Dramarama (2020)

Dramarama
Director: Jonathan Wysocki
Writer: Jonathan Wysocki
Cast: Nick Pugliese, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Zak Henri
Part of: Transition International Queer Minorities Film Festival
Seen on: 30.1.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
It’s 1994. Gene (Nick Pugliese) has been friends with Ally (Danielle Kay), Oscar (Nico Greetham), Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) and Claire (Megan Suri) for pretty much all of high school, brought together by their love for all things dramatic, though all in different ways. Now high school is over and everyone but Gene is preparing to leave town for college. Rose has invited them all for a Victorian Murder Mystery / farewell party and Gene is dreading it a little bit as he hopes to finally come out to the group, and is very doubtful that his Christian friends will accept it easily. But when the final clue to the mystery goes missing and pizza is delivered by older, and way cooler high school drop-out JD (Zak Henri) who stirs up some resentments within the group, things become a little more dramatic than anticipated.

Dramarama is a funny and extremely sweet film that doesn’t work like your usual coming out film – and I loved that. As I loved the entire film.

The film poster showing Oscar (Nico Greetham) dressed up as Sherlock Holmes, Claire (Megan Suri) dressed up as Alice, Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) dressed up as Miss Havisham, Ally (Danielle Kay) dressed up as Mina Harker and Gene (Nick Pugliese) dressed up as Doctor Jekyll.
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Mid90s (2018)

Mid90s
Director: Jonah Hill
Writer: Jonah Hill
Cast: Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin
Seen on: 30.12.2021

Content Note: domestic violence, child abuse, homomisic and ableist slurs

Plot:
Stevie (Sunny Suljic) lives with his mother Dabney (Katherine Waterston) and his bigger brother Ian (Lucas Hedges). Things aren’t easy at home. Stevie gets beaten up regularly by Ian, and Dabney is rarely present, usually caught up with some man or another. When Stevie stumbles upon a group of skaters, he hopes to find the community there that he lacks at home. He takes up skating and gets to know the boys. But they are older and wilder than him.

For some reason, I thought that Mid90s would be a light-hearted film. It is not, and it disabused me of that notion within the first 30 seconds or so. Once I readjusted my expectations, I found it quite good in many ways.

The film poster showing Stevie (Sunny Suljic) photographed slightly from below against a blue sky with white clouds.
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Mixtape (2021)

Mixtape
Director: Valerie Weiss
Writer: Stacey Menear
Cast: Gemma Brooke Allen, Julie Bowen, Audrey Hsieh, Olga Petsa, Nick Thune, Jackson Rathbone
Seen on: 20.12.2021

Plot:
Beverly (Gemma Brooke Allen) lives with her grandmother Gail (Julie Bowen), as her parents died when she – and they – were very young. Gail rarely talks about them and Beverly never really knew them, so when she finds some of their stuff, it’s like a gift. She discovers a mixtape with songs that were meaningful to her parents among the stuff, but unfortunately, the tape gets eaten. So she sets out to find the songs with the help of her new-found friends Ellen (Audrey Hsieh) and Nicky (Olga Petsa), as well as grumpy record store owner Anti (Nick Thune).

Mixtape is a cute film that doesn’t hide big surprises, but executes its story well enough – and thankfully with a good soundtrack.

The film poster showing Beverly (Gemma Brooke Allen) lying in the grass, chewing gum and listening to a walkman. Around her a snapshots of film scenes.
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Alice Júnior (2019)

Alice Júnior
Director: Gil Baroni
Writer: Luiz Bertazzo, Adriel Nizer Silva
Cast: Anna Celestino Mota, Emmanuel Rosset, Thaís Schier, Surya Amitrano, Matheus Moura, Katia Horn, Igor Augustho, Marcel Szymanski, Cida Rolim
Seen on: 2.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota) was the first trans participant in Brazil’s Teenage Top Model and has built quite a social media following from there. She is well-accepted in her school and she hopes to finally get her first kiss soon. That’s when her father Jean Genet (Emmanuel Rosset) announces that he got a new job and that they’d have to move to the middle of nowhere. Alice Júnior is horrified at the idea of leaving her life behind, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. Settling into a new place is hard enough as is, but harder still when you unwillingly leave a good place and land in a school where transmisia is still alive and well. Fortunately, though, Alice Júnior is not easily discouraged, and there are some nice people in the new place as well.

Alice Júnior is a fun, sweet film with an engaging heroine. It is also a take on being a trans teenager that is different from the (few) stories we usually get to see about this topic. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing a pink and blue headshot of Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota).
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È stata la mano di Dio [The Hand of God] (2021)

È stata la mano di Dio
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Betty Pedrazzi, Biagio Manna, Ciro Capano, Enzo Decaro, Lino Musella, Sofya Gershevich
Part of: surprise film at the Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2021

Content Note: sexism, fatmisia, ableism, domestic violence, sexualized harrassment

Plot:
Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) is a teenager in Naples with a large, boisterous family. Pretty much everyone around him is talking about Diego Maradona and whether he will come to play for Naples or not. There is a note of chaos in the implication of that possibility – a chaos that is well familiar to Fabietto and his family who live it everyday. That chaos lies in Fabiè’s crush on his aunt Patricia (Luisa Ranieri), and his parents Saverio (Toni Servillo) and Maria’s (Teresa Saponangelo) relationship, and the entire extended family. It’s not easy growing up in these circumstances, but Fabiè doesn’t really have a choice there.

I absolutely hated The Hand of God. It’s a film that isn’t just set in the 80s, it’s also stuck in times long past with its sense of humor. I’m honestly not sure if I actually remember all the things I should be writing Content Notes for. In any case, I was really pissed that I saw this.

The film poster showing Patricia (Luisa Ranieri) standing in a dilapitated, but formerly very grand room in front of a giant chandelier that is lit, but resting on the ground.
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Petite Solange (2021)

Petite Solange
Director: Axelle Ropert
Writer: Axelle Ropert
Cast: Jade Springer, Léa Drucker, Philippe Katerine, Grégoire Montana, Chloé Astor, Marthe Léon, Léo Ferreira
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2021

Content Note: attempted suicide

Plot:
Solange (Jade Springer) is 13 years old and should be busy with worrying about school and first love. Instead she worries that her parents (Léa Drucker, Philippe Katerine) might be breaking up. Her bigger brother Romain (Grégoire Montana) escapes the tensions at home by going to university. Left alone and in uncertainty, Solange feels adrift and starts to spiral.

Somehow when I read the description of Petite Solange, I thought that this would be a coming of age comedy like many before it, a genre that I generally like. But the film surprised me by its somber tone that captures the devastation that divorce can mean for the children. This is not a comedy, but it is worth seeing.

Solange (Jade Springer) reading from a textbook in school.
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He’s All That (2021)

He’s All That
Director: Mark Waters
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Remake of/Sequel to: She’s All That
Cast: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Madison Pettis, Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Peyton Meyer, Isabella Crovetti, Annie Jacob, Myra Molloy, Kourtney Kardashian, Vanessa Dubasso, Romel De Silva, Heather Ann Gottlieb
Seen on: 9.10.2021

Plot:
Padgett (Addison Rae) is a popular influencer with her make-over videos that give her some additional income as she goes through high school. But after her very messy break-up is not only caught on camera, but streamed live to her entier following, Padgett has to prove that she still got it, so she won’t lose her sponsor (Kourtney Kardashian). When her best friend Alden (Madison Pettis) suggests a bet, Padgett takes it: she is sure that she can make the school dork over into the prom king. The dork in question is Cameron (Tanner Buchanan), who is abrasive, cynical and not in the least interested in popularity. But Padgett doesn’t give up easily.

He’s All That is okay in much the same way that She’s All That is: neither of the two films are exactly great, both are a little too formulaic but with clever flourishes. Still, it won’t be a film that I’ll be revisiting, I think.

The film poster showing Padgett (Addison Rae) leaning against Cameron (Tanner Buchanan).
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Re-Watch: She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That
Director: Robert Iscove
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Kevin Pollak, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Elden Henson, Usher, Lil’ Kim, Gabrielle Union, Dulé Hill, Tamara Mello, Clea DuVall, Tim Matheson
Seen on: 8.10.2021

Plot:
Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) is the star of his high school. He is gorgeous, athletic and rich, he has a beautiful girlfriend in Taylor (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). He should be set to finish High School on a high as prom king with Taylor as prom queen at his side. But when school starts, he is unceremoniously dumped by her for reality TV star Brock Hudson (Matthew Lillard). Zack’s best friend Dean (Paul Walker) is ready to pour salt into Zack’s wound, so in an effort to reassert himself, Zack agrees to a bet with Dean: He can take any girl in school and make her prom queen. Dean chooses Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) for the challenge: disheveled, outspoken and artistic, she seems like the perfect challenge for Zack. But as Zack starts to woo her, and Laney slowly gives into his wooing, he soon finds that there is more to her than just a bet.

I know that I saw She’s All That at some point, but I’ve only had a vague recollection of it. Unfortunately, re-watching it didn’t prove it to be some kind of 90s high school romance winner, but rather a pretty lackluster affair.

The film poster showing Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) and Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) smiling.
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Une colonie [A Colony] (2018)

Une colonie
Director: Geneviève Dulude-De Celles
Writer: Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne, Geneviève Dulude-De Celles
Cast: Emilie Bierre, Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie, Irlande Côté, Cassandra Gosselin-Pelletier, Leia Scott
Seen on: 31.8.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Mylia (Emilie Bierre) is a quiet teenager, spending most of her time with her sister Camille (Irlande Côté) and her chaotic family. Starting a new school means that Mylia has to figure out where she belongs – with popular Jacinthe (Cassandra Gosselin-Pelletier) or with Jimmy (Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie) who is Abenaki, which makes him an outsider in his own community.

Une colonie is a nice coming-of-age film though I was hoping for a little more engagement with racism from the title and the fact that Jimmy is Indigenous. Still, I really liked it.

The film poster showing a close-up of Mylia (Emilie Bierre) looking into the distance.
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Die Mitte der Welt [Center of My World] (2016)

Die Mitte der Welt
Director: Jakob M. Erwa
Writer: Jakob M. Erwa
Based on: Andreas Steinhöfel‘s novel
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Sabine Timoteo, Ada Philine Stappenbeck, Inka Friedrich, Svenja Jung, Jannik Schümann, Nina Proll, Clemens Rehbein, Sascha Alexander Gersak
Seen on: 29.8.2021

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
Phil (Louis Hofmann) lives with his mother Glass (Sabine Timoteo) and his sister Dianne (Ada Philine Stappenbeck) in an old mansion at the edge of town, but he just spent the summer abroad. Returning home, he finds that things between Glass and Dianne are tense and Dianne is barely talking to him. Fortunately, there is still his best friend Kat (Svenja Jung) with whom he can still have fun. When school starts, it brings a new student to their class, Nicholas (Jannik Schümann). Phil is convinced that he met Nicholas once already, but in any case, he feels very drawn to him. And Nicholas seems to return his interest. Between family, friends and first love, Phil has to figure out where he stands.

Die Mitte der Welt felt a little bit more like wish fulfilment and fantasy than I would have liked, but other than that, and the usual bimisic trope of the bisexual just not being able to be content with one person, it was nice enough.

The film poster showing Phil (Louis Hofmann) lying between Nicholas (Jannik Schümann) and Kat (Svenja Jung), but they are upside down. Below them, the rest of the central cast can be seen much smaller, standing in a group.
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