Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Little Women (2019)
A minority view--I didn't like it much
Little Women (2019) was written and directed by Greta Gerwig. It's based on the 19th Century novel by Louisa May Alcott.
I had high hopes for this film, but they weren't fulfilled. I don't think I should say "based on" the novel. I should say "somewhat related to" the novel.
Director Gerwig has spread out the story so that it's not only about Jo. That's OK. However, because the book is written in Jo's voice, she is the key player. In 1933, Jo was portrayed by Katherine Hepburn. In 1949, by June Alyson, and in 1994, by Winona Ryder. They were all great. Saoirse Ronan plays Jo in this version, and she's excellent.
The problem for me came in the casting of the French actor Louis Garrel as Professor Bhaer. He's described in the novel as a middle-aged, "philosophically inclined," and penniless German immigrant in New York City, who was a noted professor in Berlin. Louis Garrel is a handsome man, age 33, but looking more like age 25. What young woman with Jo's temperament wouldn't want to marry him? However, that wasn't what Alcott wanted us to see. She took the hard path; Gerwig took the easy one.
The movie has an all-star cast, but the actor that carried the film for me was Laura Dern as Marmee. The camera has always loved Dern, and it still does. Director Gerwig got that one right.
We saw the movie at Rochester's excellent Little Theatre. I think it will work well on the small screen. Note that I entitled my review, "A Minority View." The movie has a very high 8.3 IMDb rating. My daughter--who knows movies--thought it was great. However, I think you'd do better with Katherine, June, or Winona.
Wolf Hall (2015)
Mark Rylance is a great actor
Wolf Hall is a 2015 TV Mini-Series directed by Peter Kosminsky for BBC Two.
The film stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Damian Lewis portrays Henry VIII, and Claire Foy plays Anne Boleyn.
As we expect from the BBC, production values are high, and the cinematography is excellent. Claire Foy does a very good job as Anne. I don't think Damian Lewis brought too much to the role of Henry VIII. To me he came off as just another scheming courtier, rather than a royal monarch.
Mark Rylance was outstanding as Thomas Cromwell. He took over the role and made it his own. After being the right hand man to Cardinal Wolsey, he became the right hand man to Henry VIII. He had to be bold, tough, brilliant, and, when necessary, immoral. He had a conscience, but he didn't always follow it.
Drawbacks to the series include the fact that it is discouraging and depressing. There's no one that anyone else can really trust--your friend today is your enemy tomorrow.
Also, there are many supporting roles, and sometimes I found it hard to remember who was who. "Is that the Duke of Norfolk or the Duke of Sussex?"
Wolf Hall is the perfect film for English history buffs, and for people who like to see intrigue compounded by more intrigue. If you're neither, then watch it just to see a great actor inhabit a great role.
Because this mini-series was made for TV, it works well on the small screen. It carries a high IMDb rating of 8.1. That's just how I rated it.
A good movie about a great woman
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) was directed by Janice Engel.
Molly Ivins was one of a kind. She was a brilliant reporter, a wonderful satirist, and a fascinating person.
The excellent movie captures Ivins' personality and professional accomplishments very well. The biography is a mix of clips from her many lectures and guest appearances with interviews from the journalists who knew her and worked with her.
The only drawback to the film is the time spent on the Texas legislature. Ivins wrote scathingly funny articles about how inept they were. However, if you're not from Texas, you may not see the importance of all of her efforts to to prove to readers that they're truly losers.
We saw this movie on the small screen, where it worked very well. It has an excellent IMDb rating of 7.7. I think it's even better than that.
As You Like It (1978)
Dame Helen Mirren as a young man!
Shakespeare's As You Like It (1978 TV Movie) was directed by Basil Coleman. Helen Mirren stars as Rosalind, the biggest female role in any Shakespeare play.
This movie is part of the Ambrose Shakespeare series, which filmed every one of Shakespeare's plays. Typically, movies in this series had minimal production values. (This is the way Shakespeare's plays were seen when they were originally produced. However, now the lack of scenery looks skimpy.)
However, this movie was filmed in Glamis Castle (as in Macbeth). The location allows us to see a real castle, with ramparts, as well as a great wooded area, which becomes Arden Forest.
We all know that Mirren can act, but I think she got better as she grew older. One problem is that she's very feminine--as Viola is--but she spends most of the play dressed as a man.
This As You Like it is probably as good as you're going to get on the small screen. I don't think it matters whether you see it as DVD or in a movie theater. My advice is to try to see it live onstage.
Family Life (1971)
A powerful, but discouraging, movie about mental health.
Family Life (1971) was directed by Ken Loach.
The film stars Sandy Ratcliff as Janice Baildon. Janice is a young woman who has some emotional problems. She's standing at the brink of a long slide downwards. Briefly, a caring physician intervenes, but after that she's on her own.
There are no real villains in this movie, in the sense of people who know what they're doing is wrong, and do it anyway. Everyone--her parents, her psychiatrists--are convinced that what they are doing is right.
That is the paradox of this film--well-meaning people are hurting Janice without recognizing what they are doing.
Sadly, almost 50 years later, psychiatry hasn't made that much progress. True, there are many new medications, and there are many new non-medication approaches, but there hasn't been a real breakthrough. People like Janice might find themselves in the same situation, with the same bad consequences.
We saw this film on the small screen, where it worked well. The movie has a very strong IMDb rating of7.7. I think it's even better than that.
The Book Thief (2013)
An amazing film, narrated by Death
The Book Thief (2013) was directed by Brian Percival. It's an unusual movie in which Death is the narrator. In Death Takes a Holiday (1934) The Seventh Seal (1957), and Black Orpheus (1959) death is an on-screen character. However, in this case, we see the film from Death's point of view.
Sophie Nélisse portrays Liesel Meminger, whose mother is taken by the Nazis because she's a Communist. Liesel isn't Jewish, so she's not sent to a concentration camp. Instead, she is placed in the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann. (Portrayed by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.) They aren't the happiest of couples, but they protect and care for Liesel.
Telling much more about the plot wouldn't be right for this movie. Needless to say, the world turns upside down for all of the lead characters. It's hard to act in a way that even resembles normal in this horrible, abnormal period.
The direction is excellent, and Sophie Nélisse was already a superb actor at the age of 13, when the movie was produced. (She has gone on to star in many movies since 2013.)
We watched this film on the small screen, where it worked well. The Book Thief has an excellent 7.6 rating. I think it's even better than that.
Ba wang bie ji (1993)
An epic film about China during the mid-20th century
The Chinese (Hong Kong) movie Ba wang bie ji (1993) was shown in the U.S. with the title, Farewell My Concubine. The film was directed by Kaige Chen.
The movie stars Leslie Cheung as Cheng Dieyi, Fengyi Zhang as Duan Xiaolou and Li Gong as Juxian.
This is a difficult film to review, because it's an epic about life in China between 1927 and 1977, it's a look at the Peking Opera, and it's a love triangle with tragic consequences.
Dieyi and Xiaolou are friends from childhood because they are both enrolled in the harsh school of the Peking Opera. Juxian is a concubine at a high-end brothel. Dieyi plays the female roles, because only men perform in the opera.
Xiaolou is in love with Juxian, and we assume that Dieyi is in love with Xiaolou. All of the relationships are under stress because, during this historical period the government changed from Manchu, to Japanese, to Chinese Nationalist, to Chinese Communist during the time of the Cultural Revolution.
It would have been an easier movie to review if it had been about the three central characters, about Peking Opera, or about Chinese history. The fact that it's about all three of these subjects makes it a one-of-a-kind movie.
The acting and directing are wonderful, and the cinematography is superb. (It will work better in a theater, but it was still excellent on the small screen.)
This movie is long and--sometimes--confusing. However, it's a masterpiece and well worth seeking out.
Dark Waters (2019)
A dark film about corporate power
Dark Waters (2019) was directed by Todd Haynes. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott, a corporate lawyer, and Anne Hathaway as his wife, Sarah Bilott
The movie, "based on a true story," is powerful, but somewhat formulaic. Lawyer's job is defending corporations, he learns of serious corporate evil, and he takes on the job of defending the little people harmed by the corporation.
However, even though you can predict what will happen, you will still be frightened by the terrifying power of a giant corporation.
Naturally, Ruffalo and Hathaway are great. It's wonderful to watch them act, and even better to watch them act opposite each other.
We saw this film at Rochester's great Little Theatre. It will work almost as well on the small screen.
Sorry We Missed You (2019)
Powerful film, but discouraging.
Sorry We Missed You (2019) is an English film directed by the great Ken Loach.
Kris Hitchen plays Ricky Turner, who is a decent man who loves his family and is ready to work hard.
He signs on as a "independent contractor" for a company that resembles UPS.
It turns out that he's only an independent contractor when something goes wrong. His work is monitored continuously, fines by the company are a daily occurrence, and he can't allow his daughter to accompany him when he's driving his own van. He is working too hard and too long, and has little to show for it.
Ken Loach is a brilliant director, and this movie shows us the horrible truth of a worker systematically being crushed by a corporation. It's certainly a tragic film, but it allows us to see how the system works. Well, it works for the corporation, but not for the drivers.
We saw this film at Rochester's wonderful Dryden Theatre as part of the Labor Film Series. It will work on the small screen. It's hard to watch, but it's a brilliant movie.
English Vinglish (2012)
Lighthearted movie with a serious message
English Vinglish (2012) was written and directed by Gauri Shinde. It's an Indian film, but it's location is primarily suburban NYC.
The movie stars the late Sridevi, who was the first great Indian female superstar. She portrays Shashi Godbole, who is under-appreciated at home as the great wife and mother that she is. Her husband looks down upon her, and that prompts her children to give be disrespectful.
Shasi travels to NYC for a wedding, and that's where she begins to study conversational English. (She has pretty good English already, but her level of language expertise isn't sufficient for other cultured Indians, including her husband.)
This isn't an iconic movie, but it gives the viewer a chance to learn about India, to see NYC in a different light, and to watch a fantastically gifted actor fit perfectly into a role.
We saw this film at Rochester's wonderful Dryden Theatre, at the George Eastman Museum. It was part of FILMI WORLDS--A Festival of Indian Cinema. It won't work as well on the small screen, but it's good enough for me to say that you should find it and see it in any format.
In & Out (1997)
A progressive movie about coming out of the closet (or not)
In & Out (1997) was directed by Frank Oz . The movie stars Kevin Kline as Howard Brackett, teacher, coach, and all-around good guy. He's engaged to be married to Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack). Everything is going well until local-boy-makes-good Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) wins an Oscar. In his speech, he thanks Howard, and outs him as gay.
Suddenly, Howard becomes a celebrity, and the media descend. They get their story, and then they leave. Only journalist Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck) stays around to see what happens next.
The cast is studded with well-known actors--Debbie Reynolds and Wilfred Brimley as Howard's parents, and Bob Newhart as Principal Halliwell.
Watch for supermodel Shalom Harlow as supermodel Sonya. (Cameron Drake says she resembles a swizzle stick.)
The basic premise of the movie is interesting, but it wasn't as funny or meaningful as I had hoped. The Barbara Streisand jokes never stop. Emily's problems are treated as, well, problems, rather than as reasons for sympathy. The payoff scene doesn't really work.
On the other hand, the acting is great, and the message about gay vs. straight does come through.
We saw this movie on DVD, where it worked well. The film has a pathetic IMDb rating of 6.4. It's not a great movie, but it's better than that.
Canadian Bacon (1995)
A funny narrative film from Michael Moore
Canadian Bacon (1995) is a narrative movie written and directed by Michael Moore. The film stars Alan Alda as the President of the United States. His popularity rating is going down until his slimy aide, Kevin Pollak, suggests that what his administration needs is a war. Pollak assumes--probably correctly--that Americans always rally around a war President.
Actually, Pollak suggests that they don't want a real war--just a threatening of hostilities with some nation that won't actually attack us. Initiating hostilities with Canada should do the trick.
Enter John Candy as local Sheriff Bud Boomer, who isn't in on the deception. He decides to invade Canada with a few of his patriotic friends.
The movie is full of stereotypes: all people in Upstate New York are rednecks. All Canadians are kind, hospitable, welcoming, and trusting. They're all polite, except if you criticize their beer.
All of this works in a rough-and-tumble way. The movie is a comedy, and it's funny. However, even 25 years ago, Michael Moore was on to something that wasn't, and isn't, funny about the United States. Moore knew we were in trouble, and his documentaries demonstrate that trouble.
This movie has a truly dismal IMDb rating of 6.0. It's not a masterpiece, but it's better than that. We saw it on DVD, where it worked well. I recommend it.
We Are Not Princesses (2018)
Two impossible choices
We Are Not Princesses (2018) was directed by Bridgette Auger and Itab Azzam.
Four Iraqi women are stranded in a refugee camp in Lebanon. They long to get back to their homes, but that is simply too dangerous. In Lebanon, women are more liberated than they are in Iraq, but Iraqi standards prevail in the refugee community.
The women decide to produce the Greek play Antigone. It's appropriate to their situation because they live in a symbolically similar situation to Antigone. Do they obey the law--in this case the law of their husbands--or do they take a step towards freedom.
We saw this film at Rochester's High Falls Feminist Film Festival. It will work on the small screen. It's not a movie for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Don't miss this extraordinary film!
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (2019) was shown in the U.S. with the translated title, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The film was written and directed by Céline Sciamma.
This movie takes place in Brittany, France in 1760. A young woman named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) lives with her mother and her maid in a large chateau on the shore of the Atlantic. Another woman arrives. She's Marianne, portrayed by Noémie Merlant.
Marianne is brought to the chateau ostensibly to provide companionship for Héloïse. However, we quickly learn that she is there to observe Héloïse, in order to secretly paint her portrait. The portrait is needed because Héloïse is destined to be married to a Milanese nobleman. He wants to see her portrait before he consents.
This is an outstanding movie for many reasons. One is the complex, intriguing plot. The second is the outstanding acting by the two lead actors. The third is the wild scenery on the northern French coast. The fourth is that we actually see a painter painting. Most movies about painting show you the artist working, but you never actually see the painting coming together on canvas.
Worth special mention are Luàna Bajrami as Sophie, the maid, and Valeria Golino as La Comtesse, Héloïse's mother. (Incidentally, in the film and in fact, Bairami is Italian.)
This is the movie I enjoyed most at Rochester's wonderful ImageOut LGBT festival. It was shown in the excellent Dryden Theatre of The George Eastman Museum. The screening took place just one month after the film opened in France!
I consider this film as the best of the 13 movies we saw at the ImageOut Festival. (That's saying something, considering the high quality of films at the festival.)
This is a film that will work better on a large screen. Try to see it if it shows at a festival near you. My guess is that it will achieve theater distribution in the U.S. When that happens, don't miss it.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire has an extremely strong IMDb rating of 8.4. I think it's even better than that.
Yes--it's a lesbian vampire movie. Nothing wrong with that
Carmilla (2019) is a British movie co-written and directed by Emily Harris.
The novel Carmilla was written 25 years before Bram Stoker's Dracula. However, what makes the novel important wasn't when it was written. After all, the vampire legend is centuries old. What makes the novel important is that it was the first English novel to overtly present lesbian love.
The film stars three beautiful women: Hannah Rae plays Lara, a young woman who lives in a gloomy country mansion with her governess, Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). Ms. Fontaine is a repressed woman, and she sees her job as turning Lara into someone equally repressed. Devrim Lingnau portrays Carmilla, a young woman brought into the home after suffering a concussion when her carriage overturns.
Naturally, the two young women end up in each other's arms. Then Lara gets sick. Is this Carmilla's evil work? You'll have to see the movie to find out.
We saw this film in The Little Theatre as part of the outstanding ImageOut, Rochester's LGBT Festival. ImageOut did it again--this movie had it's New York State premiere in Rochester. If you're going to watch a movie set in a gloomy English country mansion, it will work best in a gloomy movie theater. However, in fact, it will work well on the small screen.
Carmilla has less than fifty ratings. However, as I write this review it has a terrible IMDb rating of 6.2. I can't understand this low rating. Did those 40 people see the same movie I saw? It's a fascinating film, and I recommend it.
Changing the Game (2019)
Being an elite athlete is hard enough; being trans makes it harder
The documentary Changing the Game (2019) was co-written and directed by
The movie stars Mack Beggs, Sarah Rose Huckman, and Andraya Yearwood. All three of them are transgender high-school athletes with enormous talent.
As expected, these young men and women face opposition from officials and parents of the athletes against whom they compete. The film shows us how they confront this additional burden, and deal with it in successful ways.
It's not easy. One athlete takes testosterone to achieve physical gender change. Of course, testosterone is a banned substance for athletes. He's not taking it to win at sports--it's part of his medical regimen. That's an inherently difficult situation.
This movie hasn't achieved wide distribution. My vote is only the 14th vote, and I'm the first person to review if for IMDb. I hope that distributors will pick up on this movie. Obviously, it will work at LGBT festivals, but I think it will also work well for general audiences.
We say this film in The Little Theatre, as part of the excellent ImageOut Rochester LGBT Film Festival. It will work well on the small screen. This is a movie that will make you think. I recommend it.
The hard streets of Guatemala City
José (II) (2018) is a Guatemalan film co-written and directed by Li Cheng.
The movie follows José (Enrique Salanic) as he goes about his marginal life in urban Guatemala. Manolo Herrera plays Luis, José's lover, and Ana Cecilia Mota portrays his mother.
The movie doesn't move forward with a traditional plot. It's more of a series of vignettes strung together because José is in them. José is gay, but his life would be hard if he weren't gay. Being gay in Guatemala is dangerous, so that adds a definite level of tension to his life and to the film.
His mother also leads a marginal life, because she's selling food without the proper license, and she gets driven from spot to spot by the police. She only has two loves in her life--José and the Evangelical church to which she belongs. It wasn't clear to me whether or not she knew José was gay. She knew that something was happening, but she didn't appear to know what it was.
As the credits to the movie were rolling, we learned that each episode was based on a real event that happened to one of the many people to whom the filmmakers spoke. That's apparently why the film was episodic--it was based on something that really happened to someone in Latin America. (Not just Guatemala.)
We saw this movie in Rochester's wonderful Dryden Theatre at The Eastman House Museum. It was screened as part of Rochester's great ImageOut LGBT Film Festival. This was the film's New York State premiere. My compliments to the festival organizers for bringing the movie to Rochester.
I enjoyed watching the movie on the large screen, but it will work well enough on the small screen. José has a weak IMDb rating of 6.3. It's not a great film, but I think it's better than that.
Song Lang (2018)
Do opposites really attract?
Song Lang (2018) is a Vietnamese film co-written and directed by Leon Le.
The premise of this film is that an emotional connection is possible between two men of very different outward temperaments.
Isaac plays Linh Phung, a performer in Vietnamese traditional opera. Lien Binh Phat portrays Dung "Thunderbolt," an enforcer for a vicious lone shark.
Thunderbolt goes about his job with impassive, brutal efficiency. He says that when people borrow money, they have to pay it back. If they can't, or won't, he sees to it that they do.
The two men meet when Dung Thunderbolt is about to burn the costumes when he's unable to collect a debt at Linh Fung's opera. Linh offers him enough to keep the match unlit, although Dung won't accept it.
The two men are attracted to each other. No one ever mentions the word "gay." It's probably not acceptable in Vietnam, where all culture is controlled by the state. My sense is that Cai-Luong opera male stars are thought to be gay, even though they portray excessively masculine characters onstage.
Their relationship changes their lives, in unusual and surprising ways. The plot of the film is complex and subtle, and keeps you thinking about it after the movie is over.
A real bonus is the scenes from the opera performances themselves. The opera music sounds strange to our western ears, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it as a true art form.
Both men are fine actors. However, for me, the best acting was done by Phuong Minh as Auntie Nga, the loan shark. I can't remember someone portraying a person with no soul so well. When tragedy strikes, her comment is, "No one is forced to borrow from me." She clearly has no guilt at all about her actions.
We saw this movie at the Little Theatre, as part of Rochester's wonderful ImageOut Film Festival. The opera scenes probably work better on the large screen, but the film is worth seeing on a small screen if that's your only option.
This movie has an extremely high IMDb rating of 8.0, with over 200 raters. That's amazingly high for a foreign film about gay men. I consider this a must-see film if you're interested in the music or in a relationship that grows between two very different men. I highly recommend it.
Straight Up (2019)
Boy meets girl. However, he's not just any boy.
Straight Up (2019) was written and directed by James Sweeney.
Director Sweeney plays Todd, who has OCD and many, many phobias. Todd's friends know he's gay, Todd's therapist knows he's gay, and--I think--Todd knows he's gay. The problem is that Todd really doesn't want to be gay.
He wants to be straight, especially after he meets Rory, portrayed by Katie Findlay. They are mutually attracted, and the start to live together. But . . .
Although this was a meant as a comedy, I found it poignant. Meeting the right person, when you're the wrong person, isn't really funny. Funny things happen along the way, but the basic premise is sad.
Sweeney does a good job, especially when you remember that he's directing himself. Katie Findlay is outstanding in her role.
Special acting credit goes to Tracie Thoms as Dr. Larson, Todd's ever-patient therapist.
This film had its New York State premiere at ImageOut, Rochester's great LGBT festival. (Remember that both NYC and Buffalo are larger than Rochester. Having a NYS premiere in Rochester takes special effort by the ImageOut selection committee.)
This is a film that will work on the small screen. Yes--it's set in California with views of the ocean, but it's about people, not scenery.
This movie hasn't had a large distribution. It's only been rated by 30 people. The good news is that those people gave it an extremely high rating of 8.1. I think it's even better than that.
Boy meets boy. Then the challenges begin.
Trick (1999) was co-written and directed by Jim Fall.
We are accustomed to gay films about HIV, coming out to hostile parents, or prejudice endured by gays. This movie is none of the above.
Christian Campbell plays Gabriel, an aspiring musician and musical comedy writer. John Paul Pitoc portrays Mark, a go-go dancer in a gay bar. The two men meet, and have a mutual sexual attraction. The plot consists of what happens next.
Both male actors are creditable in their roles, but acting honors go to Tori Spelling as Katherine, Gabriel's best friend, and Miss Coco Peru. If you're a gay man and you are going to have a conversation with a drag queen in the men's room of a gay bar, you want to have it with Miss Coco Peru! (She's played by Clinton Leupp.)
This isn't a must-see film, but it's good to watch a light-hearted romance sometimes, and that's what this movie really is. The plot almost gets in the way of the fact that two people have found each other. "It's so crazy, it just might work."
We saw Trick in 35mm at Rochester's great Dryden Theatre at The George Eastman Museum. It was shown as an "ImageOut of the Archives" presentation at ImageOut, the wonderful LGBT Film Festival. It will work on the small screen.
Trick has an OK IMDb rating of 7.1. I think it's better than that.
Billie and Emma (2018)
The new girl in school
Billie and Emma is a film from the Philippines written and directed by Samantha Lee. The film is partly in Tagalog, and partly in English.
Zar Donato plays Billie, a young woman from Manila, who has been sent to the smaller city of San Isidro, because her parents hope she'll lose her attraction to girls. Billie stands out immediately--she's the only student with short hair, she wears heavy boots, and she defends same-sex attraction. (The lesson plan on her first day is that same-sex attraction isn't a sin, but acting upon that attraction is a sin. Billie disagrees.)
Gabby Padilla portrays Emma, the perfect student in their Catholic school. She's bright, beautiful, and popular.
You can tell from the title that the plot will revolve around the relationship of the two girls, and it does. However, their are plenty of plot twists along the way.
The two leads do a good job, but I would single out two supporting actors for special praise: Cielo Aquino as Billie's aunt, who is a teacher at the school, and Beauty Gonzalez, as Emma's childlike mother.
We saw this movie at The Little Theatre, as part of Rochester's excellent ImageOut LGBT Film Festival. If you can't find it at a festival, it will work will on the small screen.
Billie and Emma was shown as a "New York Sneak Preview." Obviously, it hasn't been shown much. It only has 26 IMDb ratings, and I'm the first reviewer. The few people who have rated it produced an strong rating of 7.3, and I think that it's at least that good.
Carmen y Lola (2018)
The first film to deal with same-sex love in a Roma community
The Spanish film Carmen y Lola was shown in the U.S. with the translated title
Carmen & Lola (2018). The movie was written and directed by Arantxa Echevarría.
The film stars Zaira Romero as Lola, a young Roma woman. (We use the word "Roma," but apparently in Spain they still use Gitana or Gypsy. The Roma in Spain use a word for non-Roma that the subtitles call "Whiteys.") Rosy Rodríguez portrays Carmen, another young Roma woman.
Carmen is settled within the Roma community, willing to play out the traditional lifestyle of daughter, wife, mother. Lola doesn't want to break from the community, but she wants to be a teacher, which is unsettling to her parents.
Lola knows that she's a lesbian. Carmen doesn't know that she even might have lesbian tendencies until she meets Lola. The plots starts at that point.
Both Romero and Rodriguez are excellent actors, and they are both confident and comfortable in the roles they play. It's a pleasure to watch them act. The supporting cast is excellent as well.
We saw this film at The Little Theatre, as part of Rochester's wonderful ImageOut LGBT Festival. Carmen & Lola has a pretty good rating of 7.1. I think it's better than that, and I recommend it.
Der Boden unter den Füßen (2019)
Even the world of high finance gets personal
The German film Der Boden unter den Füssen was shown in the U.S. with the translated title The Ground Beneath My Feet (2019). The movie was written and directed by Marie Kreutzer.
Valerie Pachner plays Lola Wegenstein, a successful businesswoman. Her boss is Elise, portrayed by Mavie Hörbiger. Elise is also Lola's lover.
Pia Hierzegger plays Conny Wegenstein, Lola's sister, who has schizophrenia. Matters reach a crisis when Lola is at the final stages of an important business deal, and Conny makes what may have been a suicide attempt.
The world of high finance is unknown to me. Others will have to tell you how well it's portrayed in the movie. It looks horrible. For example, in her sleep, Lola is talking about "48's." We learn that this means going two days without sleep to work on business.
Although this film contains lesbian lovers, it's really not a lesbian film. In my opinion, it's about a high-level business executive and her sister who suffers from mental illness. The fact that Lola is in a lesbian relationship is important, but not central, to the plot.
All three lead actors are excellent, but I'll single out Pia Hierzegger, as Lola's sister, for special praise. It's a difficult, demanding role, and Hierzegger manages it to perfection.
We saw this film at The Little Theatre, as part of Rochester's wonderful ImageOut Festival. If you can't find it at a festival, it will work on the small screen.
This movie has a terrible IMDb rating of 6.3. I think that it's much better than that, and I feel comfortable recommending it.
The Garden Left Behind (2019)
Being trans isn't a crime, but it still gets punished
The Garden Left Behind (2019) was co-written and directed by Flavio Alves.
Carlie Guevara as Tina, who is an undocumented trans woman of color living in New York City. She supports her loving abuela, portrayed by Miriam Cruz. Anthony Abdo is Chris, who works in a small grocery store where Tina shops. They see each other all the time, but they never interact.
All three actors are brilliant in their roles. It's a pleasure to watch them at their craft.
As is portrayed well in the movie, being an undocumented person of color is hard in NYC. Being trans adds to the very real danger.
This is a film where plot and character are both important. I won't say more about the movie except that it builds to a stunning climax.
We saw this movie at the Little Theatre, as part of ImageOut, the Rochester LGBT festival. (If you can't find the film at a festival, it will work well on the small screen.)
This movie has a solid IMDb rating of 7.5. I think that it's even better than that. Thank you to ImageOut for bringing to Rochester Tamara Williams, a supporting actor, and Kristen P. Lovell, the producer. It's always useful to listen to people who insiders when a movie was made. In this case, it was particularly helpful, because both women told us they were part of the trans community. Sadly, they told us that the hatred and prejudice we see on the screen are a real part of their lives in NYC. The film is realistic, and that's tragic.
Troisièmes noces (2018)
Do opposites really attract?
The Belgian film Troisièmes noces was shown in the U.S. with the translated title Third Wedding (2018). The movie was written and directed by David Lambert.
Bouli Lanners plays Martin, a 50-year-old gay man whose husband has just died. Rachel Mwanza portrays Tamara, an undocumented Congolese woman, who needs to be married so that she can stay in the country.
Martin needs money, and the money will be supplied if he goes through with this marriage of convenience. Tamara is very beautiful, but, because Martin is gay, he's not attracted to her. However, they must dutifully go through with the charade.
The substance of the movie is not whether or not they succeed in fooling the authorities. The substance is whether or not they can work our their differences enough to actually become husband and wife.
The movie had weak subplots about the person who supplies the money to Martin, and about the detectives whose job it is to spot phony weddings. Those subplots are just fillers.
However, the main plot about the possibility of a connection between two very different people is fascinating. Both protagonists are great actors, and they make you believe that they could be the people depicted in the film.
We saw this movie at Rochester's great Dryden Theatre at The George Eastman Museum. It was shown as part of ImageOut, the wonderful Rochester LGBT festival. (If you can't find it at a festival, it should work well on the small screen.)
The movie has an anemic 6.7 IMDb rating. I think it's much better than that.
This screening was the New York State premiere of the film. Thank you, ImageOut!