5

Queer Kinda Christmas Films

7 min read

AKA: Queer films set at Christmas, but aren’t actually Christmas films.

Confused? That’s OK! So was I while watching a few of these films. When searching for queer Christmas films to review this year, these five films showed up within the results. But most of their posters don’t scream out “Christmas” so I was left rather puzzled. It was only upon further examination within their synopsis that you learn that all of these films are SET at Christmas.

But does a film set at Christmas count as a “Christmas film”? It’s my opinion that these five queer films are NOT Christmas films.

Two of these queer films take place entirely on Christmas Eve with another one spread out over the holiday season, but they are set in LA where actual decorations are few and far between – and that’s after ignoring the warm, non-snowy winter of Southern California! Another film takes place in space with only the final climatic scene taking place at a Christmas party. And our fifth entry is a film that is quite often associated with Christmas, but the storyline spans an entire year: from one Christmas to the next!

A film is not a true Christmas film unless it embodies the spirits which nearly all Holiday & Christmas films embrace: coming together for the holidays, resolving family differences or finding new romance, the overall message of joy and hope, and many more seasonal tropes. Just because the film takes place over Christmas is not enough. Therefore, these five films are just queer KINDA “Christmas” films.

Note: these films are queer kinda “Christmas” films. Not to be confused with last year’s post, “Kinda” Queer Christmas Films, which focus on true Christmas films that have a queer character or subplot but overall are not a queer film.

N/A

After losing his police officer lover, Christian drag queen Holiday Heart (Ving Rhames) meets 12-year-old Niki (Jesika Reynolds) and her drug-addicted mother, Wanda (Alfre Woodard). Heart finds relief from heartache and a renewed sense of purpose when he steps in as a father figure to Niki and welcomes the two women into his life. But when Wanda becomes romantically involved with her drug dealer, Silas (Mykelti Williamson), it may endanger Niki and threaten to destroy the makeshift family.

This TV movie is a bit of a surprise out of left field. Many felt that Ving Rhames as a drag queen would be too camp, laughable, and more – but WOW! I can’t say that I’ve seen many of his other films, but he brings a realness and grit to Holiday that is quite powerful. But the hidden talent is actually from Alfre Woodlard who portrays an addict that both makes us cringe and want to turn away, while also feeling extreme sorrow for how her character, Wanda, because we saw her full character arc. In a film that really dives deep into the concept of family and helping others, “Holiday Heart” is actually an excellent film.

However, it’s only known as a Christmas film for a few reasons, and that’s excluding the fact that it has “Holiday” in the film title. First, it premiered on TV in December amid all the holiday films. Second, the film begins during the Christmas holidays. However, the entire story actually takes place over an entire year; from one Christmas to the next. When these are paired together, the film as a whole is not really a Christmas film.

Told from three perspectives, a story of a bunch of young Californians trying to get some cash, do and deal some drugs, score money and sex in Las Vegas, and generally experience the rush of life.

“Go” was quite game-changing when it was released in 1999. Yet some mock it as a lesser attempt at the cinematic storytelling style of Pulp fiction, or even just a copycat. But there’s something fresh about how director Doug Liman twists around character cliches, always leaving the viewer surprised. But there’s another key reason “Go” was groundbreaking – it was one of the first major studios to include a gay storyline. The only trouble I can already see a few of you thinking – how is this Queer film a Christmas film?

Well, it’s not. Even though I included “Go” in last year’s “Queer Christmas Film Reviews for 2020‘ post. But… it’s Christmas Eve, and there are all the decorations! Yes, the film itself is set at Christmas. But the fact that it is Christmas Eve is irrelevant; if you removed all the Christmas elements, you’d still have a decent queer film. Thus why this queer Christmas film is also included on this year’s Queer Kinda Christmas Film list.

Read my full review HERE

4.5

N/A

Recently broken up and barely enduring a dreary winter, gay Parisian Jérôme Beaunez (Eric Debets) impulsively books a solo Christmas vacation to Los Angeles. While there he meets some colorful locals and pursues a dormant desire to become a movie star – but never can quite put the past behind him. In this meditation on love and narcissism across continents, Jérôme goes far in the sun-drenched City of Angels but ultimately arrives at an old Hollywood maxim: there’s no place like home.

I’ve watched “Hollywood, je t’aime” a few times now, but frankly I still am not a fan. Part of that reason is the actor who plays Jérôme always looks a bit dead behind the eyes. Yes, that’s part of why he’s trying to escape from his broken relationship. But even as things start to line up for the better in LA, it’s still the same blank expression across his face. Thankfully, the rest of the cast help bring a bit of life to this otherwise dreary film. While they tried to give this queer film an artistic flair, the switch between B&W and colour, coupled with the random dream/fantasy sequences where Jérôme talks to his ex (and his ex’s new lover) give the film an amateur vibe; and that’s not to mention the scenes that drag on and on. Personally, I’d pass on this film.

But is this a queer Christmas film? After all, the highlight of the story is a roughly two week trip to LA over the Christmas holiday. However, other than the occasional Christmas decorations and a casually thrown in Christmas song, there’s not really much else that ties the plot to Christmas or the typical Christmas season spirit.

It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity.

I’ll freely admit that I was not a huge fan of “Tangerine,” nor the target subcultures: drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, et al. Overall, the storyline felt dragged out; running longer than it should’ve. Even adding the sub-story of the Armenian family’s debacles didn’t help. Although it did create a humorous scene when everything (finally) came together! Unfortunately, the reason why “Tangerine” was so remarkable didn’t actually help my impression of this queer trans film: it was shot entirely on three iPhone 5s! While the quality was great given the shooting cameras, there were other directorial and cinematographic issues that were problematic.

But why is “Tangerine” on this month’s list? Yes, the entire film takes place on Christmas Eve. But that’s only casually mentioned and not relevant to the storyline. Other than a couple thrown in decorations, Alexandra’s singing gig, and the Christmas eve dinner with Razmik’s family – the film could’ve taken place any day of the year. As such, “Tangerine” fully belongs on this list of queer kinda Christmas films.

N/A

N/A

A comedic drama about a group of people (and several robots) living on a space station in a 1970’s-version of the future. When a new Assistant Captain (Liv Tyler) arrives, she inadvertently ignites tensions among the crew, prompting them to confront their darkest secrets. Barely contained lust, jealousy, and anger all bubble to the surface, becoming just as dangerous as the asteroid that’s heading right for them.

“Space Station 76” is a rather well-made film! The “comedy” parts didn’t always come across though, or rather they weren’t really funny. When they did, it was more of a chuckle rather than roaring laughter. However the twisting and intertwining storylines are rather captivating. Yet it’s only kinda a queer film though, with Captain Glenn (Patrick Wilson) being a closeted homosexual who had an affair with his former Assistant Captain, Daniel. There’s a short scene where this becomes obvious, but it’s still brushed aside for the most part.

Kinda like the “Christmas” part of the film. Other than the station preparing for and “enjoying” the station’s Christmas party, there’s little about the story itself that makes it a Christmas film. You could take the entire plot, remove the Christmas party, and the story would barely change. Heck, even the decorations are rather subpar. Thus, it’s presence on this month’s list. Unfortunately, “Space Station 76” is only a queer kinda Christmas film.