Reality television has a tendency to become all-encompassing. Whether through demonstration of talent (The X Factor, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Project Runway), the close observation of an isolated group (I’m a Celebrity, Big Brother) or semi-scripted personality-driven chaos (The Only Way is Essex, Made in Chelsea), this brand of entertainment asks for very little from its audience, while delivering a uniquely involved experience. ITV2’s Love Island is no different. The concept of the show is fairly simple: throw a group of young adults into a Spanish villa, instruct them to couple up, arrange some drama here and there, and the hoards of viewers will tune in nightly, becoming increasingly obsessed with the grafting, bitching, crying and scheming that naturally occurs once straight people are encouraged to find a partner. At the heart of the show, however, is a genuine charm that’s rarely found in reality shows, and a secure knowledge of an audience that has brought this controversial title its fame.
Any fan of Love Island knows that the daily hour spent watching the Islanders’ antics is only the tip of the iceberg. Memes, hashtags, and viciously opinionated factions explode across the internet, providing ample content with which to pass the time between episodes, or even during ad breaks. The producers encourage this interaction, with the Love Island Twitter and Instagram accounts updating frequently to note key developments, and the voting portion of the show being entirely based within a downloadable app. The essence of experiencing this immensely popular show relies on a shared viewing event – even if the people you are sharing it with are situated miles away.
The Criterion collection is not the most inclusive of lists. The majority of films introduced into the canon belong to cisgender and heterosexual filmmakers. While the lack of representation reflects cinema as a whole, and Criterion tends to lean towards an era not known for acceptance, it’s still a disappointing fact. Regardless of this, there are a handful of gay filmmakers whose works have been given the Criterion seal of approval, a trusted sign of the contributions they have made, not only to the art of filmmaking, but to the gay cinematic community as a whole.
Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)
Weerasethakul, affectionally known by his fans as “Joe”, is an experimental filmmaker whose interest in the unconventional makes his feature-length debut, Mysterious Object at Noon, a must-watch from Criterion’s archive. Taking the concept of exquisite corpse (a surreal method by which art is assembled based on chance), Weerasethakul combines documentary filmmaking with art-house style, pushing the boundaries of cinema and successfully creating a patchwork story from various interviewees across Thailand.
Though Weerasethakul’s debut does not explicitly address sexuality, the theme is often explored across his work, alongside various subjects such as nature, Western perceptions of Asia, and dreams. His passion for looking beyond the expectations of the mainstream is undoubtedly influenced by his homosexuality. “For me, the word queer means anything’s possible,” Weerasethakul explained in an interview, allying himself immediately with the concept of queer cinema.
If you’re into lesbian cinema, then you’ve probably heard of Angela Robinson. Her profile has recently expanded; long after blessing us with the likes of D.E.B.S. and Girltrash!, the writer-director went mainstream last year with her vastly under-appreciated Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. (You can read our LFF review of the film here.)
At Much Ado About Cinema, we cherish LGBTQ+ film, and queer cinema is a core foundation of our lives. Robinson is an example of a filmmaker who constantly centres lesbian/bisexual women in her stories, and produces these stories in a way that often makes us feel validated and genuinely represented – she is a brilliant example of why LGBT stories are told best by LGBT people. Whether it’s through comedic parodies or psychosexual dramas, we’ll be following Robinson’s career wherever she chooses to go. If you’re new to her work, take a gander at the profile below: you’ve got a whole lot to catch up on.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, for all its flaws, has become a staple of the reality television calendar. Mixing pop culture with petty drama, Drag Race provides light entertainment to audiences regardless of sexuality and gender – and highlights some of the greatest talents of the queer community at the same time. The show may have become more mainstream, but one thing has remained: the infamous lip-sync for your life, a two minute battle between contestants to establish who truly has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to impress the all-seeing, all-powerful RuPaul.
To celebrate ten fantastic seasons of the show, I’m taking a trip down memory lane and counting down my favourite lip-syncs in Drag Race her-story.
We may only be halfway through the year, but there have already been plenty of great movies to sink our teeth into. From slow-burn indie darlings to crowd-pleasing blockbusters, the past six months have provided something for all tastes, proving that we don’t have to be mid-awards season to experience great cinema. Check out the following 15 films that we think are the best of the best:
This review contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2, Episode 6 ‘Phase Space’. For the rest of our Westworld coverage, click here.
Westworld’s latest episode comes after the bloodbath that was “Akane No Mai”: an episode that expanded on the lore of the series and introduced “Shogun World”. In a season that still struggles to keep a steady hand on its sprawling plot, this addition truly blossoms into its own in episode six of the series, where the heart of “Shogun World” is displayed in all its glory, and each character battles with choices they must make.
After discovering her new voice, Maeve must face the first of these heavy decisions – whether to use her power in order to beat the Shogun or allow Musashi to fight him honourably. “We each deserve to choose our fate,” Maeve declares. Unlike Dolores, Maeve has not become godly in her new-found power, as evidenced multiple times across their respective character arcs. Sure enough, the shogun and Musashi continue their fight untamed by Maeve’s “witchcraft,” in yet another overt display of gore and violence.
One of the greatest joys of film festivals is discovering films that don’t make the advertising headlines, yet leave you with the knowledge that you have witnessed something brilliant. This can certainly be said for Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi’s Sofia, in a truly remarkable debut that boldly explores themes often relegated to the title of “women’s cinema”: social status, family ties, and unwanted motherhood. Such themes may well be off-putting to viewers more interested in murdered sex workers and dismembered breasts, but there’s no accounting for taste.
Sofia, our eponymous protagonist, is a young Moroccan woman who lives with her parents in Casablanca. In the middle of dinner one evening, she suddenly begins experiencing pain in her lower body. Rushing to the kitchen, fluid breaks down her legs, commencing a barrage of problems as she must give birth to and parent a child whose existence she had been completely unaware of. Simultaneously, and perhaps most notably, Sofia must deal with the ramifications of single motherhood in a country where sex outside of marriage is illegal.