Good Girls’ sweet Coming Out

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For some people the prospect of coming out is no longer as grim and scary as it might have been a decade or two ago. But for many it’s still something they dread. One of the best things that can happen to these people is a supportive family. Spoilers for Good Girls ahead.

That’s ehat happened on this week’s episode of NBC’s comedy-drama Good Girls, when Sadie (played by trans actor Isaiah Stannard) came out as a boy to their mum Annie.

“Yay, it’s a boy,” Annie tells Sadie, sharing the news about the birth of their new baby brother. “Mom,” Sadie says in reply. “So am I.”

After Sadie reveals the truth about their gender identity to Annie, Annie crawls in bed with Sadie and gives them a warm, loving hug. “I always wanted a boy,” Annie says, giving Sadie a kiss on the forehead.

It may seem like a short, innocent scene to many, but considering all of the depressing queer representation we’ve seen on TV lately, it’s nice to see positive representation of a trans kid being accepted for who they are—and acted out by an actual trans actor, no less!

Heartstone

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Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson makes a promising debut in this tender, slightly lopsided study of teenage friendship and inchoate sexuality.

There’s a vast, storm-hued majesty to the jagged coastal edges of Iceland that inspires hushed awe in tourists, armchair travellers and filmmakers alike, but to a teenager growing up — and, more trickily still, coming out — in this brooding idyll, it can seem like a smallest place in the world. That’s the cruelly frustrated perspective shared by two best friends in Heartstone, at least until they realise that they’re no longer experiencing the same coming-of-age crisis. Richly atmospheric the film toggles its main characters’ arcs for a stretch, before giving preferential treatment to the less dramatically challenging of the two. Still, first-time feature director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson steers proceedings with enough serenity and sensitivity to soften stonier hearts in the arthouse market.

In its positioning of the rural Icelandic landscape as a kind of silent, ever-present antagonist to its principals’ progress, Guðmundsson’s formally imposing debut visually and tonally recalls the work of his compatriot Runar Runarsson — whose own somber 2015 coming-of-ager, Sparrows, deployed similar physical terrain to much the same emotional effect.

The boys’ conflicted, even hostile, relationship to their environment is viscerally symbolised in a startling opening scene, which in which 14-year-old Thor and Kristján, together with a group of pals, savagely cull a school of fish in the local dock, plucking them from the water and bashing their heads on dry land. This kind of hormonally fevered destruction is what passes for fun in their sleepy maritime village, where Thor lives with his single mother — who has recently, to her children’s aggrievement, re-entered the dating scene — and two older, somewhat bullying sisters. Kristján, meanwhile, weathers a consistent stream of abuse from his hard-drinking dad.

While the two boys have a supportive social circle (including some girls with whom they make halting attempts at romance), it’s clear that they’re the most important people in each other’s lives. Tall, sturdy Kristján, already accelerating into manhood, acts as something of a protector to the less mature, none-too-aptly named Thor — who, in one of several wry observations on the occasional tedium of adolescence, fashions a merkin from hairbrush debris as he waits for his pubic hair to grow in.

But as the kids horse around and venture into tentative sexual explorations, it’ll become clear to audiences — if not quite yet to Thor himself — that Kristján’s devotion to him isn’t purely platonic. For many LGBT audiences, such inchoate, unrequited desires will register as a familiar rite of passage. Guðmundsson maps the subtle, even subconscious, strain this development places on the relationship with tact and intelligence, aided by the open, naturally expressive performances of his two young leads. But as the film drifts further into Thor’s not-quite-comprehending headspace, Kristján recedes into the background, even as his character negotiates a compelling maelstrom of warring feelings and external obstacles — including the homophobia of his own parents, as adulthood comes with its own limitations in this stymied community. To quote an Emiliana Torrini song that Thor’s sisters blissfully listen to: “If it’s so good being free/Would you mind telling me/Why I don’t know what to do with myself?”

Sympathetic as Thor’s journey to awareness is, Heartstone’s languid, rollingly repetitive storytelling never quite justifies its weighted focus on his character at the expense of his friend’s more active anguish; a more judicious edit could place both in sharper relief. (The question of how assured Thor is of his own nascent sexuality, meanwhile, is only skirtingly addressed.) Later, Guðmundsson returns to the fish motif in slightly more contrived fashion, as a bullrout is briefly taken from the water and thrown back in, plummeting briefly before finding its gills. Not everyone in this thoughtful, lyrical, slightly over-deliberate tour of a beautiful teenage wasteland gets his own sink-or-swim moment of catharsis.

Supporter Post *3

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Killer

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Killer examines an old wives’ tale about masturbation and pushes it over the edge in this masterfully cringe-worthy coming-of-age dramedy.

Dusty is a young boy wishing for puberty and some body hair so he can finally wear deodorant. The school bully, who already sports a moustache, torments him endlessly but there’s nothing Dusty can do about it… until maybe there is. It all begins one day at his friend’s house when the subject of sex arises. Dusty’s curiosity is piqued and soon he tries to masturbate for the first time, but it comes with significant unintended consequences.

Love Stage!!

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Love Stage!! is the story of Izumi, an aspiring manga artist otaku who couldn’t be more different from his family. His mother is a world-famous actress, his father a singer, and his brother a boy-band teenage heartthrob. While he has been able to stay out of the celebrity spotlight for years, Izumi is drawn back in to do a follow-up commercial to one he starred in with the rest of his family when he was a child.

There are two problems, however. One is that in the original commercial he was dressed as a girl—and will thus be expected to dress as a woman again in the follow-up. The other is that Ryoma, the boy who acted opposite him in the original (who has since become TV’s most popular actor), is head over heels in love with the “girl” he met back then.

With this set-up, it’s pretty easy to see where a romantic comedy like this is going to go, but that rarely makes it any less hilarious. What starts as a mistaken gender comedy soon leads to Ryoma questioning his heterosexuality and later attempting to pursue a relationship with Izumi regardless.

Of course, much of the comedy comes from the fact that, beyond the gender and sexuality issues, the two are very different people. Ryoma is an outgoing, professional actor and a responsible individual, while Izumi is a hardcore otaku and a near shut-in. Watching them interact, especially with Ryoma having no idea how to win an otaku heart, always makes for a good-natured laugh.

Read on…

Love, Simon goes TV

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If you enjoyed Love, Simon you’ll be happy to hear that Disney is turning the film into a TV series. Love, Simon became a surprise success last year and marked the first major Hollywood production to cover the coming out and romantic life of a gay teen.

Disney picked up the rights to the film as part of the acquisition of Fox Studios and intends to develop it into a TV series for the company’s upcoming Disney+ streaming service. The original writers of the film will oversee the show’s development.

While there aren’t many details known yet, it’s unlikely that any of the stars of the film will participate, due in part to further film commitments. Nick Robinson remains attached to the Jurassic World franchise, while co-star Alexandra Shipp has gained notoriety as Storm in the X-Men film series.

33 Teeth

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Eddie is a hormonal 14-year-old boy living alone with his mother in the suburbs. One day after school, he accidentally spies on his neighbour, Chad, stepping out of the shower and measuring his dick with a comb.

A closeted teen fights a horny succubus in horror comedy “Porno”

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A common trope in horror films is that the sluts die first. But Keola Racela’s new comedic horror movie Porno turns that rule on its head by featuring five sexually repressed cinema employees who are bedevilled by a celluloid succubus brought to life by a cursed film reel.

Among the employees, there’s Chastity, the assistant manager who pines for Ricky, the boy-next-door baseball player; Abe and Todd, two horny local peeping Toms; and “Heavy Metal Todd,” the ornery projectionist who’s also a recovering addict.

They live in a small, conservative Christian town in 1992 where sex is not just looked down upon but preached against. The boss, Mr. Pike, forces them to pray as a group each day before work, and their cinema doesn’t show anything racier than Encino Man and A League of Their Own.

When a raving lunatic breaks through a barricaded secret doorway in the cinema, the employees realise their building also houses an old adult theatre that once played films like, ’10 Foot Hole, 10 Foot Pole.’ And in its storage room rests a film canister for a darkly erotic “art film.” Most of the employees feel tempted to watch, but a demonic ritual within the film awakens a succubus which hunts each employee, using their own lustful desires against them.

Here, Porno treads unique territory by exploring the consequences of sexual repression. On one hand, the employees are wholesome and good-natured, on the other, their repressed upbringing makes the succubus’ offers of sex and pleasure all the more alluring. They’re all in a for a rude sexual awakening with jaw-dropping gross-out humour involving bloody underwear, ritualistic knife play and gallons of vomit.

The film also features a closeted gay character who gets treated respectfully and even shines in their own bravely sexual moment. But as the succubus continues tormenting the employees, each must decide whether forbidden fruit is worth losing their soul over.

Pocket

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Imagine you’ve hacked into someone else’s phone and are consuming all his texts, videos, Snapchats, and Instagrams in real time. Now imagine that someone is a 15-year-old boy, and you’re watching his life unfold entirely through the lens of an iPhone.  That’s the premise behind Pocket, a captivating new short film starring the former Nickelodeon actor Mace Coronel.

The film, which was shot vertically and is designed to be consumed on mobile, follows Jake as he navigates school, home, and social life. Parts of Jake’s days look familiar to anyone who has gone through puberty: the awkward social interactions with classmates, a history test, flirting, masturbation.

Throughout it all, Jake’s phone plays an outsize role and acts as the lens through which we see his world unfolding. Jake uses his phone during school to make memes and videos mocking one of his classmates and share them in a group chat. He cradles it between his legs when he attempts to cheat on an exam. He uses it to escape confrontations with his mother, to frequently watch porn, and to creep on models’ Instagram photos.

To Jake, the phone is an extension of his body. It’s with him 24/7—at one point, he even pauses a shower to check a text. After Instagram-stalking and befriending his crush, Farrah, Jake exchanges sexts with her via Snapchat. But when he sees Farrah in person and finally gets the opportunity to have a conversation with her unmediated by a screen, he can’t.