We the Animals

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Jonah crawls beneath the crowded bed he shares with his brothers, his flashlight suspended between the pages of a journal. His legs splay half into the room as the camera flickers over the scrawl of his pencil beginning to draw. A blank page envelops the screen like a promise.

In We the Animals, a vivid and restless queer coming-of-age film in theaters August 17, the raw feelings that Jonah spills onto the page aren’t the sort he’s able to articulate aloud. In fact, Jonah hardly says much at all as a 10-year-old growing up in a small, volatile home with two older brothers and combative parents. Based on Justin Torres’ semi-autobiographical novel about his childhood in upstate New York, the film plunges into the mind of its young protagonist through his frenetic and expressive drawings.

It’s more than a stunning visual technique; Jonah’s escape into the blank pages of his journal illustrates the particular value of artistic expression for queer youth. “Art assists with identity formation,” says Daniel Blausey, PhD, a practicing art psychotherapist in New York City. “It is a safe place free from social judgement.” Jonah’s empty journal offers freedom from external rules and expectations that attempt to set limits on who he might imagine himself to be. If self-determination outside of social strictures is the basic liberty that all queerness demands, We the Animals demonstrates that sometimes, art can be one’s only means to achieve it.

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Good Manners

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There is the family you are born into, and the family you make; lovers who stay with you a long time, and ones whose time with you is brief, but make a lasting impact. What then is the nature of love and devotion? Can we love both the person and the monster inside? In  Good Manners, a magic-realist fairy tale, love and devotion, class division, and the monster inside us all are deftly explored.

Clara  is a lonely nurse living in poor conditions who takes a job as a nanny and housekeeper to the equally lonely Ana , a wealthy white woman soon expecting her first child. Clara moves in, and the two women quickly form a strange but powerful bond that moves beyond friendship. As Clara learns the truth behind Ana’s unexpected pregnancy, she finds she must take on a far greater burden than she had originally intended, with devastating consequences.

The film begins as almost an erotic love story and particular view of class struggle: Clara, a black woman, is looked down on by her counterparts, even though she is a native Brazilian; her taciturn nature and verbal economy make her a mystery, perhaps even to herself; in contrast, Ana is little but verbose, constantly moving whether in exercise and dance, to the point of sleepwalking. Ana’s home, and her view of the city, is given as a kind of fairy tale, one that should be filled with the handsome prince and the princess (Ana in the tower); but this princess has been deserted by her family and left to her fate, and it is Clara instead who must come to her rescue.

After a fast labour and childbirth that ends in Ana’s dramatic and bloody death, and birth to a child that is more than just a baby, Clara must again come to the rescue. She takes the infant, whom she names Joel away, from the fairy-tale city of pink skyscrapers and cold, emotionless surroundings, to the poor streets of her home. Clara might be poor, but her home and heart are filled with love that she focuses on Joel, and the importance of raising a good son. A few people bat their eyes at the black mother and her white son; but despite their working class conditions, Joel grows up healthy and happy. Well, somewhat healthy; his strange persona requires Clara’s constant protection, and attempts to stop his more dangerous, innate nature that she hopes he will never become aware of.

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Will Albus Dumbledore be gay on the big Screen after all?

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In January, David Yates, director of the Harry Potter spinoff sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, said his film will “not explicitly” show the homosexuality of Albus Dumbledore, the crossover character from the original Harry Potter book series who appears as his younger self. News that the upcoming film wouldn’t definitely make Dumbledore gay made some queer fans very upset.

But now Jude Law, the actor playing Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts, has hinted that future films might reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality. Of course, considering there’s five more films left in the Fantastic Beasts series, it’s unclear when this Jude Law gay prediction might ever prove true.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Law says, “As with humans, your sexuality doesn’t necessarily define you; he’s multifaceted.” He continues, “What you’ve got to remember is this is only the second Fantastic Beasts film in a series, and what’s brilliant about J.K. Rowling’s writing is how she reveals her characters, peels them to the heart over time.”

Law adds, “You’re just getting to know Albus in this film, and there’s obviously a lot more to come. We learn a little about his past in the beginning of this film, and characters and their relationships will unfold naturally, which I’m excited to reveal. But we’re not going to reveal everything all at once.” Law adds that his film’s character doesn’t even have any scenes with Grindelwald, the evil wizard who we know Dumbledore eventually develops feelings for.

In October 2007, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, revealed she had long envisioned Dumbledore as gay. According to Rowling, Dumbledore — headmaster of the series’ wizarding school, Hogwarts — hadn’t been explicitly gay in the books because his love for his wizarding associate Grindelwald ended so tragically. Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in a duel to stop him from becoming a magical Hitler, basically.

Since his one romantic attraction had ended tragically, Rowling claims, Dumbledore lived a solitary life for the rest of his days, free of any outward romantic or sexual attractions.

Queer fans have long felt divided about Rowling’s claim. While some were happy to have a major character in a massively popular fantasy book series be gay, others claim Rowling “queer-baited” queer fans by claiming Dumbledore is gay without providing anything explicit to back that up.

After all, is it really queer representation if a character is never actually shown to be queer, only said to be so offhandedly by his or her creator? Especially considering that Rowling pulled the same stunt on several other characters, making them bi-curious, black and otherwise diverse after the fact.

Boy Erased

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Gay conversion “therapy” in America has become a poignant cultural touch point in the era of Mike Pence. The practice is, alarmingly, still legal in 41 US states.

Following the release of Desiree Akhvan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post early next month, Focus Features is readying Joel Edgerton’s gripping conversion drama Boy Erased, based on Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family.

The film stars Lucas Hedges as the teenage son of a Baptist pastor in small town Arkansas, who is sent off to a conversion therapy camp by his straight-laced parents, played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Crowe and Kidman aren’t the only two big-name Aussies to appear alongside Hedges — Boy Erased also features popstar du jour Troye Sivan as a silvery-haired fellow queer at Lucas’s camp. “Play the part,” Sivan instructs Hedges in the first official trailer, flexing a very passable Arkansas accent.

Conley, who is working with Edgerton on Boy Erased, wrote in a blog post last year that he’d be “working hard to populate the world of Love in Action [the conversion camp] with predominantly queer actors.” While Hedges isn’t gay, Boy Erased won’t be his major gay moment on screen. He also appeared in Lady Bird as the titular character’s all-American first boyfriend Danny.

Boy Erased hits cinemas on November 2, 2018.

Prora

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Prora, on the Baltic Sea. Mysterious, endless. In this deserted former Nazi holiday camp, German and French teenagers Jan and Matthieu embark on an adventure that confronts their identities and puts their friendship at risk.

A journey of self-exploration, an odyssey of male adolescence, Prora is a tender story about love and friendship.

Submitted by Adam

The Top 10 Queer Films of the Decade by Rotten Tomatoes

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This Pride Month, the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes is celebrating the queer community by curating a list of top 10 LGBTQ films since 2010 by their Tomatometer score. The diverse lists celebrate some of the best storytelling about the queer community, from Academy Award winners to less well-known foreign language projects too.

Rotten Tomatoes has sway in the entertainment industry. In fact, movie studios have begun to fear Rotten Tomatoes. The website assigns a “fresh” or “rotten” score based on published critic reviews and audience ratings. A fresh score can encourage more people to see a new film, but a rotten score can effectively kill its opening weekend at the box office.

Top Queer Films of the Decade

1. God’s Own Country (2017)

A British version of BrokebackGod’s Own Country tells the story of two farmhands — one a migrant worker, the other an angry introvert — who fall in love.

2. Moonlight (2016)

The 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Moonlight profiles a boy coming to terms with his own sexual identity in the black community of drug-torn Miami in the ’80s.

3. BPM (2017)

BPM poignantly follows a group of AIDS activists in the early 90s as they overcome obstacles to create the Paris chapter of ACT UP.

4. Tangerine (2015)

Filmed entirely on an iPhone with only a budget of $100,000, Tangerine follows a trans sex worker and her best friend as they embark on a rampage to find her ex-boyfriend and his new lover.

5. Tomboy (2011)

A French film from 2011, Tomboy is about 10-year-old Laure who moves during the summer holiday to a new neighbourhood and begins to experiment with her gender identity.

6. Call Me By Your Name (2016)

Not quite the Award-winner it was promised to be, Call Me By Your Name showcases young, queer love in front of the beautiful and scenic Italian countryside.

7. Behind The Candelabra (2013)

Liberace takes much-younger Scott Thorson as a lover, but the relationship deteriorates in this HBO biopic of the world-famous pianist.

8. Carol (2015)

Set in early 1950s New York City, Carol tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce.

9. Pariah (2011)

Written and directed by Dee Rees, Pariah follows an African-American teenager as they juggle conflicting identities, desperately searching for their own sexual expression.

10. A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica) (2018)

This Chilean drama about a trans women won big at the Academy Awards last year, sweeping the top prize for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Kid Like Jake

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Loving parents Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) are faced with the daunting task of applying to private kindergartens in New York City for their 4-year-old, Jake.

Competing in this cutthroat environment means focusing on what is most unique about a child, forcing Alex and Greg to consider Jake’s love of dresses, fairy tales, and princesses. These qualities never seemed unusual before, but when Jake begins to act out in preschool, Alex and Greg—suddenly at odds—must find a way to support Jake’s identity without losing each other in the process.

Since the first Day we met

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Saul Singleton’s Since the first Day we met is a coming of age short based on his own experiences as a gay teen.

This is the 18-year-old’s first film. It tells the story of deaf teen Max attending a new high school. He teaches a supportive classmate, who wants to learn how to use sign language, and the two get close.

Jackpot

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It’s 1994 and there’s no internet, so when closeted 14-year-old Jack Hoffman hears about a stash of gay porn hidden across town, he decides to brave the bully infested streets of his small New Jersey town, in hopes of getting what he wants. What happens over the course of the day will change everything.