'I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS'
Plagued by distribution drama after distribution drama and a knee-jerk reaction to its "explicit gay sexual content" forcing the film to be re-edited before it hit the screens, this little gem flew well under the radar only to eventually find its way into my bi-weekly Blockbuster rentals a decade ago. I loved it so much I had bought my own copy on DVD before returning the rental copy to the store.
Based on a true story, this is the tale of cop Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey) who comes out of the closet, leaves his wife, turns professional conman and while in prison meets the love of his life, only to escape prison - several times - all in the name of love. This is straight from the "You wouldn't believe it if it wasn't true" file. It's so sweet and funny and bizarre - and honestly, one of Jim Carrey's best performances. Imagine if 'Brokeback Mountain' was a comedy... but set in a prison... and it starred Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor... .and no one died. That's sort of what this movie is like without actually coming close. Just watch it, okay! You've got nothin' to lose.
Side note: the real Steven Jay Russell will be eligible for parole in December this year.
A remake of the French play and film 'La Cage aux Folles', 'The Birdcage' was probably my first introduction to a long-term gay couple, played here so superbly by the late great Robin Williams and the magnetic Nathan Lane. Taking place in Palm Beach, Florida, there are laughs to be had throughout, and yet there are important messages to take from the elaborate schemes and theatricality. Ultimately, it is a story about humanity and how we have to respect one another despite our politics or lifestyles. It's this simple yet effective message that makes this film endure, because whilst its depiction of the characters is a little dated, with so much heart, joy, chaos, romance and laughter, it's hard not to fall for its charm. Young or old, this film can be enjoyed by all, and stands as an excellent and lighthearted film worth watching.READ OUR REVIEW
'MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE'
Set in London in 1985, the central plotline involves Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a young Pakistani go-getter whose father was formerly a celebrated journalist in Pakistan but is now non-functioning alcoholic. Omar is trying to make it big and pull himself out of poverty, under the guidance of his wealthy uncle, Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey), a Thatcherite with a guilty conscience. He ends up starting a posh laundrette with the help of Johnny (a young Daniel Day-Lewis, 'Phantom Thread'
, in his first critically acclaimed role, looking like Jeff Buckley), a skinhead gang member he had a previous relationship with, but the two battle with financial issues and racial discrimination. There's a lot of living in two worlds in director Stephen Frears' movie, and a lot of reconciliation, as well as magic realism. It's funny and simple - this is a world where relationships are worth keeping and mending. The subplots and themes include tension between English and immigrant Pakistani communities, and the groundbreaking onscreen same-sex pairing between Omar and Johnny, which is presented in an organic and unremarkable way. Half the movie elapses before the two kiss, but it's no big deal when they do - the chemistry between Warnecke and Day-Lewis (credited as "Day Lewis") feels right. Also, 'My Beautiful Laundrette' is infinitely quotable.
'A SINGLE MAN'
George Falconer (Colin Firth, 'Mary Poppins Returns'
) is suffering a heartbreak that only occurs in most people's nightmares; his partner of 16 years has been killed in a car accident. Catatonic with grief, the film follows George throughout a day in his life - one, he decides, that would be perfect for killing himself, and allows himself to say goodbye by basking in the beauty of smaller moments in life. Marking the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford, 'A Single Man' is unsurprisingly an incredibly stylish affair, but boasts just as much emotion and thoughtfulness. It put Ford on the radars of many in a major way and, coupled with his equally impressive follow up 'Nocturnal Animals', guaranteed him as a director with a bright future ahead.
CHRIS DOS SANTOS
We all have that film that is our
film - the movie you relate to the most, the movie you can watch the most and never get bored of - for me, that's 'Love, Simon'. Simon is your average teenager, except he has one secret - he's gay. When another student anonymously comes out on the school blog, Simon begins to email him, and they fall in love - but Simon is determined to find out who it is while dealing with his fear of coming out. The film creates this perfect world - his family, his friends, the school - it's all so inviting and feels so real. The film really does have some great teen film comedy to it being inspired by John Hughes' films, making 'Love, Simon' stand out in the genre. While there is a lot of comedy, the emotion of the film really runs high; I cry every time I watch, and it's not just sad tears. I can watch it over and over and still get stressed out with Simon or ride the excitement of finding out who Blue is, even when you know who it is. In the crazy times we are in right now I recommend visiting (or revisiting) Creekwood High... you'll get to laugh, have a good cry, and warm your wild heart. READ OUR REVIEW
'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'
A beautifully real portrayal of life in rural England. It's touching and moving in the best way possible, and although I might have been - mildly - unsatisfied with the ending, it is worth a watch. Although are romances worth watching for single people in these isolated times? Maybe... Maybe not?READ OUR REVIEW
CHARLIE DAVID PAGE
'THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT'
Same-sex couples are just like everyone else - they have their trials and tribulations, and 'The Kids are All Right' is a portrayal of this. Nic and Jules (an enthralling Annette Bening and Julianne Moore respectively) are living in LA with a seemingly idyllic lifestyle while raising two teenagers (the young Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska). However, when their children decide they want to meet their biological father cracks begin to form, and the arrival of Paul (Mark Ruffalo) into their lives changes the family dynamic forever. Not just impressive for being one of the first mainstream films to show a same-sex couple raising kids, it was also nominated for four Oscars and four Golden Globes; for the latter it took out Best Picture for a Comedy or Musical, and Annette Bening also won one for her role.
It starts with a familiar but killer setup. Opera singer Victoria (Julie Andrews) is down on her luck in 1930s Paris, but is talked into a mad scheme by cabaret singer Carole 'Toddy' Todd (Robert Preston) - to pretend to be a man performing as a drag queen. While the idea isn't new in this musical adaptation of a 1933 German film of the same name, director Blake Edwards' approach very much is, combining his madcap slapstick comedy antics with a genuinely progressive discussion of gender and sexuality politics, all the more remarkable for a film from the early 80s. Shakespeare or Nia Vardalos might not have been overly interested in the complexities of gender and identity, but Edwards and Andrews certainly are. Throw in some tremendous musical numbers, one of Andrews' greatest performances and Leslie Ann Warren stealing every scene she's in, and you have a riotous and wonderful LGBTIQ+ classic.
'The Favourite' is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos... and that should be your first clue that this black dramedy is a quirky, twisted ride. Set in the early 18th century, it tracks the rivalry between a servant turned lady-in-waiting and the queen's second-in-command, to win the favour and affection of Queen Anne. It boasts a great cast: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Coleman, who received an Oscar for her role. The film is excellent in its execution of tone and humour, shifting between absurdity and conflict. It doesn't shy away from being playful with the human psyche, delving into dark moments of love, lust and authority. It's an allegory of power: hunger for power, shifts in power and strategy. Above all, it's a great display of female psychology, love and ambition - a survival of the fittest film. You can be sure, that this movie will provide an experience like no other.READ OUR REVIEW
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