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Queer Adventure Films

6 min read

This month’s themed films were a mixed bag. I must confess that when I’m seeking for films to include within each month’s theme, I try to focus on the higher rated films – even if I have not yet watched the film. With some genres, this is even harder to narrow down because there are many great queer films; some I actually struggle to find ones that fit. I actually had only seen one film on this month’s post of Queer Adventure Films – and it rightfully deserves a place on this list. [Can you guess which film that is?]

I think most of us can agree what defines an “Adventure” film – there needs to be some kind of adventure! Whether it’s a cross country road trip, a trip across the border, or a trip to another country – usually there is some form of travel involved. Four of these films check off that criteria nicely – and the last is a different kind of trip, but still quite an adventure.

But the better question I have to ask myself is: are these films actually good? Understand that even though I base my selections partly off of IMDb’s review score for the film, everyone has different tastes. And I also try to review critically across my five key review points. Most of the time, I concur with the general consensus and have selected great choices. But now and then I come across a dud – or a film that, while many rave about, I cannot wrap my head around for some reason. Sadly, that’s the case with one film this month… [Read on to discover that film!]

The rest are quite worthy of ranking high among Queer Adventure Films though! So grab something to snack on, and be ready to add these films to your watch list.

[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]

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When Dot’s (Brenda Fricker) granddaughter puts her into a nursing home, Stella (Olympia Dukakis) stages a breakout, and takes Dot to Canada so they can get married. They pick up a hitchhiker along the way.

Based off the stage play of the same name, “Cloudburst” already had me quite intrigued despite the very short synopsis. After all, what’s more adventurous than an elderly lesbian couple breaking out of a nursing home to go get married! However, what I did not expect was how much I truly enjoyed watching this queer adventure film, which is equally a powerful queer romance. Part of me would like to think that such an adventurous and almost crazy plot would be entirely fictional today. However, the sad truth is that many elderly queer folk are having to deal with situations like the one set up in this film. Yet watching the loving romance between Stella, with her brash, sailor-mouth butch lesbian character, and Dot’s partially blind yet endearing grandmother and devoted partner is simply beautiful. “Cloudburst” is a must watch!

Bree (Felicity Huffman) is about to get a sex reassignment surgery that will finally allow her to actually be what she’s already been in her mind for a long time: a transitioned woman. Yet before this happens, she suddenly runs into her son (Kevin Zegers) who ends up coming for the trip across the United States.

When “Transamerica” was released in 2006, it was quite groundbreaking! Taking an honest look at a transitioning woman and her struggles in even just transitioning was something not truly seen on screen before, as previously trans characters were more often used as comic fodder. And while this queer adventure film has some good comedic moments, it’s never at the expense of Bree’s transition or being trans. And Felicity Hoffman does a remarkable job bringing Bree to life, while facing hurdle after hurdle in her personal life. That being said… watching “Transamerica” nearly two decades later changes its tone a bit. Today, a woman playing a trans woman would not be acceptable by the general public. There are also quite a bit of stereotypes here that make watching it a bit cringeworthy at times. However, it’s still a good film about being trans in America in the early 2000’s – and quite an adventurous road trip too!

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A lesbian rock band sets off on a road trip to a battle of the bands in the big city. A mysterious billionaire with an army of ninjas, cyborgs and roller derby girls is doing everything to stop them. Their journey is a whacky adventure filled with motorcycle gangs, prison riots and flamboyant musical numbers.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I even watched … and I often had to resist just turning it off – that’s how atrocious “Dyke Hard”was to sit through! Oddly enough, this queer adventure film does get some praise by those who try to push the B-movie, “intentionally bad” tropes, a “John Waters tribute”, etc. It even has an average score on IMDb (which is the only reason that I even included this film on this list.) But let’s be honest, there is camp – and then there is simply trash. This is the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love many B-movies that are full of camp, quirky storylines, and more! But “Dyke Hard” misses the mark entirely. Give this film wide berth!

Two closeted teens from Bed-Stuy, Naz (Kerwin Johnson Jr.) & Maalik (Curtiss Cook Jr.), both black and Muslim, hawk goods across Brooklyn and struggle to come clean about their sexuality. The two of them unwittingly find themselves in the crosshairs of the War on Terror when surveillance footage of their secret behavior is wildly misinterpreted in this smart indie comedy.

I’m mixed on how to receive “Naz & Maalik”. Even though there are some interesting snippets of philosophical and religious discourse between the two boys, there were plenty of times that I was simple bored. The casual, laid back style of the film unfortunately aided to my boredom. And a comedy? I must’ve completely missed the comedic parts! Equally I must have missed the suspense and drama from the plot about the boys’ “secret behavior” – which is not so much a puzzlement of suspicious actions that turn out to be innocent (they’re two gay Muslim boys in the closet, after all!), but rather a xenophobic FBI agent on the hunt trying to find terrorism activity where there is none. The slight bit of dramatic irony was overshadowed by how pissed off I was that that was the conflict angle the writers went with. But what made me more upset was the ending – there is none! Even from the vantage of trying to better understand young gay Muslim boys, I wouldn’t waste your time watching this queer adventure film. It’s simply not adventurous – or captivating.

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Two best friends, Philipp (Sascha Weingarten) and Enis (Julien Lickert) from Berlin win a trip to Greece. On their excursion, they get lost on an island. They wander in the woods until they find an abandoned village where they encounter a mysterious creature, who calls himself Hercules. They spend the night together in a cave and dream a mystical dream. On the next day, nothing between the two will be like it was before.

Well… perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t rush to watch “Orpheus Song” – I wasn’t impressed. The synopsis is quite intriguing, however the actual film leaves a lot to still want by the end. Excluding the fantasy element, Philipp and Enis are about as stereotypically straight “bros” as you can get – there are almost zero sparks or even subtle gay hints between them despite a constant shirtless and even some wrestling spats. (Ok – one,  after they’re already in Greece…) But suddenly because of a magic pomegranate in Greece, they discover their love for each other? Which we don’t even get to see despite a horrendously slow buildup! The yo-yoing afterwards as Enis first spurns Philipp entirely, but then upends his whole life to follow Philipp back to Greece? Nah  – the script is atrocious. While the setting and camera work are appealing, it’s not enough to make this a film worth watching when there are others that are simply better.