So I have run into sort of Writers block with in depth posts, so most of my recent writing have been on letterboxd(my profile is here). In this time, I’ve also tried to watch more movies focusing on gay/bi men and figured i would compile some of those reviews here.
I Am Jonas– The movie uses a flashback/flash forward with Jonas being presented as an extremely troubled man who seems to be spiraling in the present. In the flashbacks we see a relationship between him, and the new classmate Nathan emerge. Nathan’s wild and rebellious personality stands in contrast to Jonas’s more reserved persona, but this difference also makes their scenes fun to watch.
The younger scenes are lit far more brightly, coding them as a happier time then Jonas in his current life with much harsher visuals. There is also some background music that fits into Jonas’s damaged mental state we see. Overall, I felt it was a pretty good examination of trauma, guilt, and how those feelings can linger in a person.
Dear Ex– A story of people unexpectedly finding the humanity of others in unexpected circumstances. In the beginning both the kid and the mom assume the father’s lover is a schemer who was trying to get the father’s inheritance, but first the kid and then the mom start to see there is much more to them. I don’t exactly know what things are like for LGBT people in Taiwan, but it was clear neither the father or his lover felt like they could be totally open. The movie treats there relationship with compassion and tenderness, while allowing audiences to feel for how blindsided the mom felt. Beyond that, the kid and mom also become closer to each other by the end. In the end, no one was a complete villain, just dealing with the fallout of a unfortunate situation.
Handsome Devil– An examination of misogyny, and how toxic masculinity can operate like a cult. Isn’t drastically different from the thematic material of most gay coming of age/teen romance stories, but i still enjoyed it. And one thing that doesn’t differentiate it a bit, is that there is a 3rd older closeted gay character struggling with the same pressures of the teens. This adds a generation-spanning feel which i feel isn’t typically seen.
And Then We Danced– A exploration of how homophobia and extreme nationalism coalesce. Going into this i wasn’t that familiar with Georgian culture, but the film did a good job of getting across what it is like. The life of a dancer is a tough one in most movies, but here the inherently difficult pressure of that life is mixed with a hyper-masculine culture. The specter of toxic masculinity and homophobia is raised early in the film, and it lingers in the background of the burgeoning relationship.
The warmth of the relationship draws you in, making the emotional and physical toll the pressures of society wrecks on Merab that much more impactful. Once Merab has a true taste of passion, it becomes clear he can’t fit into society like he did before. There is also some great camerawork in the film, both in terms of the dancing and a particular 1-shot sequence that stood out to me.
Rift– One of the creepiest movies i’ve seen in a while, this one got to me in a way i didn’t expect. There’s an element of surrealism to it that as the movie goes on, makes the movie feel almost unconformable to watch. But at the same time my eyes were glued to the screen. The music, along sparse but crisp visuals all contribute to an intense atmosphere. The movie focuses on mood and tension to fright to great effect.
I can be picky with how much ambiguity I can vibe within a film. Most of the film is more in the ambiguous direction then I normally prefer, but it was so well done I didn’t mind it. It felt kind of like a surreal nightmare and gave me strong David Lynch vibes. My only complaint is that the ending of the movie felt a bit abrupt, but overall, with how engaging the movie was i still recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of intense psychological thrillers.
God’s Own Country– Johnny isn’t the easiest character to root for. But behind his brash demeanor, we gradually learn most of that comes from feeling stuck on the farm. The growing relationship challenges him to change his ways and look beyond his own perspective. Gheorghe is clearly the more well put together of the too, and Alex imbues him with a quiet intensity and strength that acts as great contrast to Johnny.
Your Name Engraved Herin– The film fluctuates between unflinching depictions of homophobia and tender, intimate scenes between the two main characters. While these changes are impactful it never feels like the script or direction is losing track of the tone, and this tightrope ends up keeping you engrossed in the fate of the main couple.
There is also theme of how even when it seems big social change is happening on an official scale, the day-to-day attitudes of people can be slow to progress. And the staff of the main school featured in the film have a hard time letting go of their power even when government has changed.