Closet Monster (2015)

A coming-of-age movie on Netflix about a gay teen coming into his own while also battling his hostile family environment and it’s ACTUALLY GOOD? WHAT?

I’ve seen a lot of queer movies on Netflix. Most of them aren’t that great (see Alex Strangelove). But Closet Monster is what all of these queer movies wish they could be. A coming-of-age movie about a gay teen that seamlessly weaves between tragedy and comedy while giving us some pretty cool shots thanks to director Stephen Dunn and DP Bobby Shore, this movie is definitely worth your time.

This movie heavily relies on the performance of Connor Jessup as Oscar Madly, a queer teen trying his hardest to get into college while also dealing with the turbulent relationship of his parents and, of course, his sexuality. Oscar is someone who desperately wants to fly away from his small world and get into a career of make-up and special effects (which are pretty good by the way), but the world keeps clipping his wings. After his mom left him when he was little, Oscar has had to deal with his borderline-abusive dad while also fighting to build his portfolio for arts school. This story is no big teenager epic, but with every obstacle that Oscar faces, you’re with him till the end. Jessup’s performance gives us a sympathetic character for us to cheer on.

This movie does have its quirks though. As well as trying to be a successful make-up artist, due to Oscar’s lack of friends, he relies on talking to his gerbil, Buffy, who talks to him as well, voiced by the wonderful Isabella Rossellini. He also spends most of his time in an elaborate tree house with different pulleys and levers, because, you know, fun quirky teenager movie. There are a few points in this movie where the quirkiness gets in the way of the actual story, but again, the movie is able to weave comedy and tragedy together and not let one of the two get in the way of the other.

Closet Monster isn’t like most gay teen flicks. It’s not super dark and boring like Beach Rats, or very colorful and tasteless like Alex Strangelove. Again, this movie is funny, but knows when to stop and get serious for the sake of the story. If you’re looking for a good gay teen flick, this is the film for you. If you’re just looking for a good film, this movie is also for you.

8/10

Frances Ha

After watching Frances Ha, I want my life to be written by Greta Gerwig.

Starring and written by Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is about a struggling dancer in New York trying to find her footing in life as she goes from place to place, experiencing the highs and lows of adulthood.

It’s hard to find any flaws in this movie. In a way it feels like a French New Wave film in the fact that it’s shot statically and in black and white. But Gerwig’s dialogue is easily the best part of this film. With lines like “Don’t treat me like a three hour brunch friend!” you can’t help but admire the charm and wit of this movie.

The acting is all superb, with director Noah Baumbach getting the best performance out of every actor. And the shots of New York are splendid. Honestly, I can’t recommend this movie enough.

10/10

Blue Jay (2016)

Mark Duplass has shown us time and time again that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the arthouse independent film scene. With movies such as Safety Not Guaranteed, The Puffy Chair, and Creep, Duplass has proven to be one of the best indie filmmakers of our generation. So when I heard he was starring in a movie alongside the amazing Sarah Paulson, I knew I immediately had to watch. And the movie doesn’t disappoint.

Mark Duplass plays Jim, a man packing up his old childhood home after his father passes away. While back in his hometown, he meets his old high school girlfriend Amanda, played by Sarah Paulson. And essentially the whole movie is them reconnecting and rekindling what they once had. It’s a very heartfelt movie, and what makes this movie are the performances. Mainly because there’s not really a script. The actors were given scenarios to follow, and through their amazing improv skills, they make a relationship that feels more realistic than most on screen romances I’ve seen. Every interaction feels organic. Every scene is so intimate and raw, that it feels like you’re spying on real people.

I can’t say much about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil too much, but this movie is full of a great deal of romance and heartbreak as we go through the day with Jim and Amanda. If you’re into romance movies, then this movie is definitely for you.

8/10