Happiness Adjacent: low budget, lower quality

Happiness Adjacent (Rob Williams, 2018) is one and a half hours of glaringly objective proof that you can’t just get on a cruise with an iPhone 3 and make a feature-length movie. (Okay, fine, an iPhone 6, but that doesn’t make it any better.) The film explores a story reminiscent gay p*rn: a straight married man (Kurt) who ends up falling for a gay guy (Hank) on a cruise. Hank narrates the film in voiceover, either as an omnipotent voice or in conversation with a towel in sunglasses which represents his friend Brian (no really), who abandoned him last-minute to sail the gulf of Mexico alone. It turns out low budget sometimes does mean low quality.

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To Each, Her Own: one mess after another

Closeted lesbian grows up in oppressive religious household, denounces her faith and escapes to the bright lights of the city: we’ve all seen that movie. To Each, Her Own (Myriam Aziza, 2018) ー terrible title, by the way, but we’ll get to that ー focuses on the crises that come after.

Simone, comes from an Orthodox Jewish family and lives with her “room-mate and best friend” (family code for lesbian lover) Claire. Just as she finally thinks she’s ready to come out to her family, she falls for Sengalese chef Wali (a man). A novel and intriguing concept, of course, but where could it possibly lead? Well, as it turns out, both absolutely everywhere and resoundingly nowhere. Let’s get into this hot-mess-express of a shitshow movie, shall we? […]

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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? […]

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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. […]

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Four More Years: a not-so-innocent rom-com

After they first sleep together, Martin does everything he can to not let David get away. First, he makes him breakfast. Next, he drives David to his parents’ house in rural Sweden and they spend another night together. After driving David back into Stockholm the next day, Martin knows that this is as long as he can cling on; now, he must let David go back home, and hope that he comes back to him after his homosexual comedown. Fortunately for us, this is a romantic comedy, so I don’t think it spoils anything to say that’s not the end of their love story.

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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. […]

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Wish You: a flawed but precious rom-com

Soft acoustic pop and passing cars lead into lingering glances across a sleeping city. Adoring fan Sang-i gazes longingly at street singer Kang In-su as he strums his way through a soppy ballad, the almost-title track “Wish For You”. Initial seeds of romance are planted within the first 2 minutes; yet, we are forced to wait with baited breath until the last 2 minutes to see whether the buds will blossom. This, of course, begs the question: how much do we really gain along the way? […]

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Duck Butter: an experiment in chaotic realism

Duck butter, or “manteca de pato”, is a term for (and excuse the graphic description) thick white discharge around the vagina. Viscerally, this is quite an off-putting term, but it is also a lightly humorous one, and perhaps even subtly charming. This is a good representation of the film as a whole. And while the […]

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Dating Amber: queer solidarity at its purest

In 2020, it’s hard to believe that a film about a gay and a lesbian being each other’s beards (pretending to date each other so people think they’re straight) hadn’t been made. I suppose there was that one storyline on Glee… but still, here it is, finally, in full cinematic force. Of course, the main question is: does it live up to the hype? And the answer, of course, is complicated. Dating Amber (David Freyne, 2020) is a coming-of-age comedy set in oppressive 1990s Ireland. The story follows baby gay Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and baby lesbian Amber (Lola Petticrew), and their developing friendship as they pursue a pretend relationship. […]

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But I’m a Cheerleader: hilarious parody with a heart

Come one now. It’s a gay classic at this point. You’d think that a whimsical comedy about queer kids forced to attend conversion therapy camp wouldn’t work at all… but it so does. Let me tell you why. But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999) focuses around the story of Megan (Natasha Lyone), a timid 17-year-old coming to terms with her sexuality. At an intervention, her friends and family affront her with hilariously problematic lesbian stereotypes that she seems to follow, such as “being a vegetarian” and “liking Melissa Etheridge’s music”. They decide that she should be sent to “True Directions”, a gay conversion therapy camp that imposes 1950s-style gender roles on its unwilling teenage attendees.

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