Christopher Hampton – Carrington (1995)

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Frail, intellectual Bloomsburyan Lytton Strachey is the unlikely hero for a movie, but congratulations to writer-director Christopher Hampton for making the essayist an elitist everyone can love.
Based on Michael Holroyd’s Strachey biography,
“Carrington” is ostensibly about Dora Carrington, an iconoclastic English painter who had the bad luck to fall irretrievably in love with Strachey, a confirmed homosexual. During their 17-year relationship that lasted until his death in 1932, they managed to live together happily, mostly platonically, sometimes sharing male lovers (one of whom would marry Carrington), but with Carrington often yearning for the sexual comfort Strachey could never fully offer. Continue reading

Alex Anwandter – Nunca vas a estar solo AKA You’ll Never Be Alone (2016)

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First feature film directed by Alex Anwandter and based on a true story.

You’ll never be alone tells the story of Juan, a withdrawn manager at a mannequin factory who after his teenage gay son suffers a violent attack, struggles between paying his son’s exorbitant medical bills and his last attempt at becoming partners with his boss. As he runs into dead-ends and unexpected betrayals, he’ll discover the world he knew was already waiting to be violent with him too.

Teddy special jury prize ensures “Alone” has embraced by the queer film circuit to critical acclaim. Continue reading

William Friedkin – Cruising (1980)

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A 1980 psychological thriller film directed by William Friedkin and starring Al Pacino. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker, about a serial killer targeting gay men, in particular those associated with the S&M scene.
Poorly reviewed by critics, Cruising was a modest financial success, though the filming and promotion were dogged by gay rights protesters. The title is a play on words with a dual meaning, as “cruising” can describe police officers on patrol and also cruising for sex. Continue reading

Anna Muylaert – Mãe Só Há Uma AKA Don’t Call Me Son (2016)

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Most films—especially taut, lower-budgeted indies—choose one theme or dramatic premise and run with it. Others cross-wire two potent and ostensibly unrelated ideas and bask in the sparks they generate.

The terrifically assured and engrossing Brazilian film “Don’t Call Me Son” is a great example of the latter breed. On the one hand, writer/director Anna Muylaert invites us to contemplate the fluidity of adolescent gender identity via the story of teenage boy who’s testing boundaries by drifting provocatively between male and female appearances. (If this sounds like a topic for a Gender Studies class, fear not: the film is a drama, not a lecture.) On the other hand, Muylaert also probes how much of who we are comes from family, since, additionally, her tale concerns kids who were removed from their biological parents at birth. Continue reading

Fred Halsted – LA Plays Itself (1972)

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L.A. Plays Itself begins as a mock-pastorale, with a steamy woodland encounter between a long-haired blonde guy and a hunky brunette whose face, typical of the director, we can barely discern. This extended hardcore sequence of outdoor sex gives way to images of bulldozers tearing down parts of the city; noisy, car-choked streets; and opportunistic encounters that occur both onscreen and on the audio track, the latter in the form of a conversation between a hayseed from Texas who’s just arrived in town and a predator who pretends to warn him of the dangers of the “big city” as a kind of nervous foreplay ritual. Halsted’s sex is sweaty and desperate, set against images of cruelty and destruction both in the bedrooms, bathhouses, and casual sexspaces where it occurs and in the grim, trashy world looming just outside. The sardonic commentaries of the director, who’s also usually a participant even when only seen in shadow, add unexpected touches of humanity.L.A. Plays Itself is a film of private rituals publicly exposed
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