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Germany | Canada, 2004, 90 minutes, Dir. Bruce La Bruce
Unstreamable has been offline for weeks due to the uprising that took over our neighborhood. (You know the one!) To capture the revolutionary spirit while also acknowledging that it's Pride Week, we're starting this week with filmmaker Bruce LaBruce's pornographic and faggy The Raspberry Reich, a film about horny gay Marxists with gun fetishes.
The Raspberry Reich starts off with a dude wearing a t-shirt of Che Guevara. He is deep-throating a pistol in front of a wallpaper featuring Che Guevara. When he comes, a gun goes off. The scene lets you know what you're getting into: Lots of guys jerking off and pistol-licking.
What's missed when people focus so hard on LaBruce's pornography is how funny his dialogue is. Here's some dialogue that happens when a gay guy blows a straight guy who's trying to go gay for the revolution:
"Relax. Think of the revolution," says the gay.
"But I'm not hard," says the straight.
"Rome wasn't built in a day."
Other lines I love: "Put your Marxism where your mouth is." And, my favorite: "The revolution is my boyfriend."
A final note: John Waters once told me he thought antifa weren't sexy enough. I wonder if he was thinking about The Raspberry Reich. Cuz those anti-fascists are hot. CHASE BURNS
UK, 1991, 88 minutes, Dir. John Francis Dillon
Part thriller, part gay romance, Young Soul Rebels starts with the murder of a Black man by a white stranger he meets cruising in a park. His two friends Chris and Caz—pirate DJs who are obsessed with soul—get implicated in his murder as they try and navigate the harrowing social landscape of being Black (and queer) in '70s-era London. The film picks apart class and racial dynamics of the time, but the most interesting bit is the level of acceptance and fluidity of the main characters. Chris is straight and Caz is gay, though it's clear they have a nebulous sexual history with one another and Chris supports and sticks up for Caz when need be. Also the straight sex scenes suck and the gay ones are hot, which I love to see. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1932, 88 minutes, Dir. John Francis Dillon
If I must be straight: Call Her Savage is problematic, boring dribble. This pre-Code drama follows a young woman named Nasa Springer (played by Clara Bow), an aggressive handful who scares her parents and causes fights everywhere she goes. The convoluted plot skips along; Springer gets married, there's a baby, but the bookends of the film are preoccupied with how she's in love with a "half-breed" (the movie's term, not mine—he's half Indigenous). If you couldn't predict based on the title, it turns out Ms. Springer is also half Indigenous—Call Her Savage (yikes)—and that's meant to explain her erratic behavior. The only reason to watch is because of a little scene that's tucked right in the middle of it: Springer goes to a gay bar (!) where anarchists (!!) and people of ill-repute (!!!) party. At that bar, we get some Early! Gay! Representation! when we see an early '30s cabaret bar that features some ninnies in drag. I've embedded that scene—it's a little blurry—below. Fags, they've been around forever! CHASE BURNS
USA, 1979, 97 minutes, Dir. Haile Gerima
Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama plays like a riveting and radical fever dream. Probably because the story doesn’t rely on linear narration, rather, Gerima—who served as the director, writer, producer, and editor—layers in images and sounds that mirror lead character Dorothy’s (Barbara O. Jones) internal struggle.
Taking place in Los Angeles just as the end of the Black Power movement gave way to the worsening socioeconomic position of Black people in the country, Dorothy is a poor woman taking care of her family in Watts. She regularly visits the unemployment office, where white employees invade her privacy and offer her no job prospects. When her husband T.C. (Johnny Weathers), a Black Vietnam vet with PTSD, is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, it sends their impoverished family into a tailspin, ending with pregnant Dorothy becoming radicalized against both the welfare state and white supremacy.
Bush Mama is considered foundational—and a little seen—in the alternative and experimental L.A. Rebellion film movement that birthed Black directors like Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, and Jamaa Fanaka. In fact, both Bush Mama and Burnett's Killer of Sheep (which I reviewed for this column last year) both served as the directors' theses projects at University of California, Los Angeles. Get both and make it a double feature. JASMYNE KEIMIG