Tag Archives: LGBT

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

The Firefly (Film) Review

Jill and I settled on Gay July because we’ve always had pretty good success with LGBTQIA films within the collab – and there are some great ones on Netflix at the moment. So let’s kick back with this Colombian love story, shall we?

*Spoilers*

The Firefly (2013) or La luciérnaga (original title)

IMDB Synopsis

After the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia accidentally meets his fiancée and falls in love with her.

My Review

Lucia (Carolina Guerra) is estranged from her brother Andres (Manuel José Chaves) because he failed to attend his own father’s funeral. There’s A LOT of family turmoil going on since he also believes he killed their mother (she died giving birth to him). As a result, the siblings have not seen each other for three years and Lucia is unaware that her brother is marrying Mariana (Olga Segura).

On the day of the wedding Lucia has no knowledge of, Andres decides he can’t go through it without her and jumps in the car to go and get her. On the way he is killed in an accident and neither marries the love of his life, nor reconciles with his willful sister.

On learning of Andres’ accident, both women are devastated. Mariana flees the wedding in her dress and collapses in the middle of a busy intersection, while Lucia takes to her bed and is unresponsive for days afterward. Her husband Adrian (Andrés Aranburo) is present to a point but he doesn’t seem particularly sympathetic.

The beginning of the film tells us that Lucia is going to break up with him anyway so he’s already marked as surplus to requirements, so don’t worry. Mariana tells her family she is going to Mexico and holes up in Andres’ apartment – which is fortuitous as Lucia has the same idea. The women meet here for the first time. YAY!

The movie comprises a heap of flashbacks to build a picture of Andres’ past relationship with his sister, up until the point they fall out, and how he met and fell in love with Mariana. Which is happy/sad to behold, particularly when Andres ruminates the loss of his sister to Mariana.

Healing is painful but together they are able to take the time they need to start the process. This involves drunken dance parties and Lucia writing a letter to Andres seeking his forgiveness. Mariana then makes her burn it. They also visit the graveside.

Little by little the bond the women share begins to turn into something stronger and it’s bloody amazing. Mariana is surprised when she learns that Lucia is married because she’s never thought to mention it. Neither did she mention the fact that she can’t get pregnant despite their many attempts to do so.

When Lucia tells Mariana her relationship status is complicated, she cryptically asks her: isn’t life too short for that? You’re damn right, M – it bloody well is. This rhetoric is further bolstered when Adrian fucks off on a business trip right in the middle of Lucia’s grieving process and she realises it’s over.

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M asks her to move into Andres’ apartment but Lucia suggests a mini break instead. Well, that trip changes everything forever but again it isn’t plain sailing because Lucia is seriously confused. Which you can kind of understand.

Will she follow her heart and take all this as meant to be? And why is Mariana throwing up all the time? Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

The Firefly is lovely but man is it melodramatic. There are times it plays out like a telenovela – my God, ladies CHILL. Mariana’s Miss Haversham-esque few days swanning around in her wedding dress may be understandable, but it’s a bit over-dramatic. And there aren’t really any surprises here, the tale plays out by numbers. I’m not necessarily criticising it for that, it’s just an observation.

What I do criticise is the fact that Andres’ best friend knew he’d gone to find his sister on his wedding day and as far as I can tell, never tells her. You’d think that would be kind of a big deal to hear, non?

The strength of this film, as with any love story, lies in the chemistry between our leads. The hand holding and the loaded looks, the pool kisses and the fun they have together is lovely to witness – and it doesn’t help that both women are warm and so bloody beautiful. So, sure it’s a little bit all over the place but its heart is in the right place – it’s a good take on grieving and growing, of loving again as though you’ve never been hurt and of grabbing those fresh starts when you can. I’m all for that.

The Firefly 5
“I know you’re sad, but we need to talk about that horrible cardigan…”

What does the Queen of my Heart think of this one? Would she buy it dubious knitwear or leave it by the side of the road in the rain? Find out here.

God’s Own Country (Film) Review

Here at Collab HQ (it’s more of a state of mind than an actual place given that we’re camped on separate continents), we love to devastate ourselves. Sometimes we favour fluff just to get over the utter weep-fests we’ve put ourselves through.

Although this week’s movie might not have had that exact effect on me, it did leave me with a heavy lump in my chest. It was a movie I felt profoundly and I’m so glad we finally got round to it. Thank you Netflix for coming through.

*Spoilers*

God’s Own Country (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

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My Review

Johnny (Josh O’Connor) lives with his dad and gran on a cattle farm in Yorkshire. Rural life is fucking tough, his father isn’t that well and Johnny dulls his pain and loneliness with booze and secret liaisons with boys down the local (I feel ya, Johnny). Delivered home puking most nights by furious cab drivers, Johnny’s folks just think he’s irresponsible and don’t understand him at all. This just exacerbates his feeling of isolation and when he does bump into friends from his past, he’s bitter because they’ve moved on and left him behind.

When it becomes apparent that the farm will need more help during lambing season, they hire Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who quickly becomes a god send, much to Johnny’s irritation. The pair doesn’t hit it off immediately and Johnny burns bridges in the first few days by referring to Gheorghe as ‘gyppo’.

While Gheorghe pretty much just gets on with it, even around the awkward energy between Johnny and his family, he doesn’t take kindly to Johnny’s racist attitude and nips it in the bud quickly. One weekend, away from the farm but very much on farming duties, the boys come head to head and the friction that’s been building between them explodes. What begins with a fight, ends in rough sex in the mud.

After this encounter, the two barely speak about it though there has been an unmistakable shift between them. Later that night, they fuck again, this time with a little more tenderness.

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Back at the ranch, the sex continues but it also becomes more than that. Johnny invites his lover to share his bed in the farmhouse but he declines, preferring to stay in the caravan.

As Johnny and Gheorghe get closer, Johnny’s father suffers another stroke and the future of the farm is placed in Johnny’s calloused hands. When he discusses the prospect of Gheorghe staying on and permanently running the farm with him, Gheorghe expresses some concerns, namely living and working together simultaneously.

This sends Johnny into a tailspin and he acts out enough to send Gheorghe packing. Gheorghe also suffers some predjudice in the pub which doesn’t help.

Johnny’s nan Deidre (Gemma Jones) blames him for fucking up again and wonders how they’ll manage now. When Johnny goes to see his father about the future, he’s surprisingly understanding and gives his blessing for Johnny to do what he needs to to be happy – can you guess what that is?

Will Johnny do the right thing and make a success of his future finally? What do you think?

This film is gorgeous to look at but it’s all in the glances our lovers share, in the secret looks and the slightest of gestures. It’s in the loneliness, the isolation and the ache of not being able to be open to who they are – until they can be open with each other and I really felt it all.

The performances are heartfelt, while the pace of the film is quite slow which I didn’t mind. Not once did this feel like a slog and I think there’s a skill in that kind of film making. The movie very subtley addresses the topic of homophobia but more so in the fact that it isn’t talked about and everything has to be secret. While I don’t remember any out and out prejudice, this is only because Johnny’s not out publicly.

It was heart-warming to learn that perhaps Johnny’s family knew more than he thought about his ‘secret’ and that in their own sweet way they just wanted what was best for him. As for Gheorghe, we get little insight into his own life in Romania, something I would have liked but I understand wasn’t strictly necessary.

All in all this is a nice love story that felt authentic – and yes, it almost finished me.

My Rating

4.5/5.

What did my love think of this one? Would she take it down the local for a fumble or toss it out with the cold bath water? Find out here of course.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick RobinsonJennifer GarnerJosh DuhamelKatherine Langford

IMDB Synopsis

Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

*Minor spoilers*

Before I went in to see this movie I must admit to being a little bit ignorant. Not in any huge way but I mentioned to my viewing partner Darren that I was surprised this film was such a big deal in the year 2018, because isn’t the world so much more broadminded these days? (Yes, I know as I type this how far off we still are). What, of course I wasn’t taking into account, is the experience of being gay and not feeling as though you can come out to your loved ones, something I have never and will never experience.

From a position of privilege as a cis heterosexual white woman I hadn’t realised just how truly important this movie is, especially given that it’s aimed at a younger audience than say, Call Me By Your Name (2017). This was reinforced when a teenager stood up as the end credits rolled and announced to the audience that she had just come out to her family because the film had given her the strength she needed.

Proof that we don’t always know everything and there is always room to learn, even from the most unexpected places – and this is a film I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Simon is a popular high schooler with a great and supportive family, a dope group of friends and a bright future ahead of him. Everything is peachy in Simon’s World but for one thing, and it’s kind of a big deal: he’s gay.

When an anonymous post by a fellow gay classmate appears on the school community blog, Simon creates a secret identity and replies to him. The two begin to chat regularly online, both unaware of the identity of the other. Life around Simon carries on as normal as he and Blue continue to communicate but everything is threatened when his fuck face acquaintance Martin (Logan Miller) stumbles upon his secret and threatens to out him. 

Martin’s plan is to blackmail Simon into fixing him up with his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and as it actually seems to be coming to fruition, Simon finds himself telling lie after little white lie to keep him on side. Not just for himself but for Blue, who has placed the ultimate trust in Simon. Well, this wouldn’t be much of a film if it didn’t all implode on our hero – and implode it does. As the decision to come out is taken out of his hands, Simon must come to terms not only with who he is but with everybody else’s opinions too. 

Meanwhile, Simon has to work out who his new pen pal Blue really is – who could he be and could there ever be a happy ending for the two of them? And will his friends forgive his mistakes?

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God. This is a very lovely story with an accomplished young cast who really make you feel all the things. Not only are we rooting for Simon, we’re also forced to give a shit about the feelings of his BFF Leah (13 Reasons Why‘s Langford), who has her own romantic challenges to contend with. Martin too is a nasty little shit but by the end you might even have sympathy for him, especially if you’ve ever been rejected publicly/been to school and not been one of the cool kids.

Simon’s parents are played flawlessly by Garner and Duhamel, while his little sister is a dream. Sure this is on the must nicer end of the scale of coming out but it’s still relevant and still important. You never know what people are going through, even when they seem to have everything. While I usually like my LGBT cinema grittier than this, I was happy to spend Sunday morning with Simon and friends – and yes I bawled at the end.

My Rating

4/5.