culture club

What to Watch: A queer film fest returns, Almodóvar, and two singers you need to know

White Frog

Whatever your entertainment needs, we got your back (and hopefully your mind) with Queerty’s weekly “Culture Club” column with some of the highlights of new releases, streaming shows, classics worth revisiting, and what to drink while you watch.

The ICYMI: Parallel Mothers

Pedro Pedro Almodóvarar-nominated drama arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD this week. Once again, we can’t recommend it enough. To recap: Parallel Mothers casts Penélope Cruz as Janice, a high-fashion photographer pregnant as the result of an affair with a married man (Israel Elejalde). Janice decides to keep the baby, and befriends Ana (Milena Smit), an also-pregnant younger woman. When Ana and Jancie give birth on the same day, they form an unexpected bond that will haunt them for years to come.

Cruz gives one of her best-ever performances here, as does Smit in a more understated role. As with much of Mr. Almodóvar’s work, Parallel Mothers uses relationship drama as a prism with which to examine themes of sexual fluidity and same-sex attraction. He also gets political here, addressing the horrors of the Spanish Civil War via the metaphor of the Janice-Ana relationship. We don’t purport to know what it all means, though we can say the film packs an emotional wallop, and features megawatt performances to boot.

Available on Blu-Ray & DVD April 5.

The Event: Outfest Fusion

Outfest Fusion, the spinoff of the iconic LGBTQ film festival, returns this week for an in-person extravaganza featuring some terrific new films. For the unfamiliar, Outfest Fusion aims to highlight QTBIPOC voices through art. Highlights of this year’s festival include a special screening of the Season 2 premiere of Fox Soul’s The House; Keep the Camera’s Rolling, a documentary on MTV star Pedro Zamora; Wildhood, director Bretten Hannam’s excellent drama about two gay, indigenous boys in love; and White Frog, director Quentin Lee’s all-star drama featuring Tyler Posey, BD Wong, Amy Hill, and Joan Chen. Patrons can take part in the festival in person or online to get a first look at some of the most interesting and entertaining new contributions to queer cinema.

Festival runs April 8-13 in person, April 13-17 online. 

The Quickie: Alice Wu’s The Note

Filmmaker Alice Wu (The Half of It) contributes her latest outing, a collaboration between herself, PFLAG and Oreo cookies. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Note examines the issue of coming out as a queer person. While the rest of the world thinks of it as a singular event, in reality coming out involves countless conversations. In other words, it’s an ongoing process, both for LGBTQ people, and those closest to us who also need to learn to come out as having a queer loved one. As in her feature work, Wu displays remarkable emotional depth and subtlety with her directorial touch.

The Note arrives as part of Oreo & PFLAG’s #LifeLongAlly campaign, an initiative designed to highlight LGBTQ stories and issues. Give the film a watch and try not to sigh. Also…Hollywood, if you’re reading this…please keep Alice Wu working!

Streams on YouTube.

The Jam: Sean the Star Emperor “Typical Male”

Queerty Award-nominee Sean the Star Emperor drops his latest single this week, a mediation on the woes of gay dating. The accompanying video finds Star Emperor in his trademark galactic robes, bopping to a sexy, sensual groove. It’s the kind of track that plays with sensuality in its original mix, and that cries out for a high-energy dance remix to harness its sexual charge. The song also further trumpets Sean the Star Emperor as an intriguing LGBTQ recording artist on the rise.

Streams on YouTube.

The Spin: Nakaya Fire Becomes Me

Speaking of sensual queer singers, synthpop artist Nakaya drops her latest album this week, a four-track compilation of sexually-charged songs. Much of Fire Becomes Me meditates on troubled, toxic relationships, and the confusing feelings that accompany them. The title track, in particular, uses the metaphor of fire to symbolize the rage she feels against a neglectful ex, and the passion she feels as well. Our favorite: the near-hypnotic “Try,” an erotic song that finds Nakaya channeling 90s pop sirens such as Toni Braxton and Des’ree.

Streams on YouTube. 

The Sip: Oreo Cocktail

In honor of Oreo’s producing Alice Wu’s latest outing…and since we’re in the mood for decadence…we offer up this week’s libation: the Oreo Cocktail. Rich, chocolatey and strong, it’ll have you wanting to smush with some creamy filling in no time.

  • crushed oreos for rimming the glass
  • sugar syrup for rimming the glass
  • 60ml (2 oz) vodka
  • 60ml (2 oz) kahlua
  • 7 small scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 3 oreos

Crush Oreos into a fine dust. Dip the rim of a glass in water, then the dust for effect. Add remaining ingredients to a blender. Blend well. Pour into the glass and serve.