Hating Peter Tatchell
Australian-born activist Peter Tatchell has been taking London to task since 1971, the year he moved to Britain at age 19 and dived straight into LGBTQ+ activism. This Netflix documentary is a must-see exploration of his life and work, told with a staggering array of home movies and archive footage, plus new sequences as the camera crew travels with him for an outrageous protest stunt in Moscow.
Sir Ian McKellen, Peter Tatchell and filmmaker Chris Amos
We may be used to seeing Tatchell around town speaking out on important issues, but it’s fascinating to learn about the things that fuelled his pioneering gay activism, including his fundamentalist Christian childhood. Carrying on in the face of death threats, he has led protests against everything from the Vietnam War to Mugabe’s despotic rule in Zimbabwe and Putin’s violently homophobic Russia. And the film isn’t just a love letter to him, it also grapples with the morality of his more provocative actions, such as outing people he saw as hypocrites.
This remarkably upbeat doc is strikingly well-assembled by filmmaker Christopher Amos, centred around a warm, knowing conversation between Tatchell and Ian McKellen, plus interviews with the likes of Stephen Fry and Elton John. It’s an important look at Tatchell’s heroic approach as an irritant in unjust situations. Even though he’s been beaten and scarred, he relentlessly continues to attack intolerance and lies. And this film makes his story properly inspiring.
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The latest animated masterpiece from Pixar, this lively adventure was sent directly to streaming by Disney, which is a shame because its imagery is stunning, set on the Italian coast with rippling seas and sun-drenched action. Even more importantly, this is a rare animated movie that’s loaded with honest gay subtext, exploring a close connection between two boys who feel like outsiders.
These boys are both sea monsters, and they run away from home to live on dry land as humans: Luca (voiced by Wonder star Jacob Tremblay) is a naive newbie, while Alberto (We Are Who We Are’s Jack Dylan Grazer) thinks he knows all there is to know about life above the surface. But in the nearby village, people are gripped with an irrational fear of sea monsters.
The central plot has these boys befriending a feisty local girl, entering a riotous triathlon and challenging a local bully. But this is really about outsiders trying to fit in, hiding both themselves the moments when their true natures shine. The reactions of various characters to who they are is complex, funny and moving. And there are also wonderful references to classic Italian cinema, plus a hilarious cameo from Sacha Baron Cohen as a cranky lampfish. Basically, it’s the perfect movie for a guncle to watch with the nieces and nephews.
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Writer-director Harry Macqueen takes a refreshingly open-handed approach to this British drama, which centres on a long-term gay couple facing some enormous issues. And since they’re played by Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, the actors never let the themes take over, provoking thought while never losing focus on the humanity in the story. It’s an unusually intimate film that never feels remotely cloying. And it has a lot to say.
Firth and Tucci play pianist Sam and novelist Tucker. They’re driving around England in a motorhome seeing people from their 20 years together, consolidating memories because Tucker has just been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. While visiting friends, they’re surprised with a party at which both Sam and Tucker need to finally confront some realities about their past and future.
Beautifully photographed in gorgeous locations, the story emerges through strikingly well-played conversations that are sparky, pointed and sometimes darkly moving as these men face the situation through distinct perspectives. Unsurprisingly, Both Firth and Tucci are excellent, finding riveting rhythms in their interaction as they reveal layers of humour and deep feelings. And most refreshingly this never becomes a film about homosexuality or dementia. It’s a reminder to celebrate our sense of wonder and never stop asking questions.