Happiest Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Tis the season to get your onesies out, drink some hot chocolate, and settle around your nearest screen to watch some Christmas movies. Thankfully Clea DuVall made a Christmas romcom that has been long overdue for the LGBTQ community.

Happiest Season is the film that all lesbians have been waiting for. It’s lighthearted, funny and a well rounded romantic comedy. For once there is no sadness, no yearning and no heartbreaking ending. The title of the film says it all and it is such a beautiful movie. Not only does it speak to, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ community but it touches upon family issues that are universal.

The reason why this film is refreshing is because lesbian characters are at the forefront. Two women are in a romantic relationship and they are following all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy. It was just great to see a romantic story about two women in this setting. It is definitely a feel good movie and the speeches in the final act of the film will leave you sobbing until the end. The cast is perfect, everyone fit like a puzzle piece in telling this great story.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis were adorable together and their chemistry was great. It felt completely natural and that is the difference. Kristen Stewart was in her element, she was fun, playful and gave a very emotional performance as Abby. Davis gave a complex performance because of the duality of her character Harper. She lived one life with Abby and was another person when she returned home to her parents. What really resonated with me was the idea of perfection and how some families expect so much from their daughters.

I do have to mention the brilliant comedic timing from Dan Levy because it was just effortless. There would be such tense moments and then Levy would just swoop in and make you bust a gut laughing. He was the perfect choice to play Abby’s best friend. Stewart and Levy also bounced off each other, even through serious moments.

Normally, I don’t compare films in my reviews but out of all the lesbian romance dramas we’ve seen, this one definitely felt the most realistic than the others, mind you the other ones were really sad, so maybe that’s the difference? Thanks to Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, they wrote such a great screenplay and brought forth many important conversations.

Happiest Season is a great Christmas rom-com that will hold a special place in your heart and will definitely be added to your annual Holiday watch list. It is a film that explores individuality and acceptance through a lens that the LGBTQ community deserves. Please make sure to watch Happiest Season on Hulu November 25th and it will be available on iTunes November 26th!


Pictures Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Ammonite Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Ammonite is a romantic love story, loosely inspired by the life of British paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Mary owns her own shop, where she sells fossils to rich tourists. Mary first meets her potential love interest, when a tourist and his wife, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) stumble upon a piece of ammonite in her shop. Francis Lee was able to capture the subtleties and beauty of a budding romance but something was missing.

The film is slow and patient. Patient in uncovering the details in the fossils. Patient in processing Mary’s interest in women. Patient in soft touches and stolen glances. All of that was done properly in order to build tension, to anticipate the moment Mary and Charlotte melt into each other, but the film as a whole is dull. Even though Winslet and Ronan gave nuanced performances, it seemed to be their weakest entry in their filmographies.

photograph by Agatha A. Nitecka/RÅN studio
(left) Saiorse Ronan and Kate Winslet

The only time you would feel their love for each other was when they were sexually engaged. Yes, there was plenty of yearning and smiles exchanged with each other, but the chemistry was lacking in that department. It is also very evident, that a man is behind the camera, when filming those intimate, sex scenes and it felt awkward to watch. There was no passion, no love, no lust, all of that was lost in the act of it.

Ammonite is another entry in the sad lesbian romance category, that we seem to have generated over the years. The film had great potential to be something more than it was because of the starpower but it didn’t quite get there. Francis Lee wrote a very simple story that brought these two women together, to experience something beautiful and then it just exits your mind, the second you finish the film.

A Guide to Queer Films: What to Watch For Pride 2020


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Happy Pride Month!!

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQAI+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. Here is a brief history of the night that started it all:

New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.

So to honour Pride month and the LGBTQAI+ community, I have compiled a list of 30 films (one for each day of pride month), for people to educate themselves and watch films created by queer filmmakers for queer cinema.


  1. All About My Mother (1999)
    dir. Pedro Almodóvar
    Synopsis: Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.1(left) Rosa Maria Sardá, Cecilia Roth and Penélope Cruz


  2. Beginners (2010)
    dir. Mike Mills
    Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer and that he has a young male lover.2 (left) Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor


  3. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
    dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
    Synopsis: Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult.3(left) Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux


  4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
    dir. Ang Lee
    Synopsis: The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.4.(left) Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal


  5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
    dir. Luca Guadagnino
    Synopsis: In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.5. (left) Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer


  6. Carol (2015)
    dir. Todd Haynes
    Synopsis: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.6. ( left) Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett


  7. Disobedience (2017) 
    dir. Sebastián Lelio
    Synopsis:
    A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.7. (left) Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz


  8. Duke of Burgundy (2014)
    dir.
    Peter Strickland
    Synopsis: 
    A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lesbian lover.8.Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D’Anna


  9. Giant Little Ones (2018)
    dir. Keith Behrman
    Synopsis: Two popular teen boys, best friends since childhood, discover their lives, families, and girlfriends dramatically upended after an unexpected incident occurs on the night of a 17th birthday party.9.


  10. God’s Own Country (2017) 
    dir. Francis Lee
    Synopsis: Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.10.(left) Alec Secareanu and Josh O’Connor


  11. I Can’t Think Straight (2008) 
    dir. Shamim Sarif
    Synopsis: A young woman engaged to be married finds her life changed forever when she meets her best friend’s girlfriend.11.(left) Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth


  12. Looking For Langston (1989)
    dir.  Isaac Julien
    Synopsis: A black and white, fantasy-like recreation of high-society gay men during the Harlem Renaissance, with archival footage and photographs intercut with a story.12


  13. Love, Simon (2018)
    dir. Greg Berlanti
    Synopsis: Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.13. (left) Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale


  14. Milk (2008)
    dir. 
    Gus Van Sant
    Synopsis: The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.14.(left) James Franco and Sean Penn


  15. Moonlight (2016) 
    dir. Barry Jenkins
    Synopsis: A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.15 (left) Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner


  16. Mysterious Skin (2004)
    dir.  Gregg Araki
    Synopsis: A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.17. (left) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet


  17. Paris is Burning (1990)
    dir. Jennie Livingston
    Synopsis: A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.17.Octavia St. Laurent


  18. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
    dir. Céline Sciamma
    Synopsis: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.18(left) Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant


  19. Pride (2014)
    dir. Matthew Warchus
    Synopsis: U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.19.George MacKay


  20. Princess Cyd (2017)
    dir. Stephen Cone
    Synopsis: Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.20 (left) Rebecca Spence and Jessie Pinnick


  21. Rocketman (2019)
    dir. Dexter Fletcher
    Synopsis: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.
    21Taron Egerton


  22. Saving Face (2004)
    dir. Alice Wu
    Synopsis: A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.22Courtesy of Mongrel Media: (left) Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen 


  23. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
    dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
    Synopsis: A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.MSDCECL EC016(left) Quentin Crisp, Rob Epstein, and Jeffrey Friedman 


  24. Rafiki (2018)
    dir. Wanuri Kahiu
    Synopsis: “Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena and Ziki long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.24(left) Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva


  25. The Handmaiden (2016)
    dir. Chan-wook Park
    Synopsis: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.25Tae-ri Kim


  26. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
    dir. Lisa Cholodenko
    Synopsis: Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their biological father into their non-traditional family life.26(left) Annette Bening and Julianne Moore


  27. The Normal Heart (2014)
    dir. Ryan Murphy
    Synopsis:  A gay activist attempts to raise H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. awareness during the early 1980s.27(left) Joe Mantello and Mark Ruffalo 


  28. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
    dir. Cheryl Dunye
    Synopsis: A young black lesbian filmmaker probes into the life of The Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played ‘mammy’ archetypes.28Cheryl Dunye


  29. The Way He Looks (2014)
    dir. Daniel Ribeiro
    Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.29 (left) Fabio Audi and Ghilherme Lobo


  30. Weekend (2011)
    dir. Andrew Haigh
    Synopsis: After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what’s expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.30(left) Chris New and Tom Cullen 


These are the films that I wanted to highlight. Some are my favourite films, some are underrated and some definitely need to be seen for educational purposes. I hope that many of you will watch some of the films listed above. Sending love to everyone and please have a happy and safe Pride month.

So please continue to fight for the Black community and the LGBTQAI+ community, now and forever.