The latest offering from Queer as Folk (1999–2000) creator Russell T. Davies. This short run of five episodes is as joyous as it is bleak, chronicling the emergence of AIDS in early eighties London. Pretty boy Ritchie, exuberantly played by the Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander, heads to the bright lights to study law. His interest in the academic quickly wanes as he discovers a passion for drama. Young and free and ignorant of the future, Ritchie takes his cock on a tour. Throwing himself completely into the never ending fuck-fest. Sacrificing his sweaty arsed innocence to a suck-session of fit young things. Until his innocence is nothing more than a footnote and a joke. As the numbers pile up, Ritchie assembles a household of friends and ex-lovers, including the endlessly compassionate bestie Jill, played by the wonderful Lydia West. Mother hen to the household, she’s there for the parties, and the heartaches, and is at the vanguard when people start getting sick. To reveal anymore would spoil a powerful peek at the physical and emotional cost of HIV and AIDS on those it hit hardest. In the end it’s a story about shame, the turbocharged reason for everything. It drives people’s behaviour, and confronting it, dealing with it, getting past it, drives the drama. Worth seeing, and if you’re brave enough, binge it in one day. It’s definitely worth your time.
A film that piqued my interest by using an out of control variant of COVID as the backdrop. At its core it’s a love story, set in the totalitarian regime imposed by attempts to control the deadly virus. It doesn’t try to find a new way of looking at either the love story or the virus. Instead finding familiar foes in the corrupt, the psychotic megalomaniac, and the faceless military. Presuming the power of love, and the freedom of the individual, are the ideal and only outcomes for any such scenario.
Some might misplace the glory of this film in its casting. Zack Gottsagen, one of the lead actors, has Down Syndrome. The real glory of the film is the story. Zak runs away from his nursing home, desperate to fulfil his dream of becoming a wrestler. Along the way he joins forces with the troubled Tyler, Shia LaBeouf in full grubby grifter mode. As the pair follow the coast south, they encounter the kind of troubles that forge the bonds of brotherhood. Writing and directing duo, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, tease a kind of honest charm from the actors. In the process they make this “the sweetest darn film of the decade”.
An early effort from twins sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska, famous for last years Ferraraesque remake of Rabid (2019). Mary, a gifted surgical student, struggling to pay the bills, is pulled into the world of extreme body modification. One cash-in-hand job leads to the next, and heralds all kinds of physical and emotional damage. For a film that revels in the bloodier end of the film spectrum it’s surprisingly measured. It has its moments but in the end it feels like a film with too much story for a relatively mundane revenge plot. It’s busting with all kinds of really strange and interesting characters that make it feel episodic. These days it would probably work well as a limited series. The scalpel happy sibling to Dexter (2006–2021).