January 1

Films I watched in 2020

Got nowhere to track my movie-going so I get to put together an annual list. Some of these I’ve reviewed (hyperlinked).

At the cinema

  1. The Gentlemen
  2. The Rise of Skywalker
  3. Jumanji 2: The Next Level
  4. Little Women – twice
  5. Farmageddon
  6. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (French)
  7. Birds of Prey – twice
  8. Bit
  9. Queer Doc Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  10. Out Here Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  11. Sell By
  12. Trans Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  13. Asia-Pacific Queer Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  14. Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – twice
  15. My Queer Career (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  16. Distance (Tagalog)
  17. Aniara (Swedish/English)
  18. Babyteeth
  19. Tenet
  20. Coffee or tea? (Mandarin)
  21. Flash Gordon
  22. Happiest Season
  23. Warrior Queen (Hindi/Marathi/English)
  24. Persian Film Festival Shorts Collection (Farsi)
  25. A Hairy Tale (Farsi)
  26. The Chess of the Wind (Farsi)
  27. Wonder Woman 1984

Released* online

  1. In my blood it runs (via Vimeo/inmyblooditruns.com)
  2. Enola Holmes (via Netflix)
  3. Disclosure (via Netflix)
  4. Proud (French) (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  5. Holy Trinity (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  6. Gossamer Fields (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  7. Gay Shorts (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  8. Lesbian Shorts (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)

*Widely released/first available in Australia in 2020. Older films and TV shows streamed online not listed.

You can see the effects of Queer Screen in the heavy queer content of these lists; not only was the Mardi Gras Film Festival the last major festival before pandemic caution hit my movie-going, they were also hella organised about running the Queer Screen Film Festival online in September.

By contrast, my viewing of foreign films really took a hit because the various festivals didn’t offer a streamed version; ironically three Queer Screen-curated films were foreign language and one of the British Film Festival movies I watched was in Hindi/Marathi as well as English.

I also saw more films that catered to the female gaze/with a feminine lens – in particular Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Little Women, Birds of Prey and Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – and they were truly the better films of the year.

Alongside that, I learnt to appreciate more whacky filmmaking from Bit and Holy Trinity to Coffee or Tea? and A Hairy Tale. Not sure what it says about mainstream movies that these four films were queer and foreign language.

I’m looking forward to going back into cinemas this year and I hope it will be safe sooner rather than later.

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December 26

5-question film review: Wonder Woman 1984

Why did you go see this film?

I thought 2017’s Wonder Woman was all right (actually Very Good compared to most of the recent DC fodder) and I wanted a little escapism these holidays.

What was the best thing about it?

The opening segment with young Diana competing in the Amazon’s athletic competition was thrilling to watch with a lesson well learnt by the end of it.

There were a lot of small jokes done really well: Steve’s ‘man out of time’ confusion as a 1910s pilot trying to adjust to the 1980s; coffee cup anecdote; “I wish to be famous”.

I kept seeing Maxwell Lord as an Hispanic Alex P Keaton? I guess that was deliberate?

What was the worst thing about it?

Really hard to choose but on a film level, I’m going to go with no chemistry between anyone who really needed chemistry to sell the story. I’ve always detested the romance between Diana and Steve and, as a lot of the plot hinges on this relationship, their lack of chemistry is rather grating.

I would also say Maxwell lacks chemistry with his son Alistair, and there are massive parts of the climax that rely on that relationship that just fall flat.

The most chemistry I see is between Diana and Barbara and we don’t get enough of them together – their fight scene as Wonder Woman and Cheetah seemed unnecessary by the time we get to that.

On a cultural level, it was problematic. A lot of the cultural tropes used to show the antagonists in Maxwell’s journey were lazy and stereotyped and just downright offensive.

I’ve also heard from the pro-Palestine community that Wonder Woman saving children in one action sequence was particularly on the nose considering Gal Gadot’s pro-Zionist stance but I don’t know enough about the context of that to elaborate further, please seek out a more nuanced take by better informed critics.

Who would you recommend go see it?

If you like something flashy with no substance, be my guest. You will probably see it because you’re curious about the reaction or not see it because you are boycotting Gadot.

If this film was a piece of clothing, what would it be?

Parachute pants: 1980s in flavour but effectively useless for slowing a plummet to earth.

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November 22

5-question film review: Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt)

Why did you go see this film?

I first heard about the development of this film, and watched an early teaser, via Queer Screen so I pitched $ in via Pozible. In addition to being Australian-made, what attracted me was that there are so few young adult queer rom-coms where coming out is secondary to other themes and I wanted this to see the light of the silver screen. Also I love Rachel House (who plays ‘aunt’ Patty – not the dead aunt).

What was the best thing about it?

The two leads, Sophie Hawkshaw (Ellie) and Zoe Terakes (Abbie), have real chemistry and really nail the swings between awkward and bolshie, jocular and tender in their interactions with each other and other characters.

The story is also genuinely moving. It has nicely timed dramatic moments that make the comedy a fantastic release.

What was the worst thing about it?

For a rom-com it could’ve done with more comedy but in the swing of things I thought the comedy worked well because of where it was placed in the scenes so they did a lot with what they had.

Who would you recommend go see it?

People who are interested in the interplay between queer history and how queerness emerges in the current generation; people who want to see a queer YA rom-com without coming out as the major theme.

If this film was an item of stationery, what would it be?

Ooh, glitter pen.

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