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.
Another year, another mediocre big budget biopic, filled with Oscar aspirations, about a musical genius. I’m a huge fan of Elton John, and have been for years, but he deserves so much more than what is mainly just a serviceable musical drama about his life. While it gets credit for consciously dodging biopic tropes (and seems to also be a retort to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which openly shied away from Freddie Mercury’s sexuality), “Rocketman” only inspired me to re-visit his classic music.
Director Flavio Alves’ art house drama is one of the most important indie films released in 2019. It’s a movie about the LGBTQ community and how much battles are left within the community. Especially in a world where it’s become even more dangerous than ever for the transgender community to simply function. Although imperfect, “The Garden Left Behind” is an award winning drama that is about as relevant and engaging a statement about the trans community as Sean Baker’s 2015 film “Tangerine.”
I’m no misanthrope, but it’s tough to find great new Christmas movies, even though Hollywood does keep trying no matter what. I went in with low expectations with “Let It Snow” but took the chance thanks to the great cast, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to remember a Christmas movie that feels so down to Earth and unassuming than “Let It Snow.” It has every chance to be so saccharine and cloying, but it instead insists on a very sweet and engaging tone with some genuinely engaging characters.
Oliver Alfonso’s horror comedy is a movie that will likely be a very polarizing title down the line. For the people that actually bother to check it out on Netflix, “Girls with Balls” is a Z grade movie that walks the line between absolutely obnoxious, and admirably entertaining. I was mixed on “Girls with Balls” as it packed some great meaty horror comedy material, along with some woefully stupid moments and unlikable characters.
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 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