The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin celebrates one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives.
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★★★★½ review by brittany on Letterboxd
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin is a beautifully made documentary about a man who has broken a multitude of barriers in terms of telling LGBT stories through multiple mediums. First a newspaper column, then a series of novels, then 3 mini-series' based on those novels. For over 40 years now, Maupin has told stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters living life, with their own stories to tell, rather than being props. The characters search for love, they find new family in the friends that they meet, they are complex and deeply human.
Maupin's life story is told in a whimsical, colourful, and funny way, but the film doesn't shy away from the dark themes in his childhood. It all amounts to a spectacular tale of a truly fascinating life.
The interviews by Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Ian McKellen, Margaret Cho, Amanda Palmer, and many others add a lot of depth and colour to the story.
Leaving the theatre afterward, you have a sense to want to tell your own story, to feel proud of who you are, to feel grateful that storytellers like Armistead Maupin exist.
Now, I want to rewatch Tales of the City yet again.
★★★★ review by Matt Shiverdecker on Letterboxd
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★★★★★ review by Willowaelfin on Letterboxd
It was 2 years ago that I saw my last Jennifer Kroot documentary "To Be Takei", a film that I absolutely love and so I was so excited to see her take on another gay icon in Armistead Maupin and it's if anything possibly even better.
Armistead's work has had a profound effect on the entire gay community and on myself personally. I was 16 when I read "Tales of the City" and besides it being one of the first positive portrayals of people like me that I had ever seen, it instilled in me a lifelong (still unrequited) dream to live Mary Ann's San Francisco.
The film uses a "Tales of the City" like short story structure, grouping different parts of the author's life into themes. There are some real surprises too, like his being a young conservative soldier who was proud to meet Richard Nixon, also how his first job was working for a man who would become a Senator who fought hard against gay rights. It also delves into his relationship with Rock Hudson and the fallout he copped for "outing" Hudson after his death.
What makes this documentary so wonderful though is how warm and engaging a person Armistead is. He seems to genuinely want to share his stories and knows exactly what it means to our community for him to share them. He is witty, funny and overwhelmingly sincere and it's a real pleasure to hear him tell stories. There is also a chorus of voices who either have a personal friendship with Armistead or who have been affected by his work. These include the always wonderful Laura Linney who played his most famous character, Mary-Ann Singleton in the "Tales of the City" mini-series who tells a wonderful story about how they helped soothe each other's broken hearts while in the middle of the San Fran Pride march. Others include Neil Gaiman, Margaret Cho, Amanda Palmer, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan.
It's a truly wonderfully sweet film and I'm so glad that Maupin has gotten a document worthy of his import.
★★★½ review by mayalekach on Letterboxd
Frameline! Army, or Armistead as people apparently actually called him, is a huge delight and an inspiration to live an exciting, full, rich life. Speaking of, I must leave house.
★★★★ review by Kyle Mahaney on Letterboxd
As cliche as documentaries about gay culture in the Castro during the 70's have become, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin stands out with its unique tale of early mainstream LGBT fiction and Armistead's lively approach to everything he undertakes. It's a lightweight yet also emotional look at the changing landscape of our country through the eyes of a real character.
Seen at Southside Film Festival 2017.
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