When I started writing these reviews, I didn’t think I cared too much about plot. After all, there is so much more that makes a film good: acting, casting choices, camerawork, colour grading, lighting, editing… I could go on and on. Ultimately though, storytelling sits at the core of cinema. And, as I’ve seen now in a good few films, one glaring narrative choice can tarnish your whole experience of an otherwise objectively good film. Unfortunately, Boy Meets Girl is one of those cases. […]
Alice Júnior: the pursuit of trans joy
My instinct is to say that this queer coming-of-age film is nothing revolutionary; however, it seems that ー even in 2021 ー a film aimed at teenagers that revolves around trans joy is in fact just that.
Alice Júnior (Gil Baroni, 2019) tells the story of its title character, a vibrant 17-year-old trans girl who’s worried about getting her first kiss. The film’s journey begins when she moves from a fancy apartment in a high-rise building in Recife to the small conservative town of Araucárias do Sul. After incidents of cyberbullying at her new school, she no longer has an online refuge to escape to. Can she reclaim a place in her new life? And, crucially, will she get her first kiss? […]
The Panti Sisters: even camper than it sounds
A gay son returns to his homophobic family home in full drag, complete with a train so large it’s on-screen long enough for a slow fade into the film’s title: The Panti Sisters. Drag queen Gabbi ー who, with a last name like that, need not change it in drag ー breaks the fourth wall to narrate to us the story of how she made it here, sequins and all. She also has a reveal, because of course she does: sliding off her robe, she wears a purple rhinestoned mini-dress, a sensible choice for a family dinner.
If you thought this was camp, just wait for the rest of the movie. […]
Stage Mother: painfully average
Sometimes bad films are so bad they become iconic: The Room (2003), Michelle Visage’s favourite Showgirls (1995) and even the nightmare-fueled Cats (2019) have become cult classics. On the other side, sometimes great films have huge success and go on to be universally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike: think Citizen Kane (1941), The Godfather (1972) and even Titanic (1997). The least memorable films sit right in the middle: never good enough to be truly great, but never bad enough to be iconically awful. Stage Mother is one of those films. […]
Disclosure: A whirlwind through Hollywood’s problematic trans representation
When I sat down to watch and review Disclosure (2020, Sam Feder), I couldn’t help but ask myself: could I have imagined this documentary at this calibre being made ten years ago? Five? Even one? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding probably not. And yet, as this film proclaims so loudly, trans people have existed on screen since screens became a thing. Disclosure is a wild ride through a chaotic history of dangerously cliched trans representation: from villains to violence, genital surgery and sex workers via transness as a vehicle for praising cis men (did they really need another one?). And we learn a lot from what not to do. […]
The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson
Marsha P Johnson was a black trans woman (self-identifying as a drag queen, the language which existed at the time) who was, at the very least, militantly active in the 1969 Stonewall Riots. There are conflicting accounts about whether she “threw the first brick”, but thanks to Stonewall, and countless other protests over her lifetime, she is one of the reasons we have Pride. Every queer person should know who she is. She is gay liberation. She was The Moment. Thankfully, this documentary paints a vivid picture. […]