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Entries in New Queer Cinema (2)

Tuesday
Oct102017

Doc Corner: 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson'

by Glenn Dunks

It is sadly just a matter of fact that women of colour rarely get documentaries made about them without tragedy informing their very existence. “Death” is even right there at the start of the title for David France’s new film about one such pioneering person. And indeed, the mystery surrounding Marsha P. Johnson’s death is what acts as the central spine of his The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson as one activist, Victoria Cruz, sets about solving the mystery of the death of another activist 25 years ago.

But like the literal meaning behind the title of France’s last film, the Oscar-nominated masterwork How to Survive a Plague, this new film is also about “life” and surviving and ultimately acts as a testament to Johnson’s tenacity and pure force-of-nature attitude in the face of adversity – a tired cliché of a phrase that is nonetheless truly warranted here...

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Tuesday
Jan262016

Retro Sundance: 1991's Poison

Since we're not in Sundance this year, a look back at Sundance classics. Here's David on Poison...

Glenn kicked off our Sundance retrospective with a look at Desert Hearts, a film with more than a passing resemblance to Todd Haynes' Carol; a few years down the line, and we come to Haynes’ own appearance in the Utah festival, with his feature debut Poison. Winner of the 1991 festival’s Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic, Poison is considered a vital film in the ‘New Queer Cinema’ movement of the early 1990s, as coined by B. Ruby Rich the following year. Rich’s theory involved not just the presence of LGBT characters and themes, but the queering of filmmaking form itself. Haynes had already demonstrated his inventive, radical eye in the controversial short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, and Poison, with its triptych of homonymic narratives, consolidated the director’s manipulation of nostalgia and classic cinematic forms to produce a strikingly different approach to cinema.

Each segment is presented in an individual and vivid stylistic form. 'Hero', the story of a young boy who shoots his father and literally flies away, comes as an oversaturated tabloid news documentary, containing interviews with scandalised neighbours, incisively lurid narration and tremulous recreations of the event itself. [More...]

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