It pains me because I rarely ever go in to a film, let alone an indie film, wanting to dislike it; especially zombie movies. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic zombie movies, and the very good ones can affect me for days. I’m also a fan of sidestepping typical character molds with a focus on the relationships in the LGBTQ corner. “By Day’s End,” though, is not a good movie. “By Day’s End” tries to have its cake and eat it too by forcing a relationship drama within the mold of a pretty cookie cutter zombie movie, when all is said and done.
Director Jeff Wadlow’s (“Truth or Dare”) big screen adaptation “Fantasy Island” is a mess of a genre picture that easily one of the most tonally confused movies I’ve seen in years. Its prologue sets it up as a horror movie, then it becomes a goofy comedy about wish fulfillment, then it’s a character study about a son reconnecting with his father, the next minute it’s a torture revenge thriller, and the next it’s a movie about looking back at what could have been. None of it is remotely creepy, none of it is remotely spooky, and to top it all off, it’s all so painfully boring from beginning to end.
The thing about cinema is that it’s an often very literal art form that takes what is often very metaphorical or performance art about stage productions and has a hard time supplanting it for the audience. For “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” it’s a very good cult rock film that often feels like it has to be seen on stage in order to soak in the true experience. I’m not trying to take away what a cult classic John Cameron Mitchell’s musical drama is, but I couldn’t quite help but feel that “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” could have been much more appreciated as a live show.
One of the telling lines of “The Queen” is when show runner Flawless Sabrina explains that the biggest task of organizing the Miss All American Camp Beauty Pageant is finding a hotel that can house all the contestants, and finding a hotel that’s “hip” enough to want to house them. In 1968, being out and yourself was about being as discreet as possible and operating behind closed doors. While “The Queen” is basically a documentary about the cut throat world of Drag pageants, as well as a sobering portrayal of how the LGBTQ community had to function behind closed doors for much of the twentieth century.
This month’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot and the launch of the modern gay rights movement marks a perfect time to bring back Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’s groundbreaking 1984 documentary, which details the LGBT experience in the decades prior to the game-changing pushback that occurred at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969.
This week we have seven stellar short films from around the world including Asia, Hungary, and The Ukraine, as well as one from prolific indie filmmaker Patricia Chica. Some of the shorts featured have competed in Cannes this year, and all deal with some kind of interesting and very widely discussed social theme including LGBTQ Pride Month. Look for these excellent films when you can. If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers
We’re in the thick of pride month (Go see “Booksmart”!) and as many online entities and blogs celebrate the month, we’re naming five of our personal favorite LGBTQ films of all time. They’re ordered by year, as I have a hard time naming my favorite of the sub-genre. These are only some of the many excellent titles, of course, as there are some banner films like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Jeffrey,” “The Bird Cage,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and so much more.
Feel free to let us know what some of your favorite LGBTQ films of all time are, and celebrate with us. Happy Pride Month.
Writer Paul Rudnick walks a fine line with “Jeffrey” as he balances comedy and drama with his stage play and film. “Jeffrey” has every opportunity to be melodramatic or cheaply exploitative, but it instead manages to find a way to laugh through tears and fears. In 1995 America was still basically in the midst of the AIDS epidemic with the government doing just about nothing about it, so “Jeffrey” examines the relative fear and terror behind it.