Tag Archives: LGBT

Frida

I thought we’d go out with a bang on our last movie because our Based on a True Story Month has had mixed results – and not one, but two appearances by my least favourite Franco brother.

I consider this movie to be the Queen of all biographies, a labour of love (in getting the film made) and a remarkable story rolled into one. With a powerhouse performance from one of the most enigmatic women in the world – playing one of the most fierce and fascinating women of all time.

Bring it on.

Prepare to be seduced.

Frida (2002)

A biography of artist Frida Kahlo, who channeled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work.

Starring: Salma Hayek • Alfred Molina • Geoffrey Rush

Monobrow! Monobrow! Monobrow!

*Minor spoilers*

We meet Frida (Salma Hayek) just before the horrifying events of the accident that saw her seriously injured – and plaqued by constant pain for the rest of her life. She’s a rebel girl for sure – and the tram crash that results in her being impaled by a metal pole doesn’t stop her – but it does shape her future in good and bad ways.

While bedridden and in full-body plaster, Frida begins to doodle on her cast – her father brings her a canvas on which to transfer her artwork. She becomes pretty good I guess (spoiler: I fucking love her work) and remembering an encounter with artist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) just before the accident, Frida finds him to ask him what he thinks of her art.

Unsurprisingly, Diego is blown away by the artwork and by the woman herself – and the two quickly become comrades in art. Diego’s belief in her talent is what keeps her going. Romance and then marriage quickly follows the friendship, though Diego is honest about his shortcomings, telling Frida that he will never be able to stay monogamous. She demands loyalty, if not fidelity – and he agrees.

Ugh. This scene was so fricking HOT

Both our lovers take on other lovers. Frida being bisexual enjoys liasions with both men and women. At one point she has an affair with a woman also shagging Diego at the same time. The marriage is tempestuous and is tested further when the pair travel to NYC for a commission of Diego’s mural work. The mural, Man at the Crossroads, is destroyed when the Rockefeller Center’s patron, Nelson Rockefeller (Edward Norton) asks the artist to compromise his communist vision. At the same time Frida suffers a miscarriage and her mother passes away.

I won’t got through this scene by scene but when the pair return to Mexico, Diego fucks it all up by sleeping with Frida’s sister Cristina (Mía Maestro). Frida kicks him out and the pair are only reunited (not romantically) when Frida agrees to put up Russian politician Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) and his wife, who have been granted political asylum in Mexico.

But when Frida and Trotsky start an affair of their own – he is forced back home and into the path of potential danger to protect his marriage. Diego takes this affair hard, claiming to be broken hearted and Frida travels to Paris. When Trotsky is inevitably murdered, Diego becomes chief suspect and Frida is incarcerated in his place.

“Salud, motherfuckers!”

The film takes us to the end of Frida’s life, without Diego and then with, as they remarry and see out the rest of her days together. This film is so beautiful, seamlessly melding some of Kahlo’s most stunning real life works into film scenes. There are little flights of artistic fancy, stop motion animation and illustration – and it’s truly stunning.

The performances are flawless, Hayek is particularly mesmerising and she’s the perfect actress to play Frida. Although I don’t know as much about the real Kahlo as I should, I think she nails the artist’s steely determination and her fire perfectly. Frida’s talent is seriously something else, her paintings channel all the pain and anguish of her life and makes it beautiful.

I think this film is wonderful. I would have loved more girl on girl action but that’s not a criticism per se. I’d say that about most films. Make every character gay – looking at you Captain Marvel and Valkyrie.

I also like how it examines the institution of marriage and the idea of monogamy. While Frida isn’t someone you’d expect to take the traditional route, her decision to marry Diego despite his honesty is seen as radical, maybe it was.

Painting what you know can be brutal, yo.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my love think of Frida? Would she paint it in a bathtub or destroy it on Edward Norton’s watch? Find out here.

I Am Michael

Yes or No_

Two James Franco movies in a row? What the hell is going on in the world? Well, I guess it serves me right for messing up Jillian’s first choice and only being able to find a non-subtitled copy, rendering it useless. This was Plan B.

I must admit I was attracted to the story and to Zachary Quinto‘s involvement – and this has been on my list for a little while, so I wasn’t that upset. Welcome to another post in April’s Based on a True Story category.

One man. Two lives.

I Am Michael (2015)

Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.

Starring: James Franco • Zachary Quinto • Emma Roberts

*Minor spoilers*

Michael (Franco) is in a happy, long term relationship with Bennett (Quinto). The pair live and work in San Francisco where Michael is a gay rights activist and editor of XY Magazine. Life is tough but good as the socially conscious pair explore the LGBT+ scene, sexual liberation and the challenges of being gay in the early noughties. They also get a dog together which is probably the most important milestone in this entire film, right?

You can do way better, Zach

All is well until Michael has a health scare, believing he is afflicted with the same heart condition that claimed his father’s life when he was just 13 (Michael, not his dad). His mother passed away six years later, when he was 19. Despite the doctors insistence that it is just a panic attack (later it is revealed that he has Celiac’s disease), it sends ripples of panic through Michael and he starts to question everything.

Unfortch, most of that is how his homosexuality can possibly live alongside his newfound religious beliefs – which it turns out, it can’t. So Michael explores several different faiths, including Mormonism and Buddhism, all the while renouncing cock, his friends and the gay lifestyle. This is a stinger for Bennett and their mutual friends who don’t understand Michael’s need to pursue his “true self”. And nobody can blame them for that.

Michael’s Frosted Tips Anonymous group was brutal at times

When Michael travels to Wyoming to attend a Christian bible camp, he meets Rebekah (Emma Roberts), a nice Christian girl also trying to figure out life (I hear you, gurl) – and they fall in love. Which is handy as Michael’s just about to become the pastor of his own church. How will Rebekah take the news of Michael’s fruity past?

Well, this film is fine but it’s pretty lack lustre if I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with the performances but it’s very introspective and boring at times. I mean, the story is astonishing – and even though I am against it in so many ways – it is a true account of one man’s journey so I have to accept that.

I do have sympathy for anyone struggling with finding themselves and if Michael lived the life he truly wanted to then you can’t really argue with that. I just find it awful in one of the final scenes when he speaks to Bennett and refers to his former choices as ‘abnormal’.

Some of the secondary characters are pretty good, I have a lot of time for third wheel Tyler (Charlie Carver) who’s just adorable. But this is quite forgettable and it didn’t command my full attention either – so I haven’t hit you with a lot of detail because I was pottering around for a lot of it.

“I’m a hetero, CIS white guy now so you will listen to my bullshit…”

James Franco for the record irritates me so fucking much. He’s just so skeezy and I hope he doesn’t pop up in too many of our future films. Maybe we should ban him.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does wifey thing of our Plan B movie? Would she advocate for it like a boss or renounce it soon as look at it? Find out here, obvs where Jill gives a way more detailed take on the whole situation.

The Category is… Live. Werk. Pose.

Pose is set in the world of 1987 and “looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the rise of the luxury universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.”

*Minor spoilers*

I’m fashionably late to the Pose party but I’m so glad I made it. Based around the 1980’s NYC ballroom scene, it focuses on new house-mother Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) and the freshly formed House of Evangelista.

Having just received bad health news, Blanca has decided to start really living before it’s too late. This means leaving the bosom of her own house-mother, the ferocious Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) and going out on her own. Well, not on her own.

Since her house vows to be there for the kids in need, she soon gains her own children in the form of Angel, Damon and Lil Papi – and the rivalry between Evangelista and the House of Abundance rages on.

Yassss Queen

Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) has been kicked out by his parents and is living on a park bench when Blanca finds him. She takes him in with the insistence that he get an education while under her roof. Things start to look up when he’s accepted into an exclusive dance school but will his new friend Ricky bring trouble with him?

(I’m only three episodes in, so I don’t know these answers either).

And the category is… Stone Cold FACE.

ICE cold

Angel (Indya Moore) meanwhile, has fallen for businessman Stan (Evan Peters), a rising star who just can’t get enough of her exotic beauty. While he balances the pressures of work and family life, he puts her up in her own condo to keep her off the streets and his life.

TBH I don’t really care so much about Stan’s story arc. I care about our central characters – including mean Queen Elektra who is about to embark on gender reassignment surgery – and ballroom MC, Pray Tell (Billy Porter).

Pray Tell is going to break me, I just know it.

The scene is stunning, the costumes insanely beautiful and the series opener is absolutely breathtaking. I care about these characters and I want to spend time with them all. I’ve already cried through the first episode (Damon’s audition is so lovely).

Yassss Queen Part II

Plus not one Jeffrey Tambor playing a trans character in sight – and that is amazing. The only thing that pisses me off is that Peters, Kate Mara (as Stan’s wife) and James Van Der Beek get top billing in the credits and that is frankly appalling.

Get on it stat – especially if you’re a fan of the stunning Paris is Burning (1990) and its unofficial sequel Kiki (2016).

What are you watching?

Yes or No?

 

A slice of Thai LGBTQ dramarama this week, courtesy of Netflix, which boasts an impressive selection of gay world cinema if you ever fancy it. The main thing I have taken from this viewing experience is the fact I have little to no patience and should probably take a step back and try to enjoy the sloooooooow burn. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out, loves.

Yes or No? (2010) Yes or No: Yaak Rak Gaw Rak Loey (original title)

Pie is a sweet girl who moves into a new college dorm room where she finds out that her new roommate Kim, is a tomboy who looks and dress like a boy. As their friendship develops, Pie and Kim begin to wonder if the feeling they feel for one another is just an ordinary friendship…

Starring: Sushar Manaying • Supanart Jittaleela • Arisara Thongborisut

*Spoilers*

Uh despite what the synopsis above says, Pie (Sushar Manaying) ain’t that sweet. Not to begin with anyway. She changes dorm rooms at university because she can’t handle the drama from her friend Jane (Arisara Thongborisut), a pretty lesbian who falls in love more often than she changes her knickers.

So, full of excitement for her new start in a new room, she’s peeved to learn her new roommate is a ‘tomboy’. That’s a girl who lacks femininity, dresses like a dude and dates girls if you’re not au fait. Kim (Supanart Jittaleela) isn’t so sure this is what she really is, given that she’s never fancied a boy or a girl but Pie has already taken against her. She quickly sets out clear boundaries, instructing Kim to keep to ‘her side’ (in case dyke germs are contagious) and screaming at her not to make any noise.

A mood

Like I said, kind of a twat. You see, Pie is influenced heavily by what her mother thinks and unfortunately ma is a monster with a very narrow mindset. Kim is a cutie and doesn’t deserve the shit she keeps getting thrown at her so it’s nice when Jane develops a crush on her. But, love is complicated and you’ll never guess who she really has heart eyes for… really, you’ll never see it coming.

Slowly but surely Pie and Kim begin to bond much to Jane’s dismay. Pie also has an on-off love interest skulking around in the shape of mum-approved Van, a dude who constantly turns up unannounced with flowers and tells everyone that he’s Pie’s man.

Honestly, there isn’t an awful lot to this story. Pie and Kim are attracted to each other but Pie is scared and confused by her feelings because of her bitchy mother and her friends, who might take the piss. Kim seems pretty comfortable in her own skin to be honest, as she wraps her head around her feelings for Pie. And she’s forever bringing her slices of cake so she’s definitely a keeper.

“How much can you bench?”

When it all becomes too much and the two lover/friends reach the point where they need to make a decision – yes or no FFS? – will they both have the courage to see it through?

Well, this is the angstiest film I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like an extra, extra long episode of Home and Away from my teen years. I’m not against it for this at all, in fact once I’d got into the groove with the main characters I was enjoying myself. It’s just that it took us nearly two hours to reach any sort of conclusion – and there’s only so much will they/won’t they I can stand. You’re not Tim and Dawn from The Office, guys (UK edition).

I also really hated half the secondary characters. While I wasn’t supposed to agree with anything Pie’s mum had to say – about sexual abomination and going against nature – I expected her to come around for the love of her daughter. Perhaps she did off camera or will in the sequels (of which there are two on Netflix, no less) but I stayed mad at her as the credits rolled.

Pie and Jane’s crew include a grouchy girl named Nerd and the token boy called… Boy. Boy is a highly-sexed oddball who propositions every man or boy within spitting distance and I kind of love him for it. He also sports the exact same haircut that I had in secondary school.

Justice for Jane

My main beef though, pace not included, was that Kim never tells Jane she’s not interested and I feel she deserved better. I mean, yes she falls for a new love every other week but she’s a romantic, give her a break. Also, there’s a really unfortunate rape joke thrown in about two thirds in and a clunky attempted suicide scene which isn’t very sensitive. Don’t play these two things for laughs guys.

I’m here for lesbian love stories though and it’s always refreshing to enter an almost entirely female space so I’m not mad. It’s not very good, the acting is shaky at best and it’s so OTT I felt like throwing my own tantrum just so I didn’t feel left out – but at least it isn’t Peppermint.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What did my lady love Jill think of this angst-fest? Would she banish it to the other side of the room or push their beds together? Find out here.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

When teenager Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught by her boyfriend getting it on with her best friend Coley (Quinn Shephard) at prom, all hell breaks loose. For her anyway. Her concerned older sister packs her off to religious camp God’s Promise to attend a program designed to convert her back to the only acceptable sexuality in God’s eyes.

Why are you such a grass?

Here she meets a rag-tag bunch of like-minded kids at varying degrees of their therapy. Luckily for her she is able to bond with two fellow cynics, Jane Fonda (American Honey’s Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), who make her time there more bearable. Run by ex-homosexual Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and his formidable sister, Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) – the camp expects each guest to adhere to a strict set of rules. The more they co-operate, however, the more privileges they’ll earn.

They’re each also required to fill in a personal ‘iceberg’ – e.g. a basic diagram of what’s going on beneath the surface, and what could possibly be part of the reason for their SSA (Same Sex Attraction). It’s a bad, no-good place to be basically and even worse when you consider that teens are still sent to conversion camps today.

Cameron struggles with the ‘punishment’ she’s received and is later forced to deal with the concept of guilt as Coley suggests she took advantage of their friendship.

“If they sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ ONE MORE TIME…”

On the sidelines we also meet Cameron’s hopeful roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs), musical Helen (Melanie Ehrlich) and Mark (Owen Campbell), who will break your heart in two. Genuinely, it’s very hard to watch any kid go through what these children do but especially when they’re warm and kind like Mark. His arc is hard to stomach and devastating for all involved. And it will make you mad as it should rightly do.

Thankfully, we get a feel-good ending and I’m down with that. One thing to note is how lovely this movie looks – it almost makes God’s Promise look like a pleasant holiday destination. Directed by the brilliantly talented Desiree Akhavan, it also illustrates Cameron’s flashbacks with proper sex scenes which are beautiful and real, something you don’t always see, particularly between two women. It’s not gratuitous, it’s more a visual ode to the beauty of women and the appreciation of them on the whole.

I love the characters, I love the dialogue and I really enjoy the scene in which Cameron gets up on the kitchen counter to do a rendition of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Going On. As part of the new wave of gay movies we’ve been getting over the last couple of years, TMOCP holds its head up high and sticks two fingers up at ‘convention’ at the same time. Well worth a look.

4/5.

Margarita with a Straw (Film) Review

An Indian coming-of-age tale this week and it’s a pretty nice one really. Certainly more joyful than the fucking miserable Duck Butter from last week. Thank God because I was not down for that much introspection again, not for a while anyway.

*Spoilers*

Margarita with a Straw (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.

My Review

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a rebellious songwriting teen who attends Delhi University. She also happens to have Cerebral Palsy. She writes music for an indie band which results in her falling in love with the lead singer. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t feel the same way about her, she is left devastated.

Determined to move on from her first real heartbreak, Laila fortuitously receives word that she’s been accepted on a scholarship at New York University. While her father (Kuljeet Singh) thinks it’s too far away, Laila’s mother (Revathy) is determined that she do what she wants and she moves with her daughter to Greenwich Village.

Margarita-Header

Almost immediately Laila meets a hottie called Jared (William Moseley) who helps her in her creative writing course. At the same time she also meets young activist Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a blind girl of Pakistani-Bangladeshi descent. Enamored by Khanum’s passion and general badassery, as well as her attitude toward her own disability, she quickly falls in love and the two embark on a relationship. They also gladly take on caring duties for one another.

While Khanum seems cool with who she is, Laila finds it much harder to be free as the daughter of a very traditional mother. One who freaks out when she accidentally discovers Laila has been watching porn.

Laila is further confused when she doesn’t just stop being attracted to boys (especially Jared) and things become even more complicated when she has sex with him, something she immediately regrets. Not telling Khanum, the two return to Delhi together for Winter break to stay with Laila’s family. Shubhangini (Mum) still has no inkling of the true nature of their relationship and when Laila tries to broach the topic of her bi-sexuality with her, it backfires.

Will she muster the necessary courage to come out to her parents and find peace in who she is? And will she mess it up with Khanum?

margarita with a straw kalki koechlin

Unfortunately, the family are forced to come to terms with a situation far larger than any of them and this momentarily puts all their differences aside. There are some really touching moments in this movie, not least the ending where Laila takes herself out on a fancy date.

The central performance is amazing and Keochlin plays Laila very well but I was kind of disappointed to find out that she wasn’t really disabled. I’m not sure if this is the right reaction but for a moment there I got excited about true representation of disability on the big screen. When you think about this it’s no different to Daniel Day-Lewis starring in My Left Foot but I hoped we’d moved on a bit by now.

Laila is lovely and joyful though and it does have a very positive attitude. The film is not about disability really, it’s about a woman owning her sexuality, coming of age and gaining independence, and she just so happens to be disabled. I love that.

My Rating

3/5.

What did Jill make of this one? Would she lock it in the closet or help it to fly free? Find out here.

Duck Butter (Film) Review

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am really not a fan of ‘the disintegration of a relationship’ movies – or Doom Coms™?

This probably says an awful lot about me, that I can’t handle the truth, but there it is. Blue Valentine had me cringing and praying for it to end and there have been many films of the same ilk since. Duck Butter falls into this camp as far as I’m concerned and now I feel like I need my mummy and a big cuddle.

*Spoilers*

Duck Butter (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Two women, who are dissatisfied with the dishonesty they see in dating and relationships, decide to make a pact to spend 24 hours together hoping to find a new way to create intimacy.

My Review

Alia Shawkat is one of my favourite actresses at the moment so it is truly a joy to see her face whenever and wherever it pops up. In Duck Butter, as actress Naima, she meets the soulful (?) Sergio (Laia Costa) in a club and the two quickly hit it off. Somewhere during this evening together the two discuss spending the next 24 hours together, the plan being to shag every hour on the hour in order to create a super intense intimacy. Phew.

Initially, Naima backtracks a little because she’s just taken a new job making a film with The Duplass Brothers and this upsets Sergio.

Side note: the whole film within a film, Naima working with Mark and Jay who are playing themselves thing is so fucking meta that it actually hurts a little bit.

But when she is fired for ‘creative differences’, she persuades Sergio to pick up where they left off – and so begins 24 hours in the life of Naima and Sergio.

Well, there’s not all that much to say other than it starts hot, heavy and sexy, and then the ugly aspects of each of the characters begin to show and the love slowly but surely dies. Perhaps a relationship doesn’t need so much fucking examination all the time?

Naima is obviously still stinging from her professional rejection, while Sergio has a complicated relationship with her mother. Both women are creatives and this lends itself to a passionate and fiery joint temperament. Honestly, I must cop to not really remembering much of the nuance, this is more like a walking nightmare. By the end credits I felt as though I’d gone through my own breakup and I felt sad and battered.

maxresdefault

Both performances are hyper real and it is easy to forget you’re not peeping in on an authentic relationship. Neither are that likable either with needy traits (that lord knows I have when I’m in the midst of a anxiety attack). I think it’s sometimes hard to watch because the viewer will see so many aspects of themselves mirrored back at them. At least that’s how I see it.

There are plenty of awkward moments including a very forced orgy instigated by Naima to mark the end of the relationship Sergio doesn’t seem to want to end. Honestly, I was keen for the end credits to roll – and it was a beautiful release when they did.

I can’t say the performances were bad and aesthetically it’s a hipster’s dream, it just didn’t have the something I expected. I felt no true sympathy for anyone and also, how cheated are we that we only get Mae Whitman for a few measly scenes? It’s a total liberty.

While reading up on this I did find out that this was originally written about a hetero couple. Apparently, the extended sex scenes made Alia and her male co-star uncomfortable so it was rewritten for two women – thank god for small mercies, eh?

My Rating

2.5/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she last 24 hours with it or would she kick it to the kerb within 90 minutes? Find out here.