Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQi+’

A Happy Man | Un Homme heureux (2023)

Dir: Tristan Seguela | France, Comedy 97′

A mayor finds out his wife wants to be a man but is more concerned about re-election than his marriage in this perky outing from French director Tristan Seguela.

Sexual transitioning is a tricky subject to tackle and one that could easily be maudlin, misconstrued or even cringeworthy. But Seguela and his writers successfully pull it off, opting for a wafer-light, tongue-in-cheek treatment for this amusing contemporary comedy that treads gently through classic Chabrol country: a conventional Northern French town with its shuttered windows, family-run shops and bars where the locals tend to be conservative, and are not going to take kindly to an LGBTQ+ council. It’s hardly Paris.

Fabrice Lucchini is perfect for the role of Jean Leroy: first incredulous and then gently scandalised in an ‘oh la la’ way when his wife declares, over the pig’s trotters, that she feels like a man, and always has done throughout their 40-year marriage and three children, although, is still in love with him and, in deference,  agrees to transition after his election campaign.

Catherine Frot clearly relishes the role of Edith, now Eddy. Soon the hormones are kicking in, and she’s sporting an incipient beard and moustache, not to mention a tweed jacket and sensible shoes. She even tells the daily to stop calling her ‘Madame’, and enlists in support groups where she meets other transexuals..

Philippe Katerine provides an ironic foil for Lucchini’s mayor, a little bit suggestive, never judging him, and always ready to provide a sympathetic listening ear even when the going gets tough and Leroy goes into meltdown behind the scenes. And especially when he is caught on a traffic camera, his wife embracing him in full drag in a video that naturally goes viral threatening to destabilise his “Forward as Before” campaign trail on social media. Tristan Séguéla offers up a mature, entertaining and insightful comedy drama where the watchwords are understanding, kindness and tolerance, ensuring a happy – almost moving – ending. MT


We The Animals (2018) ****

Dir.: Jeremiah Zagar; Cast: Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel, Sheila Vand, Paul Cashillo; USA 2018, 93 min.

Jeremiah Zagar’s debut feature is a dreamlike portrait of the artist as a (very) young man, and a total repudiation of macho behaviour. Shot brilliantly on 16mm by DoP Zak Mulligan, We The Animals is a unique undertaking.

Based on a novel by Justin Torres, this is a wild ride of sexual awakening told from the perspective of nine-year old Jonah (Rosado) the youngest of three brothers who live with their parents in a dilapidated house in rural New York. Their Mum (Vand) a white woman from Brooklyn, who works at a bottling plant and her husband (Cashillo), a Puerto Rican security guard, are either fighting or fucking passionately, so the three boys are left to themselves; the two older ones, Manny (Kristian) and Joel (Gabriel) looking out for their little brother. A lakeside incident sets the tone: Dad, all macho bravado, throws Jonah into the water – and he is lucky to survive. His furious mother is soon the victim of more violence from her husband. After that, the father disappears only to re-appear suddenly, wanting to be part of the family, like nothing has happened. Mum asks Jonah “to stay my little boy” – no wonder, because her older sons copy their dad’s obstreperous  behaviour. As a form of escapism, Jonah starts sketching, under the bed at night. After his drawings are discovered, he has to make a choice.

The human side of the outside world takes a back seat to the adventures in the forest, but the neighbour’s emotionally immature son makes a dramatic impact on the three siblings with his amateur porn videos, one of which features a homosexual act – and something in Jonah stirs.

Whilst the adult’s relationship is too often clichéd, the children’s games are full of magic and poetry. Jonah’s self-discovery comes in leaps and bounds, and the languid images are a perfect foil for it. The crude drawings and illustrations by Mark Samsonovich are somehow fitting as a “Contra-Point” to the overall dreamlike mood. Cruelty and imagination live cheek by jowl, and Jonah’s inner life is as volatile as his parent’s relationship. We the Animals is freewheeling and genre-less, an innovation in itself, like Jonah’s coming of age in a world of permanent contradictions, using art for self-determination. AS



Sunburn *** BFI Flare 2019

Dir. Vicente Alves do Ó. Portugal. 2018. 82 mins

This sexually fluid and visually lush love-in has shades of François Ozon La Piscine to it- except Ozon’s sizzling storyline puts this tepid affair distinctly in the shade.

In the heat of a languid Portuguese summer four beautiful people are languishing in a fabulous villa, sunning themselves and salivating over the next meal. A phone-call disrupts their placid naval-gazing to announce an absent friend, now back in town will shortly pay them a visit. David’s call sends unnerving ripples through the tepid torpor. Clearly he has touched their lives in different ways. His imminent arrival now creates waves of tension in this becalmed backwater as they cogitate and speculate over the outcome.

Ricardo Barbosa plays Simao a beardy, pale-skinned script-writer prone to wearing skimpy white trunks. Vasco (Ricardo Pereira), a tanned adonis with striking come-to-bed eyes has unrequited romantic yearnings, while tousled-haired Francisco (Nuno Pardal) swings both ways with the bronzed and brooding Joana (Oceana Basílio), who is keen to have his child.

Their laconic exchanges over lunch are laced with nervous insinuations as the memories of David come silently back to haunt them. Cocktails on the terrace take a more sinister turn; their after dinner sambas seem more urgent, as distant sirens announce a far away fiasco in the cool of the night.

David’s imminent arrival casts a pall over their pleasure, both individual and collective, as they remember how he slighted them each in his own special way. Yet they seem to savour the betrayal and the hurtfulness it caused them, secretly fostering hopes for a positive reunion, why ruminating over his motives, as he talks to them, unspecifically, in voiceover.

At the end of the day, this is a story that sounds much more interesting than it actually ends up being on the big screen. These beautiful people feel strangely empty in the picture perfect place they inhabit, each possessing a curious lack of personality and certain, spontaneity. Sunburn is has a brilliant premise, poorly executed, a missed opportunity for the something really stunning. MT


Boy Erased (2018) **

Dir.: Joel Edgerton; Cast: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Xavier Dolan, Britton Sear; USA 2018, 114.min.

After his promising first feature Gift, Joel Edgerton overreaches himself with this disjointed drama lacking the emotional heft that the weighty subject matter deserves. And while some scenes have impact, for the most part Boy Erased feels rather clunky and underwhelming.

Edgerton bases his narrative on the memoirs of Garrad Conley, one of 700 000 gay minors who have become the victims of the Christian Conversion Therapy, still practiced in 36 US states. Lucas Hedges plays teenage Jared Eamons coming to terms with being gay in his highly conventional Baptist family. His father Marshall (Crowe), is a bigoted Baptist preacher and his hairdresser mother Nancy (Kidman), too weak to stand up to him in an effective way. Just before he goes starts college, Jared breaks up with his girl friend on account of his sexual motivations and finds himself paying for his sins at a fundamental Christian Conversion Institution, run by the vicious fanatic Victor Sykes (Edgerton). And Jared is not alone is feeling the wrath of God in this insufferable hell hole, joined by one dimensional characters like John (Dolan) and Cameron (Sear), who does his best to be a pal, before committing suicide.

Both Crowe and Kidman ham it parlously, and Kidman is particularly unconvincing as Nancy. Hedges is the standout, doing his best to flesh out Jared’s character despite his crass lines. DoP Eduard Grau’s attempts to break down the stultifying atmosphere with some fine camerawork, but to no avail. Edgerton seems very much at home with the schlock-horror environment of his debut, but he shouldn’t be let loose – for a long time – with material which deserves a serious approach. AS

ON RELEASE NATIONWIDE from Friday 8 February 2019


Sundance Film Festival | Award and Winners 2019

Sundance announced its awards last night after ten extraordinary days of the latest independent cinema. Taking place each January in Park City, snowy Utah, the festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums. The Festival brings together the most original storytellers known to mankind. In his closing speech President and Founder Robert Redford commented: “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.” Over half the films shown were directed by women and 23 prizes were awarded across the board including one film from a director identifying as LGBTQI+

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary/China | Dirs: Nanfu Wang/Jialing Zhang,

 photo by Nanfu Wang.

ONE CHILD NATION After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic/USA | Dir/Wri Chinonye Chukwu


photo by Eric Branco

CLEMENCY: Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Dirs: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov | Macedonia

HONEYLAND – When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female bee hunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

The Souvenir| photo by Agatha A. Nitecka.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic | UK | Dir/wri: Joanna Hogg

THE SOUVENIR: A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, | USA  Dir: Rachel Lears:

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, U.S.A. Dir/Wri: Paul Downs

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary/Austria: Dir: Richard Ladkan

SEA OF SHADOWS/Austria – The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic/Denmark Dir: May el-Toukhy

QUEEN OF HEARTS — A woman jeopardises both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.


The Audience Award: NEXT, Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra

THE INFILTRATORS / U.S.A. (Directors: , Screenwriters: — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary | USA Dirs: Steven Bognar and Julia

AMERICAN FACTORY  — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic U.S.A. Dirs: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot,

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary NOR | Dir: Mads Brüggerwas

 photo by Tore Vollan.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic | Spain (Dir/Wri: Lucía Garibaldi,

THE SHARKS / Uruguay, Argentina – While a rumour about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic USA | Dir: Pippa Blanco

SHARE— After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency| USA | Dir: Jacqueline Olive

ALWAYS IN SEASON — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker USA : Liza Mandelup

JAWLINE — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing USA : Todd Douglas Miller

APOLLO 11 — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography | U.S.A. Dir: Luke Lorentzen

MIDNIGHT FAMILY / Mexico/DOC — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.


Floating Skyscrapers (2013)

Director/Writer: Tomas Wasilewski | Cast: Mateusz Banasiuk, Katarzyna Herman, Marta Nieradkiewicz, Bartosz Gelner | Poland 93’

Hailed as ‘Poland’s first LGBT film’, Tomasz Wasilewski’s striking drama follows a champion swimmer whose gay relationship causes ripples. 

It forms part of an erotically-charged series of films from a new wave of Polish filmmakers and follows on from the director’s affecting debut In A Bedroom, once again starring In A Bedroom’s Katarzyna Herman.

The central character in Floating Skyscrapers has a dilemma: is he heterosexual, gay or just a highly-sexed bi?  Played with emotional and physical gusto by Mateusz Banasiuk, Kuba is a professional swimmer whose honed physique and competitive-edge belies his shaky sexual identity.

Living with his mother, Ewa (Katarzyna Herman) and girlfriend Sylwia (Marta Nieradkiewicz), makes matters worse as the two women compete for his attention when he is not poolside. It’s clear that his sporting prowess does little to curb his sexual appetite which is further stimulated by the athletic bodies of his fellow swimmers until he’s drawn to  the charismatic Michal (Bartosz Gelner) who he meets one evening with Ewa. The men’s attraction becomes palpable during unspoken gestures and eye-contact during dinner and Ewa picks up on this. Ewa is dismayed the two have met not least because her sexual relationship  with Kuba is adversely affected as the unresolved tension in Kuba slowly becomes apparent.

Gelner and  Banasiuk give utterly convincing performances as they gradually become closer, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Kuba Kijowski in neutral tones of  silvery beige and acqua echoing the water motif.  A judicious use of silence  accentuates the tension throughout. Michal is an interesting thoughtful character, appearing more urbane and sensitive as a counterpoint to Kuba’s tough macho quality that gradually melts away as the narrative unfolds. Katarzyna Herman’s turn as Ewa evokes a subtle and deep-understanding of her son. Thomas Wasilewski is a promising filmmaker and storyteller with an excellent vision for both creative widescreen visuals and for detailed camerawork marking him out as an exciting talent in recent Polish cinema who has since directed United States of Love and Fools.  MT



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