OUT ON FILM FESTIVAL IN REVIEW
Read the full reviews online at thegavoice.com. she is destined to have bad luck.
The genius of Martins’ direction and writing slowly unveils itself over the course of the film. Long, static shots of Wellington and Tércia become the gateway through which Bolsonaro’s far-right policies unravel a serene family environment. But Martins also recognizes that individual lives change independently of larger societal trends: Deivinho was always going to find his own interests, and Eunice was always going to be a lesbian, regardless of Bolsonaro. Still, the exploration of involvement in inter- and intraclass struggles, of being queer in a conservative country, of being a woman in a world that fails to take women’s issues seriously, of being a dreamer without the funds to realize these dreams — Martins manages to develop all these themes with the utmost authenticity, heart, and intellectual prowess. Everything ends up culminating in a resounding ending that shows how the pureness of familial love can bring people through the worst of times, even if the re-emergence of fascism makes us all wish to escape to Mars.
“Swallowed” is about a drug run that goes from bad to worse to downright vile. This passion-project horror film by Carter Smith follows aspiring gay porn star Benjamin (Cooper Koch) and his close friend Dom (Jose Colon) as they get wrapped up in a smuggling job that Dom opts into so that he can send Benjamin off to LA with money for his first porn shoot. However, things quickly get out of control when Dom’s supplier Alice (Jena Malone) forces Dom and Benjamin to swallow the mysterious merchandise in order to keep it concealed. “Swallowed” is a film better experienced without knowing much about it, so I will stop describing it here. But what I can say about the film is that its thriller and body horror elements become incredibly compelling as it nears its end. This is thanks to stellar performances by the doe-eyed Koch and Colon (names that feel almost purposefully chosen by the casting director) and Andrew W. Lewis’s beautiful yet claustrophobic cinematography. But perhaps the best thing about Carter Smith’s film is that it serves as a nasty, campy reminder that men will create strange rituals and situations as excuses to be intimate with one another.
Following the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020, documentarian Micheal Rice faced a difficult reality: only seven days after the murder of George Floyd and only 10 miles from his vigil, a transwoman named Iyanna Dior was beaten by a group of Black people while fighting to enter a convenience store so she could capture her potential murderers on camera if she died. This propelled Rice to make “BLACK AS U R” and investigate the roots of homophobia and transphobia within Black communities despite the importance of LGBTQ people in the Black liberation movement. Rice’s film is often harrowing in its authentic, direct approach to documenting bigotry and its tragic consequences on Black queer lives. His amazing direction further emphasizes the pain experienced in Black trans lives, especially; the portion on Chocolate and her dreams of becoming a famous television star is one of the most heart wrenching scenes I have ever seen in a documentary. But the best facet of “BLACK AS U R” is that despite all the hate spewed toward LGBTQ and Black
people, Rice finds a way to reconcile queerness with Blackness as well as present a beautiful hope in the possibility for a Black liberation movement in which all Black lives matter.