It’s Gay! September 2018 in Films
September was quite a month for 2018 films. I saw 2 or 3 new releases in theaters each weekend, plus I screened a bunch of films from this year’s Out On Film LGBTQ film festival here in Atlanta. Several of the new release films I saw this month might just make my end of the year list. There’s just so much good cinema all year round! I also hosted a silent film triple feature here at the Plaza Theatre, which was a dream come true. I’m hoping to do more of that in the next few months so if you live in the area do come out. As always, you can see everything I watched last month after the cut, plus I highlight some favorites.
- Madeline’s Madeline
- The Bookshop
- Old San Francisco
- We the Animals
- Nico, 1988
- O necem jinem (Something Different)
- Ovoce stromu rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise)
- A Simple Favor
- Tiger Bay (1934)
- When Were You Born
- Love, Gilda
- Lizzie (2018)
- Friends In Law
- Mi mejor amigo (My Best Friend)
- A Moment in the Reeds
- Nappily Ever After
- I Think We’re Alone Now
- Thunder Road (2018)
- Thunder Road (2016)
- Malila: The Farewell Flower
- Kanarie (Canary)
- As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners)
- When the Beat Drops
- Call Her Ganda
- Man Made
- Every Act of Life
- Mr. Soul!
- Lez Bomb
- The Happy Prince
- Studio 54
- Body and Soul (1925)
Madeline’s Madeline, 2018 (dir. Josephine Decker)
I was told by several people who saw this film that I was either going to really love it or really hate it so I was really excited to see why. Thankfully it fell in the category of really loved it. Writer/director Josephine Decker saw newcomer Helena Howard in a regional theater and immediately wanted to write a film for her. The result is a meditation on creation, agency, adolescence, and mental illness. I felt the visceral way the mental illness was depicted in this film captured the highs and lows of mania in a way I’d never seen before, even if on the surface the arc of the character is something we’ve seen before. Helena Howard gives a fierce, bold, and unique debut performance and I hope we’ll see her in many more films to come.
We the Animals, 2018 (dir. Jeremiah Zagar)
Another uniquely visual film, director Zagar and co-writer Dan Kitrosse adapted the story from a novel by Justin Torres which tells the tale of three brothers growing up in somewhat poverty in upstate New York. As the summer progresses and the boys deal with their parents’ volatile relationship, one of the boys, Jonah, begins to grow in a direction no one in the family was prepared for. There aren’t many LGBTQ themed films about children (Ma Vie En Rose comes to mind), which in turn adds to the confusion for children who begin to realize they aren’t heterosexual. I loved the little moments where Jonah becomes aware of his own feelings. Just a beautiful film from start to finish.
Ovoce stromu rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise), 1970 (dir. Věra Chytilová)
Chytilová is probably best known for her film Daisies, but she made many films throughout her career in and out of her native Czech Republic. This film is a post-modern take on the Adam and Eve story, utilizing similar stylistic techniques to her more famous film, while adding a distinctly feminist bent to the story. It also has this wonderful three-way relationship between the Eve, Adam, and Devil surrogates wherein you’re never really sure which of the three would rather be with whom. It’s rich in colors and symbols and definitely one I will want to revisit soon.
Kanarie (Canary), 2018 (dir. Christiaan Olwagen)
This film from South Africa is really everything I love: coming out narrative, war film, social commentary, and 80s new wave music. All in one neat little package. Set in 1984/1985, the film follows Boy George super fan Johan who leaves his small town after being drafted into the army. A musician, he is able to do his service as a member of the South African Defence Force Choir. While there he bonds with fellow recruit Wolfgang over their shared love of pop music. This mutual appreciation eventually turns to first love and Johan must come to terms with himself, as well as the state of his country around him.
Lez Bomb, 2018 (dir. Jenna Laurenzo)
Speaking of coming out narratives, writer-director-star Laurenzo’s feature film debut follows Lauren as she brings her girlfriend Hailey home for Thanksgiving. Her attempt to both come out to her family and introduce them to her girlfriend are thwarted by the sudden appearance of her male roommate, whom her family believes is her secret boyfriend, as well as her family’s inability to truly listen to each other. There’s a beautiful moment in this film where Lauren herself as to come to terms with the fact that she is indeed gay and this was never something she had planned for herself. It’s a feeling a lot of people have (yay! for internalized homophobia!) and it’s something that we as a community must continually fight. I think films like We The Animals show how important it is for children to realize who they are is okay early, so that later they won’t have these residual resentments.
1985, 2018 (dir. Yen Tan)
Writer-director Yen Tan said in an interview that he was 10 in 1985 and he recalls it was the year he first realized he was gay, but it was also a very scary year. It was the year Rock Hudson died of AIDS. Tan shares story credit with cinematographer Hutch (that’s their whole name), and the film is shot in black and white 16mm, which adds to the somber tone of the film. It follows a closeted gay man who returns home to Texas for Christmas to say goodbye to his family. Although it is clear he has been diagnosed, he’s never fully able to come out to his family, let alone tell them they may never see him again. One moment that will stay with me for a long time is when he asks his longtime friend (and the only person he is able to tell the real reason he is visiting) that when he dies will she please tell his brother what really happened to him. This was still when many people who died of AIDS (either because they had asked, or because their family insisted) had their obits says they died of pneumonia or cancer, or any other cause rather than the truth. It’s a lovely elegy from one generation to another, remembering their struggles and their inability to live their truths.
So that was September. This October will be a whole lot of silent films as I will be returning to the Pordonene Silent Film Festival for the third year. I so cannot wait to be immersed in the era. See you next month!
Posted on October 1, 2018, in 2018 in Films and tagged 1985, Canary, Fruit of Paradise, Kanarie, Lez Bomb, Madeline's Madeline, Ovoce stromu rajských jím, We the Animals. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.