AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY (Jeff Feuerzeig, US 2016) Author is the story of JT Leroy, teenage truckstop hooker, ingenue and literary genius.
Leroy was in fact the creation of an unemployed mom and her sister-in-law Savannah (who dressed in a wig and shades to appear in public as JT). It was a literary hoax that sucked in writers, filmmakers and musicians, including Courtney Love, Asia Argento and Dennis Cooper.
For ten years, Leroy stunned the US with writing that was queer, biblical, southern and raw. Leroy contributed to films by Gus van Sant and music by Billy Corgan and made public appearances across the world.
Unmasked by a New York Times journalist, the hoax made worldwide headlines, and the documentary explores the story from the skewed and rather bizarre perspective of Leroy’s creator, Laura Albert.
This fascinating and original movie is being shown by the Tyneside Cinema, and it’s not the only cinematic exploration of identity confusion worth seeing.
1. ORLANDO (Sally Potter, UK 1993) The incredible Tilda Swinton stars as the ever changing Orlando, a noble androgyne instructed by Good Queen Bess (played by Quentin Crisp) to live forever. Traversing genders, Orlando ventures through Europe finding happiness in art, poetry and love.
2. I’M NOT THERE (Todd Haynes, US 2007) A biographical musical drama based on episodes in the life of Bob Dylan, I’m Not There breaks all rules by featuring not one but six actors in the role of Zimmerman. Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere are amongst the facets of this unusual and many-layered movie, which also features a stunning soundtrack (Sonic Youth, Karen O, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Cat Power amongst others).
3. THE IMPOSTER (Bart Layton, US/UK 2012) The true story of Frederic Bourdin, a French confidence trickster who impersonated a missing Texas schoolboy, The Imposter is a complex mystery revolving around child abuse, government power, and secretive small town America, with a real sting in the tail. Recommended.
4. CATFISH (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, US 2010) Another documentary, but this time the characters are more sympathetic. Lovestruck Nev builds a relationship with a woman online, to find on further investigation that all is not as it seems. On release Catfish was a timely warning on the dangers of taking internet romance too seriously. That it’s dated so quickly says everything about the pace of technology.
5. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (Steven Spielberg, US 2002) Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, a con artist and forger, Spielberg’s movie turns an incredible crime story into a breathless chase across the US, as Tom Hanks’ FBI bank fraud agent Carl Hanratty tracks Abagnale while he impersonates airline pilots, doctors and lawyers.
This article orginally appeared at Narc Online in August 2016.