Campbell X – Stud Life (2012)

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Stud Life takes the viewer into a slice of life of an urban gay scene where casual sex, and drug taking is not treated as deviant behaviour. Where gender is up for grabs but desire follows very strict rules. Where violence can be part of sex as well as random attacks on the street. JJ and Seb inhabit a world where white queers are familiar with Black street culture and reject the mainstream “G.A.Y” world. This is Stud Life. Continue reading

Sean Baker – Tangerine (2015)

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It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee (newcomer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend (James Ransone, STARLET, “Generation Kill”) hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra (newcomer Mya Taylor), embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity. Director Sean Baker’s prior films (STARLET, PRINCE OF BROADWAY) brought rich texture and intimate detail to worlds seldom seen on film. TANGERINE follows suit, bursting off the screen with energy and style. A decidedly modern Christmas tale told on the streets of L.A., TANGERINE defies expectation at every turn. Continue reading

Xavier Dolan – J’ai tué ma mère AKA I Killed My Mother (2009)

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With I Killed My Mother, writer-director Xavier Dolan makes a grandiose show of his pain and narcissism. The 20-year-old Canadian filmmaker appears in his own film as Hubert Minel, a 16-year-old cutie whose endless spats with his mother are like volleying razorblades; their volcanic fights are so richly and sensitively attuned to how insecurity informs his character’s rage that you don’t doubt the material was based on personal experience. Dolan has Jenny Lumet’s rare talent for cannily transplanting to paper how people use language as ammunition—how words ricochet during squabbles in unpredictable ways and reveal the best and worst in us all. But I Killed My Mother is a film best heard than seen, as the earnest, nimble scrubbiness of Dolan’s screenplay is ill-served by his conceited visuals, an aesthetic mode that feels insecurely borrowed from perfume commercials and the work of Jean-Luc Godard and Wong Kar-wai. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Duelle (une quarantaine) AKA Twilight (A Quarantine) (1976)

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Duelle seems to have been instantly cursed just by being the follow-up to Celine and Julie Go Boating, to this day the only Rivette film that the average buff concerns himself with ( and oh, how wrongly. ) Having finally gotten a chance to watch the film, I can see why. Where Celine and Julie could furnish a thousand college students with thesis papers on feminine play vs. masculine order, and the construction of meaning through the assumption of various roles associated with gender, and so forth, Duelle drops the intellectual ballast completely. Rivette outs himself as a mystic with this film, closer to charlatan-geniuses like Stockhausen or Rasputin than to Godard. This movie is almost like a Rosetta Stone, more dense and concentrated than anything else he’s done, that the future expert will be able to use to decode his work. Continue reading

Derek Jarman – The Last of England (1987)

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Jarman is a tough filmmaker to recommend, but he occasionally rewards. As we’ve seen from practically the first film on, he sets out to make pictures entirely for himself; with each one intellectually structured, creatively shot, but almost always a reflection of his personal thoughts and feelings, his sexuality, and England in decline. Here we have a film that combines all of these preoccupations, told in a combination of wordless images and narrated prose, with little or no clarification given as to what is actually going on. Jarman has said that he wanted the film to feel like a visual poem, but really, this is far from poetic. Instead, this seems more like something that Godard would have directed in the 1970’s; angry, venomous and always seething with contempt. The images here are violent to the extreme and the approach that Jarman brings to the editing room is visceral and heavily kinetic. Here we see the use of various colour filters, tints and distortions used alongside a multitude of film stocks and spliced-in video footage. The images of middle-class households rounded up, driven into the depths of a post-apocalyptic wasteland and detained at gunpoint must have had a shocking relevance at the time, when terrorist attacks and IRA bombings were as common as they were incomprehensible. Continue reading

Edgardo Cozarinsky – Boulevards du crépuscule AKA Sunset Boulevards (1992)

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In this documentary about the exile of two famous French actors in Argentina during and after World War II, the director Cozarinsky returns to Argentina after many years in France and recalls places and events from his childhood, particularly the celebration of the liberation of Paris on in August of 1944, in Buenos Aires’s Plaza Francia. Featuring testimony from various authors and acquaintances of Maria (Renee) Falconetti and Robert Le Vigan, the film explores their lives and final years in Argentina. Continue reading