Blue Boy (2019)

Blue Boy
Director: Manuel Abramovich
Writer: Manuel Abramovich
Seen on: 9.7.2021

Content Note: homomisia

“Plot”:
Abramovich interviewed male sex workers in Blue Boy bar in Berlin, then showed them their statements and filmed them while they watched it. The film shows them reacting to their own statements.

Blue Boy chose an interesting format to capture its subjects, opening up the gulf between talking a good game and then listening to yourself talk. The statements they give are as different as their reactions to themselves – from embarrassment to careful neutrality that can’t quite cover the fact that they are having a very emotional reaction, but don’t want to share what it is. While their statements give us an insight into their work life – from chatting up clients to police harrassment -, their reactions give us a look at who they are as people. A careful balance that Abramovich captures impressively.

The film poster, showing the title in big, loopy letters, with two eyes, cut out from a newspaper, peeking out between the two words.

Sheer Qorma (2020)

Sheer Qorma
Director: Faraz Ansari
Writer: Faraz Ansari
Cast: Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhaskar, Divya Dutta, Jitin Gulati, Priya Malik, Kalyanee Mulay
Part of: Transition Film Festival
Seen on: 10.6.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) queermisia

Plot:
After more than a decade of living abroad, Saira (Divya Dutta) has returned to India to finally introduce their wife Sitara (Swara Bhaskar) to their mother (Shabana Azmi). The separation of Saira and their mother was long because she didn’t handle their queerness very well. But after their brother Shahnawaz’ (Jitin Gulati) intervention, Saira is hoping that this time, things will be different. But things don’t go particularly well at the Eid dinner.

Sheer Qorma is a beautiful film that puts the finger where it hurts, showing just how painful it is to not be accepted as the person you are, especially within your own family. But then the film also gives us the release of experiencing the family coming together, soothing and healing. It’s perfectly set in scene with lots of clever touches – like the very beginning of the film or the (translated! I don’t think I ever saw subtitles for it before) call of the muezzin – and a spot-on cast. I shed a tear or five. What a wonderful way to start the Transition Film Festival.

The film poster showing Saira (Divya Dutta) and Ammi (Shabana Azmi) hugging.

Quebramar [Breakwater] (2019)

Quebramar
Director: Cris Lyra
Writer: Camila Gaglianone, Yakini Kalid, Lana Lopes, Raíssa Lopes, Cris Lyra, Nã Maranhão, Elis Menezes
Seen on: 24.5.2021

“Plot”:
A group of young lesbians go to spend some time at the beach and to celebrate the New Year.

Quebramar doesn’t so much tell a story than show a slice of queer utopia – but in a realistic way. In the casual intimacy between these women, their openness and vulnerability with each other and the sense of community they share, the troubles they do talk about seem far away. They have carved out a space for themselves. It’s a good space – and they are willing to share it with the audience. So, relax and take half an hour to enjoy their company.

The film poster showing a painting of bodies in different shades of skin color. it's watercolors and so abstracted, it's almost unrecognizable. The bodies are just along the edge of the image, in the center is a blank space.

Slaying the Dragon (1988) + Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded (2011)

Slaying the Dragon
Director: Deborah Gee
Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded
Director: Elaine Kim
Seen on: 14.4.2021

“Plot”:
Slaying the Dragon looks at how stereotypes about Asians, especially Asian women, shaped their portrayal in Hollywood movies and vice versa. Trying to outline the major tropes, female and male actors are interviewed and films examined.
23 years later, Slaying the Dragon updates that documentary and looks at how films have – and have not – changed in the meantime.

Both documentaries are insightful, making clear statements about representation and how movies affect the world beyond the screen as well. They’re an excellent primer to recognize problematic characterizations and offer a succinct explanation of why they’re problematic.

The film poster of Slaying the Dragon Reloaded showing a drawn female figure holding a long reel of film that shows stills from various films, all with Asians.
Continue reading

Bastard (2010)

Bastard
Director: Kirsten Dunst
Writer: Kirsten Dunst, Sasha Sagan
Cast: Juno Temple, Brian Geraghty, Lukas Haas, Lee Thompson Young, Joel David Moore, L.M. Kit Carson, Callie Hardy
Seen on: 2.4.2021

Plot:
A girl (Juno Temple) and a man (Brian Geraghty) are making their way through the desert. They are looking for shelter, while some men in a car (Lukas Haas, Lee Thompson Young, Joel David Moore) are looking for them.

I saw that Juno Temple was in Bastard and decided to watch it, so I was a little surprised by the Christianity of it. Your mileage will probably vary regarding that. I felt that the film was a bit sensationalistic. But Juno Temple is still wonderful.

The film poster showing the girl (Juno Temple), her face hidden behind her hair, her shoulders drawn high, underneath a red haze.

Je fais où tu me dis [Dressed for Pleasure] (2017)

Je fais où tu me dis
Director: Marie de Maricourt
Writer: Marie de Maricourt
Cast: Angélique Bridoux, Naëlle Dariya, Nathalie Cuenet, Vincent Chaumont
Seen on: 9.3.2021

Plot:
Sarah (Angélique Bridoux) is a wheelchair user and lives with her parents (Nathalie Cuenet, Vincent Chaumont). She is 20 years old and would like to explore her sexuality, but her options are limited, though not for a lack of trying on Sarah’s part. She is particularly interested in BDSM. When her mother hires a new cleaner and assistant, Victoria (Naëlle Dariya), Sarah finally finds somebody in her who can help her.

Je fais où tu me dis is a film that sets out to not just subvert but utterly obliterate the image of disabled people as asexual, as our society so often likes to think of them. And it does so with its tongue firmly in its cheek and a great protagonist (with a wonderful performance by Bridoux, who is actually disabled herself). I really have no complaints – I enjoyed this immensely.

The film poster showing Sarah (Angélique Bridoux) drinking from a glass of milk. She is in pink monochrome on a blue background.

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.

On Outer Space, Love and Resistance – Short Films

On Outer Space, Love and Resistance was one of the short film programs at the this human world Film Festival.
Seen on: 4.12.2020

Content Note: sexualized violence/rape

The four short films are very different in tone and style, but all of them are special indeed. I’ll be thinking about them all for a while yet.

More about each of the films after the jump.

Continue reading

L’automne [The Fall] (2007)

L’automne
Director: Ala Eddine Slim
Writer: Ala Eddine Slim
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2019

Plot:
Somebody makes his way from somewhere in Africa towards the sea, towards a better future – or at least that’s what they hope.

L’automne is an impressive short film that tells the story, or stories, of making the long hard trek towards refuge without really showing any people. It shows the way rather than the people making it and develops its very own atmosphere that certainly leaves an impression. It also has some really excellent shots, despite obviously being very limited in its technology. Really good.

Hands on a steering wheel.

Muted (2014)

Muted
Director: Rachel Goldberg
Writer: Brandi Nicole Payne
Cast: Chandra Wilson, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Brandi Nicole Payne, Danièle Watts, Tara Tomicevic, Ross McCall, Jorge-Luis Pallo
Seen on: 15.6.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
The Gladwells – mother Lena (Chandra Wilson), father Curtis (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and their daughters Cara (Brandi Nicole Payne) and Crystal (Danièle Watts) – are living a normal life. Until Crystal suddenly disappears, and her family has to struggle to get even a shred of attention from the media and the police.

Muted carries quite a punch. Tackling racism, it makes not only a plain, strong and effective statement about the horrific state of things, it also lets you feel the emotional weight of that truth, especially thanks to Chandra Wilson and her performance. It’s a film that doesn’t let go of you easily and will probably make you shed a tear or two (I certainly did). Utterly recommended.

The film poster showing Lena (Chandra Wilson) peering out her window with tears in her eyes.