The Heterosexual Coming Out Story: On ‘Love, Simon’ and ‘Boy Erased’

“I loved that”, said my friend after our screening of Love, Simon finished. The lights were coming up, ‘Aflie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song)’ was playing over scrapbook style credits. She had been babbling since they started rolling. Her face was a portrait of the film we just watched, eyes red and puffy, mouth in a wide grin. “I loved that so much, I can’t wait to see it again”. I agreed. Love, Simon was easy to love. I wanted to see it again. And see it again I did, three more times in fact, and each with the same amount of joy.

Love, Simon is by all measures a crushingly average film. It is about as cliched as a high-school, coming-of-age, romance film can be. That’s what, in my mind at least, makes it so good. Prior to Love, Simon I had felt that while queer experiences had been depicted well in film, it was normally reserved for awards season or indie films­. When queerness was in the mainstream it was usually packaged for heterosexual audiences rather than being for the queer community – 2013’s GBF sticks out as prime example of this.

While this had been improving, 2016 and 2017 certainly saw queer films pushed further into the mainstream with Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name respectively, much of the press surrounding the latter sought to detract from the queerness. With two white male leads in an otherwise common love story its only unique factor to me seemed to be the queerness – yet efforts were made to detract from this queerness, with the film frequently being touted as a ‘universal’ love story.

For Love, Simon to be as average as it was while simply letting its protagonist be queer was nice. “Everyone deserves a great love story” ran the tagline. I wouldn’t call Love, Simon exceptionally great but the queer community was finally getting a middling high-school romance and that did feel great. It felt great because it felt normal – we were finally being treated as normal. Love, Simon seemed special considering that 2018 was year where many films with queer narratives fell into the same clichés of queer cinema past. From these films, Boy Erased sticks out to me as the most egregious example.

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Where Love, Simon was focused on the future, Boy Erased was trapped in the past. The story of Jared (Lucas Hedges) is one that we have seen before multiple times, from the 1999 cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader to this year’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post (which tells the conversion therapy narrative with far more delicacy and emotion than Boy Erased).

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Dads of 2018: Ranked

A few weeks ago, this tweet by Alexandra Svokos (@asvokos) was posted on Twitter:

Basically, it awoke a burning need inside me. I love film dads. You hopefully love film dads as well. So, why not use my position as a writer on a well-respected film site to rank film dads and distract myself from the existential despair around me? For the sake of brevity (and so I’m not just regurgitating the beautiful tweet above), I chose to focus on 2018 film dads in a specific and simple list, ranked on a lot of different factors. I limited it down to one dad per movie, from movies I have seen and at least superficially enjoyed. There also may be spoilers for any film included on the list, so beware!

Well, girls, gays, and all other dad loving individuals – let’s get to it!

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Much Ado’s Best Films of 2018 (So Far)

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:

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Much Ado Pride 2018: ‘Alex Strangelove’ is a Netflix Original Worth Watching

After delivering a series of awful originals this year, which include The Cloverfield ParadoxMute, and The Kissing Booth, Netflix finally delivers with Alex Strangelove. A touching film that hits familiar John Hughes-esque territory, but delivers a raunchy, comedic and heartwarming story of self-discovery.

The film follows type-A nerd Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), as he navigates the “savage kingdom that is the modern American high school.” He meets Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and they become best friends, start their own web series, and eventually, they start dating. This is where the familiar “You’ll be the laughing stock of the school if you don’t lose your virginity!!” flashbacks kick in, and just like every teenager, Alex is going through the same pressure. But things get complicated when Alex meets the charismatic, gay Elliot (Antonio Marziale), who sends Alex down a rollercoaster of sexual discovery and acceptance. 

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Review: ‘Love, Simon’ Breaks Down the Barriers for Mainstream LGBT Films

If there’s one thing that Love, Simon succeeds at, its giving us something new in a genre that is characterized by the regurgitation of the same tropes and clichés. Needless to say, I am not a big fan of teen romcoms, so I walked into my advanced screening last Tuesday with cautious optimism. I was immediately surprised to see how packed the theater was with plenty of young faces and couples, and as soon as the movie started they cheered and filled the theater with so much delight and energy that can only be beaten by a crowd of a Star Wars movie on opening night. It was in that moment I knew that I was about to watch something very special for my community. Love, Simon is a heartfelt, positive, and inviting romp through the personal journey of a closeted gay teenager, and being that it is a mainstream studio film- that in itself is an honorable achievement.

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From left to right: Love Simon’s Jordan Lendeborg Jr, Nick Robinson, Alexandra Shipp and Katherine Langford

Adapted by the 2015 young adult novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon tells the story of a teenage boy dealing with the struggle of embracing his own sexual identity whilst also wanting to also fit in and be treated normally by his family, friends, and peers around him. It was directed by Greg Berlanti, the writer-producer of other teen-aimed movies and shows such as the D.C. network shows and was produced by the same people who brought you films like The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns. This is a good indicator of what kind of film to expect going in, but Love, Simon does offer some very substantial subversions of traditional romantic comedy fare, including a character that serves as a callout to the obnoxious white knight archetype you see in a lot of these films.

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Most Anticipated Films of 2018

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2017 was a crazy, whirlwind of a year for cinema, with great films that left us on the edge of our seats like Get Out and Dunkirk, but now it’s time to start thinking about the countless films we can’t wait to see in 2018. Especially as the 2018 Sundance Festival comes to an end, we can’t help to think 2018 could be another great year for film. Ranging from small, independent films to major Disney blockbusters, here are some of the films our staff desperately anticipating.

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The Future is Bright (And Gay): 8 LGBTQ+ Films to Look Out For in 2018

2017 was a fantastic year for LGBTQ+ cinema. From ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to ‘A Fantastic Woman’ to ‘Battle of the Sexes’ to ‘120 BPM’, both mainstream and independent films proved that the industry is developing rapidly in terms of its approach to sexuality and gender. 2018 looks set to continue this, with a number of upcoming films featuring LGBTQ+ themes. Though we’ll have to wait and see if this year can improve on the last, the future looks bright (and rainbow) if the following films are anything to go by.

Please note that reviews linked to in this thread may contain spoilers. 

 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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Chloë Grace Moretz, Forrest Goodluck, and Sasha Lane in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. © Sundance Institute

Director: Desiree Akhavan

Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., Forrest Goodluck

Release Date: 22nd January 2018 (Sundance Film Festival)

Premise: One of quite a few conversion therapy films this year, ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ tells the story of a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) who, after being caught with the prom queen, is sent to a “de-gaying” camp by her conservative family. Though things will become much more clear after the film’s imminent Sundance debut, at the moment hopes are high – director Desiree Akhavan’s previous work includes the much treasured ‘Appropriate Behaviour’. The cast is also promising, with ‘American Honey’ breakout star Sasha Lane in her second cinematic appearance, and the always trustworthy Jennifer Ehle co-starring.

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