My Personal List of the Best of 2018 Amos Lassen “Scaffolding” In Two Worlds Amos Lassen Seventeen-year-old Asher has always been something of a troublemaker at school. He has difficulty concentrating in class, and he is compelled by a lot of rage and violence. Surprisingly, he also possesses charm and street smarts. His father is quite strict yet he is preparing him to take over the family’s scaffolding business. However, Asher has a different masculine role model in his gentle literature teacher Rami and forges a special connection with him. Asher is torn between the two worlds and looks for a chance for a new life and identity. When a sudden tragedy occurs, he has to take the ultimate test of maturity. “Martyr” Marginalization and Hopelessness Amos Lassen Hassane (Hamsa Mekdad) is a young man from an impoverished neighborhood who feels that his life has stopped making sense. All he has left is a close group of friends who are brought together by a shared sense of marginalization and hopelessness. Hassane’s strange drowning at Beirut’s rocky shore brings on a mob procession and strips apart the bond of youth and friendship. His friends grapple with loss and powerlessness. “WHO WILL SAVE THE ROSES?” Intense and Personal Amos Lassen “Who Will Save the Roses” is a love story between two old men, one of them is sick and stays in bed all day, the other is a gambler who takes care of him, visit him every day and has a hard relationship with his daughter. Sometimes love is the only solution, but we realize it when it’s too late. Giulio Santelia (Carlo Delle Piane) is an elderly gentleman who left practicing law and made poker his profession. Giulio has devoted himself to his love affair with Claudio (Lando Buzzanca). Giulio has an off/on stormy relationship with his daughter, Valeria (Caterina Murino), even though she loves Claudio. Valeria has a son named Marco (Antonio Careddu), who she raised alone and who adores his “grandparents”. Marco seems to have inherited his grandfather’s love for poker but has little success with it. When Claudio falls seriously ill, all the love gets picked up by Giulio in a rose, brought to his bedside each morning. Claudio stops playing poker, and not long after the money runs out. Giulio is then forced to fire the gardener, the cook and even sell the furniture. Giulio takes different tasks, so as to keep his beloved Claudio, unaware of the situation. But his love is not enough. There is the need for something else and help is needed. “Boy Erased” The Evils of Gay Conversion Camps Amos Lassen In 2018, it is still legal in 36 out of 50 American states to send children to camps to have the gay prayed away. Yet, we know that sexuality cannot be forcibly changed, but there are bigotry-blinded, bible-thumping zealots who believe differently. Gay teen Jared (Lucas Hedges) has been raised in a world where homosexuality is a choice made by the sinful. Crucially, Jared believes this himself and initially agrees to therapy mandated by his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe). The film opens with Jared already on his way to the camp where is denied the basic liberties of a phone, his journal and physical contact with other camp “inmates”. Camp leader Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, who also directed the film) has got Jared every hour of the day. In the first of two flashbacks, we learn that Jared’s first experience with sex was being raped by a college roommate. His father is not interested in such minor nuances of consent and sexual assault. As far as he is concerned, if sexuality is a choice, Jared must surely have been asking for it. Coming back to the present, we see an assault continuing but it is psychological with pseudo-psychological exercises and group confessions. “The Wild Boys” (“Les garçons sauvages”) A Surreal Tale of Gender Warfare Amos Lassen “The Wild Boys” almost defies categorization; it is a gender-bending work of intoxicating expressionism.The film follows five adolescent boys from respectable families, who love the occult and mainly a demon apparition named ‘Trevor’ that inspires them to commit savage, sexually motivated crimes. One day, during a performance of Macbeth, put on for their teacher, things take a turn for the worse when one of the scenes ends up becoming a collective rape; resulting in the teacher’s death. However, instead of being yet another problematic, and gratuitous rape scene, these five boys are all played by young female actors (Vimala Pons, Pauline Lorillard, Diane Rouxel, Anaël Snoek and Mathilde Warnier). Director Bertrand Mandico is fascinated by the role gender plays in defining sexual violence “Buddies” A Gay Classic Restored— The First Film About AIDS Amos Lassen “Buddies” has finally been released on DVD/Blu ray and as the first film about AIDS, it deserves a special place in the LGBT cinema canon. It looks at friendship and love and what was known about AIDS when it was released in 1985 (which was early on in the pandemic). The plot is relatively simple. A gay man, David, who is in a happy monogamous relationship, becomes a buddy to another gay man, Robert, who is dying from AIDS. As they get to know each other, they become closer and closer. The film was written and directed by Arthur Bressan, Jr. who was himself an AIDS victim and died soon after. “Disobedience” A Complicated Relationship Amos Lassen Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio’s “Disobedience” is set in London’s Orthodox Jewish community and depicts the complicated relationship between two women born into this world, whose paths in life have deviated after an earlier affair. What makes this so brilliant a film is how Lelio manages to sidestep overly familiar discussions on sexuality and religious prejudice in order to examine the very nature of freewill when it comes to accepting a love frowned upon by a belief system. It’s a film that is equally romantic and philosophical and I am quite sure that “Disobedience” will be on many ten bests lists for 2018. “MAPPLETHORPE” A Biopic Amos Lassen We are finally getting Ondi Timoner’s biopic about Robert Mapplethorpe and I have been lucky enough to see and share some of the first photos about it. Robert Mapplethorpe’s (Matt Smith) portraits, images of calla lilies, and chronicles of New York City’s underground BDSM scene are touchstones of 20th-century photography even now, nearly thirty years after his death from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1989. “Mapplethorpe” revisits the photographer’s legacy, beginning at the moment just before he takes up residence in the Chelsea Hotel. There, Mapplethorpe begins to build a portfolio of images—and, at the same time, to explore his attraction to men which he had suppressed. But it is the artist’s relentless ambition that threatens to tear apart the relationships he cherishes the most. “The Marriage” Forbidden Love in a Contradictory Society Amos Lassen Blerta Zeqiri’s LGBT drama is a tragic tale of a young couple whose wedding plans are disrupted by the arrival of an old friend. Flashbacks to the Kosovo war reveal conflicts of the heart amid horror of ethnic cleansing. This is a sensitive portrayal of impossible love that asks if one can still be true to oneself if trying to bury the past. “The Marriage” parallels the unquiet recent history of the contested nation-state of Kosovo with the lives and interactions of three of its inhabitants in this well-performed, absorbing and empathetic first feature film for Blerta Zeqiri. The film gradually transforms from an authentic and insightful portrait of middle-class life in contemporary Pristina into a gay love story as it transcends its description as an LGBT-themed work; it is so much more than a single-issue melodrama. In reality, it is a relevant, relatable and rewarding snapshot of how a society grows around its unresolved secrets, in the same way that a marriage can. “BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” Long Live [the] Queen Amos Lassen “Bohemian Rhapsody” is baroque and evocative thanks almost entirely to Rami Malek’s phenomenal performance. He may not look like Freddie Mercury but when you see him move, you can almost believe that he is Freddie. The plot itself is formulaic rockstar biopic and that is ironic considering the scenes in which members of the band rail against following record-industry routine. It’s an enjoyable journey, though, with the performance scenes being particular highlights. Freddie’s sexuality plays a big role here. Yet a lot of Freddie Mercury’s story goes untold here, but we do get the broad strokes. Rami Malek nails Freddie Mercury’s trademark overbite, elegantly feral stage delivery and posh accent.