Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

Often times when you’ve been indoctrinated to conform to what is perceived as societal norms, the emotions between two people can be mixed and misguided. Leontine Sagan’s romance drama is a brilliant tale of unrequited love between two women and the confusion of identity amidst such an archaic institution. There’s nothing really discreet when it comes to what happens behind the walls of the boarding school as the girls within have essentially adapted to turning to one another for comfort.

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Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Harley Quinn has been one of the most popular DC Comics anti-heroes of the last twenty years, and for good reason. She went from an abused spouse who served her partner thanks to years of mental abuse, gas lighting and Stockholm Syndrome, to someone who cast off the shadow of the Joker to carve out her own niche. Harley Quinn should be an easy adaptation but DC and Warner haven’t quite mastered it yet. After stealing the show in “Suicide Squad,” she steals the show again in “Birds of Prey” but still never quite comes out unscathed thanks to what is an imperfect and brutally flawed, albeit balls to the wall entertaining action movie.

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By Day’s End (2020)

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. 

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Fantasy Island (2020)

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.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

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.

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Rocketman (2019)

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.

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The Garden Left Behind (2019)

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.”

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Let it Snow (2019)

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.

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