically detailing her brief, prolific criminal spree in the early 1990s.
Jennifer Gerber’s accomplished first feature emphasizes the disconnect between Pastor Eli and his Southern Baptist flock, which screenwriter Samuel Brett Williams details in a backstory about familial obligation and suppressed desires.
Focusing on Billy’s vulnerability as much as his flamboyance (Alex Lawther handles both with aplomb), Trudie Styler charts his hard-won maturation with sobering insights into his warring parents and fellow students cowed into obedience.
The Orwellian image of totalitarianism is bleak and urban, with thought police lurking around every corner. Sunny rural Cuba seems a world away, but in Carlos Lechuga’s delicate drama, ideological rigor has seeped into everyday life.
For all the outrageous cosplay and assless trunks on display, director Tristan Ferland Milewski is more interested in exploring the interior lives of gay men in Dream Boat, his sincere and reverent feature documentary debut.