This month was quite a change from the last. I went from a full month of watching TCM every day to guilty pleasure (depending on your definition) viewings like “Python,” “Anaconda,” and “Bloodsport.” But I watched enough to qualify for some hearty recommendations.
Here are my Top First Watches of September:
The Boys in the Band (2020)
“If we could just learn not to hate ourselves quite so very much…”
This is one I’ve been waiting for since they announced the film adaptation of the 2018 revival of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play. William Friedkin’s 1970 version was one of the first movies I was shown in college and I read the play itself for my Queer Theatre class. Crowley’s play about the lives and drama of a group gay men living in 1968 New York City still resonates with many people in the LGBT community, myself included. Here, it can now be introduced to a new generation with several notable out gay actors. Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, and Andrew Rannells are amongst the cast directly from the revival. It’s nice to see these actors stretch their legs in fully fleshed out gay characters. Parsons in particular delivers a notable performance including the heart-wrenching final scene.
The Outsiders (1983)
More boys, no band this time. And another all-star cast. I had avoided this one for so long because of my misconceptions of what it would be about. It’s refreshing, especially considering the time it was made, to allow young men to express their feelings. It’s never seen as a sign of weakness amongst the otherwise “tough guy” characters. Most importantly, I finally know the context of “Stay golden, Ponyboy” and can cry with the rest of you.
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
This sapphic German classic about an All-Girls boarding school deeply resonated with me. There is a timelessness and relatability to the way it portrays the first time experiencing feelings for another woman. All the more heartbreaking is how it nails the purity of a first love before you are told it’s wrong.
The release earlier this year of the new “Emma” adaptation has left many of us with Jane Austen Fever during quarantine. I’ve always sought comfort in the lush settings and constant yearning in period pieces like this. What sets this one apart from other similar works is that the proposal/rejection occurs before the film even begins as opposed to near the middle of the story. Furthermore, the rejection was not done from a lack of affection. “Persuasion” is about facing the regrets of your past and gives a cathartic hope that amends can be made.
Expect some spooky picks for the October roundup next month!