144 posts categorized "MOVIE REVIEW"

Oct 20 2023
The Age-Gap Of Innocence: A Review Of Todd Haynes's MAY DECEMBER Comments (0)

May-december-haynes-boycultureNotes on a scandal (Image via Netflix)

If Todd Haynes isn't on your list of greatest living filmmakers, are you even watching movies? 

The queer auteur behind the incredible works Poison (1991), Safe (1995), Velvet Goldmine (1998), Far from Heaven (2002), I'm Not There (2007), Carol (2015) and many others directs film with palpable intelligence and emotion, framed by his singular vision. It's as if every Haynes movie is functioning two large steps to the left of how anyone else would shoot it.

Charles-melton-may-december-boycultureAnd now, exploring the Mary Kay Letourneau-Vili Fualaau story of an adult woman who slept with a 12-year-old without calling it her story, Haynes has contributed another unforgettable and uniquely observed drama to his canon, one that is just about bonkers.

In May December, which played NewFest 35 in NYC the same night Haynes was given the fest's Queer Visionary Award, the filmmaker casts Natalie Portman as a mercurial TV actress researching her upcoming role playing a woman (Julianne Moore) who infamously had sex with a 13-year-old boy by meeting the two 20 years later, after the culprit did time and the two later got married and had children.

Portman's Elizabeth is surprisingly harder to get a handle on than Moore's Gracie. Whereas Gracie's manipulative nature seems jarringly transparent, Elizabeth's reveals itself more gradually, and unevenly. She is a shark, or could it be because Elizabeth is just that good an actress? Haynes brilliantly juxtaposes the two A-list actresses in such a way as to challenge the audience not to view them as slowly morphing into the same person.

This is most thrillingly accomplished via a series of scenes in which both women face a mirror, and the audience and each other. Elizabeth truly seems to be swallowing Gracie whole.

Caught in the middle is Joe, the now grown-up boy Gracie molested under the guise of a divinely inspired romance. Charles Melton of Riverdale is remarkably effective (and has packed on a few extra pounds for the occasion) as Joe, playing him as if his emotional growth was forever stunted at the age when he met Gracie and fell under her spell. It is incredibly uncomfortable watching him interact with his nearly adult children while displaying less maturity than any of them, clearly achingly aware of his shortcomings.

Moore, a frequent Haynes muse, is the black hole at the center of this twisted universe, delivering a character who could be a sociopath but who firmly — securely — sees herself as a naif, the victim. Moore is perfect in this milieu, confidently delivering camp lines like, “Boys are hard!” The subject is serious, but Haynes imbues it with awkward humor by transposing the mundanity of the infamous couple's smalltown life with blunt reminders of how we got here in the first place.

Aiding this offbeat vibe are charming performances by the young actors playing the couple's well-adjusted children (especially Elizabeth Yu), which seem to be from a different movie, and a histrionically operatic score. It all adds up to a riveting sort of parody of a FOX movie of the week, of our tabloid culture, of our obsession with (and yet, ultimately, tolerance of) grooming and even of the movie itself, with each of actressy Elizabeth's insincerities more delicious than the last.

What's more fun than watching a great actress send up acting?

Everyone here is at the top of their game inhabiting bottom-feeders, none more so than Haynes, who never seems to get it wrong, not with Barbies, not with Douglas Sirk, not with glam rock and not with this Mary Kay Letourneau fever dream.

Watch Haynes in action:

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Oct 18 2023
Home, On The Range: A Review Of NATIONAL ANTHEM Comments (0)

Charlie-plummer-national-anthem-review-a-glorious-portrait-of-rural-queer-am_zyznThey've got rodeo drive. (Image via NewFest)

You've got to love when photographers become filmmakers. If nothing else works, the film is going to be a visual treat filled with intentionally beautiful moments that may actually help elevate the rest of the proceedings.

It's even better when a film is grounded in a point of view and contains thoughtful, organic performances.

Photographer Luke Gilford's debut feature National Anthem has the beauty and the brains, and also the heart, to make it a new queer classic.

Charlie-plummer-national-anthem-boycultureMise-en-scène-stealers (Image via NewFest)

Charlie-plummer-by-matthew-rettenmundThe film I kept thinking of while watching this story of young day worker Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who dreams of adventure and self-determination, was Donna Deitch's Desert Hearts (1985), thanks to the rural setting and languid romanticism. But a major difference, and update, is that Gilford's story — co-written with David Largman Murray and Kevin Best — does not rely on anyone coming out so much as it relies on Dylan coming into his own, which he does shyly but without self-doubt.

In the world of National Anthem, a queer commune on the outskirts of an already remote town doesn't get burned down at the end and never encounters angry locals. It is about itself, about its own ecosystem of free love, free gender and as much freedom as can be had after the chores are done.

Dylan feels immediately at home when he accepts a job working at House of Splendor, a sprawling ranch owned by Pepe (Rene Rosado) and peopled by non-binary, trans and otherwise queer people, a chosen family with a makeup budget. He is transfixed by lovely, free Sky (Eve Lindley), a trans girl who draws him in, even though she's tethered to Pepe, if only by the most open of relationships.

Never is there any hesitation Dylan, who is smitten and does not waste our film second-guessing it, leaving more time for the movie to trace their blooming love affair, which he conducts as a newcomer to the group and also a worker on the ranch.

At first, it seems like the real world is far more complex — his alcoholic mom (Robyn Lively) can't keep her mitts off his mobile home mad money, he's busy being the father his kid brother never had and their need for him feels like an anchor, or an anvil. But over time, the carefree world of the House of Splendor is revealed to have its own drawbacks and limitations, and may not be the right place for him after all, instead functioning as a portal he needed to move through in order to move on.

Plummer and Lindley — who is photographed like a natural wonder as stunning as the horse her character cherishes — ooze chemistry, and Park is disarming as a wise spirit guide in this warm film that is unashamed to be the trans oasis so many viewers crave.

Charlie-plummer-luke-gilford-boycultureCharlie & Luke at NewFest 35 (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Watch the director and his star chat about National Anthem at NewFest 35 in NYC on October 17:

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Oct 14 2023
WE ARE ALL ONE: A Review Of RUSTIN Comments (0)

Colman domingo rustin RSTN_20211011_01704_R1_fDomingo more than lives up to high expectations. (Images via Netflix)

Rustin, the new Netflix film from director George C. Wolfe that seeks to uplift the neglected legacy of civil rights and community organizing pioneer Bayard Rustin, is a serviceable enough biopic, albeit one that works far better as a series of stellar individual performances.

Colman domingo rustin RSTN_20220808_29393_R_fI caught Rustin at NewFest, where it was the opening-night film, and where it was received enthusiastically by multiple sold-out audiences. Wolfe had whetted our appetites with a rousing pre-screening speech encouraging us to “find power” in the work, the main reason a serious look at Rustin can be considered so long overdue. And there is plenty of power, mostly emanating from the history-making events through which Rustin lived — and which Rustin determinedly shaped — and from its star, the estimable Colman Domingo.

Domingo perfectly physically embodies Rustin, and, more importantly, brings (back) to life the trailblazer's fire for effecting change in the face of long odds and personal attacks. A Black queer man, he was open about who he was at a time when few were, almost none in the orbit of politics, and he paid a price for that openness when he was nearly shuffled to the sidelines of history due to pressures coming from the NAACP and even his own best friend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Sep 18 2023
Top-Bottom-Vers Debate + You Are Entering Man's Country + Trump Coddled By Media Eager For Drama + Yoel Roth On Trump/Musk's Smear Campaign + Coming Out @ 60 + MORE! — 12-PACK Comments (0)

Gay-photo-postcard-1920s-boyculture(Images via Peter Miller collection/New York)

ABOVE: This 1928 real-photo postcard screams gay — “Typical Butterly Photo,” it says, and “Don't Touch My Lips That I Just Painted.” If anyone can translate it all, I'm all ears.

BELOW: All about tops/bottoms/verses, Trump chugs along toward fascism, you are now entering Man's Country and more ...

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Aug 12 2023
Billy Porter Still Mad At Harry Styles + Lunatic Shot By FBI Had A Supportive Family + Drag Queen Seeks Vengeance In FEMME + MORE! — 6-PACK Comments (0)

Sam-j-jones-nude-boycultureThis side is almost done. (Image via Playgirl)

ABOVE: A shame Sam J. Jones hates his nudes. Happy birthday suit. More here.

BELOW: Keep reading for Billy Porter's never-ending gripe, a drag queen's vengeance and more ...

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May 21 2023
Feeling The Love: A Review Of LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER Comments (0)

Donna summer love documentary boyculture jim feldman village voice aids gay reviewLove to Love You, Donna Summer, co-directed by Brooklyn Sudano (her daughter) and Roger Ross Williams for HBO, is a mesmerizing study of the late so-called Queen of Disco, one that teases out the many layers of who Summer really was — a person guaranteed to surprise all but her most attentive fans.

Summer was a church girl, she was an actress who slipped easily into the role of sex kitten (like a more grounded Marilyn Monroe), she was a loner, she was a careerist, she was an obsessive creator and, as the film touchingly reveals, she was a reluctant mom.

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Jun 14 2022
Male Order: A Review Of ALL MAN: THE INTERNATIONAL MALE STORY Comments (0)

Brian buzzini john coulter IMG_9156*****Brian Buzzini & John Coulter (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

All-man-poster-international-male-boycultureOn Sunday, I headed to the Village East by Angelika in NYC to take in my first Tribeca film of the year — the long-awaited doc All Man: The International Male Story.

Directed by Bryan Darling and Jesse Finley Reed, All Man faithfully and affectionately documents the creation of the outrageously camp (or was it?) International Male catalogue, the publication masquerading as a magazine that always seemed to find its way into our mailboxes ... how did they know exactly to whom to send it?! (Maybe by purchasing mailing lists from places like Chess King in search of queens.)

Unlike the current White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, which roasts the infamous, sexed-up A&F catalogues, All Man — while touching on complex topics like race and male beauty standards, feels more official via the cheerful participation of its creator Gene Burkard (who submitted to extensive interviews before he died at the end of 2020) and VP and head buyer Gloria Tomita.

1986-international-male-boyculture-gayColor me interested. (Image via International Male)

It may have been a bit of a concession not to dwell on the negative to land their essential presence, but I didn't feel the film suffered for it. Rather, it comes off much as the catalogue did — interviews looking like a riot of color — as a technical marvel: Bright Light Bright Light's perfect score, impeccable animations, a fantastic sampling of archival materials.

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Apr 29 2022
FIREBIRD Heats Up NYC— Q&A With Star Tom Prior & Director Peeter Rebane Comments (0)

Tom-Prior-Firebird-boyculture-screening-6Leather zaddy (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Spent Thursday evening at the NYC premiere screening of Firebird, a Soviet-era gay romantic drama based on the true story of a young soldier's passionate affair with a fighter pilot in an oppressive culture, and an oppressive time in history.


I'd read some critics felt the film to be heavyhanded or a story we've seen before, but I disagree. Fair enough, it is a straightforward forbidden-love story, but as for originality, isn't the point that love is love? And does a reminder of that need to come with bells and whistles?

Tom-Prior-Firebird-boyculture-His head-to-toe look while awaiting going on

The performances of Prior as Sergey (who first presented his story in book form, and who died in 2017) and Oleg Zagorodnii (in real life a Ukrainian who was absent from the screening because he is defending his country) as Roman are a pleasing study in contrasts — Zagorodnii oozes movie-star charm, allowing the audience to fall for him as Sergey does, while Prior brings a naturally emo quality that makes him sympathetic, a stand-in for any gay man who's ever come of age.

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