Naissance des pieuvres [Water Lilies] (2007)

Naissance des pieuvres
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, Adèle Haenel, Warren Jacquin
Seen on: 18.4.2021

Plot:
Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Anne (Louise Blachère) are best friends, united in being not terribly popular. Anne is in the synchronized swimming team, as is Floriane (Adèle Haenel) with whom Marie is very much in love, while Anne has her eye on François (Warren Jacquin) who happens to be dating Floriane. When both Marie and Anne go after their crushes without telling the other, things become very complicated, though.

Water Lilies is a beautiful coming-of-age film, at once kind and emotionally raw, it will probably remind you of many moments when you were young yourself – mostly in a good way. Absolutely fantastic.

The film poster showing Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Floriane (Adèle Haenel), their faces close together. Floriane is looking straight at the camera, Marie is looking at Floriane.
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W imie… [In the Name of] (2013)

W imie
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Writer: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert, Szczepan Twardoch
Cast: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Maja Ostaszewska, Lukasz Simlat, Tomasz Schuchardt, Maria Maj, Kamil Adamowicz, Mateusz Gajko, Jakub Gentek, Daniel Swiderski
Seen on: 29.3.2021

Content Note: dubious consent, (critical treatment of) homomisia, antisemitism

Plot:
Adam (Andrzej Chyra) is a priest in a small town. Together with the teacher Michal (Lukasz Simlat), he spends most of his time trying to reign in the delinquent boys and young men they have to take care of in a mix of foster care and detention center. But Adam also struggles with his own homosexuality. He hoped that turning to religion will give him some relief, but when he is faced with the troubled Lukasz (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), his usual methods of suppression start failing.

W imie… treads familiar ground with its story. It’s not badly made, but it wouldn’t have hurt to give the topic a fresher spin.

The film poster showing Adam (Andrzej Chyra) in priest's robes, a painting of a saint vaguely in the background.
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Ying and Yang (2013)

Ying and Yang
Director: Kevin Darnell Walker
Writer: Devere Rogers
Cast: Derrick L. Middleton, Calvin M. Thompson, Chivonne Michelle, Amelia Workman
Seen on: 26.2.2021

Plot:
Devin (Derrick L. Middleton) is dating Jasmine (Chivonne Michelle) but he realizes more and more that he is drawn to his best friend Tyrone (Calvin M. Thompson). This attraction makes him question everything.

Ying and Yang is a short film set to a spoken word poem. The poem is beautiful (although I didn’t love the use of Yin and Yang to represent men and women in a piece that question the binarity of gender and sexual orientation) and was wonderfully spoken (I’m not sure who spoke it – Rogers himself, maybe?). I felt like the film couldn’t quite keep up with the poem, but it was well done nevertheless, capturing Devin’s confusion and insecurity very nicely. It is certainly worth watching.

Salir del ropero [So My Grandma’s a Lesbian] (2019)

Salir del ropero
Director: Ángeles Reiné
Writer: Ángeles Reiné
Cast: Rosa Maria Sardà, Verónica Forqué, Ingrid García Jonsson, David Verdaguer, Candela Peña, Mónica López, Pol Monen, Alex O’Dogherty, Leander Vyvey, Liz Lobato, Maria Caballero
Seen on: 5.2.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) is just about to get married to Stuart (Leander Vyvey) who comes from a very rich and very conservative family. So when Eva hears that her grandmother Sofia (Verónica Forqué) wants to get married to her best friend Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà), Eva sees her wedding and her happiness threatened. She decides to return to Lanzarote and to talk some sense into her grandmother, keep her from getting married and thus causing an uproar and saving her union with Stuart. That’s easier said than done, though.

Salir del ropero is okay. It leans a little too hard on some of its comedic aspects, and puts the focus on Eva instead of Sofia and Celia, but it does have sweet moments.

The film poster showing Sofia (Verónica Forqué) and her granddaughter Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) on one side, and Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà) and her son Jorge (David Verdaguer) on the other. Eva and Jorge seem to be pushing them apart.
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Re-Watch: Rafiki (2018)

Rafiki (literally: friend)
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Writer: Wanuri Kahiu
Based on: Monica Arac de Nyeko‘s short story Jambula Tree
Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati, Nice Githinji, Muthoni Gathecha, Vitalis Waweru, Jimmy Gathu, Dennis Musyoka
Seen on: 16.6.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) spends most of her time hanging out with her friend Blacksta (Neville Misati) or working in her father’s (Jimmy Gathu) shop. Her father is currently running for a council seat, as is Ziki’s (Sheila Munyiva) father (Dennis Musyoka). But Kena finds Ziki very intriguing and the two women become close very quickly. As love grows between them, they have to face the fact that society around them doesn’t accept homosexuality.

When I watched Rafiki the first time, it was the day after an overnight flight, and I was too tired to really give the film my all, although I did like it. Re-watching it, I could really fall into the film and I loved it even more.

The film poster shwoing Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva.
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The Feels (2017)

The Feels
Director: Jenée LaMarque
Writer: Jenée LaMarque, Lauren Parks
Cast: Constance Wu, Angela Trimbur, Josh Fadem, Jenée LaMarque, Ever Mainard, Lauren Parks, Kárin Tatoyan
Seen on: 14.6.2019

Plot:
Andi (Constance Wu) and Lu (Angela Trimbur) are about to get married. But first – a bachelorette weekend that they decided to do together with their friends Josh (Josh Fadem), Regular Helen (Ever Mainard), Vivien (Lauren Parks) and Lu’s sister Nikki (Jenée LaMarque). As they settle in to party, things get a little alcoholic and talk turns to sex, as they usually do on such occasions. Almost unwittingly and to Andi’s utter shock, Lu admits that she has never had an orgasm. That admission throws a serious wrench into their weekend.

The Feels might be improvised a little too much, but other than that I found it absolutely wonderful and lovely and entertaining.

The film poster showing Andi (Constance Wu) leaning her head on Lu's (Angela Trimbur) shoulder.
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Rocketman (2019)

Rocketman
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Tom Bennett, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor, Tate Donovan, Ophelia Lovibond, Harriet Walter, Stephen Graham
Seen on: 11.6.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Elton John (Taron Egerton) has reached a low point. Now he is in a rehab facility, trying to get better. Part of that is trying to piece together how he got to where he is now. So he reflects on his childhood as Reggie with his parents (Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh) and his grandmother (Gemma Jones), how he discovered music for himself and with his cooperation with Bernie (Jamie Bell), and how he meets producer John (Richard Madden). Especially his complicated relationship with John that makes Elton come to grips with his homosexuality, but also causes him a lot of pain.

Rocketman is not the best film you will ever see, but it is a really good one, with a great lead and awesome music.

The film poster showing Elton John (Taron Egerton) in a feather costume and huge glasses on stage in a stadium, playing the piano in full rock mode.
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