Film/Arts/Satire*
(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, March 5, 2021

Reverend's Reviews: Three is a Magic Number


Readers of a certain age, like me, will surely remember the delightful Schoolhouse Rocks cartoons. One of their more memorable toons/songs was "Three is a Magic Number." It was actually the first Schoolhouse Rocks episode that aired, between such fave 1970's Saturday morning shows as Land of the Lost and Jabberjaw. And in the event you are too young to be familiar with it (God bless you), here it is:



Several recently-released movies seem out to prove that three can indeed be a magic number when it comes to romantic or sexual relationships. There were a couple of earlier big-screen stabs at polyamorous relationships, notably 1982's Summer Lovers (featuring a pre-stardom Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher) and 1994's more gay-friendly Threesome (featuring a pre-saved Stephen Baldwin). It took a few more decades, but trios and throuples of all varieties have definitely become their own genre! Here's my rundown of some of the newer entries:

Throuple (now streaming on Amazon Prime) centers on a straight couple vacationing in the Hawaiian islands who discover that their neighbors make up the titular, sexually-fluid trio. The vacationing guy, James (played by Jordan Turchin), becomes increasingly intrigued by the dynamics between the two very hot men and their female associate. James' more conservative partner Lexi (Ingrid Vollset) is threatened by the growing amount of time he spends with the neighbors. Another neighbor enters the scene and things take a very interesting turn involving an apparent murder. Throuple's script (written by Phillips Payson, who also directs, and Zoe Eisenberg) segues from "who's doing it" to "who dunnit." Both the direction and acting are amateurish in spots but it's hard to beat this film's eye candy plus its beautiful Hawaiian setting.

 


There is No "I" in Threesome (now streaming on HBO Max) is a first-person documentary by Jan Oliver Lucks that gets points for its tongue-in-cheek title. Jan and his fiancée Zoe were engaged to be married. In an ultimately unwise move, they mutually agreed to have an open relationship in the final months before their wedding. While Zoe is straight, Jan is bisexual. Zoe develops a relationship with a fellow actor named Tom, and the new pair decide to invite Jan to explore the possibility of a throuple between them. Sadly, things don't end well for at least one of them. As he recounts their experience, Jan becomes admirably vulnerable and applies an interesting twist to his filmmaking technique. However, the doc suffers from some dullness and repetition until this late-in-the-game revelation.

 


The One You Feed (now streaming on Amazon Prime) weaves a strange, time-tripping tale that ends up as a polyamorous/homoerotic horror flick. A nameless young man is attacked by an unseen creature while hiking in the desert. He is rescued by a hunky, also nameless stranger who takes the wounded man to a remote farmhouse he shares with a dominating, similarly nameless woman. She tends to the young man's wounds while the three of them gradually end up becoming sexually intertwined. The movie was directed by Drew Harwood, who co-wrote it with Gareth Koorzen. Both are actors who also play the male leads here, which adds an extra behind-the-scenes layer of intrigue. In press notes, they state that they set out to depict a love story free from labels. They succeeded, although their final film has some inexplicably bizarre elements like a repeated use of eggs, ant hills, incest and a lack of modern conveniences at the farmhouse. Rebecca Fraiser's impressively fierce performance as the cigar-smoking lady of the house is worth noting. The One You Feed is unusual but undeniably intriguing.



The best of these new releases is Show Me What You Got (now playing theatrically in select cities as well as available on demand at Level Forward Live). It marks the directorial debut of acclaimed cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko, who also shot the film in striking black and white. Marcello, the spoiled son of a famous Italian actor, has escaped his ex-girlfriend by fleeing to Los Angeles. He by chance meets Nassim, an aspiring actor originally from Tehran who also knows martial arts. Marcello asks Nassim to train him in martial arts and they end up becoming close friends. The pair then cross paths with Christine, a barista and animal rights activist who is grieving the recent death of her Italian-born grandfather. The trio take a beautifully-shot trip to Joshua Tree and end up becoming more intimately involved with one another. They commit to sharing "a life filled with support and no judgment" but things become complicated once they travel to Puglia, Italy to reckon with Marcello's father and pregnant ex-girlfriend. With its attractive, charismatic cast and energetic direction, this threesome film truly is magical.

Reverend's Ratings:
Throuple: B
There is No "I" in Threesome: C+
The One You Feed: B-
Show Me What You Got: B+

Reviews by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

MD on IG Review: Lady for A. Day

It is striking how mesmerizing Andra Day's transformation into the iconic Billie Holiday is compared to the rest of Lee Daniels' The United States vs Billie Holiday. While Day (in basically her first film role) utterly commits to her raw, fierce, heartbreaking portrayal, she is surrounded by stilted dialogue, one-note performances and Daniels' own overindulgent tendencies (pick a tone, Lee). You'll have to endure all that though (plus Leslie Jordan's ridiculous wig) because Day as Lady Day is an absolute must-see.

MD Rating: 6/10

The United States vs Billie Holiday is now streaming on Hulu.

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Friday, February 12, 2021

Indie Favorites Dominate the 2020 Dorian Award Nominations

Minari

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics has announced the nominations for their 12th Annual Dorian Awards, honoring the best in film for 2020 (plus the first two months of 2021 à la the Oscars). Leading the pack with 6 nominations is Lee Isaac Chung's tender family drama Minari, including nods for both Film of the Year and Foreign Language Film of the Year. Chloé Zhao's powerfully moving Nomadland (the #1 movie in both my and Chris' top 10 of last year) close behind with 5 nominations. Promising Young Woman (4 nominations), First Cow and Sound of Metal (3 nominations each) round out the contenders for the Film of the Year prize.

The four acting races include a diverse array of talent, including two nominations for the late Chadwick Boseman (for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods); he is among the contenders for the "Wilde Artist of the Year" award as well. Meanwhile, four of the five finalists for Director of the Year (Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, Regina King for One Night in Miami, Kelly Reichardt for First Cow and Zhao) and Screenplay of the Year (Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version, Eliza Hittman for Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Fennell and Zhao) are women.

Nomadland

King and Zhao are also nominated for Artist of the Year (along with Elliot Page and Dolly Parton), with Blank also a finalist for the "We're Wilde About You" Rising Star Award. She is joined in that category with two other multiple nominees, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm's Maria Bakalova (a supporting actress nominee) and Never Rarely Sometimes Always lead actress nominee Sidney Flanigan. They are joined by One Night in Miami's Malcolm X, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and young Minari scene-stealer Alan S. Kim.

LGBTQ-themed films, naturally, fared well, with two romances – Two of Us from France and I Carry You with Me from Mexico – named finalists for Foreign Language Film of the Year. The latter is also a contender for LGBTQ Film of the Year, along with Ammonite, The Boys in the Band, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Supernova and Uncle Frank. And Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen and Welcome to Chechnya were nominated for both Documentary of the Year and LGBTQ Documentary of the Year.

Promising Young Woman


GALECA (of which Movie Dearest's own Chris Carpenter and myself are long-standing members) will announce the Dorian Award winners in all categories (including this year's recipient of the "Timeless Award" for lifetime achievement) on April 18th in an original special on Revry TV.

For more information about GALECA, you can visit the official website or do the social network thing via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

And the nominees are...

FILM OF THE YEAR: First Cow, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal

FILM PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - ACTOR: Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Anthony Hopkins in The Father, Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods and Steven Yeun in Minari

FILM PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - ACTRESS: Nicole Beharie in Miss Juneteenth, Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Frances McDormand in Nomadland and Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - ACTOR: Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods, Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7, Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah. Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal

SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - ACTRESS: Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Candice Bergen in Let Them All Talk, Olivia Colman in The Father, Amanda Seyfried in Mank and Youn Yuh-Jung in Minari

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR: Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, Regina King for One Night in Miami, Kelly Reichardt for First Cow and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR: Another Round, Bacurau, I Carry You with Me, La Llorona, Minari and Two of Us

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR: Collective, Crip Camp, Dick Johnson Is Dead, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, Time and Welcome to Chechnya

SCREENPLAY OF THE YEAR: Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version, Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, Eliza Hittman for Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland

LGBTQ FILM OF THE YEAR: Ammonite, The Boys in the Band, I Carry You with Me, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Supernova and Uncle Frank

First Cow

LGBTQ DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR: Born To Be, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, A Secret Love and Welcome to Chechnya

VISUALLY STRIKING FILM OF THE YEAR: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Mank, Nomadland, Soul and Wolfwalkers

CAMPY FLICK OF THE YEAR: Bad Hair, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, The Prom and Wonder Woman 1984

UNSUNG FILM OF THE YEAR: The Assistant, Driveways, First Cow, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Miss Juneteenth, Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Shirley

THE WE'RE WILDE ABOUT YOU RISING STAR AWARD: Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Radha Blank, Sidney Flanigan and Alan S. Kim

WILDE ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Chadwick Boseman, Regina King, Elliot Page, Dolly Parton and Chloé Zhao