The Female Closet (1998)

The Female Closet
Director: Barbara Hammer
Seen on: 22.4.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

“Plot”:
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)

Maurice
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

Plot:
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)

Shortbus
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

Plot:
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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The Power of the Dog (2021)

The Power of the Dog
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Jane Campion
Based on: Thomas Savage‘s book
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Alice Englert, Peter Carroll, Frances Conroy, Keith Carradine, Alison Bruce
Seen on: 6.3.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, misogyny

Plot:
Rose (Kirsten Dunst) is a widow who runs a restaurant with the help of her son Pete (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Their restaurant lies on the herding trail of brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons). When they stop at Rose’s restaurant, Phil starts making fun of Pete’s softness, while George starts courting Rose. After they actually marry, and move to the brothers’ farm, Phil is taken aback and does his best to make Rose feel utterly uncomfortable. When Pete joins them during the summer break from school, things start to shift, though.

The Power of the Dog both ambles through a sprawling landscape taking its time, and it is a sharp analysis of power when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. I thought it was really interesting.

The film poster showing a rope tied to a saddle.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Finlandia (2021)

Finlandia
Director: Horacio Alcala
Writer: Horacio Alcala, Jesús Caballero
Cast: Noé Hernández, Cuauhtli Jiménez, Andrea Guasch, Graciela Orozco, Érick Israel Consuelo, Leonardo Alonso, Raquel Menor Rodriguez
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 6.2.2022

Plot:
Delirio (Noé Hernández) is something like the matriarch of muxe in his town. She dreams of a married man she met many years ago and who now lives in Finland, yet still writes postcards to her. She makes artfully embroidered clothing together with Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) and others. The intricate, colorful designs have caught the eye of a fashion company all the way in Spain. They send Marta (Andrea Guasch) to Mexico to scope out the designs – and steal them. But Marta is unsure about her assignment, especially after she gets to know Amaranta a little better.

Finlandia is a gorgeous film that is less interested in its story than in exploring the world of the muxe. I am unsure, though, whether any of the actors actually are muxe themselves which is a pity to say the least.

The film poster showing Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) in an elaborate headdress, tears in her eyes.
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Al Berto (2017)

Al Berto
Director: Vicente Alves do Ó
Writer: Vicente Alves do Ó
Cast: Ricardo Teixeira, José Pimentão, Raquel Rocha Vieira, José Leite, Joana Almeida, João Villas-Boas, Gabriela Barros, Ana Vilela da Costa, Duarte Grilo
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 5.2.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira) left Portugal some time ago, but after the Carnation Revolution, he dares to return to Sines, where he takes up residence in his family’s now empty estate and utterly commits to the Bohemian lifestyle, surrounded by artists, partying a lot and falling in love with João Maria (José Pimentão). But with or without the revolution, Portugal may not be quite ready for Al Berto’s way of doing things and resentment starts growing.

Al Berto is an interesting biopic that captures the spirit of the time, at least as I imagine it. It does get distracted a little too much by the sex and romance things, though.

The film poster showing a large close-up of Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira). Below that we see him partying with João Maria (José Pimentão), at the beach with friends and João Maria holding Sara (Raquel Rocha Vieira) naked.
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Bilmemek [Not Knowing] (2019)

Bilmemek
Director: Leyla Yilmaz
Writer: Leyla Yilmaz
Cast: Emir Ozden, Senan Kara, Yurdaer Okur, Levent Üzümcü, Çetin Sarikartal, Ulascan Kutlu, Arda Aranat, Berke Bük, Sanem Öge, Özgür Daniel Foster
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 4.2.2022

Content Note: suicidal thoughts, (critical treatment of) homomisia, bullying

Plot:
Selma (Senan Kara) and Sinan (Yurdaer Okur) have been married for a long time, but there is a distance between them now that becomes harder and harder to bridge. Their son Umut (Emir Ozden) will soon leave for college – and who knows what will become of them then. But first they’re hoping that Umut will win a water polo scholarship and be able to go to college in the USA. When rumors abound within Umut’s team that Umut might be gay, his team mates start pressuring him, though, because he neither confrims nor denies it.

Bilmemek is a well-made film, but I did have my issues with the ending, I have to admit. Still, a lot of it was very engaging and interesting to me.

The film poster showing Umut (Eir Ozden) looking into the distance.

[SPOILERS]

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Mía y Moi [Mía and Moi] (2021)

Mía y Moi
Director: Borja de la Vega
Writer: Borja de la Vega
Cast: Bruna Cusí, Ricardo Gómez, Eneko Sagardoy, Joe Manjón
Part of: Transition Internation Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 3.2.2022

Content Note: ableism/saneism, partner abuse

Plot:
Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) just lost their mother and meet in the remote family home to say their good-bye. Moi brings his boyfriend Biel (Eneko Sagardoy). It quickly becomes obvious that Moi is struggling beyond grief, he seems barely able to function without Biel’s help. But the three make things work, better and better step by step. But then Mía’s ex-boyfriend Mikel (Joe Manjón) shows up uninvited and throws things into disarray again.

Mía and Moi is an engaging film with really excellent performances that got a little derailed with the story for me.

The film poster showing Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) huddled closely together,

[SPOILERS]

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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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Große Freiheit [Great Freedom] (2021)

Große Freiheit
Director: Sebastian Meise
Writer: Sebastian Meise, Thomas Reider
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich, Anton von Lucke, Thomas Prenn
Seen on: 19.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
It’s the 60s and Hans (Franz Rogowski) is once more arrested and imprisoned for “sexual deviancy”, for having sex with other men. It’s not the first time, and back in prison, he quickly settles into the routine when he sees two familiar faces. One is Leo (Anton von Lucke), one of the men Hans had sex with, a young teacher utterly lost in prison life. The other is Viktor (Georg Friedrich) with whom Hans shares a long history, and a connection that runs deep – and becomes deeper still.

Große Freiheit is a sensitive film with great performances about a horrific part of (German) legal history. And it’s also a beautiful love story.

The film poster showing Hans (Franz Rogowski) desperately holding on to Viktor (Georg Friedrich).
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