There is a profound sense of anger that grows in you when you consume films as an LGBT+ person. You find that there are so few films that feature someone like you in them, and most of the ones that do are created by straight people who fetishize you or your community’s struggles. LGBT+ filmmakers who are given a platform are also rarely funded unless they create films which pander to a predominantly straight audience. It becomes exhausting never to see yourself on screen unless it is to die as a martyr for the larger cisgender, heterosexual population. This is why Arthur Bressan Jr.’s Buddies serves as such a well-praised pillar of queer cinema. And now, with its recent release on DVD and Blu-ray for the very first time, it is available to those whose lives it will no doubt change.Continue reading “Arthur Bressan Jr.’s ‘Buddies’ Is an Important Piece of Gay History That Needs to Be Seen”
Noah Baumbach’s latest feature is a heartbreaking AU in which actress Gena Rowlands divorces her director husband John Cassavetes in order to move to LA and further her film acting career. Kidding, it’s a fluorescent law procedural detailing the absurdly high expenses, both financial and emotional, that unjustly come along with divorce. No, really, it’s a deconstruction of the apocryphal myth that the perfect parent, the perfect marriage, and the perfect career all exist.Continue reading “‘Marriage Story’ is an Emotional Tempest that Expertly Blurs the Line Between Realism and Camp”
Genre films have always gotten a bad rap. Even when they are praised, it usually feels like a backhanded compliment — “I turned off my brain and enjoyed the ride,” or “It was just a really simple and fun film” are often used to offer both praise and dismissal in equal measure. But there is power in simplicity. In Dark Waters, Todd Haynes knows when it is necessary, and how to harness it for the benefit of both the film and its audience. This is an impressive feat.Continue reading “Todd Haynes Uses Genre Simplicity to His Advantage in ‘Dark Waters’”
The West never sees the Middle Eastern and African world as what it really is. There is an inbred generalization that is almost impossible to forget. Even when you know that it is false, your mind will not always have actual images to put next to that thesis. Godard’s La Livre d’ Image dedicates a chapter to the violence of representation, pointing out how it’s nearly impossible for Westerners to represent cultures that are not Western, grounded in the inherent gap in both language and perception of other cultures. The fact that Africa is often seen as a monolithic setting, something homogeneous, even though it’s a diverse, culturally rich continent, should be proof enough of a general unwillingness to destroy and actively tackle images of prejudice in broad parts of society. In consequence, it’s no wonder there is so little compassion towards thousands of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, who are in search of a better life. They are seen as one.
In Mati Diop’s ravishing Atlantique, a group of construction workers are repeatedly denied their money for their work on a giant futuristic building. They struggle to support their families and loved ones and set out to sea to find better opportunities. The women remain, one of them being Ada. She is in love with the young Souleiman, but has to face her arranged marriage after Souleiman disappears with the others. What unfolds from here is both a ghost story and a love story from the perspectives of the women left behind. Continue reading “‘Atlantique’ is a swoon-worthy debut by Mati Diop”
Thirza Cuthand’s experimental filmography is a firsthand look into the artist’s mind. Varying from poetic imagery that matches a stream of consciousness-type spoken word to satirical infomercials for dating services or documentaries, this retrospective being presented at the Native Spirit Film Festival is a peek into Cuthand’s experience as Cree and queer.
Cuthand first started exploring the world behind the lens of a camera as a teenager. Her earliest short being shown in this retrospective is from 1995. It comes from an innocent perspective of a budding lesbian who is legitimately curious about where the other girls who like girls are at her high school. The funny film is fueled by naive creativity that is evident of blossoming sexuality that continued to be a theme in Cuthand’s later work.
In 2016, the United Nations made this year, 2019, ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. The hope was to help revitalize the Native languages that are disappearing more and more as elders that are fluent in these tongues are aging. Even with this proclamation, individual tribes and families have taken the burdening task of saving their language on themselves to guarantee that their children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to access the rich and vibrant culture that connects them to the generations before.
A good portion of the films that were presented at the Native Spirit Fest dealt with the art of languages. It has become a rarity to hear a spoken Indigenous tongue in the medium of film and the lineup this year will warm the heart of Native people everywhere when words from these communities appear along with the imagery from their corresponding cultures.
After fabulously leaving the Star Wars fandom in flames with The Last Jedi (a blockbuster so complex and thematically rich, it actually inspired me to start writing about movies!), modern genre film icon Rian Johnson is back for another standalone film— and possibly even his last one for quite a while, as he begins develops his own Star Wars trilogy. In his newest outing, Johnson trades a sci-fi fantasy epic for a classic Hollywood mystery with a killer ensemble cast, a luxurious Kentucky mansion, and cozy, expensive-looking sweaters. The brilliance of Knives Out, however, is that Johnson is somehow able to deliver a hilarious, crowd-pleasing whodunnit film, while simultaneously keeping his radical trademark subversive storytelling intact. I suspect it will be quite challenging for any soul to walk out of this film unamused because on both a casual and intellectual level, Knives Out is an absolute knockout.