The Queer Film Guide: 100 Great Movies That Tell LGBTQIA+ Stories
The canon of queer cinema has exploded over the past half-century. There are excellent films from all countries that allow such films to be made. There is even one notable, excellent film, Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu (2001), that was secretly made in Beijing. It is almost impossible to choose 100 films that represent all the letters in LGBTQ. What are the criteria for selection? Does one limit one’s choices to films made by queer filmmakers or does one include films like Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette and Prick Up Your Ears? Journalist Kyle Turner chooses the latter option, praising films like Ang Lee’s early delight, The Wedding Banquet.
Turner’s one-hundred films range from the earnest 1919 German classic Anders als die Andern to Andrew Ahn’s charming 2022 queering of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fire Island. For the reader who is unfamiliar with the history of queer cinema, the most valuable aspect of the book will be Turner’s choices, which do offer a solid introduction to the genre.
Anyone who is a devotee of queer cinema will have their own list, of course. This reviewer would omit David Cronenberg’s The Fly and find space for James Ivory’s Maurice, Eytan Fox’s The Bubble, Haim Tabakman’s Eyes Wide Open, and Piotr Domalewski’s brilliant 2021 film noir, Operation Hyacinth.
For each film Turner chooses, he offers a one-page introduction. There’s a brief “Queerview Mirror” section that gives a sentence or two on the history of the film’s production or reception. Turner sneaks other titles into his canon through the “More to See” section at the end of each entry.
The garish design of the book will bother some readers. Each entry is printed on a different colored paper with a contrasting shade of ink. While this “arty” approach is striking, it does at times hinder legibility. Instead of illustrations from the film, each entry has an identifying one-page graphic. Given that half the book is illustrations, it is fitting that their creator, Andy Warren, gets credit on the cover.
The brevity of the analyses and the emphasis on the book’s design puts The Queer Film Guide into the category of a small “coffee table book.” Its audience will be curious LGBTQIA people who are not very familiar with its subject matter.