Posts Tagged ‘lgbt film’

You’ll understand when you get divorced someday!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Stephen Dunn

Cast : Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton, Sofia Banzhaf and Mary Walsh

Diverting away from films I found in a pile of VHS tapes whilst at the house of my parents, I’m going to look into a film that has been on my Youtube playlist for some time now. I really should get through that list properly as there are some films that have been on there for a few years.

Those of you who are long term readers of this site know that reviewing smaller, independent films meant that I was able to discover up and coming directors such as Xavier Dolan, so to have a film that describes itself as part him, and part David Cronenberg (another great director), is a treat, and one that I couldn’t resist.

If it can be even remotely similar to Dolan’s efforts then I will be very happy as he is arguably the most accomplished director when it comes to LGBT films, but whether it turns out to the the case is another matter as for all I know it could be nothing like either of them, let alone the two combined, but we’ll see.

Plot

Oscar’s (Fulton – Child, Older – Jessup) parents split up when he was a child and his only companion was his pet hamster, who he imagines talks to him. His friends also suspect that he will grow up to be gay, but after being called on it he follows a bunch of teens visually beating another young man, ending with them shoving a pipe up his rear. He is traumatised by what he sees and his father Peter (Abrams) says that it happened because he was homosexual, further worrying Oscar.

Several years later Oscar is involved in a photography project with Gemma (Banzhaf) in the hopes of moving to New York when he meets a new co-worker named Wilder (Schneider). Oscar finds himself being sexually attracted to Wilder, but is still haunted by the incident with the brutalised teen from several years prior. This new connection with his feelings coincides with a breakdown in the relationship with Peter.

Oscar and Wilder begin to bond, but a brief conversation between the latter and Peter leads to more trouble as he believed that Oscar and Gemma were in a relationship. Peter slowly starts putting the pieces together and realises that his son might be homosexual.

So is it a genuine mix between Dolan and Cronenberg

For the first time in a long time after seeing a description like that, I feel that I can genuinely see why it was made, and for once I fully agree. There are definitely similarities in the techniques of film making, and I would argue that there is also a touch of Nicolas Winding Refn in there as well. It takes the best aspects of the three whilst feeling completely unique, and this is only a good thing.

The characterisation in the film is remarkable, with the relationship between Oscar and Peter being exceptionally well developed. Their interactions with each other get more and more tense as the film goes on, especially as the latter starts to realise his son’s sexuality. It is an interesting dynamic and the best part is that whilst Peter is as close as the film comes to having an antagonist, he is certainly not an awful human being.

Peter is clearly going through issues throughout the whole film as he struggles through his separation to the point where he keeps his ex-wife’s belongings around, and how he gets hurt when he finds that Oscar described him as a deadbeat in an art project. There are glimpses of him being a good dad, such as the scene right at the beginning of the film where he pretends to inflate a balloon with a dream and place it into Oscar’s head, but he lets the issues get on top of him and each good deed is countered by the opposite.

 

He is just one of the several captivating characters in the film and visuals definitely aid you falling into Oscar’s world as he struggles to come to terms with what he saw as a youth. This includes a scene in which he is having sex with a man at a party, visualises the brutal attack from his youth, and then imagines himself vomiting screws and a variety of other similar objects.

Make no mistake, this is a visually brutal film, but it is also a captivating experience and it is one of the best LGBT films I’ve seen in recent years, and comfortably one of the most unique films from any genre that I have reviewed for this site. This is helped by the excellent electronic soundtrack, bringing you into this world.

Stephen Dunn is a director that I will be keeping a keen eye on in the near future and if he can produce something as engaging as this on a large scale, he could achieve the same heights of the aforementioned three directors.

Summary

“Closet Monster” is captivating, engaging and most importantly, driven. The great characterisation is simple, yet effective, and that is a sign of great film-making.

Stephen Dunn has fell well and truly onto my radar with his mix of Xavier Dolan, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, and this is about as fresh as I have seen in a long time, certainly for a film in the LGBT genre.

I would thoroughly recommend “Closet Monster” and the films of Stephen Dunn will hopefully appear on this site again.

 

You are so deeply in bed with the tea party, you’d let Bill O’Reilly teabag you.

Year Released : 2014boy_meets_girl_2014_film_poster
Director : Eric Schaeffer
Cast : Michelle Hendley, Michael Riley, Alexandra Turshen, Michael Galante, Randall Newsome and Joseph Ricci

I delved into Netflix again recently and found many films based on the LGBT genre, and I found something that I’d never thought I’d see, a film that shows the being transgender has nothing to do with sexuality, which is something that I’ve always found strange about the term “LGBT” as it makes it seem like it is linked. The reason I say that is because you can be transgender without being lesbian, gay or bisexual, and yet the term seems to lend itself to appearing as though they are inexorably linked.

The reason the term frustrates me so much is that being transgender, I have never found myself attracted to men, and yet people make that assumption all of the time. Sexuality is not linked in the slightest to being transgender. It is something that does annoy me beyond belief, and so I was intrigued by the premise of a film that breaks that perceived element of transgenderism.

That being said, that was something that looked mighty predictable, and that somewhat bothers me, but I have been wrong in the past and I hope that it’s the same this time around.

If you wish to follow my personal journey from male to female, please visit my personal blog.

Plot

Ricky (Hendley) is a young transgendered woman living in rural Kentucky. She dreams of moving to New York to follow her ambition of being a fashion designer, and she has the full support of Robby (Riley), her best friend since she was six, although it’s obvious to everyone that Robby is poorly hiding that he wants more.

One day Ricky receives a customer into her coffee shop named Francesca (Turshen), and despite being excited about her engagement to David (Galante), she again poorly hides that she is attracted to Ricky, and the two eventually have a steamy sexual encounter. Francesca tries to hide this from David, but he is less than pleased by the fact that she is simply hanging around with Ricky after the two went to school together.

Yo-yoing between how they feel about each other, Francesca eventually invites Ricky to a party, but she is shocked when David returns home from Afghanistan early, and he eventually figures out what has happened in his absense. Already being shown to be a hot-head, how will Ricky react to this new revelation?

boy-meets-girl-banner

So, predictable or a breath of fresh air?

I’m not going to lie, there were some parts of this film in which I was able to successfully predict what happened, but the vast majority of this movie felt relatively fresh, and at times I didn’t feel that I was actually watching a film. At times it was almost like I was watching a TV movie rather than something that was intended to be more, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This is a very humble approach to film making and uses many elements that I found refreshing in the genre. For example, the use of music is something I have referenced in others and in particularly, Zerophilia. That film uses music a LOT, and at times it doesn’t really feel appropriate, but there wasn’t a single moment when I thought that the music in “Boy Meets Girl” was out of place, or poorly used. It enhanced the scene without dominating it.

The acting is relatively decent throughout the run time and I genuinely believed the performances were done with the utmost respect to the subject matter, rather than it simply being a payday for some, which isn’t the case with a lot of films in the LGBT genre. If you can make it through the strong Kentucky accent that every single character seems to have, there is a lot to take it.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a fast paced film and is all about the characters. It’s a wordy film, meaning that a lot of conversations take place. It’s one that takes a significant amount of time to build it’s three central characters, and the three secondary characters to the point where you feel emotionally involved in their lives, and I’ve always said on this site that I will always give props to films that do that.

My only two real issues are that the film does drag somewhat and it does start of outstay it’s welcome at times, and the character of Ricky is horrendously one-dimensional and seems to be the type of transgendered person that somehow finds a way of bringing the fact that she is transgender into every single conversation. Admittedly it is 24 hours since I watched the film, but there isn’t a single time that I can recall five minutes going by without the character being transgendered is referenced in one way or another.

bo3

Summary

I know this was a much shorter review than normal, but ultimately there wasn’t really a lot of say about it. approvedI genuinely enjoyed “Boy Meets Girl” and it’s relatively unique take on sexuality. The acting is decent and no-one stands out as better than anyone else, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Don’t go in expecting a masterpiece, but it’s certainly worth a watch and it’s current rating of 7.1/10 on IMDB is about right, which is something that I don’t say often.

Out of all of the LGBT films that I’ve reviewed for this site so far, this is certainly one of the most unique and enjoyable, and I happily give it my stamp of approval.

 

He spent two bullets on eleven men. He saved your tax money!

Year Released : 2014man-on-high-heels-32390
Director : Jang Jin
Cast : Cha Seung-Wan, Oh Jung-Se, Esom and Song Young-Chan

Recently I reviewed a South Korean movie called “Train to Busan”, and it was surprisingly half decent considering it is a zombie film, a genre done to death in recent years. It was my first glimpse into South Korean film and I decided that if I were to get another opportunity then I would jump on it, and that’s what happened when I was browsing Netflix and found “Man on High Heels”.

For those that haven’t read the site before, I am transgender, and I am automatically intrigued by films about people with gender dysphoria, albeit I won’t just watch a film simply because of that. The film has to offer something that I haven’t seen before and this achieves that relatively well, as I’m never seen a film about a man that wants to be a woman but could comfortably kick your arse if he wanted to.

This does however give me a little trepidation when it comes to this as it does look like one of those typical films in which the protagonist breaks arms without breaking into a sweat. You know what I mean? Those characters who, despite the number and/or size of the enemy, you never doubt they’re going to win, therefore taking any real sense of tension out of the scene….think the majority of the Marvel franchise.

But anyway, we’ll see.

Plot

Unfeasibly good cop Yoon Ji-Wook (Cha) has decided to quit the police force to finally complete his dream, living as a woman, although hormones are not working as is hoped. Virtually no-one knows about his desire other than close friends and a former lover, mainly because he successfully separates the two aspects of his personality.

Soon, after going out as a woman in public for the first time, Ji-wook is visited by one of two gangster brothers, the Heo’s, but Ji-wook easily defeats Bul (Song) in a fight, and this leads to him placing the man under arrest. Bul eventually brokers a deal that will see his sentence halved if he sells out his brother, Gon (Oh). Gon is unsurprisingly unimpressed with the idea once he finds out, and his gang soon kills the prosecutor responsible for the idea.

Meanwhile, Ji-wook has actually gone to Gon to fund his reassignment surgery, unaware of the connection, but as soon as Gon finds out who Ji-wook is, and more importantly his secret, he decides that killing everyone in Ji-wook’s life is the only way to re-establish dominance in Seoul.

man_on_high_heels_2

A decent LGBT film?

“Man on High Heels” is certainly one of the more unusual transgender related films that I’ve seen in recent times, and certainly one of those that doesn’t fit the usual mould for films in the LGBT genre, especially given that the character of Ji-wook shows very little signs of femininity when not dressed in female clothing. The best way I could really describe it is if you imagine Neo from the Matrix franchise, and having kicking everyone’s arse, all whilst wearing a dress, that’s the summation of this film.

If you’re going into this film expecting it to be full on LGBT action then you’re going to be disappointed. The character spends around 95% of the film in fully male clothing, with only the odd scene here and there spent in more feminine attire, and whilst the obvious desire to be female is there, you could be forgiven for forgetting the desire to be female for most of the film’s over-two hour run time.

I suppose though that I can personally relate to Ji-wook. I am a male-to-female transsexual and yet I don’t act or dress in an overly feminine manner, and many ways the uncertainty in which the character approaches his feminine side, especially outwardly, reminds me very much of when I initially came out around four and a half years ago. There is one particular scene in an elevator in which Yi-wook realises that others are about to get in to ride down to the ground floor, and she cowers in the corner, facing the wall, because she is afraid of the reactions, which is understandable and very relatable.

manhighheels

Presentation wise I loved “Man on High Heels” and it has that noir style that I find very appealing personally. Visually it is excellent, with great attention to detail given to each scene in order to make it look like the very vibrant city with a dark side that I’m sure Seoul is (I’ve never been there, or anywhere in South Korea…..or even Asia just for the record). In this sense it strikes me as a very similar city to Los Angeles, another place in which noir films are often set.

I do however have two concerns with “Man on High Heels”. The first of which is that the fighting scenes, whilst not plentiful, certainly don’t have a sense of tension to them as Ji-wook never feels like he is under a genuine threat of being beaten by his opponents. Even when it is ten-on-one at the end, you still get the feeling that he could easily defeat them, and it means that there is no real depth to the fighting. There is no real tension there because like a lot of similar fighting films, you feel that you could see this character against a hundred people at once, and they’d still win.

My other issue with it is that whilst I did largely enjoy the film, at times it is hard to follow. I don’t think this is to do with the language barrier as I watched another South Korean film last week and had no issues with that, but for the first hour, other than the odd scene here and there, I didn’t really get into the story and found it a bit hard to follow at times.

screenshot_2015-04-04-09-33-14

Summary

“Man on High Heels” is a largely enjoyable film for what it is, but unfortunately it does lack of a bit of depth by not really having any tension in the fights, and more importantly, a story that at times is a little tricky to follow.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I disliked the film, far from it infact, but I couldn’t give it the approved stamp in all good conscience as, whilst enjoyable, I wouldn’t really recommend it to others, and I think that is a big part for me.

Certainly don’t avoid if you get a chance to watch it, but don’t expect brilliant either.

Stop forcing Dorothy Cuda on me!

Year Released : 2015poster-large
Director: Andrew Nackman
Cast : Parker Young, Evan Todd, Chord Overstreet, Jon Gabrus, Jennifer Damiano, Jordan Lane Price and Doug Moe

After the disaster-piece that was “Aimy in a Cage”, I was actually contemplating stopping reviewing films, that’s how bad it was. I even started writing an article a few days later in which I actually rank the films that I’ve reviewed on this site and put the worst ten into a list, and “Aimy in a Cage” comfortably won (if that’s the right word) the dubious honour of being the worst film that I have review on this site, and more importantly, is still one of the worst films that I have ever seen. That list will never be published but yeah, it also made me quit reviewing films.

I left it a few days whilst desparately searching for a relatively newish film that looked like it would actually fall into the “approved” category, and I think I may have found it with “4th Man Out”, a story following the immediate aftermath of a guy coming out of his friends as gay.

Whilst I’m not gay, I am transgender (as I have mentioned in a few previous reviews) and I think the reactions are pretty similar in both situations, albeit with their odd differences here and there, and so I was curious to see if this would actually be fairly realistic and seemingly true to life, and I am optimistic following the trailer that it will be……then again, I’ve been tricked by trailers before!

I also don’t review comedies that often on this site either, so this will make a nice change (hopefully).

Plot

Adam (Todd) goes out to celebrate his 24th birthday with his friends. He becomes increasingly uncomfortable as Chris (Young), Nick (Overstreet) and Ortu (Gabrus) make gay jokes and the following morning he finally plucks up the courage to tell the group that he is infact homosexual. Despite the trio promising that nothing will change, Adam notices that they are less comfortable around him, but they are generally supportive.

After finally feeling the pressure lifted, Adam starts to date a few guys, although none of the dates go well, especially with Brad (Moe), who effectively starts stalking him. Date after date fails, and Adam’s homosexuality is often referenced by a girl (Damiano) that Chris is trying to date but can’t remember the name of, saving her name on his phone as “train” following a drunken night out.

As Chris continues to struggle to get the girl to like him, she points out that Adam is obviously attracted to him, and this makes Chris a little wary, especially when Adam innocently misreads him leaning over to grab the remote control as an attempt at kissing, and tries to respond in kind.

thumbnail_23788

Have I been tricked by a trailer again?

Nope, this film is pretty much as the trailer described and that is wonderfully refreshing, especially in an independent film in which it would be so easy to lie about so many aspects of the plot and characters.

I’m going to start with with what is my only real complaint in this movie and that is that I can’t recall a single conversation that Adam shares with pretty much anyone that doesn’t somehow revolve around his homosexuality. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that it’s the main plot of the film, but there just doesn’t seem to be that much depth to his character and it’s the only thing that he’s concerned about.

As mentioned above, I am transgender and obviously had to come out to people at some point, yet I was able to hold conversations about other things and I find it highly unlikely that anyone who comes out will talk about nothing else other than their sexuality.

Other than that though, the dialogue throughout is pretty true to life. A lot of the quotes from characters do sum up stereotypical thoughts that a lot of people have about homosexual men, such as one character commenting that Adam can’t be gay because he fixes car engines for a living. This smartly references that a lot of people stereotype homosexual men as overly effeminate men and doing what is arguably a masculine task isn’t what gay men do.

There is also an interesting discussion in which the characters joke around who is homosexual and one of them says something along the lines of “I’m can’t be gay, I have a fantasy football team and I like Die Hard.” It’s such clever dialogue because it tells you all that you need to know about the character in question. The characters do try and support Adam, but it’s evidenced that they somewhat uncomfortable about it as well.

fourth-man-out

As a comedy it works well and there are numerous bits that did make me laugh, even if they weren’t designed to be laugh-out-loud lines, such a woman saying that she was late because she was watching Ghostbusters and got distracted, or one of the characters following up

The soundtrack works very well in “4th Man Out” and is definitely one of the better soundtracks from the films that I’ve reviewed. Each sets off the mood of the scene very well and much like fellow LGBT film “Zerophilia”, it works very well as it’s a small-scale town that they seem to be in, and the music is much more humble than in larger-scale movies.

This also follows into the acting. All act out their characters very well and it was a relief to see that Gabrus (who resembles a discount Jack Black) wasn’t used as comic relief for his weight. Granted, there is one scene in which he covers up his body with a bath-robe, but even then the weight isn’t really address at any time and this made a nice change. Usually the overweight friend is made fun of because of his weight all of the way through a film, but I can’t recall a single time that happened in “4th Man Out”.

G5WViDY

Summary

It’s such a relief to be able to give an approval stamp after watching the disaster piece that was “Aimy in a Cage”. This in many ways was the perfect film to follow this one up with as it was exactly what it needed to be to be enjoyable.approved

Don’t get me wrong, “4th Man Out” is far from a perfect movie, and I would argue that the rating of just 6/10 on IMDB is about right (maybe slightly too low) but it works and that’s why I’m giving it the stamp.  It was an enjoyable way to spend 85 or so minutes of my life and I was never bored.

The dialogue is the key foundations of this film and it’s all pretty realistic, if you ignore that Adam doesn’t seem to have a single conversation that doesn’t somehow revolve around his sexuality.