Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to surprise his ex-girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany), by heading to the finish line of the Boston marathon to see her cross the line. When a terrorist bomb explodes Jeff loses both his legs. Due to horrific photos of him at the bombing which quickly become iconic, he is held up by a hero by some and a prime example of ‘Boston Strong’. However, Jeff initially riles against the idea of himself as a hero, struggling with the fact that a city in need of catharsis desperately wants him to be an inspirational figure. [Read more…]
Cinema, DVD and Blu-ray reviews
120 BPM has been eliciting praise ever since it debuted at Cannes last year, including winning the Grand Prix and Queer Palm at the festival. It’s gone on to win multiple other awards, including Best Film at the Cesar Awards (France’s equivalent of the Oscars). It was also France’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, although sadly it missed out on a nomination.
Written and directed by Robin Campillo (who also made the very good Eastern Boys), 120 BPM is a fictionalised take on the true story of the AIDS activist organisation, ACT UP Paris. Campillo and co-screenwriter Philippe Mangeot were involved with ACT UP themselves, helping to give the movie an authenticity and power it may otherwise have lacked. Thankfully though, despite being close to the story Campillo is objective enough to be able to acknowledge the flaws and problems within the organisation, while also having a clear-eyed view of why these things happened. This allows it to be a powerful and empathetic testament to both ACT UP and those who were/are affected by AIDS, without becoming hagiography. [Read more…]
You can’t win with a gay audience. Whenever a gay-themed movie or TV show comes along that’s given a higher profile/mainstream release, it ends up generating controversy. The problem seems to be that their rarity mean people want these releases to be all things to all men (or at least reflect their personal conception of what gay entertainment should), but often course one film/show can’t represent everything.
It’s already happened with Love, Simon, with some complaining that it’s ‘yet another’ coming out story (despite the fact that coming out is one of the few nearly universal gay experiences and that the films audience of teens – and not just gay teens – won’t have seen lots of coming out movies). Others have moaned that its mainstream sensibilities deny the oppression that many LGBT people face, even though Simon’s experience is probably closer to the reality for many young gay people in the West nowadays than a ‘right on’ tale of misery and oppression. [Read more…]
The Happy Prince has been a true passion project for writer, director and actor Rupert Everett. After years of trying to get it to the screen he’s finally been able to make the movie, which looks at the lesser known story of what happened to Oscar Wilde after was released from prison following his sentence for gross indecency with men.
Knowing his fame/infamy means staying in Britain is impossible, Wilde (Everett) heads for the continent. We first see him ill and barely surviving in Paris, still trying to live it up (beyond his means), but only just hanging on. The film then flashes back to his arrival in France when things seemed very different. Friends including Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas) and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) are keen to help him build a new life. He’s got money thanks to a stipend from his estranged wife and after two years of hard labour the sun of France gives Oscar a sense of optimism. [Read more…]
Leo (Martin L. Washington Jr.) is a young man living in a tough part of Alaska. He and his twin sister, Tristen (Maya Washington), were abandoned by their mother when they were young and re now trapped between a desire for escape and fear that this will mean their mother will never be able to find them. To make matters worse, Tristen is battling cancer. [Read more…]
This documentary follows Scott Jones, who was stabbed in the street after leaving a bar in Nova Scotia. The homophobic attack left Scott paralysed and using a wheelchair. Now trying to piece his life back together – partly through music, leading choirs and speaking publicly about his experiences – he tries to deal with the impact of the attack. Scott attempts to find some form of catharsis, whether that’s making a kind of peace with his attacker or processing the changes to his life. [Read more…]
Teenager Olly (Daniel Monks) is disabled and has had various health issues to deal with throughout his life. His doctors tell him that it’s likely he’ll have to start using a wheelchair soon. He decides to take advantage of a brand new treatment that’s just arrived in Australia – a full body transplant. However, rather than staying a man, he elects to be put inside the body of a good-looking young woman.
Unsurprisingly his friends are surprised, as they didn’t even know he was attracted to men, let alone that he might be interested being in a woman’s body. Although the new body gives Olly a new lease on life, it also causes problems as he takes his freedom to the extreme and others react badly when they discover who he truly is. [Read more…]
A trans woman, Deusimar (Yuri Yamamoto), runs a bar in what looks like a storage room, where her clients are a bunch of misfits including a man painted completely silver, a bearded Wonder Woman and a hoary old Spider-man, and her staff includes a man dressed as a rabbit. A stranger, Jarbas (Demick Lopes), comes into the bar, and soon starts an affair with Deusimar. She falls deeply for the sailor but in his wake the influences of the outside world come into this safe but unusual world, which increasingly threatens its existence. [Read more…]
Director Jessica Champeaux looks into the world of lesbian parenting via artificial insemination in Belgium. This is mainly done via interviews with medical professionals, women who’ve decided to have children that way, and adults whose gay parents had them by artificial insemination.
It’s the last of those that’s the most interesting. Both the doctors and the parents largely let us know exactly what we’d expect to hear (at times parroting a party line that perhaps needs to be challenged a little more). However, the adult children are the voice that offers something new, expressing their confusion at the homophobia they experienced growing up because of their parents. They also talk about how they experience an oppression that is unique to them and can be quite acute – it’s not merely homophobia once removed as many would like to believe. [Read more…]
The Wound has proven intensely controversial in its native South Africa. Some among the country’s Xhosa people (including the ‘King’) objected to its portrayal of their manhood initiation ceremony, which they said was taboo to talk about (others said their objection was really about trying to quash the idea that there are gay Xhosa people). That resulted in the movie being banned. After a public outcry it was swiftly unbanned, but with a certificate that was usually reserved for pornography.
The film certainly isn’t porn, but the controversy has meant it’s remained in the public consciousness over there far longer than it probably would have otherwise. It’s one of the latest examples of the so-called Barbra Streisand effect, where calling attention to something in the hope of making it disappear has the unintended side effect of amplifying it, in this case internationally. That leaves the difficult job on the part of the reviewer of trying to extricate themselves from the cause celebre the movie has become from the movie itself – luckily in the case of The Wound the movie stands up on its own. [Read more…]