LGBT+ FILM AND TELEVISION REVIEWS

BY HOLLY COZENS


Moonlight

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Out on DVD and Amazon Prime

If you were afraid that Josh Gad’s (verging on offensive) stereotypical portrayal of LeFou as a gay man in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was the only LGBT representation in cinemas this year, you can breathe a big old sigh of relief.  This year, director Barry Jenkins and the astounding ‘Moonlight’ were bestowed with the Best Picture Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards (enter obligatory ‘La La Land’ balls up joke here).

This coming-of-age drama examines one boy’s individual struggles with identity and sexuality, as well as the nurturing and abusive relationships that evolve as a result. There are some long overdue ‘firsts’ that go hand-in-hand with this – first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBT film to win Best Picture. Also – catch this flipping bird, Trump – Mahershala Ali was the first Muslim to win an acting Oscar. Like I said, long overdue, but in the shit storm of 2017 this was certainly refreshing and well deserved.


The Handmaiden

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Out on DVD in August

‘The Handmaiden’ – not to be confused with Channel 4’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – should be a story that many of you are familiar with. Director Park Chan-wook (‘Oldboy’, ‘Stoker’, ‘Lady Vengeance’) has gifted us with a superbly perverse erotic lesbian thriller, inspired by writer Sarah Waters’ ‘Fingersmith’.  However, instead of the Victorian era, ‘The Handmaiden’ is set in 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea. A young pick-pocket is set to work for an heiress by a gentleman con artist who needs her help to separate the lady from her wealth.

If you’re no stranger to Chan-wook’s previous work, you will know that the story is not as simple or straightforward as it first appears. If you reading this thinking ‘I have no idea what to expect from this film but I do love myself some exquisite Korean filmmaking and forbidden scissoring’, then good. The DVD is out in August so you can enjoy this intricately sexy masterpiece from the comfort of your own home.


Certain Women

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Out on DVD now

When I was looking further into female representation across film and cinema in 2017, women-only screenings of ‘Wonder Woman’ wasn’t the first thing I was hoping to come across. Don’t get me wrong, seeing a mainstream superhero movie centring around strong women, and directed by female director Patty Jenkins, receiving some real positive praise fills me with pride. But, some of the more unassuming pieces in Women’s Cinema can be just as effective and inspiring – if not more. Luckily, I had already been aware of ‘Certain Women’ when it was released in selected cinemas across the UK earlier this year. Award-winning writer/director Kelly Reichardt takes the seemingly ordinary lives of four women living in Montana, and crafts a captivating masterpiece. Drawing on unique behaviours that we both carry and experience in our everyday interactions, ‘Certain Women’ examines deeper into the soul, and the unearthing is revealing and truly exciting.


Different For Girls

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Available to watch online – different-for-girls.com

In the past, if someone said the word ‘web series’, my brain instantly assumed that meant ‘not good enough to be on TV’. How wrong I was. Originally premiered as part of the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival, British Lesbian drama ‘Different For Girls’ is a five-part series consisting of 12-minute episodes based on the book by Jacquie Lawrence.

Let’s face it – since ‘The L Word’ came to a spectacular ‘who shot JR’ style conclusion in 2009 (well, if you want to be pedantic – who pushed JS), I had been yearning for some authentic woman-on-woman excitement and ‘Different For Girls’ certainly delivers. With its fingers firmly in every pie; you can expect sex, love, betrayal and much more. Oh, and those who remember Helena Peabody – ‘The L Word’’s favourite stuck-up trust fund brat turned legend – will be pleased to see actress Rachel Shelley pop up in this tender show.

BONUS ONLINE CONTENT…

 

Orange Is The New Black 

Series 1-5 On Netflix now

June was a significant month in 2017. People carrying the weight of making what could be one of the most life-changing decisions of their time. Yes, of course I am talking about Daya Diaz at the end of season four of ‘Orange Is The New Black’. I won’t give anything away for those who are yet to catch up – quite frankly if you have not already devoured these new 13 episodes in one day, you need to catch the hell up.

‘Orange Is The New Black’ was one of the first Netflix Original series and it has developed a following quicker than Crazy Eyes could set her sights on Piper for her prison wife. (Seriously, this is season one stuff, catch up). Creator Jenji Kohan does a bang-up job of putting a variety of strong woman characters on the front line and lets them shine back and forth along a spectrum of hilariously funny to devastatingly tragic. If you are way ahead of me on this, Kohan is also involved in ‘GLOW’, also now on Netflix.

Master Of None

Series 1 & 2 on Netflix now

If you’re like me, the act of being able to lose yourself in a TV show binge is far too easy – even with those of a lesser quality that can just begin to merge into one unrecognisable clump. Sometimes they end up essentially background to other important activities like looking at cat videos on Facebook. ‘Master of None’, however, to be savoured – otherwise you can be in danger of missing some spectacular, comedic moments of human observation.

Created, written by and starring Aziz Ansari (‘Parks and Recreation’); both seasons are worth sitting up for and taking note, though it’s season two that stole my heart. Touching on some serious subjects across the ten parts, it takes us through actor Dev’s (Ansari) world and delivers some shrewd but brilliant story arcs as well as some incredible standalone episodes. In particular, ‘Thanksgiving’ takes us through time, highlighting Dev’s relationship with his gay best friend since childhood, Denise (Lena Waithe) as her and her family come to terms with her sexuality across the years.