This article is by our guest writer, Isabelle Miller.
Happy pride everyone! During the month of June, we reflect on the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the activists who started the LGBTQ movement. It’s a time to advocate for the LGBTQ community, celebrate their culture, and naturally, watch some great films (though, when is there not a good time for this?). In the late 1970s, artist Gilbert Baker decided to create a flag in representation of the LGBTQ community. Today, the rainbow flag represents LGBTQ pride all across the world. The different colors carry various meanings such as life, healing, sunlight, peace, spirit, sex, art/magic, people of color, and HIV/AIDS.
In celebration of pride month, here’s a list of LGBTQ films based on some of those colors!
Pink (Sex) – The Handmaiden
Mysterious, hypnotic, and captivating, Park Chan-wook 1930s-set Korean thriller wins the award for the most erotic on this list. Based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, the film is about “The Count” (Ha Jung-Woo) who, with the help of an impoverished young woman Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), derives a plan to con Japanese heiress Hideko (Kim Min-hee) out of her fortune. The Handmaiden is a gothic romance, but still has a thriller aspect that is similar to Park Chan-wook’s previous films like Lady Vengeance and Oldboy. The sex in the film is depicted beautifully, and it’s an important aspect of the film for character development and motivations. Chan-wook doesn’t depend solely on these scenes to make the film erotic, however, as The Handmaiden’s cinematography, set design, and score combines seamlessly to create a sensual tale of human desire.
Yellow (Sunlight) – Call Me By Your Name
Somewhere in Northern Italy director, Luca Guadagnino adapted a coming-of-age novel by André Aciman into a film for the senses. In the mid-1980s 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls for his father’s teaching assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer) while he’s staying with Elio’s family at their villa. What follows is a beautiful romance like no other, told through the blistering summer days of Italy as Elio and Oliver spend the days riding their bikes, swimming, and lazing around. Their love is passionate and seductive, but always pure and tender at its core. Guadagnino meticulously places the camera on certain elements from beginning to end, whether its a lingering gaze between the two leads, sunlight sparkling as it reflects off the water, or a ripe peach on a tree. Playing with the senses like this, he only makes you want to invest more of yourself in Elio and Oliver’s story, one of discovery, heartbreak, and first love.
Green (Nature) – God’s Own Country
There are times when parts of a film take on characters of their own. Some that come to mind are the score for Phantom Thread or the architecture in Columbus. In God’s Own Country, a farm in Yorkshire does exactly this. Johnny (Josh O’Connor) works on his family’s farm during the days and spends his night’s binge drinking and having casual sex. When a Romanian worker, Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), is hired for extra help on the farm, his arrival causes a change in Johnny. The muddy, rugged, course farmland runs parallel to the relationship between Johnny and Gheorghe: it is authentic, genuine, and at times a little messy. It’s also great to see a character like Johnny avoid conventions of the genre. Rather than being depicted as a young man who can’t come to terms with being attracted to men, the film explores his problem with intimacy in general.
Brown and Black (POC) – Tangerine
It’s hard to put into words exactly what Tangerine is…perhaps a faux-documentary, drama, comedy? Whatever the case, Sean Baker’s 2015 film makes a bold statement, not only in the content, but also in the fact that it was all shot on iPhones. Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) gets released from jail only to find out that her boyfriend/pimp Chester (James Ransone) cheated on her. With this new information, she sets out on a mission across downtown L.A. with her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) to find both Chester and the woman he’s been cheating with. Rodriguez and Taylor are cast perfectly, the friendship between their two characters is vital to the story; it’s hilarious, witty, and utterly unique, holding so much emotional impact. Baker gives a rare insight into the lives of transgender sex-workers, and while Sin-Dee and all other characters may be fictional, their arcs are all completely human.