21. Beautiful Boxer (T 2004 THA) - 7.5ish
22. Machboim [Hide and Seek] (G 1980 ISR) - 7ish
23. Bwakaw (G 2012 PHL) - 7.5ish
24. Cola de Mono [Monkey Tail] (G 2018 CHL) - 6.5ish
started out pretty badly, with questionable acting and writing, mediocre production value, and a general dullness. I almost turned it off after 15 minutes. But strangely, the filmmaking seemed to mature along with the character, and the portrayal of Toom is the best part of the film. Always sensitive to the feelings of the character, never feeling exploitative, and having some pretty great fight scenes. This grew on me over time, and it really was a groundbreaking piece of cinema in my mind: The film came out less than 5 years after the events in the story (with one person playing herself!), didn't feel sensationalized, and came from a country, while seen from Western eyes as liberating and sexually adventures (especially with regards to transgendered folk and "ladyboys"), which was/is still rather conservative. Overall, a job well done.
Hide and Seek
is much less queer than I was led to believe, and I'm going to change the summary on imdb since it gives a false impression of what to expect. It's much more about the coming of age of a boy and his friends in post-WWII British Mandate of Palestine, before Israeli statehood. Trying to fit in, trying to be old enough, trying to be brave enough, and trying to heal from the wounds inflicted on them by the Holocaust, all jumble together in a cauldron of confusion. The heart of the story (and what is marketed as the central conflict, but it's only the secondary one in my mind), is the gay teacher. Purportedly the first "gay" film from Israel, a country in modern times which is well-known for it's acceptable of queer folk and a vibrant queer cinematic culture, this 40-year-old film gives insight into a time before this. Food for thought: the time difference between when the film was made and when the film was set (~32 years) is less than the time difference between now and the year of release (41 years).
I've wanted to see Bwakaw since it first started showing at the festival circuit a decade ago. Miraculously (thanks to Santo Entierro, no doubt), it popped up on Netflix a few months ago. A variation on the theme of "old gays" seen in Hollywood, and coming between the release of Beginners (2010) and Love Is Strange (2014), this is less polished and shiny than either film, but it feels more grounded. Not that the other two stories are more fanciful or less moored in reality, but this one was grittier. Starring an icon of Pinoy cinema (Eddie Garcia) with some notable supporting roles (including Rez Cortez - Insiang's boyfriend Bebot from the 1976 film - who reminds me of Malaysia's Harith Iskander), the bitter exterior of an old gay man who came out late in life slowly crumbles away after his beloved dog falls terminally ill. More drama than comedy, but it's moments of black humour are devilishly delightful, and had me cackling throughout.
Cola de mono is billed as a drama/thriller, but I found it much more drama with only brief thrills. Full frontal male nudity and some explicit oral sex may deter many folks, but there's much less of it than the marketing would have you believe. Roughly split into three parts, I've seen people discount the first part as boring, but it was my favourite by far, probably because it's the most narrative. More aesthetic and moody are the second two parts, which are also sexier and gayer. Like, cruising in the park and bathhouses gayer. Some questionable writing choices (the film is partially autobiographical), and starring real life siblings as the two brothers, it has it's highs and lows. The best was probably the music of Chilean band Upa!, who I'm now going to explore more, with a great song serving as both the opener and the closer (Creo que voy a morir [I Think I'm Going to Die]).
Only 4 more films to complete the country bonus challenge, and I've finally finished the letter challenge. Might double or triple that one now.
I also caught some short films, but not enough for a full point yet.
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
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