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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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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Donne-moi la main: mundane but also infinitely confusing

I watched this last weekend with some friends and I just had to find a way to process this clusterfuck of a movie. So here we go. Oh, and just to clarify, it’s not about incest …probably. Donne-moi la main, English translation: Give Me Your Hand, (Pascal-Alex Vincent, 2008) is a French-language film about a twin brothers’ journey across Europe. As they travel to the funeral of a mother they’ve never met, Antoine and Quentin confront their complicated sibling relationship, as well as perceptions of their own and each other’s desires.

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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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Love, Simon isn’t a queer film

“I’m just like you, I have a perfectly normal life” says our protagonist Simon, as the camera shows him outside his large house in the suburbs getting a 4×4 for his birthday. Ah yes, it is clear from this opening shot, or even from the trailer and a quick glance at the cast, that Love, Simon is a gay film made for a cis, straight, white, middle-class audience. Or at the very least made to be palatable to The Hetties™. That doesn’t make it a bad film, but it is glaringly apparent, even in the first two minutes of the film. Then again, as (self-proportedly) the first film by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teenage romance, it is a step in the white direction. I mean the right direction. Didn’t I say that? […]

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Disobedience: a fraught examination of the tensions between faith and queerness

It’s amazing how a film can be so rooted in the present when it’s really about history. Personal history, romantic history, cultural and religious history all permeate the thematic presentation; and yet, the film’s almost hyper-realistic style plants it so firmly in its present that you can’t help but feel that you’re there. Let me explain. Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2018) tells the story of Ronit, a woman who, upon learning of the death of her father, returns to the Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up. Having fled the community in North London for New York as a teenager, she is now confronted with what she left behind: principally, her childhood friends Dovid and Esti. We witness the trio’s internal struggle as they try to grapple with their conflicting cultural views and complicated history. And boy is it vivid. […]

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Carol

“I want to see you” You know what Therese Belivet, I also want to see Cate Blanchett, at any and all times possible, so thank you.
As suggested by my opening quote, Carol (as film and character) is extremely visually rich. It is sensual, evocative, and elegant. The theme of vision — observation, seeing and being seen — comes around time and time again. […]

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God’s Own Country

First off, a warning: don’t start watching this whilst eating. You’ve got vomiting, calving and barebacking (and in that order) all in the first ten minutes. Although the movie soon becomes more palatable, it is worth noting that this is not a comfortable film to watch. Comforting maybe, especially by the end, but far from comfortable. […]

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