To Wong Foo, thanks for everything! Julie Newmar

109 min.

This had so much more heart than I expected. I was ready to prepare it to Priscilla: Queen of the desert (also drag queens), and had so often seen .gifs of this movie, that I thought it would be a superficial technicolour party. to-wong-foo-thanks-for-everything-julie-newmar poster

All that was present, but then the fish-out-of-water part happens. The three (two queens, once princess, it will be explained to you) get stranded in a very Middle American little town, and here’s where the people come in. Instead of keeping everyone involved an one dimensional cliché, the characters develop into human beings. Drats, even a majority of the bad guys get a clue!

All that while still having fun and not taking itself too seriously. Although it would have been curious to see how Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes would have done that.

To Wong Foo, thanks for everything! Julie Newmar, Universal Pictures 1995

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The Abyss Surrounds Us

Any other morning, I’d dive into Durga’s observation bay without hesitation, but this is the day before my life begins.

Scifi pirate lesbians with mutant turtles! In the ocean(s)! Honestly, if that’s not up your alley, I don’t know what else to say to sell you on this (again, short) story.

In a world where huge, mutated sea creatures defend all kind of ships, Cass Leung’s maiden voyage as a trainer of one, goes completely belly up. Yes, because of the previously mentioned pirates.

Emily Skrutskie creates a steampunk-ish, Guillermo del Toro-ish (I’m thinking Pacific Rim) world that’s honestly ripe for the taking by any television-bobo’s, it’s such a complete package. Entertaining, different, diverse characters, fun, action, romance, bam bam boom.

Is there going to be a sequel? Could well be. Is it necessary? Not exactly, if you’re looking for a very quick read (again, just 200 pages in the e-reader), you’re more than fine with this one. After that, pay it forward into the direction of the Hollywood hotshots you know.

The Abyss Surrounds Us, Emily Skrutskie, Flux 2016

Moonlight

101 min.

Ik was helemaal weg van deze film, en zou het zeker aan iedereen aanraden, zelfs de mensen die zeggen ‘niet zulke films’ te kijken. Omdat het je confronteert met vragen over mannelijkheid en homoseksualiteit en racistische stereotypes en hoe die elkaar allemaal overlappen. En dat zonder een moment van opgeheven vingertjes.

moonlight-posterMoonlight is coming-of-age, doorsnedes van het leven van een jongen. Eén keer als kind, één keer als tiener, één keer als volwassene. Alleen deze keer is het een zwarte homoseksuele jongen uit een probleemgebied, en leert de kijker misschien wel levenslessen, maar krijgt hoofdpersoon Chiron er alleen de nare conclusies van op zijn bord.

Combineer het nuchtere en de ontnuchtering met een kleur- en muziekgebruik die tegen je huid plakken en begrijp dat het een film is die met je blijft na het verlaten van de bioscoop. Een film van het soort dat rondgaat als een vuurtje in plaats van door marketing door de strot wordt geduurd. Vang het voor ‘ie uitgedoofd is.

Moonlight, A24 2016

In The Flesh

9 x 56 min.

More zombies? Yes, but possibly like you’ve never experienced them before. These zombies view brains as a delicacy, they are back from the dead, and they are medicated in such a way that they are not rabid any more and need to assimilate (back) into society. The bbbc-in-the-fleshBBC sometimes likes to spin things just a bit differently, and this time they do it well.

If the pain and discomfort of having undead murderers move back into your neighbourhood, add a bit more human horror with having the neighbourhood being a small, Northern England one, and have the main character be different in another way as well: main character Kieren is gay. It’s hard to discover which one is viewed as worse.

That makes In The Flesh – possibly more than other zombie stories – a show to look at your way of viewing the other in society, and the hypocrisy of Not In My Backyard and the like. This doesn’t turn it into a Save Humankind pamphlet, which might make things even a little bit more depressing. And yet, it’s a show to watch, a pain to suffer. That darn BBC again.

In The Flesh, BBC 2013

Juliet Takes A Breath

Dear Harlowe,

Hi, my name is Juliet Palante.

Wederom een boek dat een noodzakelijke andere invalshoek biedt. Een Puertoricaanse lesbische tiener uit de Bronx die handvaten nodig heeft voor opgroeien, identiteit, feminisme en seksualiteit.

Maar leuk en lief en frustrerend en interessant, echt waar. Juliet worstelt nog met haar identiteit en uit de kast komen, maar heeft veel hulp van een boek. Na een enthousiaste mail naar de auteur mag ze langs komen voor een stage, waardoor ze ook nog moet leren omgaan met een compleet andere omgeving (Bronx naar Portland).

Juliet is heel erg een tiener, maar wel eentje die open staat voor nieuwe dingen leren, waardoor wat-een-tiener-frustraties bijna niet op komen borrelen. Ja, ze is koppig en ongeduldig en wantrouwend, maar ook zelfstandig, nieuwsgierig en kan kritiek aan.

Het boek leest als een technicolor sneltrein, en ik kan mij niet herinneren wanneer ik het voor het laatst zo’n ontiegelijk menselijk YA heb gelezen. Dus doen voor de invalshoek, maar zeker ook voor de lol.

Juliet Takes A Breath, Gabby Rivera, Riverdaleave Books 2016

Memory Mambo

I’ve always thought of memory as a distinct, individual thing.

For me it’s always tougher to argument why I didn’t like a book, especially when I felt like I should. I’m always up for more female, not-white, not heterosexual stories, and the lives of (first generation) immigrants interest me as well.

So what’s lacking with Memory Mambo? From the start it’s unclear who the main character is, what she does and why the reader has to root for her or dislike her. Juani is an extra in her own life, but is so incredibly passive that we don’t know if it’s willingly or because it’s the easiest.

And which story is the reader following: her lamenting her ex, or the happenings of her family? Why does it all fade into each other (okay, that’s daily life, always a challenge to make that look appealing) until A Real Big Thing less than twenty pages from the ending? Was it supposed to be a longer story but cut off for some reason?
Reading is someone’s effort, and this time it didn’t pay off.

Memory Mambo, Achy Obejas, Cleis Press 1996

Dora: A Headcase

Mother is cleaning the spoons again.

“A female fightclub”, “Hopefully to replace Catcher in the Rye in reading lists for the alienated” and an introduction from Chuck Palahniuk – I was very curious about why the heck I had added this book to my To Read list.

While reading the question returned to me on a regular basis, because this isn’t a fun, accessible book. Yet finishing it, I noticed that I’m glad I did. That I took thoughts and ideas and silent hopes of the teens involved into the world with me. Maybe I didn’t like it, but it definitely left me something. Which I think everyone needs with a book from time to time.

Dora is Ida, a girl in love, a daughter off parents that seem not to care or not to be able to function as parents, a psychiatrist’s client. She’s angry and prickly and – a teenager; so of course oh so smart and intelligent and with a clear view of how the world really works. Was she a passive element in one of Freud’s case studies: this time everything but her and her friends seem to be inactive, passive elements in a slow motion world.

Some heart comes from Ida’s friends, but mostly it’s a pool of tar covered in glass shards. Yes, it should replace Catcher, maybe for the sole reason to show that girls can be broken and angry and frustrated with the world as well, while still gain wings to fly through it.

Dora: A Headcase, Lidia Yuknavitch, Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts 2012