Exploring teen sexuality in a complex, involving way, the Canadian drama Giant Little Ones is thoughtful and engaging. It centres on 17-year-old Franky (Josh Wiggins), who has a moment of sexual exploration with his best friend Ballas (Darren Mann) that freaks them both out. Franky’s mother and estranged gay dad (Maria Bello and Kyle MacLachlan) try to help, but he finds more support from two outrageously unconventional girls.
The dialogue is bracingly realistic, which allows the characters to spring to life in earthy ways. But writer-director Keith Behrman kind of loses his grip on the plot in the middle of the film, withholding some key information and dipping into angsty melodrama. Thankfully, things come back together for the terrific conclusion, which reminds us to stop worrying about labels and focus on the people who love us.
From Spain, End of the Century is a delicate, dreamlike drama about Ocho (Juan Barberini), a hot Argentinian on holiday in Barcelona who hooks up with the younger Javi (Ramón Pujol). After some friendly sex, they realise that they’ve met before, and that their lives are entwined in a variety of ways. What follows is a sophisticated, clever odyssey through time, as these fit men explore two decades in their past, present and possible future.
Writer-director Lucio Castro lets the story and themes swirl around Ocho and Javi, provocatively exploring issues of memory, the passage of time, art and parenthood, plus a pointed nod to the impact of HIV on gay relationships. It’s a continually surprising, darkly moving film that mixes realism and imagination to find new possibilities. Definitely worth a look. Jack Cline
Giant Little Ones
End of the Century
Giant Little Ones is available on VOD on 10 February, and End of the Century opens in cinemas on 21 February.
More films in cinemas…
One of the most acclaimed films of the past decade, Parasite (out on 7 Feb) is a grippingly original comedy-thriller from Korea that continually defies expectations as genius filmmaker Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer) throws his vivid characters into an increasingly crazy situation. The less you know about the plot the better: there’s a reason it’s winning awards every day at the moment. Don’t miss it. ♦ The American road movie Queen & Slim (31 Jan) stars Brits Jodie Turner Smith and Daniel Kaluuya as average people suddenly on the wrong side of the law. It’s beautifully written, directed and played, sharply pointed and powerfully moving. ♦ Set on an island off the coast of New England, the bonkers arthouse thriller The Lighthouse (31 Jan) gives Robert Pattinson a properly unhinged character to dig into. Nutty, freaky and disturbingly horny. ♦ From the unapologetic Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike, First Love (14 Feb) is just what we need for Valentine’s Day: a crazed, violent romp with a sweet centre. ♦ And French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (28 Feb) is one of the finest queer movies in years, a complex period romance that’s packed with clever touches. JC
More films at home…
With her astonishing performance in Judy (streaming from 3 Feb), Renee Zellweger will surely win her second Oscar on 9th February. The true story is set in London at the end of Judy Garland’s life and has a major subplot just for the gays in the audience. It’s also involving, beautifully made, and Zellweger sings the songs herself. ♦ From Austria, Nevrland (available now) is a fierce gay thriller that gets deep under the skin as it follows a young guy into a queer odyssey that’s sexy, scary and unforgettable. ♦ As the lords, ladies and servants get up to their usual antics in Downton Abbey (available now), punctuated by pithy Maggie Smith putdowns, they’ve also shoehorned in a gay adventure for lovelorn footman Thomas (Robert James-Collier). ♦ From Colombia, Monos (17 Feb) is a breathtaking thriller, gorgeously shot in the mountains and jungle featuring a cast of wild young paramilitary teens. ♦ And hold your own queer mini-festival with The Danish Boys and The Latin Boys (available now), two collections of sexy gay shorts. JC