Raul and Brad are joined by member of The Nerd Corps, Alex Flores, for their second review of International Film Month. Today, they are discussing the Mexican classic directed by legendary filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón,Y tu mamátambién. They discuss the ins and outs and what it meant to watch this film now compared to as when they were younger. Want to find out what they individually thought? Listen and find out on today’s episode of The Nerd Corps Podcast!
IMDb Synospsis: “In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.”
Marlon T. Riggs perverts homophobic rhetoric in his 1991 short film.
Hi! I’m Gio (he/him) also known as MediaMartyr17. I am a Black Queer student, writer, and podcaster. You may recognize me from my appearances on The Nerd Corps or from Share Club Pod, a weekly podcast that I co-host with Michelle aka QueeenWeeeb. Though it has only been a year, The Nerd Corps has enriched my life and I will never be able to thank Raúl and Brad for the level of community they have brought into my life. With that being said, let’s get into my first written review as Writer/Ho Host at The Nerd Corps.
Anthem (1991) continues Riggs’ celebration of the revolutionary act: Black men loving Black men. In less than 9 minutes, Riggs combines poetry performance, house music, and intercut imagery to dispel the belief that homosexuality is not Black, a sin, and un-American.
First, Anthem connects gay pride with Black pride to dispel the belief that homosexuality is a sin. The framework of the film is built on the principles of Black liberation through lines like “I must remake my history”, “Rearranging syllables is revolution”, and “A chain of tongues unchained”. Because of chattel slavery, Black people in America have lost a lot of what connects their heritage back to Africa. A large part of Black liberation is focused on taking ownership of the language and land that was forced on us while reclaiming our history and our connection to African tradition. This is further cemented in Anthem by an image of the African continent in the of the Pan-African flag with a pink gay pride triangle behind it. Riggs perverts the language of Black homophobes by describing the revolutionary act as inherently Black.
Secondly, Anthem connects sex and religion to dispel the belief that homosexuality is a sin. Acts like using Vaseline or spit as lube or putting a condom on your lover’s penis are described as intimate parts of a sacred rite. The lovers make vows to each other similar to the sacrament of marriage (i.e. “I place my ring on your cock where it belongs”; “I give you my heart, a safe house”). Riggs perverts the language of Christian homophobes by describing the revolutionary act as holy worship.
Finally, Anthem connects love and American ideals to dispel the belief that homosexuality is un-American. The intimacy shared between two black men is described as an acknowledgement of the other’s freedom. They pledge to each other: “Long may we live to free this dream” as a rendition “America the Beautiful” is sung in the background. Black men loving Black men is conveyed as an extension of the American dream, especially when access to that dream has been denied to Black men since the inception of the United States. But when the lovers “kiss, we confirm the new world coming.” Riggs perverts the language of American homophobes by describing the revolutionary act as patriotic.
Marlon T. Riggs masterfully flaunts Black men loving Black men as inherently Black, holy, and patriotic worship. I look forward to watching more Marlon T. Riggs in the near future
Happy Together (1997), is a beautiful and sensual film from Wong Kar-wai that is a special achievement from the incredible director.
There is not a lot of filmmakers that I can say that I fell in love with their work just one movie in. Now having watched Chungking Express (1995) and In The Mood For Love (2000), I can say that Wong Kar-wai has definitely made it to one of my favorite directors of all time. Even though those two films are hard to top it does not take away from this heartbreaking but sensual piece of art. Wong Kar-wai once again shows me that there is something so special to the way he crafts his movies. There is a sort enticing but saddening aspect about Happy Together (1997) that pours out of the screen when you watch it.
The film revolves around a turbulent romance between its protagonists, Ho Po-Wing and Lai Yiu-fai as they live in Buenos Aires, Argentina after moving from Hong Kong. It is filled with beautifully stylized love scenes and stunning chemistry between the two actors. You can totally feel the romance between the two of them, but most importantly you can feel the heartbreak both feel not being able to be there for each other. Both of them even though similar in ways are completely different opposites that attract.
The film combats homophobia, sex work, love, loneliness, obsession, and heartbreak on top of more minor themes. Kar-wai never fails to show the ups and downs of their relationship while creating a stylized piece of art. Everything from the music choices to the coloring choices makes the movie as exquisite as it feels. The picture never fails to depict its characteristics while also aiming to create something different from other romance films.
It is not as great as In The Mood For Love (2000) but it is also not a bad film by any means. I am sure that Wong Kar-wai does not even know what it means to make a bad movie. All three of these movies form him feel special, and they are all filled with something to fall in love with throughout its runtime.
Watch Happy Together (1997) on the Criterion Channel. Follow along with the rest of this challenge on Letterboxd or the google doc that has the rest of the films on this challenge.