The Handmaiden

Just out of the extended director’s cut of The Handmaiden. Ooft that, ladies and gentlemen, was a stoater of a movie. It’s actually surprisingly funny for something so erotic. I was expecting what you usually expect with something so exquisitely beautiful and stirring – that the trade off was a slow, langurous pace and a plot heavy on introspection. What I didn’t expect was what the movie actually was, a solidly paced crime mystery with a lot of humour. If you were hoping The Handmaiden was an exquisitely shot sensual erotica, go see it, you’ll be more than satisfied. And if you would prefer to go to a movie with constant twists and turns, fun and funny, then also go see it, you’ll be more than satisfied. Now if you’ll excuse, I’m off to take a cold shower. Mercy!

Ovarian Psycos

Gotta be 100% honest, this is the first documentary I’ve seen at the festival that I didn’t think was very well made. So many things were just not shown, leaving me to kinda guess or fill in my own blanks. It’s about a Latina cycling group in L.A. that has a pro-equality, anti-racism, feminist ethos.

The trouble is the documentary makes it all seem a bit woo-woo. All the interviews with the members have them talk about helping their community, fighting for their community, but what form this help or fight takes is left largely unshown and unexplained. Instead they’re shown howling at the moon, having committee meetings and making rap. If this description doesn’t do justice to their work, that’s the fault of the film because any actual engagement with the community at large is absent. At one point a guy (who comes off like a total fucknugget) kinda scoffs, “They make out like it’s some civil rights thing. I don’t know if you can say you’re fighting for your community by tooling around on a bike.” He should be immediately shut down with shots of them doing fundraisers for community projects, making welcome vulnerable girls into a productive environment, going to rallies, but none of that happens. That comment is made and it just cuts to them throwing attitude around. And it makes it look like his point is valid, that it’s a style thing with no substance.

The whole film was like that. Characters had arcs with whole pieces missing. Xela leaves, Evie gains her mother’s support, but the whys are always mostly missing. Either pasted in haphazard after the fact or just told flat-out with no real explanation.

It was all just so unsatisfying.

Major!

A documentary biopic of Miss Major Griffin Gracy, a trans woman of colour who was there during the Stonewall Riots and who has spent a lifetime campaigning for trans rights. She has lived a incredible life, meeting Frank “Big Black” Smith in Attica after the riots and becoming a lifelong advocate for prisoners, and opposing the prison system. She’s still campaigning at 71, with one eye and one kidney, she’s out there doing more than most folk, like myself, are doing at 21 or 31. Jesus, her energy and will are incredible. Really inspiring film.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

A very hard and incredibly moving watch. It follows the struggle of 4 Latina lesbians fighting to clear their names after they were caught up in the Satanic child sex abuse scare of the 90s. The horror of the piece is how one man basically tries to destroy the lives of three generations of women in one family and willingly takes down others in that attempt. But the women themselves remain resolute, and their story is one of strength, of solidarity, of friendship and of dignity.

Hanky Code

An anthology of short films created by an art collective, which each segment of which corresponds to a different colour in the hanky code. I’ll be honest, the majority of this was cringeworthy laughably bad, but some was funny and cute.

One that will really stick with me was the one for needles. Now, I consider myself to have some fairly broad tastes, but I felt vanilla as fuck watching this. I mean, I charged head first into my limits. With no cuts, music or stylistic camera tricks, it simply shows a woman having her mouth stapled shut as both her lips are pierced with needles, and the skin along the line of her subclavicals pierced to give her a needle fringe necklace. Now this may be your thing, in which case good luck to you, I wish you every happiness, but this gave me the heavy boke. It was worse than every horror movie I’ve seen this year. Blood up the wall and spooky music will never compare to the sight and sound of a real woman being really punctured in the softest parts of her body. Bleurgh.

Weekends

A lovely, funny, heartfelt documentary following the highs and lows of the South Korean gay men’s choir. Despite the technical difficulties, this was a lovely experience, with the extra treat to the showing being a live performance by the Edinburgh gay men’s choir. Definitely one for¬†anybody who wants to hear All The Single Ladies performed in Korean.

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Tchindas

A movie about the community of Sao Vicente coming together to prepare for carnival, organised by Tchinda, a trans women whose name has become a byword for queer. If you want to see a film about queer people of colour with no queerphobia, no racism, just community and celebration, this is it. The pacing is not perfect but the overall positivity of film carries the feeling of warmth amd home. Thumbs up!

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