So My Grandma’s A Lesbian!: too many straight people (bizarrely)

The title of So My Grandma’s A Lesbian! already tells us what we need to know. We meet the anxious and uptight Eva, and her grandma is indeed a lesbian. Finally coming out in their 70s, Sofía and her friend-for-life-turned-lover Celia want to get married. But when the wedding threatens to scandalise more than just their small town, the couple struggle with their decision to declare their love so publicly. Chaos ensues in the form of Catholic outrage, paparazzi storms and even phone calls from the Pope. […]

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Dance of the 41: where misogyny hides behind romance

During a winter night of 1901, police raided a private house in Mexico City during a ball, all of whose upper-class attendees were men, half of them wearing corsets, dresses, jewellery and make-up. Yet, despite salacious media coverage, few arrests were withheld (the men were rich and could pay for their freedom) and no names […]

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My Days of Mercy: clumsily sincere

Elliot Page is really the standout performance in My Days of Mercy (2017, Tali Shalom Ezer). In the film, they play Lucy, who, after her father is accused of first-degree murder in the US, becomes an anti-death penalty activist. At a protest outside a jail where an execution is taking place, Lucy meets Mercy (Kate Mara), an activist on the other side of the debate, whose father’s best friend and partner was murdered. Though they live in different states, Lucy in Ohio and Mercy in Illinois, the two have an undeniable spark. A sexual and romantic relationship thus develops as they try to grapple with the shocking differences in each views politics, the world, and the pursuit of forgiveness and justice. […]

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Ride or Die: joyfully chaotic… but to what end?

This film is doing a lot. Every one of the one hundred and forty two minutes (that’s nearly two and a half hours) is highly charged ー with drama, with plot, with sweeping vistas, and quite often with all three. It is an assault on your emotional sensibility from the very first scene, which culminates in a graphically violent and sexual murder. To take a step back and to look at what exactly this art is doing (if anything) is to be left with a myriad of questions. Crucially, I found myself wondering: is any of this really worth it? […]

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Summer of 85: a sun-kissed dream turned nightmare

We all just want to be shirtless and gay and on a boat off the coast of France with the love of our lives, right? This film gives us plenty of that, with a gorgeous 80s aesthetic to boot. However, permeating this narrative are also moments of grief, sadness, regret, and a deep and impenetrable longing for what could have been. Tragedy and heartbreak live alongside youthful joy and discovery. But what taste does this specific blend leave in your mouth? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. […]

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Tucked: gritty, bittersweet, and quintessentially British

Intergenerational connection is an often-forgotten but vital aspect of building community. In the LGBTQ community, the HIV/AIDS epidemic that attacked the gay scene of the 1980s and 90s has made such connection that much more difficult today ー simply, and devastatingly, there are not as many gay people who survived that era. Therefore, a film which orbits on the friendship between two drag queens, one in her 70s and the other in her 20s, is very much welcome. Beyond this relationship, the following film plays daintily with timelessnrss and identity to make us question the boundaries of gender, of queer aesthetics, and of queerness in an of itself. […]

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Dear Ex: wildly unhinged, but still magnificent

Literally translating the Chinese title to “Who Started Loving Him First?” gives us a lot more insight into what this film is actually about; perhaps, rather, it could have been “Who Did He Start Loving First?” ー the “he” referring to recently deceased Song Zheng-yuan. We spend the film with the people who surrounded Zheng-yuan’s life: his teenage son Song Chen-hsi; his ex-wife Liu San-Lien; and the male lover Chieh he left them both for in his final few weeks and months of life. When a battle for Zheng-yuan’s life insurance money forces these three characters into each other’s company, chaos ーpredictablyー arises. […]

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Sequence Analysis: The Handmaiden, destroy the library

“The daughter of a legendary thief, who sewed winter coats out of stolen purses. Herself a thief, pickpocket, swindler. The saviour who came to tear my life apart. My Tamako, my Sook-Hee.” So narrates Lady Hideko over perhaps the most celebrated scene of Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden (2016). In the emotional and symbolic climax of this two-and-a-half hour Korean epic, Sook-Hee and Hideko, class enemies turned lovers, destroy a library together, shouting a symbolic fuck you to the patriarchy in the process. In order to understand the full impact of this action for characters and spectators alike, we must first briefly circle back and work out how we got here. […]

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The Handmaiden: Sapphic mystery goes rogue

Crossing, double-crossing, triple-crossing. Failed heists, successful heists, twists. Lesbian sex scenes that reclaim symbols of patriarchy; lead characters defying expectations of womanhood and class in the repressive Japanese-occupied Korea; ripples and reprecussions of political and cultural history. This film has it all. And so much more. Then, just when you think you know what’s going on, your whole reality is turned on its head. Twice. […]

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Boy Erased: a well-paced, engrossing drama

Home videos, car journeys and small town Americana vibes quickly move aside to reveal the harsh security and even harsher rules of one gay conversion therapy programme. Participants read out increasingly strict rules in an arresting first 10 minutes: “members must be supervised by staff in all restrooms visits”; “no physical contact with any member at any time apart from the briefest of handshakes.” I think this film might be a little more intense than But I’m A Cheerleader […]

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