Summer of 85, which was nominated for 12 César Awards, is renowned filmmaker François Ozon’s adaptation of Aidan Chamber’s 1982 YA novel, Dance on My Grave. Please forget that trivia because the book’s title gives away far too much.

Now, if you are familiar with Ozon’s work over the past few decades — much of which, but not all, is homoerotic — you’ll not be surprised at the steaminess of 85. His short, Summer Dress (1996), for instance, is about an uptight young gay man who goes to a beach to tan in the nude, is seduced by an…


Christ looks on in Pulkit Arora’s short, “Milk Toffee.”

“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world,” Jean-Luc Godard once alleged. Ah, if so, here is a fraud that is a stairway to many a truth, at least that’s what’s this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) persuasively demonstrates.

From an early handful of TFF offerings I’ve screened, there was not a bummer in the crop, just far-reaching offerings tackling various issues with an applaud-worthy savvy: DACA angst, love spurred on by Covid-19, sex trafficking, religious hypocrisy, alternative music posturing, Jewish childhoods in Brooklyn, musical takes on Black Lives Matter, aging while sitting next to a tree, arranged marriages…


Hulu is going all out to celebrate LGBTQI+ Pride Month with both the old and the new.

The chestnuts include both The Birdcage and The Full Monty, a duo from 1997 celebrating drag-queen family values and amateur stripping. Then there last year’s Supernova, where love and dementia get intertwined while Cowboys spotlights a Montana dad struggling to salvage his trans son’s life. And don’t you dare overlook the second season of Love, Victor, an engaging recreation of high-school closeted neurosis and romance.

A must-see though is Michael Barnett’s Changing the Game (2019), a moving, much too timely documentary on…


Hollywood adores alcoholics. From I’ll Cry Tomorrow to Days of Wine and Roses. From Arthur to to every version of A Star is Born. Then, of course there’s this year’s Oscar winner, Another Round, with Mads Mikkelsen, where you get four drinkers for the price of one rental.

And no wonder! A study of a few years ago, published in JAMA Psychiatry, noted that “12.7 percent of the U.S. Population now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder.” Who doesn’t enjoy viewing their neighbors’ vices on the big or small screen as played by stars? …


“Is that a gun in my hand?” Armie Hammer goes undercover in “Crisis.”

Who could not like a film where the lead villain — a short, bearded Quebecois drug dealer — is called Mother? (Hey, you! Put your hand down.)

Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki, whose previous effort, Arbitrage (2012), dealt with a troubled hedge-fund magnate, a role earning Richard Gere a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination, has now focused on the opioid epidemic. As noted on screen: “Over 100,000 people die from opioid overdoses every year, a figure that grows over 20% annually.”

Employing a triptych plotline, Jarecki’s passion project attacks from three semi-disparate perspectives. There’s a mother seeking revenge for the death of…


This isn’t Green Eggs and Ham . . . nor is it Pat the Bunny, not unless those classics have gender-non-conforming messages that bypassed me. Happily, Jesús Canchola Sánchez’s first children’s book, the bilingual Pepito Has a Doll/Pepito Tiene una Muñeca, is in your face on that matter.

This charming little tome is the latest offering in the ever-growing LGBTQI+ genre that includes such predecessors as Leslea Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies, Perez Hilton’s The Boy with Pink Hair, and Harvey Fierstein’s The Sissy Duckling.


Cinema from Nigeria and Sudan Get Their Due

Poster for “You Will Die at Twenty”

Try googling “best African films”? What will show up first is a top ten list featuring Out of Africa with Streep and Redford, Blood Diamond with DiCaprio, and Black Panther with Boseman. Not exactly what you were searching for.

So where do you go to find homeborn African films with directors and actors and crew who don’t have U.S. passports and who aren’t signed up with CAA, William Morris, or Gersh?

This week, the 27th New York African Film Festival will satisfy your cinematic thirst for such product (at least until Dec. 9th), and thanks to the folks at Film…


Horrors films have often been viewed as reflections of what’s cooking up the most paranoia in society at the time of their release. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) has forever been designated as a political allegory on Americans’ fear of Communism.

Ernest Matjijs in his lengthy Cinema Journal essay, “AIDS References in the Critical Reception of David Cronenberg” (2003), notes how The Fly (1986) caused numerous reviewers to make the disease tie-in. …


Someone slipped Pedro Almodóvar a Valium back in 2006. Yes, the delectable high-pitched frenzy of his then recent films such as Talk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), and Live Flesh (1997) with their trademark super-Almodóvar stylizations and quirks suffusing nearly every frame, was put aside for the moment.

Yes, in Volver, there are no gigantic vaginas confronting miniature men, no stories within stories within stories highlighting the travails of sexually-abused, pre-op transsexuals, and no frenetic heterosexual copulations committed as acts of revenge.

Instead, what we have here is an at-times plaintive love letter to women: a paean to their…


Imagine a child picking up a copy of Grimms’ Fairy Tales only to discover that the last several pages of each story have been torn out. Are Hansel and Gretel turned into mincemeat by the evil witch? Is Snow White rented out by her height-challenged pals to Sealy for their mattress ads? Does Rapunzel yell, “Fuck it all!” and get a pixie cut?

That’s how I felt about Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow, one of the more acclaimed films of the month. At a “pivotal” moment, Tomorrow’s oft-annoying heroine, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), who you might well wish would kick…

Brandon Judell

Brandon Judell has published in The Village Voice, The Advocate, and 50 or so other outlets. He is currently a lecturer at The City College of New York.

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