17. Los novios búlgaros [Bulgarian Lovers] (G 2003 ESP) - 7.6
18. Blue (G 1993 GBR) - 3.8
xx. Rita ou Rito?... [Rita or Rito?] (X 1927 POR) - 4.8
19. A Rosa Azul de Novalis [The Blue Flower of Novalis] (G 2018 BRA) - 5.4
20. Fire Song (G 2015 CAN) - 7.4
It took me over a decade to track down a copy of Bulgarian Lovers
with subtitles. It ended up being not quite what I thought it would be, but it was still some campy fun. I'm glad I finally watched it, and I'm looking forward to more transgressive films from Eloy de la Iglesia.
I completely understand the concept behind Blue
, but I was so bored. So
, so bored. I put on my headphones and shut my eyes so that I wouldn't get distracted by things more interesting than a blue screen (i.e. almost anything), and I still found my mind wandering or starting to fall asleep. It's quite the unique swan song for a director, but it's not to my liking. Interestingly enough, my first de la Iglesia and Jarman films were their last ones.
I thought Rita or Rito?
was going to be a cross-dressing, possibly trans, early film to finally cross off the T and the pre-60s boxes in the bonus challenge. Alas, this was a terrible romantic comedy where cross-dressing by two characters is merely a disguise (which is fine), and the first (main) one is revealed almost as soon as he shows up on screen. Plus, you have not one, but two people in blackface (an actor, and then one of the characters), and over-the-top racist and overprotective father, and a farcical female doctor pushing her quack pills on everyone for everything. It's short, coming in at 41 minutes, and there are indeed some worthy sight gags, and the film doesn't take itself seriously at all (the doctor is Dr. Pills, for example), but the unnecessary blackface really pulls this one down a lot for me. Plus, no queerness made this feel like the waste of a slot for this month's challenge.
is not for everyone. The film opens and closes with shots of the main subject's asshole. It's also half-documentary, half-theatre piece. The documentary side of things works quite well, especially given that I had no idea who this guy was going into it (I still don't really know who he is in general, but I do feel I know what he's like more personally), but then it segues into these scripted pieces that feel forced and really break the trust with the audience - since these reenactments were pieces of fiction, how can I now trust the other information he's given me when he's supposedly himself? Also, some not-so-graphic anal sex and some very explicit fellatio might not endear people to the film, though those aspects didn't really phase me. Plus, I just found the guy (or at least the character he wants to portray to us onscreen) terribly annoying, not least because of his beliefs about star signs. Interesting? Perhaps, to some people. Good? No, not really.
I'd also been putting off for a while; I almost started watching it two or three times this past year. It's a heartfelt attempt at showcasing the difficulties of being gay (or just being different) on a small, isolated reservation in northern Ontario. I don't have firsthand experience of what that is like, but there's been a lot of it in the news over the years, and I've seen some documentaries by indigenous filmmakers baring the plight of these communities and how the government and society at large has failed them. That portrayal (leaking rooves, high youth suicide rates, emigration, unemployment, etc.) feels far more authentic than the gay romance at the centre of the story. Most of the secondary characters are partially fleshed out as well, which is great, but I found the first half better than the second, and I wanted better for the Tara character. Overall, it was worthwhile, but it just felt clumsy, which prevented me from rating it any higher. Had some gorgeous nighttime misty shots, though.
I'm over halfway through the country bonus challenge, but I should be further along by now. I have enough films lined up to go around the world twice, I've just been bad at prioritizing them. Plus, there are some films expiring from streaming platforms I want to catch this month too.
1. Dear Dad (G 2016 IND) - 6.6
2. Benjamin (G 2018 GBR) - 7.0
3. Hamam [Steam: The Turkish Bath] (B 1997 ITA) - 8.0
4-5. Fingersmith (L 2005 GBR) - 8.0 (3 60-min episodes = 2.25 points)
6. Pixote, [Pixote, the Law of the Weakest] (Q 1981 BRA) - 8.0
7. Jin nian xi tian [Fish and Elephant] (L 2001 CHN) - 7.0
8. Tales of the City: Episode 1 (Q 1993 USA) - 6ish (1 60-min episode = 0.75 points)
9-14. RuPauls' Drag Race All Stars: Season 5 (G 2020 USA) - 7.5ish (8 60-min episodes = 6 points)
15. Querelle (B 1982 GER) - 6.6
16. Inxeba [The Wound] (G 2017 ZAF) - 7.8