Film Team Recommendations: June 17, 2020

Celebrate Pride Month through film! -GCIFF Programmer Rodney Uhler

Pain and Glory (Available on Hulu, Starz)

The latest from Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar reunites him with his collaborator Antonio Banderas in a quasi-autobiographical tale of an aging filmmaker reconnecting with his past in order to figure out his future. A sensitive and nuanced performance by Banderas, which earned him an Oscar nomination, is at the heart of the film but Almodovar’s signature touches of style, color, and complicated character give real dimension to the film.


How to Survive a Plague (AVAILABLE ON Amazon, iTunes)

This searing documentary about the activist group ACT UP’s efforts to combat the AID epidemic in the 80s is alarmingly relevant. A leader of the movement and figure in the film, playwright and author Larry Kramer recently died at age 84; his passion not only made him a great activist but a captivating figure to watch. The government’s mishandling (connected with greater homophobia) over the AIDS pandemic is an alarming ghost story that echoes aspects of the current Coronavirus.


Spa Night (Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)

“Driveways” director Andrew Ahn’s previous feature tells the story of a closeted Korean-American man struggling to balance the various facets of his identity as he navigates middle class life as a second-generation immigrant in Los Angeles. As the title alludes to the intersection of many of these identities plays out in the somber, meditative, and–at times–secretive world of 24 hour Korean spas.


The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Available on Netflix)

Another essential documentary by David France (How To Survive a Plague) that re-examines the 1992 death of transgender legend Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River. Originally ruled a suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered. Johnson, an activist, was an essential leader in the original Stonewall riots which began the modern day Gay Rights movement as we know it.