First off, my Bohemian Rhapsody post went up a month ago, if you’d like to read a point-by-point account of how much I hated Freddie’s lack of agency around his sexuality (and who wouldn’t?)
I was less bothered by the casual homophobia and misogyny in Mid90s than I had expected to be, but also, why bother. Just watch Skate Kitchen instead (or, as I’ve heard, Minding the Gap, which is still on my watch list.) Honestly the thing I felt strongest about around Mid90s was SIFF Cinema once again not properly masking Academy ratio. It makes me furious and it makes movies look like shit. Thank you for your time.
What They Had was a sleeper title for me, a movie where the trailer looked like some kinda Rich White People Problems situation, but reviews got me to check it out. And it is, of course, Rich White People Problems, but it’s also a beautifully-assembled cast in a lived-in story, all characters complex characters, a strong, moving effort from first-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko.
A Private War should have been a miniseries, maybe 6-8 episodes. Speeding through the final decade in the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin, it gives us a surface-level view, and I wanted more. Rosamund Pike, however, continues to be The Best.
To my surprise, Boy Erased came up a few times over the Thanksgiving holiday. I suggested people try The Miseducation of Cameron Post instead, this year’s earlier conversion therapy entry, for its non-cis white dude focus (the lead is a white girl, but the two campers who form friendships with her are both POC, plus it’s directed by a QWOC). Boy Erased does have value, though, as a story that takes faith seriously. People doing the wrong thing out of love is a story I see less often, and while obviously this does not apply to the conversion camps themselves, it is true of some families sending their children. It’s also rarer to see the story of a person going into a bad program with good faith, believing that if they work the program the program will work for them, and if we’re going to reach those people of faith this is a story worth telling.
I applied my French Cinema Now women-only rule to Cinema Italian Style, which made for a short series. First up was Fairytale, the sort of film I wouldn’t stand for coming from the US, but since it was Italian, I was more open to it. It’s a film about a 50s housewife, drawing influence from everyone from Hitchcock to Sirk. Our lead is enduring domestic violence. She falls in love with her (female) friend. And she’s played by a man. Now, this is obviously a problem, but considering that six months ago I saw My Big Gay Italian Wedding, a queer film which treated a trans woman character (also played by a cis man) as an enormous joke, a film that centered a trans woman and took her seriously was a huge step forward. It’s not going to work for everyone, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw what it was doing with its highly-stylized, intentionally artificial nightmare/dreamscape design. (There’s a stuffed dog that appears all over the house – and sometimes in the garden – on its own, and the view out of each window is wildly different – desert! city! etc.)
On completely the other side of the style coin was The Intruder, a feature with a near-documentary feel, following an organizer/social worker in Naples who welcomes a mother and her small children to share a community space, to the disapproval of said community. I was disappointed in the ending – not the outcome, which was expected, but the perspective on it – but Raffaella Giordano has a face I could watch all day.