Sequin in a Blue Room, is a striking character study, doubling up as a micro examination of a generation far more comfortable making anonymous connections over hook-up apps than discovering anything meaningful in real life.
It’s scathing and satirical as it sinks its teeth into predatory men and far right conspiracy theorists, providing the broadest dark laughs while offering something far more groundbreaking for the vampire genre below such surface pleasures. It’s a humble film that has no intention above making horror fans howl in delight – but on closer inspection, it’s clear that it deserves far more credit than a film in this style is likely to receive.
A Dog Barking at the Moon was this year’s winner of Berlin’s Teddy award, and will be continuing its festival run at this year’s Outfest. The sheer bravery that led to this singular art film getting made, even lying to the Chinese censorship board about the subject matter in order to secure necessary funding, shows how passionate Xiang Zi was about sharing her story, warts and all.
Love Blooms, is a lowkey drama that could be best described as a post-coming of age film. After their first love has died out with a whimper, we follow two characters who have to confront their adult lives on their own for the first time, and navigate a city where they have both moved in order to get a fresh start.
It’s telling that in any history lesson on the rising cold war tensions of the late 40’s and 1950’s, McCarthyism is strictly defined as accusations of communist sympathies. What has got lost in the history books in the intervening years is a crucial part of American LGBT history, that PBS documentary The Lavender Scare aims to bring back into the national conversation – and on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this damning, widespread saga of prejudice can now be seen as an equally pivotal step towards equal rights.
It may be surprising to see a Russian film nominated for the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, especially considering the country’s deeply conservative laws that effectively stop the financing of any films with LGBT themes. But director Kantemir Balagov, in just his second feature, has made something far more ambiguous, and dripping in queer subtext; a haunting tale of repressed emotion in the aftermath of the Second World War, where the conflicting desires of two women leads to a miserable, quasi-abusive relationship masquerading as a friendship.
Maxime is two weeks away from leaving his life in Canada behind to take a two year world trip, starting on the opposite side of the globe in Melbourne. He plans on spending the last couple of weeks seeing friends, and on one weekend getaway, volunteers to star in a student short film – his friend Matthias losing a bet and having to take the opposite role. The scene requires the pair to kiss, something which Maxime doesn’t think twice about, but causes Matthias to unpack a lot of suppressed emotions.
Celine Sciamma’s films are uniquely attuned to examining the female body, without a whiff of exploitation or a sexually charged agenda to be seen. After tackling films dealing with puberty and gender dysphoria, she’s taken a seemingly unusual step for her fourth feature, 18th century period drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire. No longer is she dealing with the struggles of young people as they deal with their changing bodies, but she is taking the logical next step, crafting a romance all around the very idea of capturing the essence of the female body in a work of art.
The film to which Pain and Glory has been most extensively compared is Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, the Italian director’s genre-bending, meta textual examination of a filmmaker crafting his most ambitious project to date. Both films are excellent, but the comparisons prove to be something of a dead end; Fellini was more preoccupied with the process of filmmaking itself, while Almodovar is interested in exploring the human factors that would inspire somebody to tell a story in the first place.
As far as first dates go, you’d struggle to think of any that are worse than this. Josef arrives at the lavish apartment where John lives. The pair had met before and agreed to a date, but Josef was too wasted to remember the specifics – a detail that becomes insignificant due to the mounting awkwardness that envelops their evening.
Marilyn is based on a true story, but tries its hardest not to transform into reductive misery porn, or emotional exploitation. It offers an intimate look at the life of a queer teenager figuring out their identity in a small town, acknowledging the (often violent) hostility they would face, while still acknowledging the expected identity crisis that is teenage life beyond these harrowing moments.