I want to say, too, that one of the reasons I love films like Hide Your Smiling Faces – and DGG's George Washington and Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kings of Summer from last year and Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild – is that they really are about childhood (pace Richard Linklater). These films are not movies about the experience of parenthood masquerading as films about childhood. They attempt to capture the lost, bizarre, truly difficult feelings that children experience, and they sort of refuse to make a kind of sense of those feelings.
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Pride is, in this way, also a beautiful and moving tribute to the work of gay activists who attempted to enact real change in the world. Ben Schnetzer, the movie's lead actor, is great, and the film's supporting cast (Karina Fernandez, Dominic West, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Jessica Gunning and Imelda Staunton) are mostly familiar faces who are all excellent.
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The men (instead of leaving the city) move into other people's apartments – separate other people. Love Is Strange becomes a film about people's foibles, about the limits of love for our relatives, neighbors, and friends. Of course, the reason that the men are in this situation is fundamentally homophobia, but this is a movie about family dynamics, and the struggles of living with people we love very very much but don't actually want to live with.
Love Is Strange is presumably a riff on Leo McCarey's 1937 film Make Way for Tomorrow, so its conventionality has its roots, but I didn't find this movie very interesting, to be honest. The performances in it are lovely, but it is a little too dependent on narrative for my taste, and it often felt directionless. But then... the movie's ending is something else altogether. Ira Sachs' movie all of a sudden becomes an art film, representing loss and grief through images of sunlight and the trees and a skateboarding teenager. The end of Love Is Strange really does justify its title, and if it doesn't quite redeem the film in its entirety, it helped me to realize that hidden within this conventional film was an art film, secreted away and hiding. I expect Ira Sachs' next picture to be much more intriguing.
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Mavis Fan is amazing as the jilted wife, and Stephen Wong Ka Lok is the most beautiful love interest.
But it's the way that the film works that is so good. Early in the picture, Richie Jen's manager floats away with an umbrella, and this signals a kind of child's world or fantasy realm, even though we are definitely dealing with real-world problems. Late in the film, when a drunken karaoke version of The Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" becomes a beautifully produced musical number, Arvin Chen's movie has earned the right to play with reality in this way. This is a lovely, lovely film.