‘Alex Strangelove’ Tells a Touching Coming Out Story

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Happy Pride Month everyone! This month we have seen an outpouring of celebration and support for the LGBTQ community and it seems Netflix has joined in with its release of Alex Strangelove.
Alex Strangelove follows the sexually confused high school senior Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny). Alex has been with his girlfriend and best friend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) for a while and after the prodding of his friends he decides to rent a hotel room and finally lose his virginity to her.

Soon after he makes these plans he meets a guy named Elliot (Antonio Marziale) at a party. As Alex and Elliot and the day he plans to lose his virginity to Claire get closer, Alex begins to question his feelings and his sexuality.

Alex Strangelove is a sweet and intricate coming out story with more layers than your average coming out movie. As the movie progresses, we see that Alex’s struggle with his sexuality stems from not only an inner struggle to admit to himself that he’s gay, but also past experiences with bullying.

This movie is different from other recent coming out movies like Love, Simon in the sense that Alex’s struggle lies mostly within himself and figuring out his sexuality, and less on how people will perceive him.

I really appreciated how this movie focused on the high school kids’ perspectives and didn’t go too much into bringing the adults into the story. I think it contributed to the authentic feel of the movie.

This was a conscious choice by director and writer Craig Johnson who has been trying to get this movie made for ten years, but hasn’t been able to because there wasn’t a big adult role to attach a big name to.

This movie did a lot of things right. It felt authentic and real which really brings you into the story. It could have so easily have fallen into the realm of clichés, but it didn’t. It stayed true to itself and its purpose and gave us an adorable yet, engaging story to watch.


My Rating: 83%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 2.8/4

Story: 3.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

 

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The Mesmerizing, Grace-filled ‘Moonlight’

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Surprise! The film for this Time Warp Tuesday happens to be the Oscar award-winning film ‘Moonlight’. That’s goes without saying, this happens to come after the La La Land review from two weeks prior, which is suggestive of La La Land accidentally being announced as winner for Best Picture. A moment that would not soon be forgotten in Oscar history.

Considering Moonlight won Best Picture, it is highly likely that many are aware of this groundbreaking film. For those who have not yet heard of this film or have chosen not to see it, I highly recommend for all to do so.

Based on the unpublished play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight chronicles separate stages in the life of a young, gay black man, Chiron, growing up in Miami, Florida. Each chapter displayed throughout the film is portrayed by separate actors and are presented as his youth (Little), adolescence (Chiron), and early adult life (Black). As a coming-of-age film, written and directed by Barry Jenkins starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and Janelle Monae among others is a beautiful presentation of what it is like to be a young, black man growing up in America. Another interesting piece of this film relates Jenkins and McCraney, as the story is a mere reflection of specific moments within each of their lives as they grew up in Miami.

Within the first chapter, Juan finds Chiron, or Little, hiding from a group of bullies and allows him to spend the night at his place where Janelle Monae as Teresa, the girlfriend of Juan, is introduced. Despite Chiron returning to his mother, Juan and Chiron continue to spend time together and eventually Chiron admits he hates his mother. This stage in Chiron’s life is patchy and marked by Little being taunted for being ‘different’ in the eyes of his classmates. As a teenager, Chiron continues to struggle with being bullied and understanding who he is. Once Chiron reaches adulthood he goes by the nickname ‘Black’ and revisualizes previous wet dreams he had of one of his earlier classmates, Kevin. He returns to Miami to visit his mother and then reunites with Kevin. The two embrace one another as Chiron recalls standing on the beach in the moonlight.

Throughout the film, there are many aesthetically pleasing and simply breathtaking moments in which one cannot help but be in awe of the brilliant minds behind this masterpiece. From the beginning, it is clear that this is no ordinary film with a cliche meaning. It goes far beyond surface level in order to better display the challenges faced growing up in America as a black, gay child.

One of the most memorable moments in Moonlight is during the beach scene. It is raw and real, it solidifies the bond between Chiron and Juan, performed by Mahershala Ali, whom becomes a father figure for Chiron. During this scene, Chiron and Juan are seen playing in the water and then found sitting by the waves overlooking the beach when Juan tells Chiron, “at some point you gonna have to decide who you want to be, you can’t let somebody else make that decision for you.” Although a seemingly insignificant moment to many, this moment details concisely an important message within this film. It signifies the journey Chiron is on for the entirety of the film, as he is becoming who he is meant to be and creating his own path in life all while grappling with the difficulties of growing up.

Moonlight is a monumental film in that in winning Best Picture, it has now become the first film with an all-black cast and the first LBGT film to ever win Best Picture. It’s quite sad that it’s taken this long to do so, and alludes to the notion that while we have made a lot of progress, we still have so much more to make.

‘The Basketball Diaries’: A Change In Coming of Age

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Coming of age has always been a popular genre among film but it tends to always be about the same thing. A light hearted drama about a suburban teen who struggles to find their identity while exploring the many aspects of growing up. Occasionally, you’ll find a darker approach to this subject such as Girl, Interrupted and The Virgin Suicides. But those films were made possible because of the unconventional 1995 film, The Basketball Diaries.

It centers on a young basketball player Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) who lives in the rough neighborhoods of New York City with his single mother. After the death of his best friend, Jim soon spirals into the dangerous world of drugs, prostitution, homelessness, and theft.

Jim’s story is one that many would rather not tell when it comes to adolescents. He doesn’t come from a middle-class home and doesn’t have the same opportunities as other kids. He’s poor and comes from a neighborhood that is infested with drugs and crime. Kids, like himself, have dreams and goals but sometimes their environment swallows them whole and they’re pressured into the life that they wanted to escape.

Jim wanted to be a writer and he was obviously gifted, which is evident through the narration of his diary entries. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in the rough scene of New York City and his dreams become non-existent.

But that isn’t all that the film shows. It also gives us a look at the coming of age story for boys, which we don’t often see. Girls and boys have different versions of growing up, that is a known fact.The Rumspringa of a boy’s life is especially unique as it consists of rebellion and proving your manhood through sex and violence. Jim deals with these complexities while also having an addiction that leads him to stealing and selling his body for the money that pays for it.

So, why is this important?

Well, this story changes what being a teenager means. It doesn’t always involve a first car, dating, prom, or graduation. For most teens, it’s darker and more life-altering. They don’t get to grow up like the rest of us. For them, growing up is more like a shortcut to adulthood. Jim Carroll is of the many teens that these things happen to and they don’t just exist in 1995. They exist here and now in 2018.

The Basketball Diaries forced the industry to look at and tell the stories of people who aren’t as privileged and give the Jim Carroll’s of the world a voice. It affected the coming of age films to follow and proved to everyone that they could be just as successful as a John Hughes movie.