Omicron making you isolate? Now is the perfect time to curl up on the couch and relax with a mini LGBTQ film fest. Here are some movies to keep you company while you isolate.

Day 1 – All About My Mother (1999)

All About My Mother (Google Play) – Pedro Almodóvar is simply one of the greatest directors working today. From his earlier classics like Law of Desire, Matador and the peerless Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (all featuring the incredible Carmen Maura) to today’s current release Parallel Mothers, Almodovar continues his remarkably productive and illustrious career. However, for my money, All About My Mother remains the apex of his career. It is poetic and operatic and features brilliant performances by Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes and the luminous Penélope Cruz. Almodóvar’s films always reflect a strong LGBTQ point of view, and this film is no different. Beautiful and haunting, All About My Mother is a perfect film to start with if you are unfamiliar with Almodóvar’s particular brand of genius. The film was the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000.

Day 2 – God’s Own Country (2017)

God’s Own Country (Google Play) – Francis Lee crafted this intense and erotic film set against Yorkshire’s harsh, unforgiving landscape. God’s Own Country tells the story of a deeply closeted and emotionally stunted young man (brilliantly played by The Crown’s Josh O’Connor), living and working on his family’s farm while spending his nights getting drunk and engaging in empty sex. He finds himself slowly drawn towards the enigmatic Gheorghe, a Romanian farmhand (played by the excellent Alec Secareanu) who comes to help during lambing season. Brilliantly photographed and directed, the film also has outstanding supporting performances by Ian Hart and Gemma Jones.

Day 3 – Weekend (2011)

Weekend (Google Play) – Andrew Haigh wrote and directed this phenomenal film, which tells the simple story of two Englishmen, Russell and Glen (played by Tom Cullen and Chris New respectively), who meet in a bar, have sex and ultimately spend the weekend together before Glen leaves for a two-year art program in the US. The script is incredibly intimate and is well-served by the fearless performances of the two leads. Essentially a two-hander, the film makes us feel like we are eavesdropping in on the pair. It’s a small film which packs a big punch. Haigh went on to create the fantastic HBO series Looking and Weekend works very much in the same vein of realism.

Day 4 – Kinky Boots (2005)

Kinky Boots (Stan) – Directed by Julian Jarrold, was famously reimagined as a highly acclaimed Broadway musical, but the film is just as impressive. The story of a failing English shoe company that finds salvation in the unexpected feet of a drag queen is undoubtedly familiar to most. What makes this film essential viewing is the towering, sexy and incredibly charismatic performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor. He commands the screen and lifts the film into one of those undeniable feel-good films you will feel drawn to watching whenever you feel down. It’s the perfect antidote if you can’t stand to hear of the word quarantine or pandemic one more time.

Day 5 – BPM (2017)

BPM (SBS) – This astonishing 2017 film from France tells the story of the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1990s France, focusing on a group of ACT UP activists in Paris. The film received critical acclaim and went on to win six Cesar Awards, including Best Film. BPM (Beats per Minute) is notable for the urgency and grittiness of its script and a sharp documentary-like focus to the story. The young cast brings enormous energy and a potent sense of anger to the film. It’s a cracker of a film.

Day 6 – Maurice (1987)

Maurice (Google Play) – Merchant Ivory were one of the great cinematic creative teams in film history. At the height of their partnership (professional and personal), the duo crafted such classics as A Room With A View, The Remains of the Day, and Howard’s End. This stunningly photographed 1987 film, an adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel, tells the story of a forbidden love affair in Edwardian England between an aristocrat and a poor gamekeeper. James Wilby and Hugh Grant lead the cast, but Rupert Graves dominates the film as Alec Scudder. A film which is largely forgotten and undeservedly so.

Day 7 – Hairspray (1988)

Hairspray (Amazon Prime, Apple TV) – Forget the John Travolta-led remake and watch the 1988 original by John Waters. While Waters had previously made a name for producing a string of films that became notorious for their high level of filth and indecency (think Pink Flamingos and Divine’s snack of dog droppings), Hairspray represented a wild turn towards the mainstream. Waters created a wonderfully energetic and loving look at growing up as an outsider in the 60’s as well as including a surprisingly effective subplot about racial segregation in 1960’s Baltimore. Led by a terrific (if eclectic) cast, including the incomparable Ricki Lake and Deborah Harry, with Ruth Brown, Sonny Bono, Pia Zadora and Jerry Stiller in support, Hairspray is unabashedly fun and sentimental. The production design is perfection, and the soundtrack is simply sensational. We also can’t forget Divine, who plays Edna Turnblad and inhabits the role with complete zeal. She is phenomenal. So is the film.


Oh, What the Heck… Here are Three More Movies for Good Luck

All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve (Amazon Prime, Apple TV) – While All About Eve isn’t a gay film in the strictest definition of the term, some critics would argue it is one of the great gay films of all time. The film tells the story of an ageing star (Bette Davis, in arguably her finest hour) who takes a seemingly guileless fan named Eve (Anne Baxter) under her wing, only to find that Eve is nowhere near as innocent as she pretends to be. This is a story of the theatre, its massive personalities, and how ego can be the ultimate destructive force. All About Eve is archly witty, with its rapid-fire dialogue brilliantly delivered by its impeccable cast. Celeste Holm, George Sanders, Thelma Ritter and Marilyn Monroe are all fabulous in support.

The Heiresses (2018)

The Heiresses (Apple TV, Binge, Google Play) – This terrific film from Paraguay tells the story of two women who have been together for 30 years, but as their money begins to run out, one of the women is sent to prison for fraud, while the other has to face life on her own. After emptying the house of the belongings the two women shared, Ana Brun stars as Chela finds herself as a cab driver and meets Angy (Ana Ivanova), a younger woman who brings Chela finds herself drawn to. Ana Brun and director Marcelo Martinessi took home the Silver Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival for their impeccable work.

Viva (2015)

Viva (Stan) – This Spanish language film, vividly shot in Cuba, tells the story of a young man named Angel who longs to be a drag performer but runs into conflict with his father, a former boxer who has recently been released from prison. Despite his father’s disapproval, Angel continues with his dream to be a drag queen. Viva has a beautiful, earthy feel, entirely shot on location in Havana. The film has a realness to it that is hard to ignore. The performances by the three leads (Jorge Perugorria, Luis Alberto Garcia and Héctor Medina as Viva) are outstanding.

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