If you are staying home with your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day or pampering yourself, here are three recommendations for your viewing pleasure. Wishing you all a beautiful and blissful Valentines!
Three (2010, Germany), dir. Tom Tykwer
Three (German title Drei) is the story of Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper), who have been together for twenty years but now find themselves in an intimacy that is mostly fueled by intellectual sparring but rarely sexual. They both end up in a relationship – separately – with Adam (Devid Striesow), a German scientist trying to counter Britain’s monopoly on chimera research with his own groundbreaking research on stem cells. We follow this unique love triangle into a predictable ending but it’s the journey that makes Three engrossing and should be on the must-watch list for bisexuals.
On the surface, Three may seem too self-indulgent and stylistic as director Tykwer’s penchant for split screens and weird dream imagery is in overdrive here. The movie seems to have two heartbeats. One pulsating with rapid-fire philosophical rants about stem cell research or “concepts that hurt and belittle us”. The other is an unabashedly intimate examination of the inner turmoil of Hanna and Simon. And it’s in these intimate scenes that Three really shines thanks to incredible acting by Rois and Schipper, particularly Rois whose tense jaw and stern, unconventionally beautiful face conveys Hanna’s innermost feelings.
Tykwer is a master at creating stunning images, scenes that establish character or immerse you into their milieu with minimal dialogue. Where the movie is disappointing is in its failure to convince us of Adam’s magnetism. It’s not Striesow’s fault. The couple’s attraction to Adam seems incidental and convenient. Still, the final breathtaking minutes bring Three to a sublimely sexy conclusion that explains what all that chatter about chimera early on in the movie was all about.
Laurence Anyways (2012, Canada), dir. Xavier Dolan
Set in Montreal in the 1990s, Laurence Anyways spans a decade in the life of Laurence (Melvil Poupaud), a literature professor, who, at age 30, decides to begin living as a woman. He tells his live-in girlfriend, Frederique (Suzanne Clement), and the film then becomes an emotional roller-coaster story of two people, who thought they knew each other intimately, rediscovering each other’s deepest longings.
Dolan is only 23 but has already received a bagful of awards for this and his other films that elicit polarized reactions from critics and audiences alike. He started as an artist and costume designer. This artistic sensibility is clearly evident in Laurence Anyways. The film is a visual and aural treat (warning: loud, often repetitive music underscores his scenes but in this film it compliments the emotional core of the story). The film is epic in its painstaking detail and visual flourishes. But it never flinches from exploring the difficult struggle that Laurence and Frederique must face. Laurence has to learn to navigate an unforgiving world outside while desperately holding on to Frederique whom he deeply loves and needs. Frederique staggers between rage, selfishness, sorrow, and acceptance. Poupaud plays Laurence with exquisite sensitivity. But its Clement, as Frederique, who steals the movie with a mercurial and fierce performance.
At nearly three hours long, Laurence Anyways is only for those who like their films oblique, imaginative, and provocative. By the end, I sat stunned with admiration. It felt like I had seen the best movie in a very long time.
House of Lies (2012, Showtime television series), created by Matthew Carnahan
Get this. Television’s first gender-fluid, bisexual character is a 10-year-old black kid on Showtime’s risque new show House of Lies. Don Cheadle (best known for his film work in Hotel Rwanda and Crash) plays Marty Kaan, a management consultant who, with his team of consultants and analysts, will stop at nothing to get a client’s business. In television parlance that means he will do unethical, sexual, borderline criminal things. Showtime is the perfect home for this show as the channel’s obsession with the anti-hero (or heroine) has been playing out in Nurse Jackie, Dexter, Californication, Shameless, and the latest addition – Homeland – to critical acclaim and a hard-core fan base.
Marty has a son, Roscoe, played by Donis Leonard Jr. In the pilot episode, Roscoe is dressed in gender defying clothes and says shocking things that surprise neither Marty nor Jeremiah (Glynn Turman), Roscoe’s grandfather, who appears to be the one raising Roscoe while papa Marty goes about his stop-at-nothing tactics to amass the fortune that funds their astonishing penthouse home in a Los Angeles high-rise. In the third episode, Roscoe asks his father, “Is it wrong if you like girls AND boys?”
House of Lies focuses on Marty and his band of co-conspirators that includes Jeannie (a luminous Kristen Bell) and the duo Clyde and Doug (Ben Schwartz and Josh Lawson who have a hilarious and combustible chemistry). It skewers the corporate world, its malpractices, and corrupt occupants. But watch for little Roscoe. His character, more than any others on television, might stop at nothing to completely erase society’s prejudices against gender identity and render ‘coming out’ an antiquated and unnecessary act.