Films can be short and sweet. I’ve already proven this with 36% of my Inside Out coverage this year, which focuses on shorts. The purpose of this program, as it seems, is to tease that there’s more coming from each individual short.
The most straightforward of these shorts is Elizabeth Trojian’s pilot for My Trans Journey, following transgender icon Dr. Carys Massarella and one of her patients per episode. There are informative yet graphic scenes of surgeries where the surgeons construct body parts for the patients. But those are quick scenes and we get over them eventually. Most of us, hopefully. The bulk of the scenes here show the patients prepare for their coming out parties, some of which are regular, while others, like the pilot episode’s cowboy theme, are zany. Apparently transmen love cowboys.
What follows are three short episodes from Rachel Anderson’s Bananas, where two lesbian Asian Australians go to each other or to their families to hang out. The second episode has one of the subjects go to her hometown that’s four hours away from the city to talk to her Filipino mother and cook together. It beautifully shoots the landscapes and the food they make, and this became personal for me as someone who has to read others denigrate Filipino food. Filipino food, in all of its own diversity, looks good and tastes good. This is the series that has the most possibilities because of the three cultures it combines.
This program doesn’t just follow queer Western culture nor the diasporic communities within. Sometimes it works the other way around, like in Adesua Okosun’s The Alternative, which follows three Black people in the Ivory Coast who identify as queer. One of the subjects actually moved from LA to the Ivory Coast. Her move makes her thrive as a musician. This makes viewers unlearn their assumptions about a homophobic Africa. As I write this though, there’s something self-contained about this short, which is probably purposeful.
Then there’s the stuff that’s good enough but only by a hair. Kevin Pinckney’s Miseducated follows the drama between three Black prep school seniors. Well, I write three because a third senior, Travis (Mario Roman), vlogs about coming out. It’s more about the sexual curiosities of Anton (Mike Kelly) and Dillion (Jaelin Taylor). Either the acting or the editing makes Tyson Anthony’s dialogue fall snort of snapping into place, but I’m weak for eye candy.
And then there’s Crazy, which is not good by any means. It’s about the teetering friendship between wild Jaz (Rachel Leyco) and broken hearted Leyna (Sheena Midori). It breaks the fourth wall. The photography here is bad, and Leyco and Midori’s writing sounds like a conservative’s delusions of what liberal and leftist lesbians are like. I wanted to root for it for obvious reasons but too bad. Although credit is due for Crazy, which takes risks.
The same goes for Sam Icklow’s Apricot. Icklow and Jake Thompson play two best friends living together and hanging out. They never look the same, and everything ties back to their favorite flavor of Lacroix. Each episode is a minute long, which doesn’t really work with surrealist comedy since each episode needs at least a few more seconds or minutes for us to understand what’s up. Maybe it’s a budget reason? Also, this makes us gay men look like we’re brand slaves, which yeah but eew.
I guess that’s it, concepts need time to sink in. Assaad Yacoub directs the pilot for Butch Pal for the Straight Gal, where five lesbians do makeovers for women facing modern day patriarchy. Maybe it’s my male interpretation of the material, but this show the toxic element within people who follow the patriarchy versus those who rebel against it. One of the Fierce Five is, duh, Tegan (Lauren Flans). I don’t mind her lack of hygiene because same, but she’s a New Age person, and no one likes New Age people regardless of their sexual orientation. Which is why this is funny.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Comedy, documentary, Drama
- Release Date: 10/10/2020
- Directed by: Adesua Okosun, Assaad Yacoub, Elizabeth Trojian, Kevin Pinckney, Rachel Anderson, Rachel Leyco, Sam Icklow
- Starring: Jaelin Taylor, Lauren Flans, Sam Icklow, Sheena Midori
- Produced by: Mary Duong, Rob Schow, Sam Icklow, Theo DeMarco
- Written by: Ally Johnson, Rachel Leyco, Sam Icklow, Tyson Anthony
- Studio: Driven Equation, Empowerhouse