El Sexo de los Ángeles
Director: Xavier Villaverde
Running Time: 106 minutes
Language: Castilian Spanish
Bruno (Llorenç González) is in a dedicated relationship with Carla (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), but finds himself attracted to the enigmatic street dancer Rai (Álvaro Cervantes). Carla decides to learn more about this interloper who has damaged her once perfect relationship, only to find herself desiring Rai as well. Rai is interested in the two lovers, but he is afraid of being tied down by anyone.
It is rare to find a film about bisexuality that doesn’t feature cheating, as if sexuality were a mere act instead of a facet of one’s personality. True, El sexo de los angeles features this pitfall, however, where other films eject one side in a love triangle, the film rebuffs this old possessiveness and finds a better solution for all three lovers. Finally, here is a film that has caught up with modern times!
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa
Director: Alvin Yapan
Marlon (Paulo Avelino) is attracted to his Literature teacher Karen (Jean Garcia), but performs poorly in her class and has trouble understanding the feminist poems she assigns. He learns from Dennis (Rocco Nacino), his classmate and Literature tutor, that she teaches dance in her spare time. Seeking to impress his teacher, he enrolls in her dance class and practices with Dennis in their spare time. Karen is wise to his ways and hides her feelings of longing, all the while witnessing the blossoming, if unspoken, romance between her two students.
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa is perhaps the crown jewel of Filipino LGBT films. While others of its kind are barely anything more than skin flicks with a bevy of crass quips – perhaps a self-fulfilling promise of the country’s treatment of its LGBT people – Ang Sayaw… breaks the mold by featuring actually talented actors, a deft and nuanced script, and a sensitivity and sophistication sorely needed in its genre. The narrative is framed by Filipino art criminally ignored in local films, grounding the characters’ feelings and sensations in feminist poems by Filipino artists. These emotions are exhibited through dance dexterously choreographed, directed, and edited. No wonder the film took home 7 out of 14 awards in the 2012 Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Film.
Director: Ferzan Özpetek
Running Time: 110 minutes
Tommaso Cantone (Riccardo Scamarcio) has returned home to finally disclose his homosexuality to his parents and he tells his brother Antonio (Alessandro Prexiosi) in advance to seek his help. However, on the designated night, Antonio comes out instead, to everyone’s shock. Their father disowns him, and Tommaso is forced to take his brother’s place as heir of the family business. He has to treat with Alba Brunetti (Nicole Grimaudo), a business partner, who has taken a liking to him despite knowing about his sexuality. Surprisingly, he seems to reciprocate her feelings. His grandmother (Ilaria Occhini) knows more than she lets on, and despairs as she sees the new generation falling into the same trap of familial obligations she is all too familiar with.
Özpetek is not content with LGBT depicted in a vacuum, and so builds his characters in either fine art and poetry (as in Le fate ignoranti), or in foreign culture (as in Hamam). With Mine Vaganti, the story’s fulcrum is family history, and that makes this his strongest film yet. He is able to place scenes of camp and whimsy around life lessons and personal drama and still make it work cohesively, all the while underlining the importance of choice in the face of the demands of family.
What do you guys think of these selections? Have you seen any of them already? Do you have other films that you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments! Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we give you guys more wonderful LGBTQ+ movie recommendations!
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The second half of this article was published in the November 2015 LGBT Special Issue of Arellano Law Gazette.