5. Those People
Synopsis: Set amongst the privileged world of New York’s rich young people, Those People follows art student Charlie, who has long felt unrequited love for his best friend Sebastian, even though the latter is spoilt, entitled and seems to enjoy keeping his friend hanging. When Charlie meets slightly older musician Tim, a new world of possibilities opens up. However, giving up on his feelings for Sebastian proves difficult.
From Our Review: Unrequited love is a tough topic for film to handle, but Those People does it exceedingly well, putting its heart into exactly the right place and finding a story of complex people trapped in an unusual love triangle (well, unusual for film, but not so much for real life). A lot of credit must go to the script, and also to actor Jonathan Gordon, who brings a real sweetness and surprising innocence to Charlie. It’s also nice that while Sebastian is undoubtedly an entitled ass, the film ensures there’s more to him than that, bringing depth to some of his least pleasant aspects.
4. Eat With Me
Synopsis: Eliot’s life is upended when his mother, Emma, turns up on his doorstep, having seemingly left her husband. While Emma knows her son is gay, she isn’t comfortable with it. As she starts to open up and find a new life beyond being a wife and mother, Eliot must also confront his own intimacy issues, which have resulted in him backing off whenever it appears it might be getting serious with a guy. Mother and son must both find a new way of living, as well as a new way of seeing one another.
From Our Review: Eat With Me is a movie that’s well worth seeking out, as it’s extremely heartfelt, sweet and entertaining, dealing with great empathy with a variety of issues, from facing middle-age and wanting more from life, to dealing with sexuality not just for the family of a gay person but also for the person themselves.
3. The Last Straight Man
Synopsis: A drunken bonding session after Cooper’s bachelor party turns into something else when he sleeps with his best friend Lewis. This is the first of five nights that we see over the space of 12 years, where the buddies meet one night a year to kick back and have sex. However, what’s supposed to just be a bit of fun gets increasingly complex and intimate for both men, until it reaches the point where they must both make a decision over whether this is more than just ‘friends with benefits’.
From Our Review: There is admittedly the potential issue that two people who start having sex just before one of them gets married and then continue the affair for another decade, don’t sound particularly sympathetic. However, you can’t help but start to root for them and their happiness, whether it involves Cooper and Lewis staying together or not… It doesn’t hurt either that the film is very sexy. Both [Scott] Sell and [Mark] Cirillo spend a decent chunk of the film in the buff (with a few full frontal shots to keep penis-spotters happy), having sex and generally being pretty hot. What makes it work beyond just visual buffness is the chemistry between the two men, which is thanks to both the actors and the script.
Synopsis: Transsexual sex worker Sin-dee is just out of jail and meets up with her friend, Alexandra to celebrate. Alexandra lets Sin-dee know some bad news – her boyfriend and pimp, Chester, has been sleeping with someone else while she was inside. The now furious Sin-dee sets off to find this woman, something that proves more difficult that you’d think. Alexandra meanwhile is preparing for a performance she’s arranged at a club, but before that she needs some cash, which involves turning some tricks.
From Our Review: The film could easily have tried to pity its characters in the way many well-meaning but rather patronising social dramas do. Instead, Tangerine isn’t interested in decrying society or weeping about the women at the centre of the film. What it wants to show is that no matter their lot in life, Sin-dee and Alexandra are vibrant, witty people with dreams and desires, who may make plenty of bad decisions, but underneath that they are still good people who it’s worth spending an hour and a half with.
Synopsis: Set in New York in the 1950s, Carol is a middle-aged woman married to a man she doesn’t really want to be with, but who society demands she sticks beside. Then she meets the younger department store assistant Therese, and the two begin an affair which starts to change Carol’s life – simultaneously opening up a new world of freedom and self-respect, while possibly ripping apart when she cherished about her previous existence.
From Our Review: The real reason for watching it is Blanchett’s tremendous performance as Carol. She is made up and coiffured to within an inch of her life, but the cut clothes and curly hairdo cannot hide the fragility of her character. She looks like she might shatter at any moment, and her constant flicking of cigarette ash and sipping of cocktails slowly reveals a woman who is all surface. Even her poor husband admits she is ‘always the most beautiful woman in the room’ even after she treats him so badly. It’s a brilliant portrayal, on a par with her part in Blue Jasmine, which was similar Oscar-bait.