San Francisco’s 47th Frameline Film Festival made a portion of their program available for streaming. The films were a mix of new ideas and familiar tropes.
Chocolate Babies (1996, US). A valuable piece of New Queer Cinema has been restored. BIPOC AIDS activists attack conservative politicians. Till infighting threatens to tear them apart. Vulgar, violent and necessary. With just the right mix of humor and outrage.
Clashing Differences (2023, Germany). White feminists invite women of color to speak at a conference. They’re soon at each other’s throats. It’s structured like a play with showy monologues about colorism, classism and transphobia. There’s no time to explore these topics in depth. Though that fits the films larger point about the limits of intersectionality. The cast is excellent. (Header image is of the cast of Clashing Differences.)
Jess Plus None (2023, US). Maid of honor causes drama at her best friend’s wedding. 2011’s Bridesmaids worked because there was a genuine friendship at the center. Here everyone is awful so there are no stakes. There’s no reason to care whether they fight or reconcile. Still, it was nice to find an adult comedy in a drama heavy fest.
Coming of Age
Before I Change My Mind (2022, Canada). Robin, a nonbinary child, tries to survive the 80’s by befriending a handsome bully. The tone flips between understated coming-of-age, broad camp comedy and violent tragedy. The lead actor is compelling but they can’t hold the messy screenplay together.
Big Boys (2023, US). Cringe comedy about an obese gay teen on a camping trip. He fights with his brother and crushes on a straight guy. His social awkwardness is painful to watch, even though the film treats him with compassion.
Egghead & Twinkie (2023, US). Bratty lesbian teen goes on a road trip with her lovelorn straight friend. Their coming-of-age antics are predictable. But cartoon interludes and a bubblegum aesthetic make it an easy watch. (Amusingly, the straight guy acts like a “sassy gay friend.” It adds unintended subtext.)
Golden Delicious (2022, Canada). Asian-Canadian teen plays basketball to please his emotionally abusive dad. He’d rather take photos and kiss boys. The amateur cast tends to shout at each other. It dials up the angst to an absurd degree. The lead actors are too old for their “teen” roles.
Lie With Me (2022, France). Successful author meets the son of his high school boyfriend. The son is eager to learn about his secretive dad. The tug of war between the men is compelling. The high school flashbacks less so. The father remains a sketch. The erotic fantasy of tropey YA novels.
The Mattachine Family (2023, US). Nico Tortorella wants kids. Their workaholic husband does not. They have earnest conversations while sentimental music plays. Emily Hampshire’s salty friend briefly cuts through the sugar. But the film is cloying and obnoxious.