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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:22 am 
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"Moonlight," "Transparent" win at GLAAD Media Awards
April 2, 2017

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Oscar winner “Moonlight” has won again, taking best film at the 28th annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age portrait was honored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at the awards held Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

The group nominated only two films for the award, which it said reflected the dearth of LGBTQ story lines in Hollywood. The other nominee was “Star Trek Beyond,” which featured a subtle revelation that crew-member Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) is gay.

On the TV side, Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” won for outstanding comedy series. The best drama series went to the Freeform fantasy “Shadowhunters.”

Patricia Arquette was honored with the Vanguard Award and tearfully dedicated the award to her late transgender sister, Alexis Arquette.

The awards honor the “fair, accurate and inclusive representations” of the LGBTQ community.

Source: AP/CBS

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:09 am 
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French AIDS drama earns best reviews yet at Cannes Film fest
By JAKE COYLE
20 May 2017

CANNES, France (AP) -- "120 Beats Per Minute," a French AIDS drama with a full heart and a pounding rhythm, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday and quickly joined the shortlist of favorites for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or prize.

Directed by Robin Campillo, the co-screenwriter of the Palme d'Or-winning film "The Class," the movie centers on the activist group ACT UP in Paris in the 1990s during the AIDS crisis. The film's docu-drama retelling of that painful period, combined with a burgeoning spirit of unity for the gay community, earned it some of the best reviews of the festival thus far. Vanity Fair called the film "a vital new gay classic."

Campillo, himself, was an ACT UP militant activist in the '90s and had long wanted to turn his experience - one of both tragedy and inspiration - into a film. He called it a "crucial" time in his life. "I lived things myself which appear in the film. I actually had to dress a friend of mine who had died," Campillo told reporters. "When you really experience that kind of thing firsthand, you realize these are very simple moments. You don't break down and cry. You have certain forms of self-defense. It would be too easy if you could just cry and feel better."

The film, filled with personal traumas and political awakenings, is fictional but is based on real events. It tracks the activists through strategy meetings, protests meant to spur action by the government or drug companies, and their evening reveries on the dance floor. "What I wanted to do was get back to the electricity there was in those days, the energy," said Campillo.

Handicapping Palme d'Or contenders is a notoriously tricky business, since the jury that will decide the award is cloistered in secrecy. But with about a third of the 19 Palme d'Or contenders having screened by Saturday, "120 Beats Per Minute" was hailed as a definite favorite. One of its stars, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, was also singled out for his moving performance as an HIV-positive young man who is drawn to action.

If "120 Beats Per Minute" were to win the Palme d'Or, it would follow another, quite different gay coming-of-age film: the 2013 lesbian romance "Blue Is the Warmest Color," directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:18 am 
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Crowd-funded animated short about gay love goes viral
By JOSEPH LONGO
August 2, 2017

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An animated short film about an adolescent gay couple has gone viral, roughly 8 million views on YouTube in just two days.

"In a Heartbeat" follows an elementary school boy addressing his sexuality after falling in love with a male classmate. Filmmakers Beth David and Esteban Bravo released the film Monday online. The short quickly began trending, gaining a particular following amongst LGBT advocates including singer Adam Lambert and actor Ashton Kutcher. The Human Rights Campaign posted the video on Twitter Tuesday afternoon and praised the film for its relatability.

Hayley Miller, the organization's senior digital media manager, said the film is a testament to saying, "Love is love." "We've all had a crush or a broken heart," Miller wrote in an email. "Using no words, it validates this young boy's experience and the way all LGBTQ youth should be embraced."

The filmmakers launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2016 to fund the project, reaching the initial goal of $3,000 in three hours. A total of $14,000 was raised. "In a Heartbeat" is a semi-finalist for best animated domestic film at the 2017 Student Academy Awards. The filmmakers produced the short at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida as their senior thesis. They did not respond to online messages seeking an interview.

Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior media analyst, said it's not surprising the film found success through the crowd-funding website. Calling the short a picture-perfect scenario, he said the most successful Kickstarter campaigns go viral. "It shows the power of utilizing social media as a way to provide resources to realize people's creative vision," he said.

Research shows young LGBT characters and storylines are way underrepresented in both short and feature length films. In 2016, only three out of 4,544 speaking characters in the top 100 grossing films were LGBT teenagers or younger, according to a report released Monday.

There was just one out of 4,370 in 2015, according to data compiled by the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Project administrator Marc Choueiti said younger LGBT characters are also rarely seen in short films.

In a separate study, the researchers evaluated films screening at Lunafest, a national short film festival. They found that between 2002 and 2015, 115 short films had four characters who identified themselves as LGBT teenagers.

Lead researcher Stacy L. Smith said shorts often showcase different worldviews than in top grossing full-length features. Smith said "In A Heartbeat" is an outlier along with "The Imitation Game," ''Moonlight" and the Freeform show "The Fosters" in showcasing experiences of LGBT youth. "People aren't seeing rich, complex and compelling LGBT youth," she said. "The short should be applauded for representing the world we live in."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:31 pm 
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Gay Lebanese film-maker explores 'hidden places,' taboos
By Basma Elmahdy
22 August 2017

Rising Lebanese film-maker Selim Mourad addresses one of the Arab world's biggest taboos in his latest film: homosexuality.

Berlin (dpa) - "This Little Father Obsession," a documentary by 29-year-old gay film-maker Selim Mourad, brought to a close Berlin's first Arab independent film festival this weekend.

The 103-minute film, banned in his native Lebanon, has received accolades from prominent film festivals in the Arab world. It was screened in Berlin in the presence of Mourad, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, along with his parents. The documentary follows the demolition of an inherited home and traces old family secrets, all tied up with Mourad's obsession about not having a child of his own. dpa caught up with him after the showing.

dpa: What led you to make movies?

Mourad: I grew up loving storytelling and going to the cinema on a regular basis with my father, who was passionate about movies and acting. I used to be a top student at school, expected to be a doctor or engineer. But all of a sudden, my life was turned upside down as a result of figuring out my homosexuality, being different. Afterwards, I started my journey of self discovery which led me to recognize my passion for cinema as a profession.

dpa: Why did you tackle your sexual identity in a documentary?

Mourad: It is a 10-year-old promise to myself that I finally fulfilled. The script was developed from my diary as a teenager who couldn't share his thoughts about being gay. At that time, as I was hiding all these questions about having a family, raising kids, homosexuality, I promised myself that I would reveal my inner conflicts and tell those stories one day. By screening this film, I hope that gay youngsters will feel less conflicted.

dpa: What about choosing your parents as the main characters?

Mourad: The storyline stretched from a teenager revealing his homosexuality to ontological questions about family, death and reality in Beirut between 2013 and 2015. Later, my parents became the main characters of the story when I decided to use a dispute over the demolition of an inherited family house to embody visually my concerns about not being capable of extending our family line.

dpa: How did you introduce the project to them?

Mourad: My father knew about the theme of the documentary but I did not reveal the interview questions until we started to shoot the film. However, he didn't like the movie when he watched it recently. My mother didn't express her opinion.

dpa: At both the Cairo international film festival and the Carthage Cinema Days festival, the film was labelled as 18+. Did that affect your target audience?

Mourad: I don't think that the audience of film festivals is kids or teenagers; they are adults. There is no offensive content. Despite the nude scene of intimate moments between me and my love [referring to his now former partner], no sexual organs are shown on screen. I don't care if the defenders of public morals consider intimacy between two men to be offensive. The bourgeoisie is annoyed about swear words used by my father, but I see it as a way of expressing anger.

dpa: Sex is a taboo subject in the Arab world. Do you challenge it on purpose?

Mourad: The answer to this question could be 'Yes' and 'No.' On the one hand, I am not so stupid that I would stalk taboos just in order to break them. On the other hand, I am eager to dig into human nature and reveal untold stories. Therefore, the camera must shed light on these hidden places.

dpa: Did you try to screen the film in Lebanon?

Mourad: We were aware of Lebanese anti-homosexuality laws that could lead to my imprisonment, so we haven't screened the film in the theatres. Instead, there have been private screenings.

dpa: Do you anticipate any changes for the gay community in Lebanon and their acceptance in society?

Mourad: I am optimistic. The [anti-homosexuality] law that dates back to the French colonial period has not been frequently enforced since Lebanese LGBT rights groups worked on suspending it. However, such a fundamental change [social acceptance] will not take place soon in the light of serious threats from Daesh [Islamic State] as well as more urgent issues in the Arab world like the war in Syria.

dpa: How did you feel when you received Carthage's Special Jury Award?

Mourad: I was delighted at receiving such recognition. I always look forward to the feedback from the audience and critics since I don't make films only for my own pleasure.

dpa: Do you face any obstacles from Lebanese film-makers in connection with your sexuality?

Mourad: The Lebanese film-makers' community is quite open-minded, and accepts a variety of human natures. I am not the only one who has an alternative sexual identity.

dpa: Will your next film tackle homosexuality?

Mourad: I am interested in the conflict between sex and religion. In other words, lust and law from an anthropological perspective. I am co-writing a long-format fictional film which will touch on this conflict. However, it does not address homosexuality.

Source: dpa

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:06 am 
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God’s Own Country review – passion in the Pennines
By Wendy Ide
3 September 2017

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Rural Britain is fertile ground for a generation of new British film-makers. A waterlogged Somerset provided the backdrop for Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling. And now the Pennines glower over the family farm in Francis Lee’s equally impressive feature debut, God’s Own Country. It’s the kind of world in which bone-aching toil is a way of life and secrets are buried deep beneath the damp sod.

And there are plenty of secrets here. Following his father’s stroke, Johnny Saxby (a terrific, stoically anguished performance from Josh O’Connor) has been forced to take over the daily running of the farm. Surveying his efforts with thin-lipped disapproval are his grandmother (Gemma Jones) and his dad (Ian Hart). With vowels as flat and hard as flagstones, they pass judgment on his efforts. It’s hard to say which weighs him down more – the responsibility or the massive chip on Johnny’s shoulder. To numb his dissatisfaction, he binge-drinks and engages in angry bouts of gay sex with strangers.

Then Romanian worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) arrives to help out over the lambing season. Limpid-eyed and almost painfully handsome, his presence unnerves Johnny, who finds it hard to unpick the difference between aggression and attraction. Their first sexual encounter is all sweat and spit, dirt and urgency. But Gheorghe brings some of the tenderness he shows to the animals into what soon becomes a relationship fuelled by Pot Noodles and stolen moments. Through Gheorghe, Johnny can once again see the beauty in the land he had started to regard as a tomb.

Lee has a lovely eye for symbolic detail – a single light in the farmhouse window glowing through a dawn the colour of slurry emphasises just how alone Johnny is. The film has drawn comparisons with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, but for me there were closer parallels with Eytan Fox’s Israeli drama Yossi & Jagger, about the relationship between two soldiers. Both stories take place in a macho world between men who find the physicality of love rather easier than articulating it. But when the words are finally spoken, it’s a moment to make the heart swell.

Source: The Observer UK

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:39 am 
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'A Fantastic Woman' could lead to trans history at Oscars
By JAKE COYLE
September 14, 2017

TORONTO (AP) -- A transgender Chilean actress has turned in one of the most buzzed-about performances of the year and some are hoping she could be the first trans actor to land an Oscar nomination.

Daniela Vega, 28, stars in Sebastian Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman." She plays Marina, a transgender woman whose partner (Francisco Reyes) dies, after which Marina is subjected to harsh treatment by the family of her deceased lover and by police investing the death.

Chile has selected the film as its Academy Awards submission this year. But the bigger spotlight may be on whether Vega's breakout performance - one of stirring strength and compassion - could make Oscar history. Reviewing the movie at its Berlin Film Festival premiere, Variety called her performance "a multi-layered, emotionally polymorphous feat of acting," that deserves "so much more than political praise."

While several transgender musicians have been Oscar-nominated, no trans performer has ever earned an acting nod. "It's too early to talk about that, to think about it. I have lots of festivals to attend, lots of dresses to wear," Vega said with a grin in an interview. "The Oscars are a little bit beyond the timeline I'm thinking about right now. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Vega and "A Fantastic Woman" will not have an easy road to the Oscars. Performances in foreign-language films rarely break into the acting categories, and this year, like most, the field of potential contenders boasts plenty of heavyweight, bigger-name performers like Meryl Streep ("The Post") and Jessica Chastain ("Molly's Game").

But Vega has two things going for her: the depth of her performance and the possibility of a long-awaited Oscar landmark. Such a result could have great meaning for a trans community that President Donald Trump recently banned from entering the military. "If we broaden our gaze, it will be more interesting, more beautiful. If we can make more diverse colors, people, stories, it will be interesting," said Vega. "Uniforms are for the military and the police, not for our thinking."

Hollywood has far from shied away from telling transgender stories, but the industry has come under increasing criticism for not casting them in high-profile parts. Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") and Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") have taken home awards, and movies like 2015's "The Danish Girl," with Eddie Redmayne, and 2005's "Transamerica," with Felicity Huffman, have garnered nominations.

While those films and the Amazon series "Transparent" have been widely applauded, pressure has mounted urging producers to cast trans actors for trans parts. Progress has instead come in smaller, offbeat productions like Sean Baker's "Tangerine," the much-lauded 2015 film Baker shot with iPhones. It starred a pair of transgender performers, Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Taylor last year won an Independent Spirit Award for her performance. "There is very beautiful transgender talent," Taylor said, accepting the supporting actress award. "You better get out there and put it in your movie."

Transgender people have been nominated in other Oscar categories. The composer Angela Morley received two nods, for 1974's "The Little Prince" and 1976's "The Slipper and the Rose." Most recently, singer Anohni, formerly known as Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, became the first transgendered performer ever nominated. She collaborated with J. Ralph on the nominated song "Manta Ray" for the documentary "Racing Extinction."

But when the category's other nominees - Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, the Weeknd - were given performing slots during the 2016 broadcast, Anohni was not, and she opted to boycott the ceremony. In a fiery essay announcing her refusal to attend, Anohni declared: "They are going to try to convince us that they have our best interests at heart by waving flags for identity politics and fake moral issues."

Whether Vega - and Oscar voters - can change history won't be decided for months. Sony Picture Classics, which has guided performers to dozens of Academy Award nominations, will release the film on Nov. 17. For now, Vega is soaking up her moment. "It's like living a dream," said Vega. "It's like a film in a film."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:50 am 
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'Call Me by Your Name' tops Spirit Awards nominations
by Frankie TAGGART
November 21, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Coming-of-age tale "Call Me by Your Name" led the pack of independent films tipped for Oscars glory as the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations were announced on Tuesday.

Set in 1980s Italy and starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer, it tells the story of 17-year-old Elio as he begins a relationship with his father's American research assistant, Oliver. The film was nominated in six categories, including best feature, best director for Luca Guadagnino and best lead and supporting male for Chalamet and Hammer, respectively.

The Spirit Awards are seen as an strong indicator of independent movies that could be winners on Oscars night. Five of the last six best feature winners have gone on to best picture glory at the Academy Awards, including "Moonlight," "Spotlight" and "Birdman." The winners will be announced on March 3, 2018 -- a day before the Academy Awards.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:07 pm 
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In erotic 'Call Me By Your Name,' sunshine and summer love
By JAKE COYLE
November 21, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) -- In the longest and most emotional close-up in "Call Me By Your Name," director Luca Guadagnino asked for three variations, one per take, from his young actor, Timothee Chalamet: dry, humid and wet.

The Italian summer of "Call Me By Your Name," set in 1983, is unchanging: day-after-day of sunshine and languid bliss. But for the 17-year-old Elio (Chalamet), who's awakening to the beauty and heartbreak of love, the weather is churning.

To capture it all, Guadagnino elected for simplicity. A single 35mm lens for the whole production. Minimal cuts. And one devastating close-up.

"I shot this on film so if you listen closely, you will hear the sound of the camera whirling," says Guadagnino. "I love it. Maybe I'm a bit of a perverted cineaste of the 20th century, but the sound of film running through the wheels of the camera is erotic to me."

An intoxicating eroticism - of love, of cinema - runs deep in "Call Me By Your Name." Since its unveiling at the Sundance Film Festival, Gaudagnino's sensuous and insightful coming-of-age tale has been swooned over like few films this year. The film, which Sony Pictures Classics will open in limited release Friday, is considered an Academy Awards front-runner. On Tuesday, it garnered a leading six Independent Spirit Awards nominations. "It's life," wrote Vanity Fair of the movie, "messy and brilliant."

"Call Me By Your Name" is based on the novel by Andre Aciman and scripted by James Ivory, the 89-year-old filmmaker whose collaborations with Ismail Merchant are renown. It's about an intelligent, precocious young man (Elio can speak Italian, French and English, and plays a mean piano, as can Chalamet) living in a splendorous northern Italian villa with his academic parents (Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar). When a 25-year-old graduate student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), comes to stay with them, Elio finds himself drawn intractably toward Oliver.

The film may sound specific in its setting and sexuality, both of which are rendered lushly. (One scene with a juicy peach has already grown famous.) But the spell of "Call Me By Your Name" comes from its grasp of universal sensations - of new, uncertain feelings; of the nervous thrill of opening up yourself to another; of feeling your world expand.

"Regardless of your identity, your orientation or who you're sitting next to in the theater, when you watch two human beings so vulnerably fall in love with each other in a sweet, tender way, it's almost impossible for you not to remember the first time you were in a situation like that," says Hammer. "That's one of the great unifying things about this film. Humans are humans and love is love."

And if you're going to make a movie about love, you might as well shoot it in the Italian summer. Guadagnino, the Italian filmmaker of "I Am Love" and "A Bigger Splash," shifted the location slightly to his home turf, in Crema.

The project began with producers Peter Spears and Howard Rosenman, who obtained the book's rights. They reached out to Ivory ("Howards End," ''Remains of the Day") to executive producer, and later came to him with the suggestion that he and Guadagnino co-direct. But that proved an unappealing prospect to investors and insurance providers.

"It was decided, probably because I'm so ancient, I guess, that Luca should direct it by himself," Ivory says, chuckling.

"We were disappointed by the market. When we realized that it would have been a teeny, teeny tiny movie in a very small amount of time, and that there was some interest in me doing it, he was very generous," said Guadagnino. "He said, 'I bless this project if you do it.'"

That makes "Call Me By Your Name" a unique fusion of two international filmmakers - one an acknowledged master of literary adaptation, the other an ascending maestro of sensory detail.

The movie's other binary relationship was between the experienced Hammer and the newcomer Chalamet, who credits Hammer with providing him a "road map" for his budding career. They spoke at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this fall with adulation about each other, boasting of their friendship and reminiscing about their halcyon shoot in Italy. Their days: morning espressos, countryside bike rides, never-ending meals.

"I will carry the experience for the rest of my life," said Hammer. "I've never been challenged or pushed as hard this movie required me. It is so much about vulnerability and so much about opening yourself up and giving that to someone else, and having them receive and give back. It happens in every scene where these two interact. It's what the process of making the film felt like."

"It felt very fluid," said Chalamet. "You almost forgot about the camera sometimes."

Ivory's script called for more nudity than is in the finished film. (Both stars had contract clauses prohibiting full frontal nudity.) And Ivory has sometimes sounded disappointed that "Call Me By Your Name" lacks a more explicit depiction of lovemaking between men.

"It seems to me there's quite a bit of nudity. Maybe not as much as in some of my films, but it's certainly there," he says now.

Ivory, many of whose films such as the newly restored "Maurice" are considered landmarks in gay cinema, believes it's simply "a cultural thing," that American moviemaking shies away from sex in mainstream and even art-house movies.

But the essence of "Call Me By Your Name" is in its understanding of youth, one crystallized in an uncommonly self-aware monologue delivered with fatherly brilliance by Stuhlbarg late in the film. Hammer believes it should be required viewing for all parents-to-be.

"When you're going to birthing classes and they're not showing you that speech," says Hammer, "you're going to the wrong place."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:13 pm 
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A lovely, delicate romance in 'Call Me By Your Name'
By LINDSEY BAHR
November 22, 2017

The hours move slowly in "Call Me By Your Name".

It's summertime in Northern Italy in 1983 on a secluded 17th century villa, where life among the antiquities is beautifully tranquil and nothing is ever pressing. There is time to read the paper in the morning, while delicately picking at a soft-boiled egg. There is time to dally around with the locals at the lake for endless stretches or pop into a card game while in town "running errands." Shirts are optional, shoes are too, bathing suits are a wardrobe staple and naps are a way of life. No one is ever making grocery runs or stressing about what to have for dinner (that's the cook's job). Even the flies are serene.

This is life for a precocious 17-year-old, Elio (Timothee Chalamet), his Greco-Roman professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) and translator mother (Amira Casar) in Luca Guadagnino's unabashedly beautiful and subtly powerful adaptation of Andre Aciman's novel of first love and burgeoning sexuality. His father has enlisted, as he always does, a research assistant for the summer. This year's model is Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American graduate student who is comically sculpted and handsome, preternaturally confident and disarmingly intelligent.

Oliver doesn't look 24, however. He looks like a grown man, which makes Elio, whose skinny, stretched frame can barely fill out his denim shorts and polo shirts, look even younger.

The exaggerated physical incongruities only highlight the rift in emotional maturity between Elio and Oliver, whose flirtation intensifies from imperceptible to full flung over the course of Oliver's time with the Perlman family. Oliver teases, Elio resists, and the desire eventually manifests itself into a beautiful and tastefully sensual physical relationship.

Chalamet, with his sleepy eyes and gawky-confident gait, gets the role of a lifetime in Elio. His performance is one that is so lived-in and naturalistic that its impact almost catches you off guard. Hammer is very good too as an effortlessly charming specimen who knows how to use his inherently charismatic presence to make everyone fall in love with him.

"Call Me by Your Name" can be a bit of a sleeper at times. Knowing conversations about the curves of Greek statues or the origins of the word "apricot" can feel indulgent and obvious in James Ivory's script. And there is that ever-present fog of the enormous wealth of everyone involved - the "good" kind of wealth, a Platonic ideal of Persol sunglasses, rumpled Ralph Lauren t-shirts, and the daily pursuit of leisure, sport and knowledge. It can be a little much, but, like all of Guadagnino's films ("A Bigger Splash," ''I Am Love"), it is certainly pretty to look at.

And it's an aesthetic journey that pays off in a stunning third act when the endless summer quickens to light speed and is gone in a flash. "We wasted so many days," Elio says to Oliver, finally recognizing that life will not always be languid afternoons by the lake, and regretful of how long it took for him to realize what he wanted. And, just like that, you start to feel wistful along with the characters - mourning the moment as it's happening.

It's all building up to the two scenes of the movie, the ones that will contextualize and poeticize everything that came before it. First, an all-timer monologue from father to son that serves as a kind of thesis for the film, and, really, life.

Then, the final shot, which will stop you cold and gnaw at your heart for days (and probably longer), until you pick yourself up and take yourself back to the movies to spend the summer again with Elio and Oliver. The characters might not be able to go back and relive those idle days, but we can.

"Call Me By Your Name," a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "sexual content, nudity and some language." Running time: 132 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:22 pm 
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LGBT film gets warm welcome at Tunisia festival
10 November 2017

TUNIS (AFP) - A frank documentary about the lives of gay Tunisians received an enthusiastic welcome at a local film festival Friday despite homosexuality being a crime in the North African country.

"It's brilliant. If this film made it, then of course we can screen many others," said Sikander, a member of the audience who only gave his first name, as he left the theatre at the Carthage Film Festival.

The room of 500 seats was not big enough to fit all those who flocked to see "Upon the shadow", an intimate -- at times explicit -- portrait of a group of transvestite and gay friends speaking openly about their love lives, being rejected by their families and their fear of the police. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights have long been taboo in the conservative Muslim state, where sodomy is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The audience broke into applause during several of the film's sequences, though a dozen people stood up and left the theatre, embarrassed by scenes of naked transvestites or two men kissing. "The message of tolerance is good, but showing naked men isn't acceptable, said Nada, 25, who chose not to give her surname.

Sandra, a young transgender woman who is the only character in the film not to have left the country, appeared proud to have told her story. "I don't mind telling my story with my face uncovered" even if "I risk being insulted", she said.

When she started filming the documentary in Sidi Bousaid outside Tunis in 2016, director Nada Mezni Hafaiedh had not planned to show it in Tunisia. But the Carthage Film Festival (JCC) selected the film and screened it in its entirity after it had been shown in Europe. A founding principle "of the JCC is to express freedoms: showing films banned elsewhere or on complicated topics," festival organiser Nawres Roussi said.

Hafaiedh, the filmmaker, said she was "surprised there were so few complaints" after the screening. "I would never have thought my film would be selected and that Tunisians would be able to see it, because I know that sadly in Tunisia being gay is an abomination," she said.

Bouhedid Belhadi, who heads the Shams rights association, said the LGBT community had "come out to show its pride publicly" in the film. "I'm proud to see... the large number of people who wanted to see the film."

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:51 am 
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In Cannes movie, Paris is the city of love lost
By Benjamin DODMAN
12 May 2018

Christophe Honoré’s “Plaire, aimer et courir vite” (bizarrely translated as “Sorry Angel” in English), set in the early 1990s, this deeply moving French drama is another tale of impossible love involving a young student from Brittany and an older Parisian writer. It stars Vincent Lacoste as Arthur, a 22-year-old with cheek and charm, and Pierre Deladonchamps, from brilliant gay-cruising drama “Stranger by the Lake” (2013), as the more mature and forlorn Jacques.

In that riverside scene, Arthur looks longingly at gay lovers embracing in broad daylight – something this ardent and promiscuous student is yet to experience in his hometown of Rennes. There is a very French subtext here, a liberating countryman-goes-to-the-capital narrative that mirrors the filmmaker’s own experience of moving from the provincial Breton city to the city of light and love. But while the pull of Paris is strong, so are Arthur’s roots; being Bretons (like Honoré), he and his friends talk about their “Bretonness” all the time.

French geographical considerations aside, this is above all a powerful tale of love and friendship at a specific time for gays – one in which awareness of AIDS has spread but the disease is still very deadly. It comes a year after the Cannes Film Festival awarded its Grand Prix to Robin Campillo’s “120 Beats Per Minute”, about ACT-UP activists striving to live life to the fullest even as they battle death and indifference. While Campillo’s film had a defiant, almost heroic quality, “Sorry Angel” is a more nuanced work, in which some characters no longer have the strength to carry on living and loving.

As in past Honoré films, the love story here is a study in contrasts – superbly conveyed by the two actors. While Arthur is eager to embrace love and “let the body exult”, Jacques is wistful, often cynical, and resigned. Those who lost sight of Lacoste after his awkward-teenager part in “The French Kissers” will marvel at his swagger, chutzpah and sexiness. Unusually for a very French tale of conflicted love, “Sorry Angel” was broadly hailed by both the home and the foreign press – though local paper “Nice Matin”, where one normally goes for gossip rather than film critics, gratuitously dismissed it as “120 Yawns Per Minute”.

Source: France 24

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