Your Name Engraved Herein: a love story without any love

Your Name Engraved Herein: a love story without any love

Marketed as part- queer coming-of-age story part- bittersweet romance, Taiwan’s most popular film of 2020 landed on global Netflix in December. Complete with a seemingly deep and enigmatic title, Your Name Engraved Herein (Patrick Kuang-Hui Liu, 2020) sells itself as arthouse queer cinema out in the mainstream; it is, after all, the highest-grossing LGBT film in Taiwanese cinematic history. And yet, having reached the end of an intense and brooding 1 hour and 54 minutes, I couldn’t help but ask… am I missing something? [...]

A New York Christmas Wedding: the best and the worst film you’ve ever seen

A New York Christmas Wedding: the best and the worst film you’ve ever seen

Starting this film off, I had to google to check whether it was, in fact, queer. Fortunately, after an appearingly heterosexual opening, the lesbianism arrives ー slowly, and then all at once. Just to reassure you: the titular New York Christmas Wedding does end up being a New York Christmas Lesbian Wedding. More accurately, a A New York Christmas Surprise Lesbian Catholic Wedding. But we’ll get to that. [...]

The Boys in the Band: a chilling foreshadowing

The Boys in the Band: a chilling foreshadowing

After a particularly sensuous title shot ー quite simply, a smoking cigar ー this film opens rather frivolously. We pan over New York City, watching our characters go about their daily lives in a classically retro scene-setting montage. But don’t let this cheery start fool you. As catty bitchiness descends into destructive hate, ancient and fresh wounds alike are torn open, exposed to the audience. Further still, dripping in internalised homophobia, our cast of bitter gay men pour in the salt..

The Half of It: a muted autumnal almost-romance

The Half of It: a muted autumnal almost-romance

The Half Of It (Alice Wu, 2020) is your classic American teen romcom with a twist: it's GAY. Lesbian, specifically. Maybe bisexual on one half; it's hard to tell. Typical high school nerd Ellie Chu writes other people's school essays for money to help support her father. One day she is commissioned by Paul to write a love letter to beautiful popular girl Aster, and it works almost too well. Ellie writes with increasing passion to Aster, who thinks she's Paul, and a complicated pseudo-relationship progresses. I'm not going to lie, it's a great premise. And, despite some clumsiness, it mostly delivers. [...]

Mucho Mucho Amor: the fantastical story of an astrological legend

Mucho Mucho Amor: the fantastical story of an astrological legend

Theatrics. Glamour. Jewels. Capes. Astrology. And mucho, mucho amor. That is camp. That is queer. And that is Walter Mercado. Watching this documentary, it almost felt like a spoof; like this person, this character, couldn’t have existed and thrived as he did in the 1970s-2000s Americas. How had I never heard of him before? Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (Cristina Costantini & Kareem Tabsch, 2020) narrates a part-chronological part-thematic biography of the Puerto Rican TV astrologer. At first the documentary teases its way towards a mysterious disappearance ー where did he go, what happened to him, is he even still alive? [...]

Elisa y Marcela: Isabel Coixet births another masterpiece

Elisa y Marcela: Isabel Coixet births another masterpiece

There are different kinds of silence in film. There is the uncomfortable, dominating silence that makes your muscles tense in morbid anticipation. Then there is the intimate silence, where a glance, a touch, a brush of skin tells everything; where words aren’t necessary to reassure both character and spectator and bring them in closer. This film gifts us both kinds of silence, and shows us the difference. Elisa y Marcela (2019) is a Spanish romantic drama film by the auteur filmmaker Isabel Coixet. [...]

I Am Jonas: overly cerebral or intelligently thought-provoking?

I Am Jonas: overly cerebral or intelligently thought-provoking?

I Am Jonas (Christophe Charrier, 2018) is a coming-of-age gay love story shrouded in dark mystery. Originally made for the (as the name suggests) artsy European TV network ARTE and then brought to Netflix in spring 2020, it tells the story of the eponymous Jonas and handsome troublemaker Nathan. We explore their teen romance, its subsequent murky demise and the long lasting after-effects. Watching with the original French language subtitles, the first closed caption of “musique oppressante” (no language prizes for guessing what that means) tells us we’re in for a bumpy ride. [...]

Alex Strangelove: where queerness shines through

Alex Strangelove: where queerness shines through

When I tell you that this film — which starts out seeming like your run-of-the-mill teen rom-com —is different precisely because it’s gay, you shouldn’t read that as a bad thing. The explicit gayness of Alex Strangelove inches its way into the film slowly. We follow the story of the title character Alex, played by Daniel Doheney, and his long time best friend to recently turned girlfriend Claire, played by Madeline Weinstein (no relation) [...]

Disclosure: A whirlwind through Hollywood’s problematic trans representation

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

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. [...]