Fucking with Nobody (2020)

Fucking with Nobody
Director: Hannaleena Hauru
Writer: Hannaleena Hauru, Lasse Poser
Cast: Hannaleena Hauru, Lasse Poser, Tanja Heinänen, Samuel Kujala, Anna Kuusamo, Jussi Lankoski, Sara Melleri, Hanna-Kaisa Tianen, Pietu Wikström
Seen on: 30.8.2022

Content note: sexual assault

Hannaleena (Hannaleena Hauru) is a filmmaker who just lost a project to her male colleague Kristian (Jussi Lankoski). Deeply upset by that loss, and pissed off at the cheesy social media presence Kristian cultivates with his girlfriend Shirley (Anna Kuusamo), who just happens to be the star of the stolen project, Hannaleena bets her friends that she can take an equally romantic and sappy instagram picture with her friend Ekku (Samuel Kujala) in minutes. What starts as a joke becomes a big parody project when the image of Hannaleena and Ekku takes off on insta and Hannaleena gets comments congratulating her on the new relationship. Pretty soon all of Hannaleena’s friends, including camera man Lasse (Lasse Poser) and her sister Viima (Sara Melleri) are working on creating the perfect couple online. But the project goes into very unforeseen directions.

Fucking with Nobody is a delightful piece of autofiction/metafiction, a feminist movie that wonders about the difficulties of making a feminist film, and it is funny to boot. I absolutely loved it.

The film poster showing Hannaleena and Ekku wearing identical make-up, pulling each other's hair and grabbing at each other.
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You Are My Sunshine (2021)

You Are My Sunshine
Director: David Hastings
Writer: David Hastings
Cast: Steve Salt, Jack Knight, Charles O’Neill, Ernest Vernon, Charlie Clarke, Rosemary Manjunath, Simon Bamford, Jonathan Butler
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 27.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Tom (Steve Salt) and Joe (Jack Knight) meet when they are just teenagers, Joe having just moved to town. They connect instantly and quickly fall in love. But it’s the 70s, and homosexuality is still alien to most people. Decades later, Tom (Ernest Vernon) and Joe (Charles O’Neill) are still a couple, but the fallout from their youth is still notable in the strained relationship Joe has with his sister Ethel (Rosemary Manjunath). But Joe is eager to reconcile.

You Are My Sunshine is a sweet film, albeit a little too dramatic for its own good. While I would have liked a little less tragedy, and I didn’t like that it seems to put homomisia entirely into the past, I rather liked it overall.

The film poster showing Tom (Steve Salt) and Joe (Jack Knight) standing next to each other with pictures of the other cast members arranged in a strip above their heads.
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Who Are We? (2022)

Who Are We?
Director: Jirka Cerny
Writer: Jirka Cerny, Stefan Radakovic
Cast: Felix Maria Berger, Patrick Isopp, Victor Ramos, Alexander Diwiak, Saskia Norman
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 26.8.2022

David (Felix Maria Berger) and Chris (Patrick Isopp) have just returned from their holiday together. But even in that relaxed mode, a certain spark seems to be missing from their relationship. Chris wants to try having a threesome, hoping that it will bring some excitement back for them. David is a bit more hesitant, but agrees in the end. With the help of a dating app, they find Lukas (Victor Ramos), but inviting him into their relationship may have unexpected ramifications.

Who Are We? is an indpendent, queer, Austrian film by young filmmakers. For that alone I wanted to love it. But they did make things a little difficult for me.

The film poster showing Chris (Patrick Isopp) and Lukas (Victor Ramos) leaning in for a kiss.
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Easy Tiger (2022)

Easy Tiger
Director: Karel Tuytschaever
Writer: Nathalie Haspenslagh, Karel Tuytschaever, Melinda Van Berlo
Cast: Mickaël Pelissier, Giada Castioni, Casper Wubbolts, Benjamin Ramon, Hilde Wils, Evgenia Brendes
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 25.8.2022

The psychologist (Mickaël Pelissier) has a good life with his wife (Giada Castioni). But after an especially intense session with his client (Casper Wubbolts), they hug and that contact opens something between them. They start to have an affair, and the psychologist is unable to figure out who he is and what he wants.

Easy Tiger does some very interesting things and tries a lot. Not all of it works, I’d say, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying.

The film poster showing the Psychologist (Mickaël Pelissier) sitting on the edge of a bed, looking back and down dejectedly.
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I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
Director: Patricia Rozema
Writer: Patricia Rozema
Cast: Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Richard Monette, John Evans
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Polly (Sheila McCarthy) is a slightly chaotic temp worker with a passion for photography. When she gets assigned as an assistant in the Church Gallery, owned and curated by Gabrielle (Paule Baillargeon), Polly is awed by Gabrielle’s artistic eye as much as her sophisitication and beauty. When she gets the chance to turn the job from temporary to permanent, she jumps at it. Then Gabrielle’s ex Mary (Ann-Marie MacDonald) turns up, and the balance between Polly and Gabrielle shifts.

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing is a wonderful film. Funny, sweet and warm, it is also a insightful examination of the central characters. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Polly's (Sheila McCarthy) head floating over the ocean, a slight smile on her lips.
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Happiest Season (2020)

Happiest Season
Director: Clea DuVall
Writer: Clea DuVall, Mary Holland
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Dan Levy, Burl Moseley, Aubrey Plaza
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) have been dating for a while and are still very much in love. In an unguarded moment, Harper invites Abby back home to her family for Christmas. Abby, who doesn’t have a family anymore, happily accepts. When they’re on the road already, Harper comes clean: she hasn’t acutally come out to her parents yet and she would like Abby to pretend that they are just roommates. Abby reluctantly agrees, but this secret and the emotional toll it takes aren’t easy to stomach.

Happiest Season is a typical holiday movie except for the fact that it’s about a sapphic couple. It is exceptional in the way it just refuses to be anything more than that: family chaos, a bit of drama and a happy end. While I do like it when films have something to say, I do think that there is a lack of queer films that aren’t “issue films”, so this was a really good thing in this case.

The film poster with the main characters arranged as if in a family portrait that hangs crookedly over a fire place with Christmas decorations.
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Bruised (2020)

Director: Halle Berry
Writer: Michelle Rosenfarb
Cast: Halle Berry, Sheila Atim, Adan Canto, Adriane Lenox, Danny Boyd Jr., Stephen McKinley Henderson, Shamier Anderson
Seen on: 18.6.2022

Jackie (Halle Berry) used to be a MMA fighter, but after a catastrophic loss, she has withdrawn, drinks too much and her life is generally in shambles. That’s when her mother (Adriane Lenox) suddenly shows up with Jackie’s son Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.). Manny had been living with his father, but he just passed away. Traumatized, Manny doesn’t talk anymore. Jackie is overwhelmed, but Manny’s appearance may just be the start for her to get back on her feet – and back into the ring. She starts training with Buddhakan (Sheila Atim) and slowly, slowly she and Manny become closer.

Bruised is not exactly great, I have to say. There are interesting moments here, but they get drowned out by a film that seems more interested in the misery and darkness than the rising above it, or fighting against it.

The film poster showing Jackie (Halle Berry) clenching her teeth covered by a mouth guard, sweaty and with a raised fist.
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The Female Closet (1998)

The Female Closet
Director: Barbara Hammer
Seen on: 22.4.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

The documentary looks at photographer Alice Austen, dada artist Hannah Höch and painter Nicole Eisenman, considering their lives and their sexual orientation, how that relates to their art and the way they are spoken about.

I wasn’t really familiar with any of the three artists portrayed in this documentary before, but The Female Closet serves as a nice introduction to their work as well as to the erasure queerness and queer people face in the art world, also suggesting a historic trajectory that may be questioned.

The film poster showing a photograph by Alice Austen with four women who are holding each other in pairs as if slowdancing.
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Maurice (1987)

Director: James Ivory
Writer: Kit Hesketh-Harvey, James Ivory
Based on: E. M. Forster‘s novel
Cast: James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Billie Whitelaw, Barry Foster, Judy Parfitt, Phoebe Nicholls, Patrick Godfrey, Mark Tandy, Ben Kingsley, Kitty Aldridge, Helena Michell, Catherine Rabett
Seen on: 22.4.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, classism

Maurice (James Wilby) meets Clive (Hugh Grant) at Cambridge University where they connect over philosophy and music. Their friendship quickly deepens and when Clive confesses his love for Maurice, Maurice is thrown at first but finally able to admit his love for Clive as well. Only that Clive wants to keep sex out of their relationship, especially since homosexuality is still forbidden in the UK. Trapped between (internalized) denial and a longing for happiness, Maurice and Clive have to make some important decisions.

Maurice is a beautifully crafted film that – given the time it is set in – I thought would be much sadder. Instead it is a powerful and very romantic call to live your truth.

The film poster showing Maurice (James Wilby) leaning over Clive (Hugh Grant) who is turning his face away.
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Shortbus (2006)

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: John Cameron Mitchell (together with the cast)
Cast: Paul Dawson, Sook-Yin Lee, PJ DeBoy, Lindsay Beamish, Jay Brannan, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Mx Justin Vivian Bond
Seen on: 18.4.2022

Content Note: stalking

Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a couples’ counselor. She herself is happily married to Rob (Raphael Barker). But in her first session with James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ DeBoy), she has a bit of a breakdown and finally confides in them that she has never had an orgasm herself. James and Jamie, who actually wanted help with the growing distance between them, in part due to James’ depression, and were thinking of opening up their relationship, invite Sofia to Shortbus, a club run by Justin Bond (Mx Justin Vivian Bond) filled with queerness, art and sex. That invitatione sets all of them on new paths.

Shortbus is a movie made for queer people, extending a kind of safe space for the audience where everybody is welcome and free to explore. A part of that is also sexual exploration, but that’s only one part of a grander vision of queer community.

The film poster showing about 20 (clothed) people lying together in a pile.
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