Three Foreign Films That’ll Make You Cry Your Heart Out
It is hard to believe, but semester finals are around the corner , and finals can bring stress! Sometimes, the best way to release your stress is to cry, and there is no better time to cry it out than while watching a real tearjerker. If you need to let some tears flow while the film rolls, here are three foreign films I recommend for you.
Farewell My Concubine is not only the movie’s name, but also the name of the traditional Peking Opera it was inspired by. The film revolves around the joys and sorrows of two lovers who rely on each other during a time of political tensions. Farewell My Concubine showed thoughts and understanding of traditional culture, the living conditions of society, and human nature. In 1993, the film won the highest prize (Palme d’Or) of the Cannes International Film Festival and became the first Chinese film to win this honor. What’s more, the film has won many international awards, such as the Golden Globe Award for the best foreign language film and the International Federation of Film Critics award. In 2005, Farewell My Concubine was selected as one of the 100 best films in the world by Time magazine.
This film offers an interesting perspective on the afterlife with drama and suspense. There is a law in the underworld: the dead have 49 days to go through seven extreme trials. Only those who go through all the seven trials are declared as innocent by the ruler of death and get the opportunity for another life. The story centers around a firefighter named Ja-hong Kim who died trying to save a child in a fire accident. This film is a funny, heart-touching, and also thought-provoking underworld adventure whose tender moments will give you misty eyes. The film’s deep grasp of emotions has been well received by audiences since its debut in 2017.
Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days is the intense sequel to Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, but in this film the narrative takes a much crazier turn compared to part one. The film tells about three amnesiac underworld emissaries who are on their last of the seven trials. They meet a god that knows about their secret previous lives. But what secret? And who is this strange deity? Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days is tender and thought-provoking like its predecessor, but it also has some ironic moments and includes deeper underlying narratives about socioeconomic struggles.
If you need to cry, doing so while watching these films provides some great cover. They just might help you sail through the end of your semester! LL
Lilly Li is a new Media Services staff member. This is her first guest blog post.
Films have no boundaries when it comes to the topics they can cover, and I find them a great resource to expose myself to new ideas. For example, bioethics was a topic I was unfamiliar with, but through several films, I have had the chance to be exposed to the concept and how it is relevant to today. The main focus of the following films isn’t bioethics itself but the telling of a particular story. However, through their narratives, they reveal instances where morality and ethics intersect with the medical industry. The four basic principles of bioethics are: 1) acknowledging the autonomy of the patient; 2) doing no harm/non-maleficence; 3) doing good/beneficence; and 4) justice. The following films explore these themes.
A biographical drama, this film follows the life of John Nash, a Nobel laureate mathematician. During his time as a graduate student at Princeton University, he begins to develop paranoid schizophrenia. However, John is resistant to medicating his illness as the prescriptions interfere with his work, and the film shows his struggle to cope with his hallucinations and episodes. This film relates to the four principles of bioethics (listed above) that physicians and other practitioners are supposed to uphold. As seen in A Beautiful Mind, a patient, especially one with cognitive impairment, can make a decision that isn’t in their best interest (i.e. John deciding he doesn’t need the medicine), thinking that there is nothing wrong with them. John’s decision not to treat his illness brings up the question of whether his doctors should respect John’s autonomy to make that decision for himself, or if his illness makes him incapable of doing so.
This film follows the titular character and her involvement in an abortion debate. Ruth, a woman with drug and alcohol dependency, finds herself pregnant and in jail for her drug use. Fed up with Ruth’s frequent appearances in his court, and the lack of responsibility she exhibits toward her four other children who are in foster care, a judge presents her with felony charges but promises to be less harsh with her if she gets an abortion. This sparks a huge battle between people on both sides of the argument. The pro-life supporters treat her with kindness and support her, but only as long as she vows not to get an abortion. On the other hand, the pro-choice supporters do the same exact thing of providing conditional kindness to Ruth. As the film progresses, it becomes clear how no one on either side really cares about her. They only care that she makes a decision that supports their agenda. The film doesn’t try to make a statement supporting one side over the other. Instead, it highlights how, being overly concerned with an agenda, all parties fail to recognize Ruth as an actual person and not just a vessel for sending a message to the world. This film brings up themes similar to A Beautiful Mind: does Ruth, a person with alcohol and drug dependency, have the competence and the autonomy to make a decision for herself? In addition, the actions of the pro-life and pro-choice supporters spur the audience to consider the implications of utilitarianism: a doctrine in which the end justifies the means. In Citizen Ruth, both sides are willing to do whatever is necessary to win the battle against each other.
This film follows the lives of two immigrants as they struggle to make a new life for themselves. Through a series of events, they end up involved in an organ-harvesting ring where immigrants exchange their kidneys for forged documents. Unfortunately, organ harvesting isn’t limited to the big screen; it happens all around the world today as people sell their organs for money, for paperwork, etc. (some recent statistics can be found here). It brings up the controversial question of whether people should be able to sell their organs in the same way they can sell their sperm or plasma for money. The current state of affairs leads to deaths both from a lack of kidney donations and from incorrect harvesting practices. However, if organ donation were to become a legal market, it might cause people to donate their organs for some extra cash—thereby disproportionately affecting those facing poverty—and it might decrease donations made for altruistic reasons. The film shows the leader of the organ harvesting ring misinforming those immigrants who spoke poor English and were not fully aware of the situation they were entering, raising questions of the bioethics of such a practice. In a gross underestimation, he tells some of them that their procedure would be similar to a tooth extraction, violating their right to make an informed decision.
This film sees Maggie, an amateur boxer, as she is taken under the wing of a seasoned trainer named Frankie, in hopes of achieving her dream of becoming a professional. After all her hard work and training, an unfortunate accident halts her dreams—permanently. Struggling to cope with her new reality, Maggie starts considering assisted suicide. While watching the scenes following Maggie’s accident, I couldn’t help but wonder how she would ever be able to create a different life for herself. I remembered how in the beginning of the film, she had said that boxing was all she had.
With no chance of ever fighting again, Maggie had to rethink the course of her life. This film explores the bioethics of assisted suicide: should Maggie be allowed by the hospital and her doctors to decide to end her life? The film also explores social attitudes with regard to disabilities. In general, society often views a disability as a deficit, defect, or problem. Often times, what is portrayed in the media and the current discourse around disabilities is comprised of negative imagery: “disability” is understood as synonymous with weakness or a lack of dignity. Maggie makes choices based on her expectations of what it means to live with a disability. In treating this topic, the film creates an opportunity for viewers to examine their own feelings and challenge their assumptions on the subject.
This film depicts the doctor-patient relationship as well as the difference between sympathy and empathy. One of the main principles of bioethics is beneficence toward patients. The film portrays the transformation of Dr. Jack McKee’s bedside manner: when he is diagnosed with throat cancer, he goes from being a top surgeon to experiencing things from the patient’s side. In the beginning, Jack is very detached from his patients and preaches that view to his interns. In one operating-room scene, he makes callous jokes about the patient during their surgery and seems to be having a grand time. One could argue he was violating one of the basic principles of bioethics: doing good/ beneficence towards patients. However, by the end, he has realized the errors of his old ways. After being diagnosed, he begins to understand that he is in fact holding people’s lives in his hands, and this revelation causes him to freeze in the OR. These two scenes show the extremes of the spectrum, from being completely apathetic towards his patients to being crippled by the enormity of his responsibility to them once he understands their struggles.
This film also explores the doctor/patient theme. The film follows Vivian on her journey after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and agreeing to undergo aggressive and experimental chemotherapy. From the outset, Dr. Kelekian treats Vivian as a mere guinea pig. While breaking the news of her illness to her and explaining her options, he mentions how her “contribution” would mean a lot to advancing medical knowledge. The scene ends with him looking pleased and excited while sitting across from a woman whose whole world was just disrupted. From this, the audience grasps that he was more focused on his own research opportunity than on Vivian’s health. At one point, Vivian says that she should have asked more questions, and it is revealed that Dr. Kelekian had no faith that this experiment would help Vivian’s health improve. His failure to fully disclose all the information meant that he also failed to respect his patient and to give her the autonomy to make an informed decision. Although Vivian makes clear that her treatment was detrimental to her health, the doctor had already decided that the benefits of the experimental trial were greater than the burden it put on his patient, failing to meet the non-maleficence clause of biomedical ethics. He used his own principles to make that moral judgment, and his utilitarian reasoning is apparent when someone tells Vivian that the doctor is willing to do anything as long as “the life continues.” Vivian was denied her humanity for the sake of research, a situation that is not without real-life historical precedent.
All of these films cover complex, sometimes difficult terrain, where simple answers remain elusive. If you like films that challenge you to expand your perspective, stop by Media Services to find these and many more thought-provoking titles!
Guest student blogger Robiati Endashaw is a senior studying Public Policy Analysis in the Kelley School of Business. In her free time, you can catch her reading and watching crime documentaries.
Along with the smell of cinnamon pine cones and Ginkgo trees, the falling of leaves and temperatures—if only slightly)—and the sudden influx of pumpkin spice, comes the cluttering of our calendars. I think we are six weeks into the semester now, which means that it’s been six weeks since I’ve been to a concert. Normally, I can squeeze in a show at the ‘Bird or the Bishop almost every week. But I’ve experienced a drought of music as the semester gets busy. Maybe some of you experience the same thing. If you do, I have something that may help.
I really do need to get out soon. But until then, these databases have kept my hunger for live music satiated, and I can keep chugging along through the semester.
Duncan Hardy is an IU Bloomington junior pursuing dual degrees in Arts Management and Creative Writing. Some of his favorite musical artists are Frank Ocean, Mid-Air Thief, and Andre 3000. Any music, movie, or book recommendations can be sent to email@example.com.
*For a complete list of available streaming databases, visit Media Services’ streaming library research guide.
This classic tale follows Chicken Little, a rooster known for his anxious and dramatic behavior. “The sky is falling” is the tagline for which he’s most well-known. What I admire about this character is his determination to help his friends and unwavering sense of self in the face of adversity.
Another character that deserves a spotlight is Chicken Little’s father, Buck Cluck. Raising his son by himself after the mysterious death of his wife, although Buck does not always understand his son and his fantastic ideas, he tries to support him the only way he knows how. Buck really comes through for his son and comes to understand him in a way that only a parent can.
*available through Bloomington Residential Hall libraries only (see IUCAT)
Ginger and her fellow chickens battle against the owners of Tweedy Farm. As the smartest chicken of the group, she employs the help of circus performer chicken Rocky in order to rescue her friends from impending doom at the hands of the Tweedys’ chicken-pie-making machines. This character’s resourcefulness, compassion, and drive make her an excellent contrast to the typical image of the chicken.
Unlike the previous character on this list, Hei Hei is not the smartest. Part comic relief, part animal sidekick, this rooster is the perfect character you want to hate but can’t because they are just too clueless. In the end, he really does come out on top and you will be rooting for this little clucker by the final scene.
To finish out the list I would like to include a chicken character that does not get the love and recognition it deserves. Torchic is a fire-type character from the Pokémon video game franchise. As a playable starter, you can raise this chicken to become an awesome, giant fighting bird. This character is the only one in the entire franchise whose creation was influenced by the chicken and in this author’s opinion, is the superior starter for GEN 3.
Most items on this list are available at IU Media Services (click on the link to navigate to the IUCAT record for each item) and all are available on campus. Come by and let us know who tops your chicken list! CC
Our guest student blogger Casey Callas is a senior at IU studying Psychology/History. When she’s not working, you can catch her hammocking around campus.
Some movie stars are just as famous for their drug and alcohol use as they are for their film roles. Sometimes we see their worst moments splashed across the tabloids right next to pictures of them in a designer tux or gown at a red carpet event. Addiction doesn’t care if you are rich and famous; it strikes all kinds. Yet some of the stars who have struggled most—and most publicly—have achieved long-term recovery and gone on to deliver some of their best work. Below is a list of actors that have been able to fight the perilous battle of substance abuse and come back strong to play iconic characters we know and love.
Robert Downey, Jr.
The superstar we all know and love has a tragic history due to his drug addiction. Born in 1965, Robert Downey, Jr. (or RDJ) made his big-screen debut at the age of five, appearing in one of his father’s films. While poised to have an incredible future in the spotlight, he was unfortunately introduced to drugs at an early age—by some reports as early as six years old—and within a few years, he was addicted. In 1997, RDJ was arrested and prosecuted for various crimes. His addiction to drugs even cost him a seven-year relationship, and by the time he was out of jail he had alienated his family, had no money, and his spouse had left him.
Fast forward to 2001, when he met his future wife, Susan Nicole Levin (now Susan Nicole Downey), whom he credits with helping him with his former drug and alcohol habits and also revitalizing his career. In 2007, he was cast as Iron Man and the rest is history! Robert Downey, Jr., is now one of the most highly paid actors in the world with a net worth of a whopping $250 million!
Everyone knows him as the “The Boy Who Lived,” but not many people know about his struggles with alcohol addiction. Daniel Radcliffe was cast as Harry Potter at the young age of eleven and soon became a superstar and a household favorite.
But it turns out that not many young stars can handle the pressures of immense fame. Daniel unfortunately became addicted to alcohol and admitted to drinking excessively to cope with portraying Harry Potter. However, the actor has since bounced back and has been sober since 2010, after realizing how the addiction started affecting his work on set. As of 2018, he still continues to star in movies but has now focused his skills on the theater—something he has always loved doing. Kudos to the young star for bouncing back from a play most movie stars can’t recover from.
Drew Barrymore made her acting debut at the tender age of six, starring in the film E.T. The future superstar has come forward with her own addiction story, admitting that she started drinking at the age of nine and quickly became addicted to drugs soon after. Much of her teenage years were spent overcoming her addictions, and her mother put her into rehab following a suicide attempt by the star. She was sober by the age of fourteen, and even released an autobiography when she was sixteen. Despite the resistance of some of Hollywood’s power players, Drew returned to acting and established herself as one of the leading actresses we know and love today.
These actors’ stories prove that we do not have to let our past define us, and that in the end, if you persevere and follow your dreams people will value you enough to forget about your past.
Stars: They Are Just Like Us
We all know that fame comes with stress and pressure. But anybody can experience excessive stress and the destructive effects of addiction. We have lost some great film stars to substance abuse over the years, but it is a good sign that more celebrities are willing to open up about their addiction and mental health struggles. It helps remove the stigma, and proves that they are human and sometimes need help like the rest of us. For most celebrities, the first step was to break the silence and reach out to a friend, family member, or health professional. If you or anyone you know is struggling with these issues, here are some resources for getting help:
As we enter early August and back-to-school thoughts arise, what better way to hang on to summertime than to enjoy the rainbow of foods—tomatoes, melons, berries, peaches—just now reaching peak ripeness. Our guest student blogger has some film suggestions to pair with your late-summer food picks!
Set in 1950’s New Jersey at a struggling Italian restaurant, this mouth-watering movie kicks off the list. The owners Primo and Secondo, two immigrant brothers, make amazing food, but their authentic Italian cuisine is too foreign for many of the locals and they find themselves losing business to rival restaurant Pascal’s. However, when they hear that famous Italian-American singer Louis Prima is going to be at the restaurant, they decide to go all in on one last big night to save their restaurant. Big Night is funny, touching, and full of incredible-looking food, including the pièce de résistance dish Timpani, a very complicated pasta bake on the bucket list of foodies and film buffs alike.
Up next is the feature-length debut of French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet entitled Delicatessen. Set in the post-apocalyptic future when food is very limited, it centers on Clapet, a butcher and landlord who lures unsuspecting laborers into his shop to be killed for meat. However, when he hires ex-clown Louison who becomes romantically involved with his daughter, it all threatens to fall apart. Surreal, grim, and uncomfortable almost all of the way through, this film pushes the limits of the “food movie.”
This documentary took Netflix by storm when it was added to the service in 2012. Originally released in 2011, it follows renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono, owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a small sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station which is the only sushi restaurant in the world with three Michelin stars. Even at 85, Jiro still runs the shop and is still trying to make the perfect sushi day after day alongside his 50-year-old son Yoshikazu, who will one day have to take over the restaurant. Filled with delicious seafood, this movie also manages to ask many big philosophical questions about life, work, purpose and perfection.
Surreal, dark, and at times disturbing, French-English film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a movie about a crime boss who takes over a restaurant with dramatic consequences. Written and directed by Peter Greenaway (A Zed and Two Noughts, The Draughtsman’s Contract), it’s full of twists and turns within the restaurant, all alongside the mouthwatering meals by the eponymous Chef.
Widely considered to be the greatest film to come out of Pixar studios, Ratatouille is beloved by children and adults alike. It follows a rat named Remy, who dreams of one day becoming a great Parisian chef, but must make an alliance with the human trash boy Linguini in order to do so. Visually stunning, gripping, and featuring one of the best food tasting scenes in cinema history, Ratatouille is a modern classic.
What’s your favorite food movie (or scene)—bizarre, hilarious, or touching? Chances are, if you think it over, you’ll recall at least a handful!
Our guest blogger this week is Joey Bassett, a member of Media Services’ student desk staff since May, 2019.
Film as a medium has always been subject to much scrutiny by cultural authorities around the world. Different beliefs and taboos in different countries have led influential films to the blacklist as a result of somewhat *ahem* questionable content. Over the years, however, standards change and once-discarded movies can quickly become acceptable. Despite this evolution, it can be quite hard to shake the word “banned” from a movie’s legacy once the damage has been done. For many, though, banned films are an intriguing look at what our culture deems acceptable – and unacceptable – in popular media. If that sounds interesting to you, head on down to Media Services; we happen to house a number of previously banned movies in our Teaching & Research collection. Let’s take a look at three of the most controversial titles ever to hit the silver screen, all of which can be found in our department.
Director John Waters has never been known as a friend of good taste. Along with frequent collaborator Divine and her crew of assorted misfits, Waters has consistently pushed the envelope of what a feature film could and couldn’t show onscreen. Nowhere is this more evident than in his most iconic film Pink Flamingos. In it, Divine stars as the “filthiest person alive,” a title she proclaims with pride. An ensuing competition to usurp Divine’s status leads into one of the most famously tasteless films ever made. There is a strong focus on sexuality, crime, and fetish in the film, among countless other taboos. The unabashed depiction of such themes led to a ban in Switzerland and Austria, as well as parts of Canada and Norway. This didn’t stop the film from becoming a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit, however. In a recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Waters spoke about his acceptance into the mainstream and his recently published autobiography, Mr. Know-It-All: Tarnished Wisdom of A Filth Elder. Says Waters, “There’s plenty of rules that you can still break….I think you have to use humor and you can’t be so angry about it.” Today, Flamingos is considered a benchmark in queer cinema and punk aesthetics despite its one-time ban. Check it out at Media Services and experience the filth for yourself, if you dare!
Wow – what a title! Filmed and marketed as a chilling and depraved documentary recorded by a lost crew, Italian director Ruggero Deodato’s film Cannibal Holocaust is considered a pioneer of the found-footage genre. It has also been considered one of the most controversial films ever released.
The story, loose as it is, follows a supposed anthropologist and his team into the Amazon rainforest as they attempt to make contact with an indigenous tribe known for dabbling in cannibalism. They witness (and partake in) horrific violence directed at both people and animals. Eventually, the camera crew is attacked by members of the tribe and their footage is all that remains of them in the end. Upon release in Italy, the film’s director was charged with obscenity and eventually murder, as rumors claimed the onscreen deaths were in fact real. Though all charges were dropped, the uproar surrounding the film remained. Bans were imposed in the United States, Australia, Norway, Iceland, and several other countries. Viewers and critics remain divided on the film to this day; yet it has been undeniably influential on movies such asThe Blair Witch Project. If you’ve got a strong stomach, check it out and give it a try.
Originally created as a propaganda film for the former Soviet Union, Battleship Potemkin was a cinematic feat the likes of which had never been seen when it was originally released. Pioneering several now-ubiquitous film techniques including montage, the film was a revelation in terms of shot composition, plot, scale, and content. Chronicling the mutiny of the eponymous battleship in 1905, the film depicts the widespread chaos that spread through Odessa as a result of a clash between the oppressive government and the average citizens. In the most iconic sequence of the film, a battalion of unfeeling soldiers march down the Odessa Steps toward a crowd of unarmed citizens and send down a hail of bullets upon them. The violence of the Odessa Steps, though tame by today’s standard, alienated audiences around the world in 1925. This, coupled with the film’s overtly political messaging, led to a series of bans including one in the United States. Retrospective reviews, however, have lauded the film as one of the greatest ever made, and a progenitor of countless tropes and techniques. You can experience the classic today – it’s available in Media Services.
Banned films are often those at the forefront of change in media and culture at large (this is one of many entertaining banned-film lists in circulation). Though the content depicted within these films and others may be jarring, they all have a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and perspectives. Whether you’re a fan of comedy, horror, or a nice classic, Media Services can help you find a banned film you’ll love. Do you have a favorite movie that’s faced bans or censorship? – TC
Tanner Chaille is a junior studying Media and Human-Centered Computing. You can find him playing retro video games and listening to podcasts.
This month, at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), companies like Nintendo and Sony debuted some of their highly anticipated gaming sequels and most innovative soon-to-release projects. Some of these titles elicited disappointment. However, many of the sequels—games that are successors to already existing titles like the Pokémon series and Gears of War— were met with excitement and acclaim. Games from such famous franchises have a history of leaving an impression on their players, but before you think about spending money on new games coming out this year, let’s look at Media Services’ collection of classic games, the predecessors to some of E3’s best highlights.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This year Nintendo announced the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2017 game, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Although it was only released two years ago, most would argue it has cemented itself as a video game classic already!
This open world adventure takes you to the magical land of Hyrule where you, Link (again), have woken up from your century-long slumber and must now save Princess Zelda (again) from Calamity Ganon’s evil influence. You start humble, with nothing but a pair of trousers and a tree branch, but in no time you’re already knocking out hidden shrines one-by-one and slaying mighty Lynels with a few well-timed strikes with your longsword. Stunning visuals and graphics aside, you can tell this game was developed intensively and thoroughly by creators who thought of everything.
From the realistic physics you learn through play, to the minute details you can discover, Breath of the Wild creates a highly engaging environment that you’ll want to keep exploring. Luckily, Breath of the Wild is available for checkout at Media Services for the Nintendo Switch. Rent one of our media rooms and immerse yourself in Hyrule to your heart’s content!
Twenty-two years ago, the gaming company Square released what most call the best game of its franchise: Final Fantasy VII. Now, a remastered version of what critics called “quite possibly the greatest game ever made” (GameFan, 1997), has been announced for release next March. The game takes place in Gaia, a world whose magical life energy is being exploited and processed by the powerful and malevolent Shinra Corporation.
You, Cloud Strife, an ex-Shinra soldier turned mercenary, must band with your team of misfit heroes and destroy the Shinra Corporation’s plots to drain the world of its life and turn Gaia into a dystopian, dying planet. This game is a superb demonstration of the late-90s JRPG gaming style and absorbs the player in an industrial sci-fi narrative about the environment. What’s not to love?
What do you get when you mix a legendary international franchise with addictive gaming mechanics? Star Wars games! At E3 this year, ReSpawn announced a brand new game that takes place in the galaxy far, far away; Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Unfortunately, it was announced that the game isn’t to be released until November of this year, so in the meantime, why not experience the classics? Developed by LucasArts in 2004, Star Wars: Battlefront is an action-adventure that places you right in the middle of laser guns, giant war machines… and Ewoks. You play as not one character, but an array of soldiers that are fighting on either side of the rebellion for victory.
The game strips itself of all seriousness by letting you play as either side whenever you want, emphasizing the gameplay rather than a moral compass you feel obligated to follow. It’s literally anyone’s game! But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself. Star Wars: Battlefront is available at Media Services for Xbox, along with Star Wars: Battlefront II (PS2), Lego Star Wars (Xbox and Wii) and even the Knights of the Old Republic series (Xbox)!
Whether these games give you nostalgic butterflies or introduce you to a world you’ve never experienced, these games are sure to keep you preoccupied while you wait for the next generation of games to take over. All of these games are available to play at Media Services; all you need to bring is your campus ID and some refined hand-eye coordination and we’ll take care of the rest. Which one would you want to play first? – BC
Brandon Carr is a junior majoring in psychology, with minors in Japanese and counseling. Brandon enjoys walking around campus and getting chai lattes with friends.
June is LGBT Pride Month. In 2000, Pride Month was officially designated by President Bill Clinton as an annual observance, and every year many events occur across the US and globally to highlight the diversity and history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
The last few years have seen an explosion in blockbuster films featuring LGBT characters and relationships. From dramas like Moonlight and The Favorite, to coming-of-age stories in Love, Simon and Booksmart, and celebrity biopics Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, the complexities of LGBT life are making their way to the silver screen like never before.
Historically, LGBT characters in mainstream cinema were closeted, villainized, and mocked (perspectives on this history up through the mid-1990s appear in the documentary The Celluloid Closet). The gay or transgender character is the source of horror or laughter in everything from Silence of the Lambs to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. When LGBT characters are the protagonists in their own stories, these narratives often end with death, betrayal, and heartbreak. The message that this sends is that LGBT people cannot lead happy, complex, or dignified lives.
The recent wave of more positive and nuanced representation does not mean an end to all negative cinematic depictions of the LGBT community; the shift in American and global attitudes toward sexuality and gender is ongoing and incomplete. However, Pride month is an opportunity to recognize the resilience of LGBT communities and filmmakers who have worked from the margins to shift the mainstream dialogue.
With these Pride month recommendations, I wanted to share five limited-release films made by and about LGBT people. Whether you’re in the mood for history, spoken word, drama, or feel-good romance, Wells Media Services has got you covered.
Ever wondered why Pride month is in June? The simple answer is that the Stonewall Riots started on June 28, 1969, in New York City. The facts of the Stonewall Riots are complicated and much debated, but they are understood as a key historical flashpoint for the LGBT rights movement in the United States. Before Stonewall tells the story of the Riots, but also illuminates LGBT American history since the 1920’s.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Marlon Riggs’ experimental documentary Tongues Untied. Riggs combines dance, spoken word, and documentary to express the pain and beauty of being a black gay man in America. Tongues Untied made history due to its form and political content. Despite controversy over the film in the public sphere, this documentary, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and originally aired on PBS, would become an award-winning work.
Written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro, this Portuguese film portrays a tender love story between high school students Leo and Gabriel. Leo navigates his blindness, burgeoning sexuality, and the trials of being a teenager with the support of his best friend Giovana. The film represents sexuality as well as disability with nuance and heart.
For another look into LGBT American history, check out Screaming Queens, a documentary produced by Gender Studies scholar Susan Stryker. Although Stonewall is commonly referred to as the first gay or transgender riot, Stryker shares the story of a 1966 riot in San Francisco. Like Before Stonewall, Screaming Queens provides a broader historical perspective on the criminalization of homosexuality and cross-dressing, police harassment of LGBT people, and resistance by the LGBT community.
If you’re searching for a Sundance-premiering, independent-award-winning film to impress your friends with, look no further than Tangerine, a comedic drama about transgender sex worker Sin-Dee and her best friend Alexandra. Tangerine takes us on a wild, harrowing, sometimes hilarious ride through the culture and life of Los Angeles, as the two heroines hunt down Sin-Dee’s cheating boyfriend. The film is aesthetically impressive, especially considering it was shot entirely on an iPhone 5. Yes, that’s right, an iPhone 5!
The Friday before Memorial Day kicks off the official start of summer with National Road Trip Day. The long weekend provides the perfect amount of time for a quick getaway with family, friends or an adventure all by yourself! Staying put for the summer? Live a road trip vicariously with these classic films of the genre.
#1 – Thelma & Louise (1991)
This 1991 hit stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon on the trip of a lifetime as they journey to Mexico in order to avoid the consequences of their actions (no spoilers here!). This film celebrates strong and self-sufficient women and the lifelong bonds of friendship. With a killer soundtrack and an ending that will make you sit and think, this film should be included on anyone’s summer watch list.
For fans of: A League of Their Own
#2 – College Road Trip (2008)
This goofy comedy stars Martin Lawrence and Raven Symone as a father-daughter duo who embark on a road trip from Chicago to Washington, DC, for a college entrance interview. Audiences will connect with both Melanie (Symone) and James (Lawrence) as they deal with the anxieties and triumphs of starting a new life chapter.
For fans of: We’re The Millers, Are We There Yet
#3 – Easy Rider (1969)
This classic film starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper follows two Harley-riding drug dealers as they journey to New Orleans. The influence of the counterculture movement of the late 1960s is evident throughout the movie, so if films with historical significance interest you then this is right up your alley! Join Hopper, Fonda, and Jack Nicholson as they experience adversity, understanding, and a really bad trip.
For fans of: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
#4 – The Hitchhiker (1953)
This film noir might make you never want to road trip again! Inspired by the real life murder spree of Billy Cook, the story follows two friends during a fishing trip to Mexico. As you’ve probably guessed from the title, their encounter with a hitchhiker becomes a terrifying fight for survival. The Hitchhiker is also regarded as the first American mainstream film noir directed by a woman as well (Ida Lupino)!
For fans of: Deliverance
All of these movies and many more are available in Media Services. Come check it out today!
Casey Callas is a senior at IU studying Psychology/History. When she’s not working you can catch her hammocking around campus.