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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

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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 at Lincoln Center and AFF, Inc., …


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. …


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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 humor, their loyalty, and especially their ability to survive their encounters with cheating, lying fornicators who employ their penises as weapons of submission. In fact, the ladies chronicled here often prosper after their men’s demise, even if these mujeres are personally responsible for their hombres’ rather violent and premature expirations. …


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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 the bucket today, looks out at a barren landscape, gazing this way and that, with smudged eyeliner. We follow her despondent glare as she continues looking but not seeing, and so on and so forth for close to two minutes. A very long two minutes. …


For quite a while, Tiresias was the only being who’d experienced sex both as a man and a woman. If you recall, for killing two copulating snakes, he was transformed into a female for seven years by the goddess Hera. (Having a vagina was a punishment back then.) Not satisfied, Hera later blinded the gent, which seemed rather harsh, although it did gain him a major speaking part in Oedipus Rex.

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Tiresias learns it’s not nice to slaughter two copulating snakes.

Now, 2449 years later, Revry, the self-proclaimed “queer virtual cable TV network,” is showcasing a New-Zealand-based, 8-part situation comedy, Life is Easy, that explores what it’s like to suddenly have a non-surgically transformed crotch. Although we’re not quite sure where J.K. Rowling stands on this concept, we’ve found the end result, while not quite on the same laugh level as Schitt$ Creek and Little Britain, often quite amusing with a genuine knee-slapper now and then. …


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When Sophia Loren insisted, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti,” she knew of what she spoke, possibly more than she might have imagined. You’ll understand after seeing Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story, one of the more delicious, amusing, and relevant documentaries of the year.

First, before we go on, we must ask, “What is religion?”

According to the Supreme Court, religion is “a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons.” Hmmm. …


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Eliza Scanlen stars in Shannon Murphy’s adaptation of Rita Kalnejais’s play about an odd love.

Babyteeth, a highly quirky, Australian disease-of-the-week dramedy, surprisingly delivers the goods by its finale. About ten minutes before the end credits roll, you might actually experience a really major lump in your throat and a sizable eye-watering. Not bad at all for a play adaptation that, although unerringly cast, still comes off at times as a series of stage scenes stitched together.

Which reminds me of when The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, after viewing Jaws, had a drink with a weathered Hollywood director. …


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As Mr. Bob Dylan noted last week in a rare interview: “Good news in today’s world is like a fugitive treated like a hoodlum and put on the run.” Substitute “a French puppy” for “good news” and you basically have the plot of Marona’s Fantastic Tale, a tale of urban life with all the ups and downs of canine/human romance.

Yes, here, in one of the more beautifully animated features released in many a year, director/ writer Anca Damian chronicles the life of Nine. Nine, as you might have guessed, earns her moniker by being the ninth and final puppy born to a rather sexy mixed-breed mom and a racist pure-bred dad. …


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Is Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) bipolar? Or does she just like poles?

After binging on three overseas “slow-burns” from Netflix — Broadchurch, Hinterland, and Bordertown — addictive, complex looks into child abuse, corporate corruption, fried corpses, more child abuse, troubled priests, and a woman held underwater for three days until her skin starts dissolving, it’s certainly nice to be confronted again by American-made sleaziness.

Jeffrey McHale’s supremely entertaining documentary, You Don’t Nomi, is a no-holds-barred celebration and vivisection of the seamy underbelly of what’s been enshrined as the worst film of the ’90s, Showgirls. That flop of flops was a $40-million follow-up of sorts for director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas who had paired up previously for the lesbian icepick-killer thriller Basic Instinct (1992). The duo thought they could do no wrong after their history of separate and paired successes (e.g. RoboCop (1987); Flashdance (1983)). …

About

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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