It’s the 1960s in preppy, repressed New England, and Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie, “Jojo Rabbit”) is working at a juvenile detention facility. And then along comes Rebecca (Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway), the newly hired and very charming counselor. Together, they become something of an obsessive pair, but is it romance or something more complicated and dangerous? That’s the premise of “Eileen,” set to take its bow at October’s NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival. From acclaimed filmmaker William Oldroyd (2016’s Florence Pugh-starring “Lady Macbeth”) and based on the novel by Ottessa Moshfegh (she co-adapted the book with partner Luke Goebel, screenwriter of “Causeway”), it’s an intense dramatic study of women’s intimacy in a time when that sort of thing was usually met with a variety of punishments. Neon has picked up the film for distribution and looks to release it in December in time for awards consideration. Just don’t expect “Carol”-style happy endings.
It’s giving ‘Navidad’ with Salma Hayek
The holiday movies are coming, and Hallmark’s no longer the only game in town. There’s seemingly an endless supply of interchangeable white people falling in love at Christmas on almost every TV channel and streaming platform. And while queer characters have been seeing more of that holiday love in the past few years, there have been almost no films showcasing Latine characters speaking Spanish, until now. Salma Hayek, producing mogul, is delivering “El Sabor de la Navidad,” a Christmas movie in Spanish from queer screenwriter Jose Tamez, directed by Alejandro Lozano (“Control Z”) and featuring Spanish-language TV star Pamela Almanza (“Rosario Tijeras”). The plot involves three intertwined stories, all set in Mexico City: a lonely chef falling in love, rival street Santa Clauses and a young trans woman, estranged from her mother, looking to reunite with her family. The film drops in November on Univision’s ViX streaming service, just in time for you to avoid the cookie-cutter plots of all the others.
‘Stamped From the Beginning’ charts Black American history for Netflix
The prolific and Oscar-wining queer director Roger Ross Williams (“Cassandro”) is bringing Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s non-fiction bestseller and National Book Award winner “Stamped From the Beginning” to the screen as a documentary. The film will chronicle the history of anti-Black racism in the United States through a process that mixes live action with animation, covering historical events that are well-known and others that have been lost to history. Black academics and activists such as Dr. Angela Davis and Dr Jennifer L. Morgan, as well as Kendi, narrate and connect the dots of racist cultural tropes that have become ingrained in popular culture in America. It’s a welcome corrective response to the current wave of politicians and school districts erasing Black history from curricula, so look for it on Netflix when it drops on Nov. 15.
Everybody rise for the queer ‘National Anthem’
If the acclaimed “Power of The Dog” and “Brokeback Mountain” before it proved anything, it’s that certain straight dudes love to get upset when a film dares to suggest that everyone on the range isn’t straight. And that means there should be a lot more films telling the truth about queer rural life. Enter “National Anthem,” the debut feature from art photographer Luke Gilford, whose monograph of the same name documented the queer rodeo community. Adapting his own work, the narrative feature tells the story of a young man (Charlie Plummer, “Lean on Pete”) who finds a job on a ranch populated by a community of queer rodeo performers and farmers, learning lessons about his own identity in the process. The film features trans actress Eve Lindley of “Bros” and Mason Alexander Park, the non-binary actor from the “Quantum Leap” reboot series. On the major film festival circuit for most of 2023, look for this already-acclaimed vision of queer utopia to move to arthouses sooner rather than later.
Romeo San Vicente is listening to queer country artist Fancy Hagood and you should too.