Disclosure (2020) – One Of The Most Important Films Of The Year

Released: 19th June
Seen: 21st June

In a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, it is now illegal in the United States to fire someone for being gay or transgender. This has naturally made a lot of trans and gay people very happy while having the added benefit of making bigots cry because they can’t be bigots without consequence anymore. It’s fitting that this ruling came down during Pride month, especially a pride month where we’ve kind of had to shelve everything because of a pandemic. Sadly it’s not all good news, just as a positive ruling comes from the court the administration changes another rule that will allow discrimination in the healthcare system (because that’s the exact thing that needs to be done during a goddamn pandemic). Trans issues are a huge topic right now and Netflix recently released a film that focusses on just one small issue, trans representation in the media, and uses it as a springboard to remind us all about the importance of representation and just what that can do for a community.

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Becoming (2020) – It Becomes Something Good

Released: 6th May
Seen: 8th May

In November of 2008, America did something amazing. They elected their first black president, a major moment in history and a presidency that would’ve been important just for that alone if all Obama had done those 8 years was sit in the White House and eat cheerios. With Barrack Obama becoming president, this also meant that his wife Michelle Obama would go down in history as the first black woman to be first lady, another monumental moment on its own before you even factor in what was done over the next eight years. 

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Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) – Touching and Important

Released: 25th March
Seen: 6th May

Crip Camp Info

In 1971, almost a decade before summer camps became associated with hockey mask-wearing murderers, there was a place called Camp Jened. This camp was a little different from a lot of other camps, in that it had a heavy focus on disabled kids who would be able to have a normal camp experience. They’d play ball, go swimming, catch crabs, all the things that one normally associated with going to summer camp back in the 1970s. It was a place where these kids could just be like any other kid without anything holding them back, because back in 1971 there still wasn’t an American Disabilities Act and the outside world effectively segregated them due to their physical and mental disabilities… eventually, the kids at Camp Jened would have enough of this system and went from camp goers to activists who fought the government and won.

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A Secret Love (2020) – A Sweet Secret

Released: 29th April
Seen: 5th May

A Secret Love Info

In terms of gay history in film, we tend to focus more on the 70s-80s than almost any other time until now. If you were to ask most writers, it seems like the history of gay culture began around the time of the AIDS crisis and everything has happened in its shadow but that’s not the reality of the situation. Gay people have been a part of society since society became a thing but with few exceptions (like The Favourite or Wilde), we rarely see stories from before the decades mentioned… except in documentaries, which often give us stories of legendary queer people and the stories of their lives back when things were a lot worse than they are now.

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Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story (2020) – I’m Begging For Mercy

Released: 30th March
Seen: 3rd May

In 2004 Cyntoia Brown shot and killed Johnny Allen, this is an indisputable fact. What was always in dispute was motive, the prosecution said that she was a prostitute who robbed and murdered an innocent john while he was asleep and Cyntoia claimed she feared for her life after being sexually assaulted. At trial Cyntoia was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 51 years which would’ve made her 67 at the time of her potential release. However, thanks to the governor, she received clemency in 2019 and was released from prison. Now, those of you who are good at math will have caught onto this but… did I mention she was 16 at the time?

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Circus of Books (2020) – The Happiest Show On Earth

Released: 23rd April
Seen: 23rd April

In 1960 at 8230 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, a little bookstore named Book Circus opened up. Loaded with hardcore gay pornography, the store managed to keep the doors open until 1982 when Barry Mason found out that the store was in trouble and wound up buying it. One brief name change later and the little porno store owned by a cocaine addict would turn into the mom and pop shop Circus of Books, still dealing in gay pornography and run by a former special effects engineer and a heavily religious journalist. It would become one of the most important hotspots in gay culture and would be there for a lot of essential moments in queer history. This documentary tells that story through the eyes of the daughter of Barry and his wife Karen and it tells it beautifully.

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Reel Redemption (2020) – Faith Films Redeemed

Released: 1st January
Seen: 22nd April

I’ve made it no secret on this blog that I have something of a problem with Christian Films. Not because of the Christian element, I firmly believe that every single community deserves to see themselves on screen, but because lately they’ve been kind of… oh, what’s the term? God-Awful wastes of the time I have left, that’s it. In general, I look for them to show some form of quality filmmaking and instead I tend to find a lot of the films are little more than sermons that wrap themselves up in the blanket defence of faith. What I’ve been wanting for some time now is for someone to show me why I should give this growing subgenre any semblance of respect… enter Tyler Smith’s documentary/video essay Reel Redemption to make such an argument.

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Cursed Films – Twilight Zone: The Movie

Vic Morrow. Myca Dinh Le. Renee Shin-Yi Chen. These are the names of the people who died on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. You might not even know that film exists, you might not even remember what happened during the film but you undoubtedly heard about the helicopter crash that changed everything. On the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie a shot of a helicopter flying over a Vietnam village went horribly wrong and those three actors were killed when the helicopter crashed onto the set. It’s an accident that changed how films are shot and effectively ended the era of the 70s auteur director where we were fine with madmen in charge of film sets… and it’s the subject of the finale for Cursed Films, and what a finale it is.

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Cursed Films – The Exorcist

Over on Soda and Telepaths, I recently had the opportunity to write about 2 episodes of the series Cursed Films, the episodes in question being about the movies Poltergeist and The Omen. I suggest you go over there and read it because in that I talked about the series as a whole and my hopes for it (also because it’ll make me look really good if people go there because of me… I can be a selfish promo whore occasionally). One thing I did lament about was that I wasn’t going to get to see the rest of the series because Shudder only streams in America and I had no chance to see the rest of it. Well, apparently Shudder are also big promo whores because they sent me another screener for the first episode of the series and my belief has always been that if you’re going to send me screeners then I’m going to watch and review them. Heck, I have 6 more films in my emails that sent me screeners that I will be getting to over the coming weeks, I’ve just been slow because of *gestures to the state of the world right now*

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In Search Of Darkness (2019) – Finding The Light

Released: 13th October 2019
Seen: 10th March

In Search Of Darkness Horror Doc Info

I may have mentioned it once or twice (or as many times as I am legally permitted) but I love a good horror documentary. Give me a documentary on how a horror film came to be and I’m a happy boy. The Crystal Lake Memories documentary, all 6+ hours of it, remains my favourite film documentary of all time and a recent film Memory: The Origins of Alien was a great look at one of the greatest horror films of all time. The problem with this kind of documentary though is that it only ever seems to talk about just one film and some days you just want to talk about an entire genre of film… enter In Search Of Darkness, a crowdfunded documentary celebrating one of the greatest decades for horror. 

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